Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Welcome to Latitude's Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL)

Welcome to Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL)

Latitude has two very unique components which Latitude has two very unique components which differentiate us from any other disability focused program in the country.

These two components define us and provide a unique way for Latitude artists to engage and to contribute to our community. First is the art component- which speaks for itself and the other is Project Easy Access Lexington or PEAL.

PEAL was begun about five years ago by Latitude artist Belinda Sellers in response to a very typical and trying accessibility problem- not being able to get in the door to our local Starbuck's coffee house in her wheelchair. Belinda decided to try to create ways to bring attention and awareness to the problems and needs associated with inaccessibility and disability issues in general.

Soon we were off and running with PEAL.

Among many other things, PEAL has sponsored 3 public rallies to focus attention on disability issues, we have led over 800 people on our "InAccessibility Tour" of downtown Lexington, re paved the downtown sidewalks in many places- by ourselves through our "BrickSquad" and most importantly we discovered and advocated for the creation of LFUCG's "Commission for Citizens with Disabilities".

Latitude's PEAL in "ArtBeat" and "Business Lexington"

From LAL Art Beat November 18, 2010

Walk in their shoes.
Ever been pushing a stroller or riding your bike and suddenly THUNK. You’re either trapped in a pot hole or plopping off a 6-inch cliff and thinking, wow, somebody needs to fix that.
Well, somebody has been.

For the past five years Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL), a group of advocates inspired by and made up of artists at Latitude, has been patching sidewalks and making our pedestrian thoroughfares more accessible. Several artists at Latitude get around in wheelchairs or on scooters, which means that safe, accessible sidewalks aren’t just a matter of comfort. They’re a dire necessity.

PEAL had visits from Mayor Teresa Isaac, Mayor Jim Newberry and newly-elected Mayor Jim Gray.

That missing ramp may not stop you dead in your tracks. That missing brick may not make you topple over. The lack of a crosswalk may not threaten your life. But the lack of accessibility is a huge problem for those who rely on more than their legs to get from point A to point B.

Being the artists that they are, the folks at Latitude used art as a tool to raise awareness and affect change. They turned replacing paving bricks into performance art pieces and made political portraits to get the attention of city planners. They met with mayors and vice mayors and council members and offered more than 800 impromptu “Inaccessibility Tours” to show what a walk around the block looks like from their perspective.

The stick-to-it-tiveness of Latitude and other members of the PEAL Bricksquad paid off when downtown Lexington renovated its sidewalks in preparation for the World Equestrian Games.
To celebrate, the City Council Office will host a documentary exhibition that shows how a little creative thinking, some crafty interactions, and a lot of determination on the part of a few citizens can change the landscape of an entire city.
The exhibition opens tomorrow during Gallery Hop, 5-8pm, and is on the 5th floor of the City Government Building (200 E. Main St.)… which just happens to be right on the way to Witness @ J. Allen Studio + Spa.
Good thing it’s easier to get around now, ’cause you’ve got lots of places to go and things to see tomorrow!
From Business Lexington November 16, 2010 
Thanks from Latitude for Changes in Attitude
Accessibility issues addressed at street level
by Bruce Burris
Lexington, KY - Lexington is way behind the national curve when it comes to accessible infrastructure and related supports. But it has always been the goal of Latitude Artist Community to advocate for changes in positive and creative ways.

Founded 5 years ago, Latitude's Project Easy Access Lexington or "PEAL" has taken over 800 people on our "Inaccessibility Tour." We take pride in our popular 3 block, 20 minute tour of downtown Lexington which shows people many of the problems associated with accessibility.

PEAL has surprised and educated many simply by being able to show them the problems from our "street level" perspective – and it really strikes a chord. Just as important –we love giving the tour, we make new friends and we know we are contributing to our city.

The only problem is that now that Lexington has begun to address some of these problems - gone are many of the crumbling curbs, blocked ramps and gaping holes in the sidewalk - in parts of Lexington it is getting harder to give the tour and frankly we kind of miss all the startled oohs and ahs by many of those 800 who finally 'got It.'

I guess we'll just have to accept it as the price of success.

Project Easy Access Lexington or PEAL was begun by Latitude artist Belinda Sellers after she was unable to open the door to our local Starbucks from her wheelchair. On her return to Latitude she asked what we might be able to do about it and after some thinking we began PEAL. Since then there have seen many positive accessibility improvements related to our advocacy though ironically the door to Starbucks remains as it was.

For PEAL, however, it has never been about singling out businesses, people or for that matter, government. Our aim has been at a broader and more positive solution based on education and grass roots advocacy and a belief in the fundamental decency of Lexington's citizens.

We have done this through creating a number of intimate community oriented initiatives such as our "Bricksquad" efforts during which we literally repair holes in downtown sidewalks ourselves; the before mentioned Inaccessibility Tours; by advocating for an appropriate lift for the City Building; and larger community-wide advocacy events such as three public rallies which attracted many advocates and much publicity.

While we must acknowledge that much remains to be done, we also need to recognize that our community has taken some very significant steps forward. Lexington's citizens have really begun to step up to the challenges that are associated with overhauling outdated infrastructure and thinking.

Most significant of all has been the creation of the Mayors Commission for Citizens with Disabilities. Proposed initially by Latitude's PEAL, the commission was guided through council by Lexington citizens' advocate Joan Beck and Robynn Pease of the office of Aging Services.

