A conversation featuring Crip Camp directors, James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, Crip Camp’s Chief Inclusion Consultant and Impact Producer Andraéa LaVant, and artist and social justice advocate, Reveca Torres.
Crip Camp, released on Netflix in 2020, covers the story of a groundbreaking summer camp that galvanizes a group of teens with disabilities to help build a movement, forging a new path toward greater equality. Panelists explored how building power, like was done at the summer camp or through art, propels a movement and individuals to make a culture change to build a more equitable and inclusive society.
>> EMILY BLUM: OK, let's get started. This is Emily Blum speaking. Thank you everyone for joining us this afternoon, including so many Advancing Leadership members and those who made a donation to support the accessibility of this program. I want to thank today's partners. This event is co-presented by the Chicago cultural accessibility consortium known as CCAC. We are also thankful for our partner real abilities film festival Chicago. Real abilities is dedicated to sharing the human experience through art and film. Advancing Leadership member and reliabilities film has been instrumental in putting this together and we are grateful for her support. For those who are unfamiliar with Advancing Leadership, we are a network of positive disrupters. All people who with disabilities to create an equitable and inclusive society. We believe our experiences and leadership as people with disabilities are vital. Thank you for joining us for our conversation featuring James LeBrecht, Crip Camp producer Andraea LaVant and social justice advocate Reveca Torres. They are joined with Risa Rifkand, my colleague. Risa serves on the board and steering committee of CCAC.
A few housekeeping notes and a few more Thank you. We sent out a guide in accessing in Zoom and we have CART and ASL Interpreters. if you any challenge accessing these features. My colleague Alex will be monitoring. Submit your questions via the Q&A function. This meeting is being recorded so we can share it with those who were not able to attend and a big thank you to our sponsor who is supporting this series. Gifts like hers make events like this possible and accessible. If you are a person with a disability living in the Chicago region and are interested in joining our community, we want to hear from you. In the chat box, we will put a link in to the website about how you can become a member. We want to remember Stacey Park Melbourne who passed away last month. Stacey was instrumental in making this event possible. On the screen is a photo of Stacey, a mixed race Korean and queer person holding a paper sign that says cherished.
I want to share an excerpt from a commencement ceremony. You and all of us together we are the ones we have been waiting for that is the essence of what I want to in part to you. No one is coming to save us but it is OK. We are the ones we have been waiting for. There is no reason to feel shame for who we are. We are born into this world exactly who we are. We are who we are meant to be. It does not mean we can't grow and change and be better, grow, change, be better. Also know you are a beautiful human being who deserves love and tenderness and care as you are. You do. We do. We deserve to have our boundaries listened to. We deserve respect. We deserve dignity. We deserve to have our humanity seen. We deserve an opportunity to contribute to society. If you're unfamiliar with Stacey's work, I encourage you to find her hash tag. The link is in the chat. I will turn it over the Risa.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Hi, everyone. Thank you, Emily. this is Risa and I'm a glad to be here with you today. My background is a black background with the advancing leadership colors with pink and purple, and hopefully it highlights my pink lipstick hair and I'm a woman of color.
With that, my style of moderating is asking questions and letting the panelists take it away. So with that, I want to do that and turn it over to our panelists with the first question of asking each of you to identify yourself, how do you describe yourself and in the context of how do you claim power as a person with a disability or how does Crip Camp claim power? I will say Nicole, why don't you go first since you're to my right and we can go from there. Nicole, you're on mute.
>> NICOLE NEWNHAM: Sorry about that. Hi, I'm glad to be here. Thank you for hosting this conversation. I'm Nicole Newnham and I'm one of the co-directors of Crip Camp with James LeBrecht and I'm a 50-year-old white woman with shoulder-length with brownish hair and I'm sitting in front of a brownish wall. I think that one of the most profound ways that Crip Camp claims power by being a film that is told from the perspective of ARE storyteller with a disability, which is James LeBrecht. Another way it claims power is by being a film co-directed and produced by a person with a disability and produced with a person with a disability and picked up by the Obamas and navigating those media platforms and those companies, always coming from that perspective of the people in the film and the filmmaker being people with disabilities.
