wheeling around

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not as easy as it looks. i thought i’d be zipping around all over the place, but driving a wheelchair is not as easy as it looks. i went out to commercial street in portland, got the chair set up and managed to get myself across the street, but it quickly became apparent that it was hard work wheeling the chair across the pavement and sidewalks, and it was too hot for that much hard work. so i went back to my car, and moved to the maine mall, where i have been working on a photographic project. i got myself into the building, thinking it would be much easier to wheel across the floors, but it really was no easier. maybe the chair needs adjusting, but i have a newfound respect for people who are confined to wheelchairs, and have to do this to get around. as i said, it is hard work. i will need to do some upper-body strength conditioning before i set out again. and get some gloves – hard on the hands.

i was pleased to find that, even in this my first venture out “en chaise roulante”, people were very helpful. traffic stopped immediately when i approached the crosswalk, and people helped open doors (automatic doors that did not open automatically!) and gave me a little push over the threshold of the door. there was a definite feeling of vulnerability – even tho i could get up and walk, the perception that i could not most certainly changed how i viewed the milling crowds, and was viewed by them. in the chair, i was far less manuverable, unable to get out of their way if they didn’t notice me and get out of mine. it was a valuable experience that everyone should try, if only to get a tiny bit of understanding of what life in a chair is like.

this guy, david constantine, makes some remarkable images from a wheelchair – remarkable in their own right, and remarkable because you’d never know he was in a wheelchair.

making photographs from a wheelchair is a very different experience. not only am i limited in where i can go (unless i want to blow my cover and rise from the seat and walk around) but the angle of view – seated rather than standing – is very different. and having to use my hands to move around, taking spontaneous street photographs will require skills i don’t currently posses. maybe some sort of camera mount on the arm of the chair itself would help. at this point, it is all adventure and experiment. i hope my arms hold out!

i would have thought a much more powerful concert experience for raising global warming awareness would have been a massive world-wide series of small, local, acoustic performances. it would have limited the energy expended in travel and production, and been far more powerful for community building. as it was, i don’t get the sense that the weekend’s live earth was very well received, or will have any impact in awareness.

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One thought on “wheeling around

  1. hello there. i am so sorry i have been so neglectful lately. i want to visit you and others on my faves list more often. i used to work with adults with disabilities and some used crutches or wheelchairs. i often wondered if their equipment became a part of them and their self perspective, and not just an aide to get around. anyhow…as always…i love your writing and your perspective. i am eager to see any photos you take. i will be by to visit again soon.

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