Justin, young man laughing, wearing red and black houndstooth plaid shirt, seated in power wheelchair, in front of One Minnesota 2023 Inaugural Celebration banner with yellow and blue pine trees
Accessibility (#A11y), Advocacy, travel, Writing

Hello 2023 – AWE

Welcome to 2023, everyone. Here’s my annual post about my 2023 goals. This year is going to be AWEsome as I Advocate, Write, and Explore.


Affordable and accessible housing

Watch the awesome video of the Minnesota Council on Disability Legislative Forum where I recently spoke with Minnesota State Representative Reyer about the dire need for accessible and affordable housing. The policy change being proposed would ensure that if we are using state dollars such as Housing Infrastructure Bonds to build housing in MN, that we are building housing that works for everyone who needs it and increasing the level of accessibility required. Don’t just watch my part, though. Watch every single part of the legislative forum because these issues are all incredibly important.  MCD 2023 Legislative Forum (YouTube video queued to Affordable & Accessible housing section)

Direct support staff crisis

See all of my posts from last year about the crisis impacting my friends and me who are trying to live independently. SEIU just reached a tentative settlement for increasing salary for direct support staff to $20/hour by 2025. I fear that even that is going to be too little too late and won’t promote changing the Consumer Directed Community Supports (CDCS) budget methodology which means increasing salaries will result in fewer hours of care for me. This could result in having to move to more costly provider services or to move back home.


Ocean updates

I have a title. I don’t know if it is going to be the official title of the debut novel, but for today, let’s just call it Ocean (since I am going to find a way to put the word in the book title). Ocean needs a little more major tweaking before I send it off to the first round of beta readers. I am not going to publish this year, but maybe next year? It is an interesting book for me to write because of the pain theme that woven throughout this book.



What? My parents and I will be in England and Ireland this spring! This has been one of my dreams for so long (I’m young, so 5 years seems eternal!) and it’s finally happening. I get to see AFC Wimbledon and getting tickets to see Birdy at the Eventim Apollo! Working on figuring out all the other cool stuff we’ll see and do – like how cool would it be to go to Wembley, listen to live music in a pub, and just have an experience of a lifetime!

I think this all adds up to an AWEsome year ahead!

P.S. Speaking of advocacy – here are some pictures from Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan’s fun inaugural celebration last night at US Bank Stadium. It was great to say hi to the Governor, Lt. Governor, and some of my favorite elected officials, including newly elected State Senator Clare Oumo Verbetem, Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt, and meeting my new County Commissioner Mary Jo McGuire. I also got to see some of my other favorite people who I’ve gotten to know from getting more involved in the political process. Excited for the possibilities of getting legislation and policy changes passed in support of causes I believe in. As the late Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone so famously said, “We all do better when we ALL do better!”

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