I think we have been able to claim some power in a way that has been, you know, fairly extraordinary is one way.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you. Reveca, why don't you go next?
>> REVECA TORRES: Thank you. Like Nicole said, thank you for including me as well in this panel. My name is Reveca Torres. I'm an artist and founder and director of an organization called Backbones. I'm co-director for the Real Abilities film here in Chicago. I'm a Mexican American disabled woman from a spinal cord injury. I use a power chair. I have brown eyes, brother hair shoulder length. I'm wearing a white tee shirt and behind me, you can see my office and fireplace and a TV
In regards to the way that I claim power as an artist, I think I do that through my art, whether it is visual art or using writing, storytelling just talking to people, telling people my story, but I also think showing up you and being present in the community and showing up and being present for my peers and my fellow people with disabilities when they are, you know, when they have something going on, being there to support the community. I think it is very important.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you, Reveca. Andraea, why don't you introduce yourself?
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: Sure. My name is Andraea LaVant and I'm the producer for Crip Camp campaign and I am black, woman and I am sitting in my power wheelchair and where am I, Tempe, Arizona. It is hard to know where you're at these days. I'm in Tempe, Arizona outside of Phoenix. I'm wearing a black and white dress today with a crisscross pattern and I have glasses and my curly hair is swept to one side and I'm wearing pink lipstick for occasion.
I'm sitting in my living room/home office with a bunch of colorful things in the background ground, most particularly my teal couch that I love a lot. Let's see, how do I claim power? I think I intentionally claim power, especially now and we'll talk about this more, but rather than dancing around the word, I just say I'm a black woman. I'm a black disabled woman and opposed to other things right now means a lot to me so, I like to be very frank with all of those pieces of my identity. And that to me fills the space. I also take up space in all the ways I can and one of the things for me personally, that I appreciate the tune to do is be in spaces and places that don't necessarily talk about disability or speak disability on the regular, so in the corporations, in the organizations, you know wherever where they aren't necessarily, their eyes aren't necessarily open, yet if there is some way for me to push through the door then that's one way I like to claim power.
The other big thing is just having a heart for young people and even the next generation of this movement and having conversations with them is probably my favorite thing. Thanks for having me.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you. Last but not least, Jim?
>> JIM LEBRECHT: Hi, and again thank you for inviting us.
This is extremely meaningful to be in conversation with all of you today. My name is Jim. I'm a he/him is how I identify. I am sitting in my home always that looks like it is auditioning for the next episode of hoarders that is why I position my camera very, very carefully so you can't see all the stuff that is packed in here from making the film. I'm a 64-year-old white man wearing glasses. I have longish hair and a knit cap on and my -- and a Grateful Dead tee shirt because I'm a Dead Head. How do I claim? I echo a lot of things that Reveca said and Andraea said in regards to I try to be in the community. I try to be supportive of organizations, but also within the entertainment industry, I worked as a sound mixer and I had a sound mixer company and I pushed hard for inclusion for people with disabilities in the industry, which means advocating for accessibility, not only physical spaces, but just the perceptional. In other words, nobody is going to invite you if they don't think you can do the job or don't exist throughout, so really advocating for a number of years. Diversity and inclusion and can't ignore folks with disabilities and that is how I show up and that is how I claim it has been remarkable to see how Crip Camp has sparked a lot of movement towards all of these goals that, in fact, all of us share.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you all so much for the great introductions. Certainly better than I could have introduced you, so appreciate that. I'm going to go in reverse order, so Jim you can get ready to talk next. My next question, Andraea you said something of claiming power by talking about disability in spaces that aren't talking about disability. For me, growing up, I didn't learn disability history in school. I wish I knew enough when I was a kid to bring that up, but I didn't. Watching "Crip Camp" and what was so powerful for me was leadership and power was being built within the community. I'm wondering, Jim, how do we start to get more of these voices and stories told? "Crip Camp" is doing that in a big way on Netflix, but how do we continue that?
