Monday, December 18, 2017

Bored on the Board?

First, dear Reader, I should apologise for another post that is "all about me" - but, frankly, I am pumped.

A month or so ago I applied for a seat (along, I now know, with 25 others) on the Board of Castlemaine Health, the Corporate entity that represents this hospital and the Aged Care facilities - one of which is now my home and final resting place.

I was invited to a meeting this afternoon with the Chair of that Board and the Chair of the Corporate Medical Compliance committee to be told that I was one of those eight who had not met the requirements to be considered for the Board. My heart sank - it would be the second such failed application in three years.

Instead though, I was honoured and humbled, to be invited to sit on the Corporate Medical Compliance committee. 

I realise, and they realise, that I was never a good fit for the Board. Apart from not meeting the requirements, the legal Corporate responsibilities, and consequent focus on the finances, would have bored me.

Instead I have been offered a seat on a committee that is much more closely involved in the actual, medical, running of the organisation. This is much more my "scene". Along with the top executives in Castlemaine Health this committee seeks to ensure that, for the sake of argument, no babies die here as they have elsewhere in Victoria.

I am grateful to my sister in England who woke me, phoning, so that I could write this post but most of all to Ros, my wife, who has kept me alive to this point at the expense of her own career and who, paradoxically, dropped in a quarter of an hour before the meeting and helped me look good by shaving me (very quickly). Of course appearances do not matter but they do and mine was noted.

In terms of Aged Care it has lifted my spirits. I had been feeling, at 66, that I still had much of my career ahead of me and I had also been sensing the "there, there dear" edge of the home's estimation of a Resident's endeavours. I can hold my head high now in way that I could not before.

Need I say more?

Click pic to view the Parks Victoria Disability Action Plan
The expression on this youngster's face, in a Parks Victoria beach wheelchair says it all, I think. It was taken from the Parks Victoria Disability Action Plan which, I have to admit, I just read as John Kenwright's plans for the next few years.

John is the Access & Inclusion Coordinator at Parks Victoria and that translates into a man who spends a day a week on TrailRider matters and four, thinking about all the access matters that culminate in pictures like this.

Try searching for Kenwright on this blog to see how vital he has been.

Healthy Parks, Healthy People is the tagline that is on the shirt of every Parks Victoria employee. Click on the Like button to encourage them.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

More Advocate thoughts

Click pic to visit Freedom Wizard's (public) Facebook page
I have been talking lately with another person in England who won't be the Advocate we're looking for but might lead me onwards to one.

Writing to this person has made some things clearer to me though as this excerpt from my email indicate - I hope. I have added some links to try and make things clearer.

As I type I realise why this issue, that of Distributorship, may well explain something that has always puzzled me - the difference between the trajectory of the Canadian TR over there (BCMOS-type endeavours) and over here (Parks Victoria, World Parks Congress, IUCN - International Union for the Conservation of Nature) PV's first step was a Distributor.

Soon I shall post about Freedom Wizard, but in the meantime why not look, and Like, on Facebook

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Being an "Advocate" - what's needed?

I want to convey business, that feeling that thee are just too
many things to get done.
Yesterday's post, saw me high on the feeling that someone was about to say yes to being an advocate in England and today, after the email saying no I am posting again, at least partly, to answer that person and let them know that I "get it"

The person that was considering it, though retired, was already heavily (over?) committed and that led me to recollect my first encounter with the TrailRider. In 2009 I was still working, as a computer lecturer, and I was way too busy to advocate. In the middle of 2010 both Ros and I stopped working. I, to be a bit "in your face", because even though I was teaching from a wheelchair I could no longer, safely, use the toilet. Ros, in a remarkably selfless act, could not contemplate other people caring for me with the dedication, and devotion, that she would.

It was not until September that we took Ros' pictures to the Grampians to show David Roberts, the Head Ranger. The rest, as they say, is history. The point of the story is that all this happened, providentially, at exactly the right time in my life. When I had time to devote to advocacy.

So we can refine our English Advocate quest. We are looking for someone who knows they are coming to the end of their working life and is wondering how they might occupy themselves. I might add that being disabled myself has also, strangely, helped. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

A TrailRider Advocate in England?

Yes., there's high country in England
Having been born in England, and having got the idea of what is often called there Rambling in Skye, a Scottish island I have often dreamed of the TrailRider taking off in the UK the way it has in Australia.

This is my baby, if you like. While Ros and John Kenwright pay attention to Australia, only I and TraiilRider Tales pay attention to other countries. 

The idea of this post came from my friend Bronwyn, who I had lunch with today, and to whom I enthused at finally feeling that I was making headway in my quest for a TrailRider Advocate in England.

