A Moment of Reflection with Tony

On this episode, Tony takes us back to our mission with the purpose and our intentions for The Independent Life podcast: providing a lens to what it’s like to have a disability and to live independently. In Season 1, we strived to accomplish this by talking to people with disabilities in order to gain insights into their lives through their lived experiences. We hoped that by doing so, we could build a community based on unity around disability.

For Season 2, we dove straight into a mini series on Emergency Preparedness to address access and functional needs for people with disabilities, before, during, and after disasters. We spoke with folks across organizations and agencies of people with disabilities, advocates of people with disabilities- to hear their perspective and understand areas that could use improvement in order to better serve those who are most vulnerable during times of disaster. Tony also introduces us to a new weekly addition: Monday Disability Dojos. Each Monday, Tony will talk about a topic, issue area, or philosophy related to independent living and dive into his thoughts about it and perhaps where the disability community needs to be thinking about and keep on the forefront.

SPEAKERS: Tony Delisle

Tony Delisle  00:00

To know where we are going, we first must know where we have been, and know where we are. So it’s with this that I bring an episode to take a little stock in each of those areas. And to really keep in mind what our mission is, in this podcast. Our mission is to provide a lens of what it’s like to have a disability and to live independently. We really try and do this by featuring people to talk with them to really gain their insights and their wisdom through their life experiences that they’ve had. And in doing so, really hope to build a community based on unity around disability. We’ve said many times how disability impacts all of us directly or indirectly, and can be an area where can really bring us together for a common good, and in doing so, we are challenged to be a better version of ourselves. And through becoming a better version of ourselves. We can serve others better, providing a lens, the world of disability, allowing that to be a vehicle to help unite us to become better people, to hopefully become a better society and a community. And we’ve done a really, I think, good job in season one in terms of getting a wide variety of people to come on to our podcast to share their perspectives about disability, living independently. We’ve heard from people that are doctors, we’ve heard from authors, we’ve heard from people with disabilities, we’ve heard quite a bit from people who are an independent living network that provide real meaningful services to people with disabilities to promote their independence. And I’ve learned a lot about those different services, and also the issue areas regarding disabilities, whether it’s education, whether it’s employment, whether it’s leading healthy lifestyles, stigma that’s related to disability, diversity within disability, intersectionality. We covered a lot of different ground within that first year, we also went into the legislation that’s going on around disability and really in real time and progress through the last legislative session here in Florida. I’ve learned a lot about it, learn about the policies that have been impacted through these efforts. And this brought us to a place where we’re going into Season Two with episodes that are very topical and relevant to the season that we’re in here in Florida. It is a very active season already with hurricanes and disaster preparedness. So at the beginning of the season, we lead with some episodes that address access and functional needs for people with disabilities before, during and after disasters from perspectives of people across organizations and agencies, people with disabilities, people that are advocates for people with disabilities to get their take on it. The first episode launched literally the day that hurricane Elsa was hitting Florida and it actually came through this area that we’re in, we’re recording Gainesville, Florida, pretty serendipitous of the timing of that episode with the hurricane hitting. And so this is a very relevant time to have episodes that really drill into that the season did launch with an episode addressing Education and Disability, our center is seeking to do better in terms of reaching counties within our catchment area. We serve 16 counties, many of them rural, and we seek to always do better in terms of doing more outreach and connecting with those schools. And we learned from three of the people, Alex, Emily and Ashlyn, who are helping to do more in that area. And we’ll continue to revisit them and see how their progress is going much like we did with the legislative updates as we enter into season two. So it’s very exciting that we’re going to be hitting very topical and timely discussions about it. We’re also going to be getting into the ever present evergreen issues surrounding disability, whether that’s housing, whether that’s employment, whether that’s how to live healthy lifestyles, and to abate some of the health inequities that exist regarding disabilities, home modifications, ramps, access, these things are still going to be topics that we’re going to learn more about through the lens of people that are living these lives and having the experiences that they have to bring to us to be able to do this. I’d also like to take the opportunity to give a really a lot of information about the Independent Living network and how we’ve responded during the COVID pandemic. We wouldn’t be doing this podcast right now. I don’t think if it really wasn’t due to the COVID pandemic, it’s been a means We can get information out there in a way that we’ve never done before. And due to COVID, it has allowed us the opportunities to be innovative and iterative on this. And the Independent Living network is something that’s very important to the independence of people with disabilities. During this time, the Independent Living network has done new services we’ve never done before due to the COVID pandemic, delivering food, and other essential resources to people and the community where they live, to be able to meet their needs. We