>> JIM LEBRECHT: Well, I will say my sense of talking to people is that there is a Crip Camp effect in regards to projects within Hollywood that have a disability center or getting more and more meetings. I think "Crip Camp" has proven there is a wealth of stories that have yet to be told and it doesn't -- when it comes to disability, it does not have to be all tragedy or overcoming unsurmountable odds, but you getting the 504 signed was overcoming incredible odds.
I think that, I think that we need to just consistently be out there kind of supporting the current generation of folks and that I think that finding, searching out our community and the people that are out there is vitally important and it is always up to, you know, ourselves to educate ourselves. There are plenty of resources out there for people to get more connected and to learn and learn about different disabilities, coming from different cultures and racism and those things are vitally important because that kind of community grows much more power.
>> RISA RIFKAND: This is Risa. There we are. Sorry, Jim, you cut out for a second, but I think you're back.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: So sorry. So sorry. I would say that we all have to be vocal about what we want to see and you can point, fortunately, you can point to our film and a few other shows nowadays that are really kind of paving the way in regards to disability I like people with disabilities in shows and it not be just about their disability.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you, yes, I agree. Andraea did you want to add anything to what Jim said on the question of how do we continue to get more stories and voices heard and told?
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: Number one, I think we ask. It seems simple and yet we create -- you know, our goal as an impact campaign has been to create space in as many ways as possible knowing we're in a virtual world and it may not have looked like what the original intent may have been, but you know our goal has been to create space through various programs, at least get people talking and then we're watching and we are again trying to bring those even the organizations into the fold, thinking about other movement, which I'm sure we'll talk about. While the spotlight is kind of on us to just get people to see, not just, you know, even the traditional story, but more of these, you know, people in communities that we don't know about that are doing -- whether it is doing amazing work or having these lived experiences that we need to know about.
I think we're seeing a lot around black lives matter and people are like, oh, wait. Let me ask some questions and see who is out there, it is the same that that needs to happen in disability and for those of us when we do get to places and we have opportunities that we bring people along with us. I think that has been another great, you know, been so great about the impact campaign and with the film team and how open they have been to just allowing us to kind of, they are going to go, OK, who else can we bring? Who else can we talk to and elevate as many voices as possible, so yeah.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you, yeah, I'm going come to Reveca and Nicole in one second. Andraea, I think the virtual nature of the Crip Camp virtual camp opportunity has really allowed for more voices to be heard and shared with more people, travel not being a barrier, other barriers of technology and accessibility, but it has been powerful to hear so many stories we didn't know yet. I didn't know if you wanted to add anything to that, but I think that is a perfect example of how we adapt in the current situation to do that.
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: You're exactly right. We originally had ideas for in-person things and like you said that would have engaged some people and that would have been great and yet, by taking this virtual, I always talk about when Stacey and I were dreaming this up and going, do you think we could get 1,000 people to participate and we have close to 8,000 people who have registered from all over the world. They, you know, at least 20% at last count or international participants and seeing what is happening on Facebook and we have been intentional about kind of not taking over spaces, but allowing things to -- not even allowing because that makes it sound like we're an overlord, but you hopeful that people will create their own spaces in their own communities based on this and that is what we're seeing in Facebook groups and what is happening on Twitter and so many things.
I talked to a friend the other day who was saying during the fireside chats that we do, which are like where we have these break moments during the sessions where people can answer a journaling prompt and she said she and another friend of hers actually do it together like over the phone. They are in the same location, but they are on the phone or on, you know, some other platform and they're using that time to connect. We're just seeing really, you know, cool ways that people are engaging and, yet, I often say this is what we do well anyway, right, this innovation and as disabled folks, yeah, it is plate great.
