Costanoa Commons logo with the tagline, "We grow for life."
Costanoa Commons
January 2016
Save the Date!
"Bluegrass on the Farm"
June 25, 2016 1:00-4:00 pm
Enjoy three live bands, tours of the farm, food and wine.
Bring your whole family!

Ticket information and more details to follow.
The dialects of our tribe
Thomas Fairchild smilingBy Sara Fairchild

Thomas was diagnosed with Autism when he was two years old. After his diagnosis, over the past 19 years, teams and teams of wonderful and talented people have worked with him to help him to talk. In spite of all of the interventions, it's still easiest to understand him by watching his body.

You can tell when Thomas is nervous because he twists his fingers on top of each other in really uncomfortable looking positions. And he rocks intensely. He rocks his tall body between his legs in big, bold swaying movements and then he takes off in a sprint usually accompanied by some kind of a "yeeeeeeee" sound. When these things happen, you know he's frustrated or anxious. If you don’t let him twist, rock and run he stares you hard in the eye with a bit of desperation and his frustration and intensity will mount. Thomas is trying to reach you. It is his way of trying to tell you "Let me get this out. I really need to move."

As his mother of almost 22 years, I recognize his communicative intent, his dialect, and respect it deeply. He is trying to reach out. He does want to let people know what is going with him and what he needs. It’s just that he doesn’t have mastery of too many words.

My beautiful son, tall and handsome, has learned to make do with other means, like laughing. If I ask him to come with me somewhere boring or somewhere he is uncomfortable, he inevitably starts a giggle fit. This happens in a movie theater, a doctor’s office, or a library. He knows that he is supposed to be quiet and that his giggling will force me to take him out of there. He's clever that way!

He does have some words he can say, but he saves his verbal skills for things that are truly important. "Cookie" he can say clear as day and "treat" and "candy" and "donut." These are really no problem and anyone can understand him then. But for all other things in life, you have to get to know him better before you can learn his dialect.
Introducing Janie Whiteford
Costanoa Commons board chair
Mary Jane ("Janie") Whiteford in her homeMary Jane ("Janie") Whiteford has been involved with the disability community for the past 30 years doing both education, advocacy, and disability awareness on a professional level and as a volunteer. Thirty years ago she was in an automobile accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. That introduced and embraced her into the wonderful community of persons with disabilities.

Locally, Janie is a Chair of the IHSS Public Authority Advisory Committee. At the state level, she is the founder and current President of the nonprofit California IHSS Consumer Alliance, a 25-county alliance of advisory Committees advocating for IHSS consumers and providers.

Janie responded to a couple of questions.

What projects is the board taking on this year?

We are a new organization, so board development and infrastructure are our top priorities. We will be starting our farming activities this year. The aquaponics greenhouse should go up. Our fundraising efforts will focus on farming, aquaponics, and groundwork for our community center.

What is your vision for Costanoa Commons? Where do you see us in five years?

I hope to see Costanoa Commons well developed as a working farm for people with disabilities and others. The aquaponics greenhouse and our farm work will start bringing revenue through farmers markets and our CSA. We will be fully integrated into the Santa Cruz community providing work, day programs, concerts, educational opportunities for everyone at our community center.
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