For those of you who may have come across this website because of an interest in disability issues, I want to share a film that I was a part of this past summer – a documentary called Independence in Sight. It was made by my students at The Factory, the after-school program I run, about an amazing institution called The Hatlen Center for the Blind. Hatlen is a year-long immersive training program where young people develop the independence they need to live on their own by living in an apartment and taking living skills classes from the Hatlen instructors. Click here to see the video.

The September 2010 issue of Harper’s magazine has a great memoir piece by Roxana Robinson called “Paralyzed: Learning to Live in Polio’s Shadow”. (Subscription required) Robinson discusses how a disability, in this case the long-term effects of her mother’s childhood battle with Polio, can affect family dynamics for decades. I shared the article with my mother and we marveled at the parallels between the Robinson’s experiences and our own.

One passage that struck me occurs near the end of the article:

  • “Pain takes up residence within a family, just as it does within a person. No one knows how to deal with it. People figure out their own responses, which may or may not be useful. Pain within a family is crippling. It uses up all the oxygen in the room. It limits your gestures and your certainty. It drains you of confidence. Pain imposes a black silence, where there might be something else – air words, tenderness. Here’s what I wish. I wish I had known a way to feel my mother’s pain and to feel sorry for her instead of feeling helpless and angry, instead of keeping that huge dark reservoir of love and pity and sorrow sealed off from myself and from her.”

I am happy to report that Mothersbane was awarded the Best of Festival and Audience Choice awards at the 7th annual Focus Film Festival in Chico, CA. The Focus Film Festival programs films that “explore the complexities of the human experience.” I was lucky enough to attend the two-day festival, and saw some wonderful films, including Marwencol and the Academy-Award winning Music by Prudence. Many thanks to Mary Ann Weston and the good people at the Far Northern Regional Center.

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