Commission member Marybeth Valance of UK's Human Development Institute states, "Members on the Commission include representation of interested City Council members, City Government representatives of Departments which impact public services and ADA, as well as University and agency representatives who serve populations of those with disabilities. This mix of consumers and public service and private sector agencies provides a strong base for enabling action steps, bringing in services to educate the members and giving members the empowerment and sanction needed to accomplish improvements for those with disabilities."

In particular, we need to recognize Lexington's last two Mayors, Jim Newberry and Teresa Isaac, former Councilmember Don Blevins and outgoing Councilmember Andrea James who have provided unprecedented leadership and encouragement during their tenures. Most of all, we need to recognize the leadership of the commission's current chair, Morry Latour. Under his tenure the Commission has taken on transportation, streetscape and so much more.
We are amazed at the changes starting to take place.
Thanks Lexington.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Stay Out Late Rally -Summary

Our Stay Out Rally was a tremendous success- read about it and see more pics on the link below. Much thanks to our co-sponsor Sandy Cowan

Read about the Stay Out Late Rally- pics too!

Stay Out Late Rally- Monday August 3rd- Join us!

When: Monday August 3rd, 11am- 1pm
Where: Triangle Park (downtown Lexington, intersection N. Broadway and Main St.)
What: A very positive, fun rally to bring attention to the need for late night transportation and a variety of much needed accessibility supports for people considered to have disabilities who want to stay out late in downtown Lexington!
Rally 11am-1pm
11am- 12:15pm- Poster Rally bring colorful posters, noise makers etc. and help get our message out to the world
12:15- 12:45- Speakers include LFUCG Councilperson Peggy Henson, Morry La Tour- Commission for Citizens with Disabilities, Sandy Cowan- Activist, John Glisson- Independence Place, P.U.S.H. ( Journey of Hope- cross US Cycle Team), and more.
prizes for most creative posters and banners
For more info:Bruce Burris
Latitude Artist Community
(859) 806-0195
Link to Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL) poem- Stay Out Late:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKfbMtnxJp0
Sponsors include: Sandy Cowan, Latitude's Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL)Thanks to: Mia's Restaurant
Things you should know if you are going to the rally---- August can be hot so bring plenty of water. There are plenty of spots for relatively cheap food and drinks. There are public restrooms available at Lexington Center directly across the street from Triangle Park. There is plenty of pay parking within a block or two of Triangle Park and some free parking usually found on and beyond

Georgetown College students take our In Accessibility Tour

Click here to see Georgetown College students take our In-Accessibility Tour and to watch a great video we made with them called "The Cheering Section" - yes its about accessibility.

PEAL- Advocates for an accessible entrance to the City Building

PEAL- LFUCG (Lexington City Building)
Belinda Sellers with the architect (thanks Greg!) at the entrance to City Hall

PEAL- LFUCG entrance advocacy update: An important project for PEAL has been trying to convince the city to create an accessible entrance to our government building. Three years ago PEAL participated in an agreement that was to make the entrance accessible. Recently we have helped to finally get to get this important process underway.

Take an In-Accessibility Tour with Belinda Sellers- originally posted Nov 2008

Click here to read about one of our In- Accessibility Tours- and to see all the pictures!

Call Latitude (859 806-0195) and ask to take a free In- Accessibility tour of downtown Lexington!Over the past few years artist Belinda Sellers of Latitude's Project Easy Access Lexington (P.E.A.L.) has been providingInaccessibility Tours of downtown Lexington. Tours usually occur within a radius of three blocks or so from Latitude's own door and last appx. 20 minutes.

PEAL's Day of the Dead Shrine Oct. 2008

A Day of the Dead Shrine commemorating those who have been involved in accidents at the corner of North Broadway and Short Streets will be on public display on the sidewalk at N. Broadway near the Lexington Opera House from 12pm- 1pm on Monday November 3rd.

Latitude's Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL) has been involved in educating the public about accessibility concerns in downtown Lexington since 2005. Over a two week period during the summer of 2005 PEAL members conducted a survey at the intersection of N. Broadway and Short St.and observed the traffic light at this intersection for 100 cycles. During 100 cycles 106 vehicles ran the red light- or -better than 1 red light runner per light cycle. Additionally this a very dangerous place for wheelchairs- amazingly wheelchair cuts in the sidewalk force those in wheelchairs to actually merge with moving traffic in order to cross the street!For these reasons members of PEAL and all Latitude artists contributed to the shrine. The shrine depicts a traffic accident at the intersection.

PEAL's Belinda Seller's helps to construct the shrine

PEAL In-Accessibility Tours

A few years ago we began to give folks what we call our In-Accessibility Tour of downtown Lexington. The tour lasts only 20 minutes and it is all within 4 blocks of Latitude- yet in that space you will encounter most of the typical obstructions and obstacles facing you if you wish to access our downtown. Since we have begun - we have given the tour to over 500 people, including those in local government and business. Below are pics of PEAL members giving a tour to famed environmental activist Julia Butterfly.

famed environmental activist Julia Butterfly (far left) takes out In-Accessibility Tour

Latitude/(PEAL) Accessibility Rallies 2006 and 2007

In 2006 and 2007 Project Easy Access Lexington (PEAL)/Latitude sponsored two rallies to bring attention to basic accessibility issues in downtown Lexington........
PEAL Founder/Latitude artist Belinda Sellers leads rally!
Ace Weekly:
Melissa Amaral, Heady Spalding, Teresa Thompson and crew

Belinda Sellers leads our In-Accessibiity Tour- one of the features of both the 2006 and 2007 rallies

Lexington Mayor Teresa Issaccs drops by to chat as we prepare for our rally. Mayor Issaccs was one of our featured speakers