Braille Monitor               May 2023

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A Welcome to Nebraska and Some Inspiration for Us All

by Shane Buresh, Amy Buresh, and Jeremy Fifield

Jeremy Fifield, Amy and Shane Buresh holding their long white canes outside the International Quilt Museum.From the Editor: Since 2006, Shane Buresh has been constructing audio openers for the NFB of Nebraska state conventions. These offerings leverage historical events, figures or places, or highlight individuals or corporations which were begun in the various Nebraska host cities. These presentations use their stories to parallel the tremendous success the NFB has achieved both on the state and national level. This year the opener was a collaborative effort by Shane, who wrote and voice recorded the text, his wife Amy Buresh, who researched and edited the script, and Jeremy Fifield, who edited and audio engineered the audio version. These individuals are all active members of the Lincoln Chapter of the NFB of Nebraska.

Not only is the presentation stellar, but it is a reminder that much happens in our state affiliates that just never makes it to the Braille Monitor so it can be appreciated by a nationwide readership and serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Welcome to the fifty-second annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska. We assemble this weekend in fellowship to plan for the equality, security, and opportunity we need, and to inspire one another and demonstrate that in everything we do this weekend and throughout the year ahead, we are living the lives we want!

Each of us in this room brings unique and valuable material to this convention. We are stitched together through the common thread of blindness. Though we represent a patchwork of unique and colorful histories, we join together because we realize that the Federation family tradition offers us a strength and comfort that we would not find with such warmth on our own. The largest gathering of the blind in the state this year is in this room, and rest assured that the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska has you covered.

Speaking of covered, the subject of this year's opener could do an excellent job of that too! It's a warm bedcovering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching, typically applied in a decorative design. You guessed it, the quilt—so steeped in tradition, so often assembled with love and support, that when you stop and think about its similarity to our beloved organization, the comparison is undeniable.

Both the NFB and quilts were originally conceived to bring function and security to the members of the family. Both have lengthy histories and traditions. Both involve a high degree of specialized skills handed down through the generations with love.

Like the work of the Federation, the making of quilts often evolved into social gatherings called quilting bees, which are still prevalent today. Such gatherings were mutually supportive and were largely attended by women and their daughters. They served to help break the isolation experienced by many and provided a supportive outlet for mentorship, strength, and encouragement. Many issues were discussed and advocacy campaigns launched. Within the environment of the quilting bees, everyone had a role to play. Working together, everyone came away with a treasured product. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Whether designed by artists reflecting the social commentaries of the day or assembled from uneven, rough-edged pieces, a good quilt held the common thread of pride for all. As we know, when function meets style, the result is a product worthy of unending legacy. Constructed with a common goal, strengthened by the richness and unique aspects of its individual pieces, the quilt offers a vibrant, personal piece of one's story. Encompassing all these aspects and more, the quilt has been commemorated in a place here in our very own capital city, the International Quilt Museum. Located on the University of Nebraska's East Campus, the museum boasts the largest publicly held collection of quilts in the world. Since its founding in 1997, they have assembled more than 9,000 quilts and 2,500 quilt-related objects, and they welcome more than 20,000 guests each year. Visitors are treated to a diverse and inclusive environment. Many stories are told there, and it's often said that the quilts speak for themselves.

Like quilting, we the blind have a story to tell which illuminates the power of our collective action, a story that uses our past to shape our future. We in the NFB are making plans for the Museum of the Blind Peoples Movement at our headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. We'll enhance our standing in society by demonstrating our capacity and demystifying the misconceptions of blindness. We'll speak for ourselves, and our patchwork history will be immortalized for the treasure that it is.

As we work this weekend and on into the future, let us remember that each of us brings our own unique traits to a collective quilt that can warm and protect those who seek the truth about blindness. The successes and failures; triumphs and tragedies; stitch us together across the common fabric of blindness. Whether you've gathered with us many times before or it's your first time lending your talents to the work, we thank you for being here. This convention would not be the same without you. Action by action, stitch by stitch, we will build a creation worthy of function, sturdy enough for protection, rich enough to include us all, and worthy of our showcase within society as a whole. Like a quilt passed down for generations, we the members of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska stand together this weekend to say to one another, "Have no fear, my friend. I've got you covered."

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