If you are reading this and think "ah blah-blah might be into that" do not be deterred, by my optimism, in running this by blah-blah and inviting them to watch Wild Places, read some past posts and get in touch

Sunday, November 26, 2017

2014 flashback - for my new friend

Blogs (and Facebook) conceal the past. We all focus on the crest of the wave and seldom look back. Today I did - getting to know the man in Vancouver who oversaw the design project that gave us the TrailRider as we know it. 

One of Wade's working drawings of the Black Diamond

The TrailRider that we know and love is actually the third model produced after Sam Sullivan had the original idea. This third design is called the Black Diamond If you look at the Kilimanjaro story you will see an earlier version.

A few months ago I heard, out of the blue, from Wade Lander who designed the Black Diamond version of the TrailRider.

He told the story:  
I first encountered the Trailrider in 1999, while at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, studying Industrial Design. A student in another year had chosen to redesign it as part of an assignment and had brought in an example for study. After looking it over, I was impressed by the concept but wasn't too impressed by the design. I distinctly remember thinking though that it would be a interesting project to redesign.

  Forward to 2004;  My interest in designing assistive devices led me to volunteering with the Tetra Society, which is one of the organizations within the Sam Sullivan Disability Foundation. Through Tetra I was reacquainted with the TrailRider and its parent organization BCMOS. At this time David Ostro of the Disability Foundation was finishing off a technology grant application with the Canadian Government (IRAP) to fund a redesign of the TrailRider.
  By the spring of 2005, the grant had been approved and I signed aboard as the designer with David as project manager. As of this time, the Trailrider had already undergone two revisions with mixed results. The IRAP grant stipulated that a fairly large amount of research needed to be completed to identify the shortcomings of the existing design and to create a design brief for the new version. Something that hadn't been done with the two earlier attempts.
  The next few weeks over the summer, I spent most of my weekends conducting research. Which meant, in practice, racking up the miles as a sherpa, pushing and pulling a TrailRider up and down dozens of trails to find out what worked and what didn’t work and what people liked and disliked about the design.
  While the majority of what I was doing was of a practical nature, I got to experience first hand what the TrailRider meant to the hikers who rode in it. I participated in one hike to take a man to the beach where he injured himself almost 30 years before. We travelled along the beach at low tide below the bluffs that surround the western edge of Vancouver to the place in question. Though the beach was only a few hundred meters from the nearest road, it would have remained inaccessible without the Trailrider. This experience moved me and made me realize that the TrailRider was more just a simple product,  It had a significant impact on people lives.
  The actual design work began in earnest in September of 2005 and I teamed up with Toby Schillinger who had built the previous version of the TrailRider. The previous designs had been well made, but were seriously flawed in regards to the ergonomics of the hikers and the sherpas, so a lot of my effort focused on improving those areas. The design work went smoothly as it essentially involved coming up with a design that met all the criteria laid out in the research phase and that could be built efficiently in the small quantities required.
This could be a picture of Wade conducting action research
on the Black Diamond design - but isn't. It is the 2006 access
  The first of the new TrailRider Black Diamonds were ready in August 2006, just in time for the annual Access Challenge Hike; A three day backpacking trip to Tetrahedron Provincial Park on the Sunshine coast, just north of Vancouver. The TrailRiders almost weren't ready; I had to help out to complete them the day before by sewing the various seatbelt straps, staying up till three in the morning and then preparing for the multi day hike ahead. Other than a preproduction prototype that had been quickly whisked away to a buyer a few months before, the new design had seen almost no testing and the six that were going had been assembled only hours before. The team that I was hiking with (friends I had met through the TrailRider program) had brought almost everything they could think of with the result our TrailRider with its hiker weighed well over 300lbs. The design has a rough weight limit of 250lbs, so that fact, combined with bringing five other hikers into the mountains for three days with an untested design, was a bit stressful. The TrailRiders nonetheless performed flawlessly, and all the hikers and sherpas, though a little beat up, survived the trip.
  Since its introduction, I've been happy to see the numbers of my design and the places they've been to slowly increase; from their baptism on the coast mountains of British Columbia and now on to the continent of Australia. Of all the work I've done, the TrailRider stands out as a favorite, not only as a successful piece of industrial design but as a design that has measurably touched peoples lives.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Parks Victoria win Disabled Tourism award - John Kenwright top of our tree

John Kenwright to the (w)right above
Matthew Jackson CEO, Alysia Brandenburg
 Tourism Manager Partnerships and Experiences to the left
Parks Victoria took the pic - click to visit
If you are new to this blog you may not have heard the name John Kenwright before. John, who has become a good - as in share family celebrations - friend to me and Ros, is the powerhouse behind Parks Victoria (AKA PV) winning this award two nights ago.

For me, the standout quote from Matt Jackson - PV CEO, in that Press Release was “There is an abundance of research which shows getting into nature is good for you" - something dear to my heart.

If you need to be convinced of John's pivotal role try typing his name into the Search box at the right to see a fraction of the story. 

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