Wednesday 22 Nov 2017
Sweat drenched Larissa Macfarlane’s, Hannah and Raphael Kaleb clothes.
“Where’s the bathroom?”
“I’ve made friends with the local MP. We are welcome to use their kitchen and bathroom facilities any time.” answered Larissa.
We engaged with pedestrians as they complimented us on our work. They wanted their friends and families to see what we were doing. “It’s good for our community” was their attitude.
I noticed a number of council workers wearing safety vests in the vicinity. They smiled as we laboured in 35 degree heat.
600 metres away I heard peak hours trains returning city workers to their air conditioned homes. We still had hours of pre-opening preparations ahead of us. We kept going.
It took 15 minutes to wheel the scaffolding laden with materials through the streets of Footscray to return it. We didn’t have money to hire a van.
Thursday 23 Nov 2017
Larissa rang me around 10 am. “Raphael, I’m exhausted from the previous three days. I need all my energies for Friday.
I didn’t ask why. In the Disability world people work to what they can do. They need to push through barriers others don’t understand. Most days Larissa MacFarlane has hydrotherapy for chronic pain management. Larissa has an acquired brain injury after she was hit by a car 18 years ago.. Art helps her express her world.
Three weeks earlier Larissa asked me to submit a piece of art for Disability Pride.
“What you do with words and pictures is special. I would like you to get involved.”
“Sure. It’s an honour you asked me.” Larissa is a very gifted creative who has won a number of Art awards That night I went to bed at 1:45 AM designing Reality City.. I had being up since 4:13 am. A twenty one and half hour day. I was going to Mildura the next day by bus.
Friday November 24 2017. Opening Night
The creative gods blessed us with tears of joy. They knew this was a step towards humanity.
Courage is standing for what we believed in. Disability Pride
Over 40 artist and creatives working together as one. For a common belief. Disability Pride
One person drove 90 minutes in peak hour traffic to join us. That’s Disability Pride.
For many people, it was the first time, they publicly identified a having a disability. We understood. We created a safe, secure place where people accepted each other to express themselves in a way that held meaning for them. Everyone joined together sharing their stories of their journey. That’s Disability Pride
They were volunteers showing others the accessible bathrooms were. Teams worked together under Larissa’s instructions as she taught others how to put perfect Paste Ups on A Wall. Groups added color and texture to their Art work on a trestle table. Others took photos and chatted new friends. Some needed time out. This is Disability Pride.
We had no food or hot drinks. No shelter. No -one complained. This is Disability Pride
The Footscray Telephone Exchange in Irving St adorned with Art. People like Kath Duncan, Jax Brown, Larissa MacFarlane and Raphael Kaleb who who have identified with a disability for decades extended their strength to others to come forward with Disability Pride. They did in huge numbers wanting Disability Pride.
People asked “Was this an annual event?”
We surveyed our Art. We made a statement. We belong.
Larissa Macfarlane had a vision called Disability Pride. A legacy for future generations to say it’s ok to have disability. We belong in the community. As people. As valued members of society that contribute to a better life for everyone.
In the weeks leading up to Disability Pride, Larissa told me she was feeling stressed and overwhelmed by all the paperwork and meeting all the requirements. She pushed herself to create Disability Pride.
It was important to her. She wanted to give the Community a priceless of Gift. A space of acceptance, understanding and tolerance for others to express their Disability Pride.
Monday Dec 4 2017
Overnight this was taken away. This is Larissa reaction. https://www.facebook.com/larissa.macfarlane?ref=br_rs&hc_ref=ARS0EqTxLd3yAGXIpNWVrxR3iocvqHX1JlVz3fSo8D5glfG3L9KmEkMqibsMrwwVpG0&fref=nf
Christmas is a time of sharing and caring Christmas is time of sharing and caring with others. About respecting one another. Including the lonely. The forgotten members of society often have no where to go. With limited income, cheap leisure activities are few and far between.
I was proud and delighted that Larissa MacFarlane put together Disability Pride. People spent thousands of hours creating their Art work and volunteering their time. In fifty years of living I have never seen anywhere people with a Disability work together for one common cause without debates about individual disabilities. Larsissa MacFarlanes post was shared 132 Times in 15 hours when she stated stated the Disability Pride Wall was taken down . People were devastated asking why. Apparently a contracted graffiti team from Maribynong Council didn’t think this was Art.
Maribynong Council was the council that gave permission for the exhibition for International of Disability and have offered a ‘sincere’ apology for its unauthorized destruction.
I emailed Maribynong Council on Tuesday night requesting an interview. I received an automatic response stating they would reply to my email within ONE working day. So far there is no response.
I rang Diedre Anderson the media spokesperson from Maribynong Council today for an interview with The Boldness on 3CR. It’s a Disability Current Affairs program.
She declined the interview instead saying Maribyrnong Council have issued a statement about what happened. They promised me I would a receive a copy on Wednesday 6 Dec 2017. I rang around 11:30 am . Diedre assured me, I could was free to ask her questions about the statement. I still haven’t received it.
I still haven’t received the promised official state from Maribrynong Council. All these photos are the work that Artists submitted to display to the public. Council contractors removed them. They are gone. But I still have Disability Pride.
I emailed Martin Foley Minister for Arts. They returned my email and phone call within 3 hours. I spoke extensively with a representative from his office about what occurred. They were in complete shock.They asked what I would like done. I gave them an opinion that included creating a permanent display. of Disability Pride on the original site. Footscray Telephone Exchange. I gave them Larisssa MacFarlanes contact details. They have spoken with her directly. Stay tuned.
This is the Legacy of Disability Pride.
written by Raphael Kaleb