>> RISA RIFKAND: That is great. For folks who may not be familiar to what we're talk about, every Sunday evening, 4:00 P.M. Central Time, our weekly gathering and people can still sign up by going to the Crip Camp website. If you haven't yet, I encourage everyone to check it out. I'm going to go back to Reveca, the question is how do we continue to get more stories told and your thoughts on that?
>> REVECA TORRES: I agree a lot with everything that Andraea just said and providing opportunities for more storytelling and there is so many platforms to do that, whether it is film or art, blogging, you know, social media, whatever it is there is opportunities to do that. Also, I think you know you mentioned something about the innovation with the community and that is so true, often there is a lot of professional development opportunities, but they don't always necessarily feel accessible to us and I think we can create our own and help elevate people that are just starting to learn, maybe they are an emerging artist, emerging filmmaker, whatever, but like I said, bring them along with you and give these people an opportunity to have more opportunities and more platforms to share their stories. And I guess sometimes, you know, sometimes it means getting out of the way and let someone else share their story and be willing to do that and be aware that you should do that.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you. Yeah, getting out of the way is a really important thing, sometimes that is more voices being heard. Nicole, do you want to add anything?
>> NICOLE NEWNHAM: Yeah, I would just say that to me coming into the film industry when I did almost 30 years ago or something as a woman, I felt like there were a lot of presumptions about things I couldn't do or rooms I couldn't be in or would never be in in the industry and I have seen that shift and I think that so many other things that were important about making that happen for women are also important about breaking down the barriers, at least in thinking about the film and television industry, which is one tiny part of storytelling.
I think those things, you know, like basically having people, getting people in writers' rooms, getting people to be on the boards of the nonprofit organizations that support independent storytelling, bringing the perspective of disability and training about disability history, difficult justice to organizations that are, you know, exist to promote diverse perspectives, but until recently had not included disability in their definition of diversity is really important. That is some work that we have been trying to be involved with because we worked with Crip Camp for five years, so if we got invited to an opportunity and it did not include disability, we would fight that fight and we have seen developments and improvements over the last five years, but we're still at the beginning of that and I think one of the things I'm the most excited about, well, I don't know what I'm most excited about, but one of the exciting things that Andraea and Stacey dreamed up was this fellowship to support creatives to try to get their projects to the next level. They will be mentored by people who have really achieved something in their field with a disability and Jim and I get to, you know, to support that storytelling, so I'm really excited about it and I think we do feel we're starting to see, you know, a real awareness that this sort of specificity and richness of these different experiences that people aren't aware of is something really valuable within the industry.
Someone asked us this morning, something to the effect of were you trying really intentionally to make fully human portraits of the characters of Crip Camp to humanize people. Of course, we wanted to do that, but that is how you tell a good story and make a good film, it is just that so many of the storytelling from Hollywood and the industry around disability, people with disabilities have been confined to these specific roles. I think just breaking out of that however it can possibly be done is going to lead to so much more rich storytelling and I think it is really exciting.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: There is one important thing that in talking to the motion picture academy around people with disabilities, which is a broader thing is people have to be willing to identify as disabled and there is so much stigma involved, especially when you have a hidden disability.
I might lose my job or I might be considered the one with diabetes versus the one that is really good at writing scripts, but I think there's a benefit for the industry to know that there is many more people than they realize with disabilities or a strong connection to disability in their lives that takes a little bit of a risk, but overcoming stigma is something that is holding all of us back in every aspect of our lives.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Yeah, Jim, Nicole, thank you for that. I want to come back for the need for more people to self identify and the lack of leadership, the lack of people with disabilities in leadership positions like nonprofit boards is aligned with Advancing Leadership is looking at. I'm going to come back to that, so hold those thoughts. My next question is, in "Crip Camp" there was a story, a sharing of how powerful civil rights groups were like The Black Panthers were in the Civil Rights movement. How can we continue to keep this intersectional approach moving forward especially in this moment where we have seen white supremacy play out in the violent murderers of people with color and people of color with disabilities as well. Andraea, you mentioned black lives matter movement forever, I will let anyone to jump in because I don't want to roll call forever, so anyone who wants to start, please do.
