In the summer of 2012, Alisa Alonge from SCIL (Spokane Center for Independent Living) and Dave Reynolds, from The Arc of Spokane and Inclusion Daily Express, looked at ways to work together to impact accessibility and disability friendliness in the Spokane area.
One way they considered was going out to various places, reviewing them for accessibility features, and then providing feedback to the owners on what they were doing right and what they might do better.
They quickly realized that the two of them would have very limited effect on their own. With school and work schedules, they might be able to review between four and eight places a month. That would be a drop in the bucket considering the thousands of places in our area that would need to be reviewed.
They really needed to see if there was enough interest for others to also get involved.
The first places to look would be to their own friends and colleagues that share the passion and vision of a more inclusive and accepting community.
So they built contact lists and decided who to connect with — basic, classic networking. They got on the phone. They asked people who else they knew that might be interested in joining this movement. They met with leaders at local organizations to see if they could connect to like-minded advocates.
Mostly, Alisa and Dave wanted to find out whether there was enough interest to either adopt an existing online resource of accessible places, or create a new one specifically for our area.
On October 20, 2012, they held an information meeting at The Arc of Spokane. There were 35 individuals in the room, representing 22 different organizations and five different university departments.
One could feel the energy and excitement in the air.
They had their answer. There really was interest in doing this.
Next, it was time to turn that interest into action.
But how? Nothing like this had ever been tried here. We were all moving into unchartered territory . . .