written by Library staff, Halifax Regional Municipality staff, and community members
"Accessibility in Action"
What is Access Awareness Week?
Following Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion tour in 1987, the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities (the League), through the Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS), has been leading Access Awareness Week (AAW) in Nova Scotia. AAW began and remains a grassroots community initiative that has grown and evolved through the dedication and commitment of organizations such as the League, CNIB, Easter Seals, ReachAbility, Canadian Paraplegic Association, and the Halifax Regional Municipality.
This year's Access Awareness Week runs May 31 through June 6. The theme, Accessibility in Action, was specifically chosen by the Access Awareness Week Committee to draw attention to the impact of Accessibility Legislation in the province and in the country.
Inclusivity isn’t just about eliminating physical barriers; it’s also about challenging societal attitudes. While changing a municipal by-law or enforcing the UN Convention may remove physical barriers, it is by fostering attitudes of acceptance and responsibility that we can create a truly inclusive environment. While issues of ability and inclusion are important year-round, Access Awareness Week is an opportunity to promote these issues to audiences from all walks of life.
The Access Awareness Week Committee is committed to achieving two distinct goals during the Week:
- Bring issues of access to the attention of the public and the policy makers. Change can grow from the bottom up or it can be implemented from the top down. PAANS wants both to happen—with the movements meeting somewhere in between.
- Celebrate what has happened to increase accessibility and the potential of things to come. This includes the presentation of the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards and the PAANS scholarships.
As we are not able to present a schedule of public events this year to mark Access Awareness Week due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are presenting instead, a series of profiles of community members who are active in the area of Accessibility Awareness and showing what everyone can achieve!
Official Halifax Regional Municipality Declaration of Access Awareness Week 2020
By HRM Mayor Mike Savage
Video Proclamation Transcript:
Hi, I’m Mayor Mike Savage, and I’m pleased to read the proclamation for Access Awareness Week, May 31st to June 6th, 2020.
Whereas the week of May 31st to June 6th is recognized as Access Awareness Week, and Access Awareness Week aims to celebrate achievements made both by and for persons with disabilities in the areas of accessibility, transportation, housing, employment, recreation, education, and communication, and this is the 33rd year that this public awareness initiative has taken place here in Halifax.
Access Awareness Week promotes the inclusion of all Haligonians with disabilities as full citizens within our communities. And through public awareness, community partnerships, and education, this campaign aims to foster an environment of equal participation for persons with disabilities in Halifax.
Therefore, be it resolved that I, Mayor Mike Savage, on behalf of Halifax Regional Council, do hereby proclaim May the 31st to June the 6th, 2020, as Access Awareness Week in the Halifax Regional Municipality.
Dated in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 25th day of May 2020, Mike Savage, Mayor.
What Accessibility Means to You: Community member profiles
L’Arche Cape Breton: Where gardens, friendships, and communities grow
By Suzanne Rent
Coralee MacDougall loves to work in the garden at L’Arche Cape Breton, an organization and a community in Iron Mines and Orangedale for people with disabilities. In the garden, MacDougall, who uses a wheelchair, plants and harvests crops like tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and lettuce. She’s learned new skills like transplanting seedlings, weeding, cleaning and packing the harvest for sale, and even watering plants, "without killing them!” she says. But for MacDougall, the garden here is something more.
"I love getting to spend time with my friends and learning how to do things,” she says.
L’Arche Cape Breton has been running the garden here for about a decade. It is now a 1/4 acre, diverse-vegetable garden and the gardeners with disabilities are vital in its growth - raising, processing, and selling its produce. L’Arche also features The Old Hen Café, a used-clothing store called The Ark, and an arts-and-craft studio, Angel’s Loft.
Marcel Visser is an assistant with the garden program. He says several years ago the Eyking family provided them with a greenhouse, which allowed them to increase their ability to grow heat-loving crops like tomatoes and grapes and make the garden more accessible. “We can grow the tomato vines vertically, which makes harvest more accessible to wheelchair users,” he says. “We can also use the greenhouse to raise salad crops right through the winter.”
The garden here has other crops like carrots, onions, cucumbers, and zucchini. Visser says most of the produce is distributed to the six houses that make up L’Arche where members live. But they also sell produce to the wider community, including at last year’s inaugural L’Arche Cape Breton Farmers’ Market.