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: I can say something about that. I think it is similarly, I mean, I know that it's been a personal desire of mine for a long time to be in certain spaces thinking about certain organizations that may focus on other areas of, you know, my personal identity, so as a black person, you know, goodness I would love if the NCAAP came out and talked about disability or whatever. I'm grateful that in this time and kind of before the past few weeks that was really, Stacey and I, again, when we were talking about "Crip Camp" was thinking about the cross movement solidarity, which even when you look at disability justice principles thinking about that and thinking about social justice broadly, so that was something we were intentional about thinking through strategy. For example, we're grateful to have been able to develop a partnership with Color of Change -P and that is who we're doing the emergency relief fund with and just nurturing relationships, so I think that, you know its been present joining whether it is volunteer boards. Sometimes we don't see the straightway end, but it is making our way through. I can think of multiple organizations I'm just going to go to this event and then I'm going see what other events they have and do you know what I mean, like I said earlier, push my way through the door. Sometimes, unfortunately, that has had to happen and then there are other organizations quite frankly that feel more open to and "Crip Camp," what I love about "Crip Camp," it is a conversation starter. It has been great because we don't have to give people a long list of articles to read or a book to read. We can say, we watch this film, it is less than two hours and what we have seen it does open the door for more conversation and ability to address longer-term issues.
We're really seeing that in various areas with organizations and movements that perhaps we haven't felt like we've been able to address before, so.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Thank you. I'm going to go to the next panelist who wants to jump in with a quick reminder to the audience that in 10 minutes, we will be shifting to questions from the audience, so feel free to submit your questions in the Q&A function. Whoever wants to add in, please do.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: You know I was so concentrated on Andraea's answer, I lost the specific question and maybe it is because I'm hitting my midafternoon slump. Do you mind repeating it, please?
>> RISA RIFKAND: I understand. It is recognizing how in "Crip Camp" the Black Panthers supported the Civil Rights movement and how do we keep an intersectional approach in inclusion you in this moment as well?
>> JIM LEBRECHT: Well,ic that fortunately, that our impact campaign is very, very much focused on intersectionality, but it is important for us to speak up you wherever we are. It is not, as a disabled person, it is not just being involved with issues around disability, but it is really speaking up about the full community of people with disabilities and that means looking out for ableism against other disabilities. It looks at making sure that inclusion includes -- really looking out for racism and ableism wherever you go and being willing to stick your neck our if that is what it is going to take to say something or to stop a conversation and when you do that, not only are you -- you're also modeling for other people how to do it themselves and so I'm not suggesting people take risks that are going to cause them anxiety or pain or hurt, but what I'm saying is, you need to get engaged well beyond your specific identity.
>> REVECA TORRES: I agree with that. This is Reveca. Learning from each other, learning from different movements outside of our own, I think is really important and after, like you mentioned Risa, not knowing about the history of disability, after watching "Crip Camp," I went down the rabbit hole and was like trying to learn as much as I could and currently right now with the black lives matter, there has been a lot of information I didn't know. I took it upon myself to learn and I think doing that, learning from other movements and listening and, one thing I really liked about the film and learning about the Black Panthers stepping in and helping. They did not come in and say this is what we're going to do. They sort of was like how can we help and let the leaders in the disability community take the lead and direct what was going to happen.
