Everything seems to be under construction at National Landing – ECNV’s new Arlington neighborhood. ECNV and Our Stomping Ground decided that this offers a unique opportunity to create an Interdependent Community Coalition. Interdependence means that we want a community where people with and without disabilities interact and relate, drawing from each person’s contribution to reach a greater goal.
This initiative started as more of an idea than a reality. Our Stomping Ground (OSG) and ECNV decided to invite leaders from business, community, and government to a social hour to gauge interest and support for a new and growing National Landing neighborhood that embraces and welcomes everyone. We envision a neighborhood with:
- Accessible wheelchair ramps and curb cuts so people in strollers, scooters, bikes and wheelchairs can easily navigate
- Easy-to-read signs for people who are driving, strolling, or taking public transportation.
- Apps like google maps and way finders for people with and without disabilities to find their way to cool amenities and activities
- Help for employers who need to fill thousands of job openings and recognize the value of hiring reliable and able people with disabilities.
- Builders interested in applying universal design principles so that people with disabilities or those “aging in place” can live, work, and play at National Landing
- Restaurant, retail and recreation and other businesses who understand that universal design and accessibility can lead to a wider and diverse customer base
When we started, we weren’t sure who would be interested in joining our efforts. The 40 friends and allies from community, business and government attended our first Social Hour on August 25, 2022, bolstered our confidence that this idea can gain traction to make the idea of interdependence a reality.
- Dominique Dunford-Lack, ECNV Executive Director, welcomed everyone to the event and asked them to share their successful experiences and consider opportunities to bolster interdependence.
- Christian Dorsey, vice-chair of the Arlington County Board shared his thoughts about the coalition. He asked guests to consider how planning for growth in National Landing presents an excellent opportunity to be intentional about how everyone – including those who have been excluded in the past – are welcomed and integral to the vibrancy of the community.
- Tracy Gabriel, President and Executive Director of the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID) described how their Equity Forward Action Plan outlines an intentional approach to building an inclusive community and physical environment in National Landing where everyone, including people with disabilities, can fully thrive.
- Adele McClure, Executive Director of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and a candidate for the new Virginia 2nd District representing the National Landing neighborhood, shared her experiences as a family member of a person with a disability. She lives in National Landing and offered her support for the initiative.
- Paula Manion, OSG Founder and Chair, explained their work to build inclusive communities and strengthen neighborhoods. shared their experiences in setting up their first community Gilliam Place in Arlington. With just 8 apartments set aside for their OSG friends, the 500 plus Gilliam Place residents have been enriched by the community they have built on Columbia Pike.
This coalition is supported by a Disability Justice initiative funded by the Ford Foundation. If you are interested, please contact Cherie Takemoto (email@example.com)