“We run it out of our own Gathering Place and it provides the opportunity to build relationships with our neighbours and it shows them that people with disabilities can grow delicious, high-quality vegetables,” Visser says. “We are serious about growing top-quality, organic produce, and do our best to follow the best farming practices in order to maximize yields. The proceeds we receive from selling our produce is an important addition to L’Arche Cape Breton’s fundraising efforts, and we want to show the world that people with disabilities can contribute to real economic activity.”
The garden keeps growing and becoming more accessible for its gardeners. Two years ago, L’Arche received a grant to build accessible garden beds. That meant they could have raised gardens beds to a height of two feet, so that gardeners in wheelchairs could garden, too.
“Now more people can participate more fully in the planting, the weeding and the harvesting,” Visser says. “We are still learning whether these beds are a good design. We are always trying to improve and our next garden project will build on what we’ve learned.”
Buddy Payne is 55 and has lived at L’Arche for 34 years. He uses a wheelchair, too. Payne helps with filling pots with potting soil for vegetable and flower transplants, watering, hoeing garden beds, planting seeds, in particular large ones like beans and peas as they are easier to handle with his limited dexterity, shelling beans to collect and save the dry beans, harvesting, washing, packing, and selling vegetables. Payne is largely non-verbal but shared with Visser what he loves about working in the garden. Visser says Payne seems to love working in the garden in general, but he really shines when he does a repetitive task like shelling a bin of beans or filling a lot of pots with soil.
“It gives him the chance to really understand the task and figure out how he can best accomplish it, in terms of what tools to use, how to position his wheelchair and so forth,” Visser says. “Also, Buddy loves being with a group of people and the garden program provides that.”
Payne also learned the important skill of how to identify when tomatoes are ripe and best for harvest.
“This was a huge discovery of Buddy’s ability, that even though he had an intellectual disability and few would have expected he could do this, once he was exposed to the work of harvesting tomatoes enough times, and most importantly once he was given the chance to choose tomatoes for harvest, he very quickly understood what we were looking for,” Visser says.
Gary MacDonald, another member at L’Arche, works in the garden, too. His story was featured in this video filmed in the spring of 2019.
MacDonald was a big help in building that garden, including cutting the wood for the garden beds.
Visser says the garden is a learning opportunity for the wider community, too.
“I think that for people in the wider community there can still be a lot of mystery around people with disabilities—what they're like, what their hopes and dreams are, how they live their day to day lives--and when we go outside to work in our garden it makes them more visible and it shows that they’re just normal people,” Visser says. “For all those people driving by our property, they see Buddy, Gary, and Coralee outside, working hard every day, living very normal lives even though they use wheelchairs. And I think and hope that over time, even in these small ways the perception of people with disabilities can change and improve. And when we have our farmers market and our neighbours can come and buy our vegetables, they learn first hand that people with disabilities can be great gardeners who grow delicious food.”
Visser says they are now looking for more ergonomic tools that work for each person’s particular ability.
“We find that lightweight tools with telescoping handles can be good, but we buy some new tools each year just to see what might work better,” he says. “It’s always evolving. And we hope to begin making a few of our own custom tools to further improve accessibility. This is exciting work for us and it’s done with constant input from our gardeners with disabilities.”
The garden is more than growing vegetables grow. Visser says every member brings a unique skill and ability to the garden. How everyone can contribute is constantly evolving, for example, how to position someone in a wheelchair just right so they can work on a task in a better way. Members also learn skills like conflict resolution, communication, forgiveness, and celebration. The members and staff are growing something bigger and sustainable.
“And we find that when we prioritize relationships, it makes us all better gardeners. It makes us into gardeners who aren't always rushing around trying to get everything done,” Visser says. “We become gardeners who move slowly and thoughtfully through the garden, choosing our jobs deliberately and doing them well, enjoying the time we get to spend with our friends. This doesn’t mean we don’t work hard! But we work a little differently than most market gardens.
“And in L'Arche, at the end of the day, becoming friends is our number one goal and growing vegetables comes second. People before plants.”
Vicky Levack: A voice for young adults in long-term care
By Suzanne Rent
Vicky Levack has lived in her current home for the last eight years. Levack, who’s 29, has cerebral palsy and lives in a long-term-care facility with a section for young adults who need special care. But it took a while for Levack to get here and now she’s working to help other young adults get the living arrangements they need, too.