Another thing I wanted to mention, too, was you know how people say like what is your love language? I think there is like an advocacy language type thing, because some people like to be out there and protest, some people like to write letter, some people make a video. We all have different ways we approach advocacy and change and I think they are very, very valid ways of doing it and all have a space within making change, so not necessarily, you know criticizing someone for doing it awe certain way or another, I think you know supporting each other would be a better avenue.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Yeah, this is Risa. Reveca, I think that is interesting. With our technology and ways to protest and show up that, you know, are equally important to to sit-ins and the in-person protests, so I echo that and I know there has been a toolkit that has been put out about how we can all participate even if we can't do so in person. Nicole, I hope you don't mind, I'm going to try to squeeze in one more question that will help get your thoughts on the former question, but also on this new question going back to the leadership thought. At Advancing Leadership, our vision is to have people with disabilities lead with power and influence with full participation and equal opportunity and, you know I think part of that has to do, when do we volunteer for nonprofit boards and how do we bring forward our disability and get our disability lens into that work? What do you hope today's emerging leaders with disabilities will bring to that future and current leadership positions?
>> NICOLE NEWNHAM: Yeah, I mean it is so powerful. I feel like I'm very, very lucky to be working with Stacey and Andraea and seeing that living example every single day. You can see, we're on a phone call with Facebook or Google or whatever. The perspective is so different and I think it's, you know, a lot of times the way film impact campaigns are structured is the campaign is kind of run by the filmmakers and maybe like an impact producer who specializes in running in impact campaigns is hired and maybe people from the community is brought in as consultants or organizers to bring people to events and impact the community. We realized early on we have to do flip the model if we want to do something essential.
We took all of the resources we had for the campaign and platform and said to Stacey and Andraea, what do you want to do, you know, and I guess it is a little bit like what Reveca said about stepping back and letting someone else tell their story. It is stepping back and let someone else say what is needed? What would be powerful? What is innovative? What connections can be made, because those people are close to the community that lived experience and know what needs to happen?
It's been quite extraordinary to feel, because I have done impact campaigns on other films the other way. It has been extraordinary to see and feel the difference and the other thing I wanted to say more generally about intersectionality is, you know, I have found that learning about there was a virtual Crip Camp session on the history of black disabled activism that was last weekend. I found that perspective was so helpful to me, not only in kind of learning about that, which was very powerful, but just kind of like getting a broader, deeper understanding of the larger forces that are oppressing people and the Colonial history and capitalist history that we all share that has impacted everybody. I think that, you know, lens can be applied to people working on social justice in schools and any kind of institutional setting and immigration. I think it is going to be, not only is it going to advance the cause of people with disabilities, but it is going to be liberating and empowering for everybody.
>> RISA RIFKAND: Jim, Andraea, Reveca, anything specifically for emerging leaders with disabilities that you hope they would learn in this moment and take with them in their future position or allies?
>> JIM LEBRECHT: I think what has been important to me, although I'm not an emerging leader is to do my homework. And that it is not up to others to kind of talk us through this, but we need to really step up and do our own education, so for me, an important resource. There has been two important resources for me, one of them has been Alice Wong's disabilities disability project. Following her has been incredible. It opens my mind every time I'm there or I get an e-mail.
The other one was the citizens valid came out with a disabilities justice handbook and it is available on their website and I found that reading it gave me a great deal of knowledge that I just didn't -- I didn't know I didn't have and I have an appreciation for that ignorance is not -- is not benign, but it can be harmful. I think those are the important things that really kind of think about.
>> RISA RIFKAND: This is Risa. Thanks, Jim. I think it is basically time to switch to Q&A from the audience. I know there is so much more we can all say, but I want to give space for our audience to get engaged. My colleague Alex Perez-Garcia will read the questions one by one. Alex, why don't you read the first one?
>> Alex: Hi, this is Alex speaking. Our first question is from Stephanie. Thank you all for sharing your insights today. I have a curious filmmaker/editor question. What for you was the most challenging or controversial part of the story to edit that caused internal debate and discussion?
>> REVECA TORRES: Good question.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: You know I think that, Nicole, if I can start to answer this question.
