On May 31, 2015, Judith Snow joined the ancestors By Rich Feldman

On May 31, 2015, Judith Snow joined the ancestors.

By Rich Feldman

judith _snowMy son Micah Fialka-Feldman spoke at the memorial which was attended by more than 300 people at the Metropolitan United Church in Toronto.

Judith was a dear friend and comrade to our family, to the Boggs Center, the people blessed to meet her at our New Work New Culture Conferences, and to Detroit. She was an internationally known speaker, advocate and pioneer for Inclusion.

“Inclusion is about a willingness to take a unique difference and develop it as a gift to others, it is not about Disability.”  Judith Snow

“I don’t have the luxury of being able to sustain the illusion that I don’t have to depend on anyone else.” Judith Snow

Judith was a leading pioneer thinker, speaker, teacher, artist, activist and philosopher who asked the fundamental question facing all revolutionary minded people:  “What does it mean to be human?”  She also answered the question with her work, actions, and her voice.  “Being an advocate for inclusion draws almost exclusively on anger, courage and righteousness.  Being an artist has given me space to express ambivalence, awe, playfulness, fear and most of all Love.”  Judith Snow

Judith believed in the two-sided revolution.  Part of her journey was to create the beloved community and give real meaning to the word transformation and to the concept “Change Yourself to Change the World.”  Judith, along with jack Pearpoint and Marcia Forest from the Summer Institute and inclusion.com, initiated the concepts, principles and practices that became the Circle of Friends.  It was creating a Circle of Friends for our son Micah when he was in elementary school that introduced our family to Judith Snow.

Circle of friends, Individualized Maps and the commitment to create intentional community and interpersonal building was a foundation upon which Micah gained his dreams, vision, compassion and commitment to take risks, ask for help, and attend a college program at Oakland University.  Micah would ultimately win a Federal lawsuit allowing him to live in the dormitory. At the Oakland University Board of Trustee Meeting Judith spoke out and said, “You can either be pioneers in high education and support Micah’s desire for full inclusion and allow him to live in the dormitory or you can be dinosaurs.  This is your choice.”  Unfortunately, the board of trustees decided to act as dinosaurs while Micah and Judith went on to be pioneers in inclusive education and inclusive community.

Micah moved on to Syracuse University where he continues to not only be an advocate and pioneer for people with disabilities, but also a teaching assistant at the University Per Training, as well as a national speaker.

Judith taught our family about courage, thinking outside of the box, to never act like a victim and the importance of dreaming big.  Judith’s life demonstrated the importance of welcoming inter-dependence and not repeating the cycle of “independence.”  We need each other and that is the basis of community building.  Judith taught my wife Janice and I about dreams, perseverance and fun.  I also know that our daughter Emma who is a first-second grade teacher in Boston learned about possibilities and human potential from Judith, her thoughts, her presence and her life.

Judith visited Detroit many times (not enough) where she engaged in conversations with Warrior on Wheels (WOW), Artist and Community Philosopher – Tyree Guyton, Yusef Shakur (Community Organizer & Activist), Julia Putnam (Boggs School), Shaun Nethercott (Matrix Theatre), friends at the Michigan Round Table, as well as members and friends of the Boggs Center. Judith spoke at both the Reimagining Work Conference in 2011 and the New Work New Culture Gathering last year.  She worked closely with John McKnight and was a faculty member of Asset Based Community Development and a leading contributor to Inclusion Press.

Google the name Judith Snow and check out her Facebook page.  As Micah often has said:  “WE meet the best people.” Judith will always live on in our hearts as we reimagine, redefine and rebuild our communities, our cities and our nation from the ground up.

Rich Feldman