Eight years ago, Levack was going to university when she became depressed and suicidal. She also had an eating disorder. She was living with her father and stepmother then, but went to rehabilitation for two weeks. But in the long run, she couldn’t live with her father and stepmother. “They live in a small town, there are no jobs,” Levack says. “I would have withered there and died.”
When she was well enough, they all started looking for a small-options home where she could live. But she says she was told her needs were too great and they only place she could go was a nursing home. They eventually found one nursing home that takes care of young adults, went on a tour, and applied to live there. She got accepted relatively quickly; in five months. “I was the kind of person they wanted to fill the facility with,” she says.
But the experience was different when she moved in. She says there were no other young adults like her. Many of the residents had cognitive delays and Levack couldn’t have conversations with them. She couldn’t make friends. She says she was attacked by other residents and need daily anxiety medication to cope. “I was very isolated,” she says. “I made the best of it.”
Eventually, with the help of her father, she was moved to another floor. Now she lives in a single room on what she says is a much calmer floor. She’s been there for the last four years. “I really like it down here,” she says. “It’s much better. It feels like my own apartment now.”
These days, Levack and the other residents don’t have visitors because of restrictions around COVID-19. She says fortunately there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 where she lives. She has access to the internet and keeps in touch with family and friends that way. “In a way I am more connected to people because they are home more,” she says.
She says had she known eight years ago what living in a nursing home would be like, she wouldn’t have gone. “If they had told me the truth, I wouldn’t have moved here,” she says. She’d like Premier Stephen McNeil to live where she does just for a day to see what it’s like. “They aren’t aware that young people are in nursing homes,” she says. She says she’d even like to run for Halifax Council one day.
Now, Levack advocates on behalf of other young adults who need long-term care in the right accommodations. “I want to live in a world where people aren’t forced to make the choice I had to make,” she says. “The most disabling part of being disabled is not having options.”
Julianne Acker-Verney: Asking the right questions, getting the best answers to shape public policy for women with disabilities
By Suzanne Rent
Julianne Acker-Verney has been thinking a lot about women with disabilities during this pandemic, how their lives are affected, and how better policies could help them. But Acker-Verney has been thinking about these issues for a long time. Acker-Verney, 56, has been visually impaired since birth. After working as an insurance broker in her 20s, she went back to university at 30. “That’s when I really got into social justice issues,” she says. Those issues included food security, poverty, and more, all of which she researched using a cross-disability focus.
Then she started thinking about women with disabilities in general and how their needs and lives are made better– or worse—by policy. She worked as a policy analyst at Feed Nova Scotia and it was there she started looking at policy through a gender and disability lens, too, particularly when it came to food insecurity and poverty.
Acker-Verney started working on her graduate program in 2000, “But no one was talking about disability but me,” she remembers. She left that program after coming to the conclusion that it was, “the wrong thing at the wrong time”. She began the same degree again in 2014, now a combined program in women and gender studies with Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent University, thinking about research from the perspective of diverse women with disabilities.
Acker-Verney says the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed all sorts of potential issues for women with disabilities she’d like to see examined closely and addressed with good policies, too. There’s the issue of home care, or lack of it right now, as many women with disabilities lose access to home care or are lacking in appropriate home care as services are scaled back. That may be putting some women with disabilities at increased risk for violence or result in other health- or quality of life-related issues.
But there are other ways in which women with disabilities are affected by this pandemic. There are disruptions in income and even errands like getting groceries pose challenges for women. “There are all kinds of things that play into how women with disabilities, depending on their situation, experience this pandemic,” Acker-Verney says. “And what can be done so they come out of this pandemic in at least as good a position as they were at the outset of it.”
Women with disabilities aren’t all alike and they don’t all experience life the same way. There are other factors, including race, homophobia, that determine how a woman with a disability experiences this pandemic and life in general, and that should therefore be taken into account when policy is created and evaluated. “Traditionally, we don’t think about breaking a lot of it down when we think of policy analysis,” Acker-Verney says. “We don’t think of women with disabilities in relation to everything else, like women with disabilities who are racialized. those finer details change each woman’s experiences. It’s common for us to hear that a higher tide raises all boats, but that’s just not true.”
The usefulness of policies or interventions created around and for women with disabilities really depends on whether they have been informed by the voices of diverse women with disabilities. Acker-Verney says women with disabilities need to be the ones being asked the questions. Having women with disabilities ask the questions is important because their lived experiences will be different, including issues around transportation, income, where they live, whether they are racialized, and more.