>> NICOLE NEWNHAM: Yeah, of course.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: I think our relationship has been based on trust and knowing each other for a long time. Also, this really true environment of believing that in the long run that if one of us was unhappy that they would be heard and we wouldn't -- there was never a power play. There was never a time we kind of went, well, you don't know what you're doing. If it was like if we couldn't convince each other of a thought or a question then sometimes we tabled it, but we always came back and found a consensus or understanding and that could take a day or it could take three months. There were was certainly times when I was not understanding certain things in the film, but I think that it wasn't so controversial, but it was more of just understanding the language of what was going on and so -- Nicole, what do you say about all of that?
>> NICOLE NEWNHAM: I mean it is funny because it wasn't really a story whereas an editing team, you know, Jim and I are also editors where there was a lot of controversy. It was more like we had this dedication to letting the footage and the experiences that we brought in to the editing room on what the story needed to be, which may sound abstract. It was really true. We didn't want to come in with a preconceived idea, so we were constantly moving things around, having test screenings, seeing what was striking people and what wasn't.
I think the biggest editorial struggle that we had, actually, was how do we balance the personal and the political? How do we -- how can we have Jim as a character who kind of guides us into this world, but also let people know this is not a biopic and this is not Jim's story and for the perspective to be carried forward from Jim to Denise or Judy or Lionel or whoever the other characters were and that was tricky to figure out how to do and how to get the balance of it right, you know. It was also really hard to figure out how to create a language that would let us spend the first 40 mince of the film in the camp just completely immersed in that world, but then let people know we are kind of switching gears and going into what all of our characters experienced outside of camp and how we were going to find people in this historical news footage, you know. It took a long time to figure out how to crack that one to the extent that we had people coming back, well, are you sure, maybe the whole film should be in the camp or is this two films? It feels like two chapters and we just kept at it and at it and at it until we figured out how to make it feel like, oh, wow there is Judy and there is Neil and Denise in the protest and kind of constantly bring it back to those characters who are experiencing the further history that we were continuing to follow.
>> Alex: Great. Thank you. Another question from Vaughan, so throughout "Crip Camp" many folks noted they did not have many role models with disabilities growing up. How do you think viewing "Crip Camp" on Netflix, a mass media platform as a child with disability at this moment can be impactful to those children?
>> JIM LEBRECHT: Well, one of the -- one of the things that we kind of talk about, basically, how do you know a better life is possible if you don't see it displayed for you and so, I think when you see older folks with disabilities who have jobs, have families, who are really engaging in life, you know you don't have to be on 14 ditch boards and running the food bank at the same time, but you can see that people are living lives of their own choosing. You know if it is possible for them, maybe it is possible for me. You can look at this film and see what the lessons are and the lessons of the film, I think one of the most important lessons is how important community is and to engage with other people. You don't have to reinvent the wheel. If you're a kid, your parents don't have to all of a sudden figure this out. There are resources throughout if they can find it and if you're a kid with disability there are so many other kids out there just like you and they are going through the same joys and the same grief that you're going through. You just have to, you know, you have to see that and engage with it and find a way to do that. Certainly, for me one of my ways was my parents was able to get me into a summer camp, but there are other ways to engage. In the time of COVID, I believe there are ways for us to get engaged online that are meaningful and/or joyous and are uplifting.
>> RISA RIFKAND: This is Risa. Don't want to put you on the spot, Reveca, but I'm curious if you have putting more people with disabilities like "Crip Camp" and how that translates into a role model?
>> REVECA TORRES: I became disabled at 13, so I was a child and didn't really have other people that I knew with disabilities until I went to college. And when I started meeting other people with disabilities, I think it created like Jim said a community and peers that I could look to and see that, you know I can do that too. ky travel. I can go to school. I can have a job, I can date, so I think it is very, very impactful to have films such as these, such as "Crip Camp" not only tells the history, but also shares that community, shares joy and also things that are challenges. I forget where I was going with this. It was good. Yeah, I think it is important to have those stories told and I also recall, you know, watching films as a kid where there is a person in a wheelchair and the same tropes, so sad and always made me feel so uncomfortable and I didn't know why until now I can sort of put that language to it, of like, what is inspiration and what is ableism. Ping it does a lot of good in a sense that we also get to learn about our history and about where our place is in the world and that we have a space and we belong in it.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: Can I just say that, Andraea, you worked with Girl Scouts of America, right, how many years?