have been impacted in other areas like employment, as many other people have, and have been doing efforts in those areas. centers have opened up their offices and centers to actually be vaccine sites during the pandemic to get people vaccinated and have done community based vaccinations home based vaccinations. We are in a place during the pandemic here where the centers are still continuing to operate. In a post COVID environment where we’re looking to open up our centers more to having people come to our centers than we did during the pandemic. We’re moving in a place of transition and into transition ourselves as centers and independent living network, there are a lot of opportunities for us to iterate to innovate, to become better. And we’ve seen a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to really reinvent ourselves as Centers for Independent Living, we have learned so much over the past year about how to meet needs in a ways that we have never met before. And we look to continue to learn from these lessons and to put them forward as we move along trying to navigate this very complicated pandemic. As I record, this is a time where things are spiking up again, there are a lot of concerns about, you know, how this might impact centers and our ability to continue to deliver our services to people that are the most vulnerable and had been shown to be the most vulnerable during this pandemic. So I am very excited about season two and how its unfolding, how will continue to unfold. One of the things that we’re looking to iterate on the podcast is that we’re going to be looking towards our Monday episodes, to be what we’re going to call a disability dojo, where I’m going to be talking about a topic or an issue area, or a piece of philosophy related to independent living, and really go in on some of my thoughts about it. And where perhaps the disability community needs to read thinking about or how I need to be thinking about things will be something I think it’d be a very good Compendium, to the more in depth episodes that we’re going to keep doing on Thursdays, where we’re going to meet people talk about people get into what their perspectives are their life experiences, we’re going to continue those Thursdays ones, but the Monday disability dojos will allow us an opportunity to go in on very specific areas regarding disability and independent life, give us some ideas and questions and thoughts to really chew on things I’m chewing on and trying to get my head around. And to be able to really come to a deeper and richer understanding of what it means to have a disability, what it means to live independently, how we can all come together in more union, how can we become better versions of ourselves? And how can we serve others to the best of our capabilities, the disability Dojo will, I believe provide us a really good space for us to be able to to examine those areas, and ask important questions, and to do some important reflections that are necessary because when we really get into this area of disability and independent living, there are so many questions that needed really serious contemplation. And so we’ll be looking to see what those episodes are all about. And hopefully can be enriching for yourself, no matter where you are on your path. Thank you so much for listening, it means the world to me that there are people out there that are interested in hearing the conversations that we’re having. I’m so very grateful for the guests that we’ve had, that we continue to have. And for those that we still have yet to reach out to. It is really for them that we can come to a better understanding of what it means to have a disability. It’s from them that we can relate to one another. And to realize we have more in common than we do different. It’s through them, that we can perhaps have our hearts peirced to new understandings, to get to know people that we don’t know, then that maybe can be a vehicle for us to be able to learn more about ourselves, and to always every day to continue to improve, be better than we were yesterday. Maybe not where we want to be tomorrow. But that always pulls us forward into being better versions of ourselves. And then again at the end of the day, that can allow us to have more capacity to be better friends, family members, citizens and caregivers for others because we are talking about independence, but we can’t have independence without interdependence and connection with one another. One of the opening quotes for this podcast is something that I I’d also like to share and perhaps would reshare, because I really do feel like it is always relevant in terms of the arena of life, and in particular, and often times with disabilities. And it goes, you know, obstacles are the way that often are the impediments to our action, advances, our action, which stands in the way becomes in the way, the obstacles are the way, the way that we can become better versions of ourselves, learn the values that are needed, in order to become better. And so I leave you with this to really think about, you know, even though that we are going through a time that is very challenging for all of us, we’re going through things that are really pushing our boundaries, that in the end, I hope will ultimately serve us to become that which we were made to be. And so I look forward to continuing these, having these conversations. It’s very much an honor to be a part of this process, which I’m finding to be actually the outcome that we’re all looking for, and that through this process, we are become better versions of ourselves. So thank you for listening. We look forward to continuing to bring you excellent content, and until the next time, onward and upward.

Amy Feutz  11:15

Thanks for listening to The Independent Life podcast brought to you by the Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida. If you like what you hear, please rate review and subscribe. And if you know anyone who might benefit from listening, share this podcast and invite them to subscribe to for questions or suggestions or if you have a story you’d like to share. Please email us at cilncf.org@gmail.com or call us at 352-378-7474. Thanks for joining us. Until next time, support, advocate and empower each other to live the independent life.