“If the questions are good, the answers will be better,” Acker-Verney says. “If the questions aren’t good, the answers won’t be answers at all.”
She says participatory research is important to her. “I want people to feel the value of their energy and their expertise,” she says. “I want them to see their experiences reflected in research results and I want those results to make a difference. I feel that responsibility strongly...”
Acker-Verney is now wrapping up work on her thesis. She says she feels pulled to do a doctorate next. But she says this pandemic is a huge experience in itself. “There will be a lot to learn,” she says. “And I hope diverse women with disabilities are supported to inform the questions that will, in turn, result in public policy that supports their well-being in particular.”
Halifax’s Bike Mayor Jillian Banfield wants more people of all abilities to get out and ride
By Suzanne Rent
Jillian Banfield was diagnosed with arthritis when she was 14 months old and that often affected what she could do when she was a kid. But Banfield says growing up in the 1990s no one really talked about disability.
“Looking back, I was fairly disabled as a child, but never labelled as such,” she says. “I was always trying to do what everyone else did instead of having accommodations and inclusive approach.” She missed school and extracurricular activities because of physiotherapy and other medical appointments because of her arthritis.
“I was the kid in school with splints on, not able to do gym class, and I dreaded recess,” Banfield recalls.
She did learn how to ride a bike, although it took her a bit longer than other kids. She started on a bike with training wheels. But her parents weren’t into cycling, so she eventually gave it up by the time she went to high school in Bridgewater.
Banfield, who is a research project coordinator with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, rediscovered cycling when she was in graduate school studying psychology. She wanted a better way to get to her office and school rather than
walking or taking the bus. She says her arthritis was making walking more difficult over time, but cycling was easier. She was also passionate about the environment and sustainable transportation. So, she got a bike.
But that got sidelined again, when she had surgery on her foot. But her time off the bike was short and she got the itch to ride again. “Once I got out, it was a new phase of my life with my bike as a mobility aid,” Banfield says.
Banfield rides a standard two-wheel bike that has no accommodations for her disability. She now rides it year-round and has studded tires for cycling in winter weather. She rides in any weather, but admits she’s not a fan of the wind.
From 2014 to 2017, Banfield served on the board of the Halifax Cycling Coalition. She also served on HRM’s accessibility advisory committee and its active transportation advisory committee. The terms for both of those committees ended in the fall of 2019 and she was looking for something new to do. It was through the Coalition that she learned about the Bike Mayor and Leaders Network. The Coalition wanted to nominate her for the role in Halifax. There are more than 100 Bike Mayors across the world, including in India and across North America and Europe. Each mayor works on cycling issues in their own city and local networks, including those issues around pollution, road deaths, and social barriers. Banfield wrote a two-year plan that focuses on a few issues for cycling accessibility in Halifax. Banfield says accessibility and mobility is not talked about much here and she wants to see more people out on bikes, including those with differing abilities to seniors. “Cycling is an opportunity to improve mobility for many more people than we realize,” she says.
Banfield says one issue in Halifax is that the current bike lanes are too narrow and don’t safely accommodate other kinds of bicycles, for example, larger tricycles. “It’s important to talk about it because there are different ways to design infrastructure and how people on bicycles can use it in different ways,” she says.
The COVID-19 crisis has more people talking about accessibility in their own cities as we look for new ways to get out again. Certainly, in Halifax, there’s been a push to open more streets for “people walking and rolling,” as Banfield says.
Banfield says she always tries to offer her knowledge to those interested in cycling in the city. She knows what local bike shops are most helpful for those cyclists needing accommodations on their bikes. Places like the Oval on the Halifax Common, when there’s no restrictions around COVID-19 at least, offer a safe space and bicycles to try out cycling for beginners. And programs like Try a Ride give people a chance to try cycling for the first time. But Banfield says once people get on a bike and ride for the first time, they’re often hooked. “The proof is in the pudding,” Banfield says. “Once you feel the wind and freedom of movement, it’s hard to imagine not feeling that again.”
Learn more about Jillian and her work, at this link, opens a new window.
To learn more about the Bike Mayor Program, click here, opens a new window.