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: Seven.
>> JIM LEBRECHT: I'm wondering, I'm dying to know what your answer is for the representative of having worked with the Girl Scouts.
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: Yeah, we need to see people who look like us. To me, it is that, you know, I was having this conversation as a matter of a fact with Alice Wong yesterday about growing up in a family that was very, you know, my parents went to a historically black college and there was a concept of black pride that resonated throughout our family, but the concept of disability pride didn't enter my life until the early -- until I was in my late 20's. The idea that young people, that whoever sees the film can be introduced to that by happening to flip through a Netflix is just powerful and it reminds me of, you know, not to be political, but it reminds me of the stories that came out with, you know, when President Obama was elected and now people seeing themselves as the President. They never would have thought that could have -- you know what I mean, that wasn't a thing when you look at the history of all of the Presidents that came before, right, so having this film that can go oh, wait there is me. You know? And so that, you know, knowing the film was created by, you know, a person with a disability is yet another layer and so yeah there is so much pow there and, again having worked with a lot of girls and trying to do, you know, having to C.E.O. a lot of programs to help them accept themselves. This does a quick job of doing that, so I think it is great.
>> REVECA TORRES: Can I jump in again because it triggered a thought. Something James said earlier about having that stigma of, like identifying as someone with a disability and the moment when that sort of shifts to become pride that is an awesome thing to have pride in your community and to feel this connection and I think for me, it transformed the way that I -- all of my artwork and the way -- the voice I had through my art when I developed pride in the disability community instead of shame.
>> ANDRAEA LAVANT: I would say often we develop pride when we know there is a history and there is a work that has been done, so going back to the story of, I knew about Malcolm X. I knew about Martin Luther King, you know all of these other leaders in the black community, not necessarily because it was not taught in school, but because it was taught in my home. I knew you all of this work had been done and I knew my history and that is what "Crip Camp" does. It tells the story like, wait a second. Oh, my goodness. This is so cool. I want to be a part, not only do I want to be a part and active, but I can be proud of this because all of these people came before me.
>> RISA RIFKAND: This is such amazing conversation. Vaughan, thank you for the question and I think it resonated with a lot of panelists, obviously and myself too. I look forward to when I can see myself represented, too by more public. Figures and leaders. With, that we're out of time, which is wild. I want to invite our Executive Director Emily Blum to coming up, make exciting announcements and close out.
>> EMILY BLUM: Thank you, Risa, James, Nicole, Reveca, Andraea. I think this conversation could have gone on much, much longer, but we want to get people going on their evenings, but thank you so much. Thank you to all of our guests who joined today and a big thank you to all of those who donated have power series spencer and board member, because you help make this event and others accessible and equitable. So before we conclude this event, we have a few exciting announcements. Our panelists teed up this next announcement very well.
Please join us for July 14 for disability visibility featuring activist Alice Wong. She was mentioned a couple of time this is evening. She is the editor of disability visibility and she will be joined by her contributor to her new book and the conversation will be moderated by Derrick Dawson. A link to that is in the chat. If you are a person with a disability living in the Chicago region and interested in joining our community, visit ADA25chicago.org to become a member. We are opening our application to become an institute fellow, so stay tuned for that. If you would like to continue to see Advancing Leadership produce accessible events like these, please consider contributing to our program and stay engaged with us, follow us on social media, Facebook, Twitter, linked in. We will be publishing this video and recap of this even for you to watch again or share with your friends and family.
With that, thank you and good night.
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