A Little 'Latitude'
If you're wondering what happened to artist/activist, Bruce Burris (well-known for his accomplishments at Minds Wide Open), he's been busy with a new venture - one that promises to have as wide an impact as all Burris's efforts.
Chances are, you've never read any poetry by Barbara Moore. In fact, she's quite new to the trade. Not so much by choice, but by situation. As an individual considered by some to have a disability, Barbara hasn't been given many opportunities to speak, or be heard. Well, things are changing. Thanks to the endless efforts of Minds Wide Open creator Bruce Burris and his associate Crystal Bader, Barbara has already begun to experience the benefits of Latitude, Lexington's latest vehicle to empower, connect, and enrich individuals and communities within Central Kentucky and beyond.
On Monday, April 16th, Burris and company will publicly unveil Latitude at Lynagh's Music Emporium hoping to raise both awareness and start-up costs for this much-needed program.
After amicably parting ways with Minds Wide Open several months ago, Lexington artist/activist Bruce Burris and recreational therapist Crystal Bader began the groundwork for Latitude. In its current form, Latitude exists as a mobile think tank aimed at collaborating with various programs in the Central Kentucky area to provide outlets for expression for individuals considered by some to have a disability. In its fully realized form, Latitude will serve as a prominent voice in a national dialogue influencing local, regional, and national communities with an emphasis on empowering and listening to each individual's story. In discussing the potential benefits of Latitude, Burris says, "We must motivate both sides to connect the fragmented parts." Helping others become proactive is great. A receptive audience is even better.
So far the response has been promising. In just eight weeks, Latitude's collaborative efforts with Everyday Matters, a day program serving those thought to be disabled, have led to a public poetry reading at the Kentucky Coffee Tree Café in Frankfort, Kentucky. Two months ago, no one had heard the stories of Hannah Hart, Amanda Jones, Clifford Gritton or Barbara Moore, at least not from their perspectives. By encouraging and providing opportunities for these individuals to tell their own stories, Latitude and Everyday Matters enabled five previously 'silenced' individuals to tell their own stories.
In discussing the wonders of unrealized potential, Burris exclaims, "Thirty random people with 'disabilities' show up at a recreational art program. Three will have the ability to have an art career! Thirty refined MFA students? Maybe one will have a chance. 'Disabled' individuals have the unique ability to live outside the box; they've developed this skill out of necessity."
However, thinking outside the box, Burris explains, is a skill that can be learned. By enabling those considered disabled, the community's collective identity grows. "Right now we are all losers because we haven't heard these stories yet. But by becoming aware, we can reconnect with the community." Barbara Moore writes, "Wings/ They can fly anywhere" but "Opened black eyes mean/ Nothing nothing." Awareness is everything.
Disabled or Unique?
In the context of Latitude, 'disabled' interestingly begins to lose meaning. It certainly doesn't seem to apply in the case of Barbara Moore and those associated with Everyday Matters. Burris beams, "No one gift from one person is greater than another. We are all connected, and we all lose equally when individuals aren't all given the chance of expression." The passion with which Bruce works is evident in his words. Enthusiastic by any measure of the term, Burris, along with Bader, doesn't mind devoting his time, energy, soul and money to Latitude. In his opinion, "We should all expect to give to the community. We shouldn't expect a pat on the back; assume that you're doing the right thing."
Latitude's Fundraiser will be held at Lynagh's on Monday, April 16th from 7:30-11:00 PM. Admission is $5.00. Info, 859.254.6736. The fundraiser will include a silent auction sponsored by Isle of You, Mecca, and 3rd Street Stuff, as well as song and dance by Catawampus Universe, Club Dub, Rakadu Gypsy Dancers, and the Flamenco Dancers.
By Barbara Moore
She looks neat
With all the colors on her
Red pink blue orange black
They can fly anywhere
A bird is like an angel
They both can fly anywhere
Opened black eyes mean
Her hands are shut
That is all I know