April 2, 2008 at 8:26 am 2 comments

Just today someone popped up on the Hellenion-Midwest list, introducing herself and expressing interest in Hyperborean Demos.  She mentioned that she is deaf and uses a wheelchair. Naturally, she inquired if the place we were meeting was accessible. I had to write her e-mail telling her that it is not, as the room we meet in is on the second floor it being a small business/building, there is no elevator. But we as a group can talk about moving the meeting so she can attend.

I find it ironic that we had moved to Eye of Horus, a metaphysical store to attract more people and yet we’ve attracted someone who can’t go there. Actually, Magus Books is also inaccessible, being in a basement. Granted, folks can order products online from both of them, indeed they both get most of their business that way, but these places serve as social hubs, both informally and as sites for meetings and classes.  Evenstar in St. Paul is probably the most accessible, but even it is in a rather small space that might be tricky to navigate in a chair.* Really the reason for this is these businesses generally are just trying to break even and can’t afford to be picky about the space they are in. Likewise with Pagan groups- we are usually too young and small to have our own spaces, so we meet in homes which are often inaccessible or in coffee shops, bookstores or any other place we can “squat” or rent. But I still think we should make whatever effort to hold Pagan meeting and ritual in accessible spaces and accommodate other disabilities.

In my experience Pagan communities are no more or less aware of disability issues than the rest of society. I ran into this in another Pagan group, that had a “temple” that was actually in the attic of the leader’s apartment.  When I pointed out the problem, he said “Well, I’m sure you and the other students would be willing to carry a fellow student up the stairs if need be.” He just didn’t get it. People who use wheelchairs want to be dignified and independent adults they don’t want to be carried up stairs! Not to mention it could be dangerous.  This supposedly wise and progressive leader of mine then later proceeded to buy a house and move the temple to the second floor of that. Among other reasons, that was one thing that made me lose a lot of respect for him, and I left the group around that time.

In a private group, it’s one thing, but in religious groups that claim to be open to the public it is imperative that we make ourselves available to all kinds of people. If we do not then we might as well say that some people are more important than others.


Entry filed under: Disability Rights, Mobility Issues, Pagan Communities.

Tzedekah Samh and Geimh

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jenett  |  June 4, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Hi there! Noticed a link from your blog list to mine, and came to check it out. One accessible space solution in the Twin Cities that’s been widely used by the Pagan community is the Lake Como Pavillion/Black Bear coffee shop. (It’s basically across Lexington Ave from the Como Zoo)

    They have free meeting rooms in the basement, with an elevator down to that space. They tend to be fairly tightly scheduled, but apart from that are friendly. They may not be a good choice for ritual work, depending on what you need to do: they prohibit external food and drink due to health code regulations (there’s a cafe upstairs), and don’t allow candles or incense in the meeting rooms. But for discussions and meetings, they’re a really good option.

    Pagan Pride has also had a really good relationship with Sabbathani Community center in Minneapolis: they’ve mentioned they’re quite open to hosting other Pagan groups. (They do charge, but their rates are quite inexpensive if what you need is one room for a few hours.) Again, there’s a ramp, elevator, and other fully accessible space.

    I suspect some other comments about this will eventually show up on my own blog, but probably not this week. Thanks for some useful and definitely needed commentary!

  • 2. caelesti  |  June 6, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Yes, I’ve been enjoying your blog, glad you’re enjoying mine. Good point about the available places in the area.Now, the trouble is getting a group to move, especially when it has already moved. A Seeker’s Class I took once had a session at the Como Pavilion (the others being at the other Black Bear) Sabbathani I have trouble getting to by bus from where I am in St. Paul. But then, Eye of Horus takes about an hour for me to get to too. Ideally, if something’s in Minneapolis, I prefer for it to be around the U of M area or in that vicinity.


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