Not Without Us: Hearing and sharing the stories of women with disabilities experiencing domestic violence
By Suzanne Rent
One year ago, the Not Without Us project got underway. A partnership between Easter Seals Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, the Not Without Us project set out to hear the stories of women with disabilities who experienced domestic violence, along with the voices of the staff at organizations that serve these women. This project is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia. In May 2019 Joanne Bernard, president and CEO of Easter Seals Nova Scotia and Sherry Costa, provincial coordinator with the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities, hired me to work as the project coordinator for Not Without Us. I wanted to share some insight into what we learned over the last year.
The Not Without Us Project is one of several projects funded under the Standing Together initiative at the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Standing Together is a provincial action plan that is working with community, experts, and organizations to address the issue of domestic violence in Nova Scotia. You can learn more about Standing Together here: https://novascotia.ca/standingtogether/
Over the course of a few months last year, I met with dozens of women in communities across Nova Scotia. Initially, we planned on hosting sessions in five communities: Halifax/Dartmouth, Yarmouth, Amherst, Sydney, and Kentville. All of the meetings were hosted in accessible spaces, usually at NSCC campuses. We offered transportation for those women who needed a way to get to the meetings. We had American Sign Language interpreters when needed and I took the sighted-guide training at CNIB for those women attending who had visual impairments.
When I organized the meeting for Sydney, I invited those who worked in the domestic violence sector in communities elsewhere on the island. One of the staff told me I “might as well be hosting the meeting on the moon.” Nova Scotia, especially its rural communities, are not very accessible if you don’t have a car. At that point, we offered to host meetings in any community that wanted one. By the end of 2019, we hosted meetings in 12 communities from Sydney to Yarmouth. While each of these communities are unique, they share unfortunate commonalities for women with disabilities in situations of domestic violence.
The final report on the project will include highlights of some of the discussions we had on issues around disabilities and domestic violence such as accessibility at transition houses, second-stage housing, policing, access to communication like cell phone service and the internet, policing, and the stigma around domestic violence and disabilities.
These community sessions gave women with disabilities who experienced domestic violence a voice at the table. They were a chance to not only share their stories, which were heartbreaking to hear, but to share ideas on how to protect other women with disabilities experiencing violence. I am glad they felt safe enough to share what they experienced and what they needed to move forward.
These community sessions also gave women who work in the domestic violence sector a chance to share their own stories, too. In many cases, these women work alone or in organizations that are underfunded and understaffed. It’s probably rare they have a chance to meet like they did in these sessions. These women know this issue well, too, and meeting together gave them a chance to share what they hear with me and each other and to collaborate on ideas.
The recommendations in the final report were crafted from the solutions put forth from women with disabilities who’ve experience domestic violence and the women who work with them. This is what happens when you give women a voice at the table.
Many of the women I met with, including those women with disabilities and the staff, are from the communities where I hosted the meetings. Their stories gave me an invaluable insight into the cultures of these places. Domestic violence is normalized and the response to it very lacking. That needs to change.
But we couldn’t reach all the women we wanted. One of the challenges we faced was that many women with disabilities, particularly in rural areas, are geographically isolated and socially isolated. It’s part of the cycle of abuse. Despite our attempts to share that we were hosting these sessions, it simply wasn’t safe for some women to attend. Perhaps their disabilities meant they couldn’t get out of their house, they didn’t have accessible transportation, and they didn’t want their abuser to know where they were going. One of the goals of this project and its recommendations is to find ways to reach out to these women and help them leave these situations. We have to get to them.
The finale of this project is timely since the issue of domestic violence is on many minds lately after the horrific and tragic shootings in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19. We learned those shootings started with and were rooted in acts of domestic violence. Even now, more stories are emerging about how the killer abused his partner, owned illegal firearms, and threatened neighbours. There were countless red flags that were ignored. Experts in the domestic violence field have shared in news stories that they knew this shooting started with an act of domestic violence. They know the signs well.
The Not Without Us Project is just a start in helping women with disabilities escape situations of domestic violence, but it’s an important start. We learned a lot and made connections with women in other communities who work on issues of domestic violence. Sherry Costa and Joanne Bernard showed real leadership in recognizing this issue and asking that it be studied further. Now, we look to the Accessibility Directorate and communities across Nova Scotia to take what we shared and reach out to these women themselves. Keep bringing these women to the table and listen to their stories.
To learn more about the Not Without Us Project, contact Suzanne Rent at email@example.com
Celebrate with us
*** The following events, originally scheduled for Access Awareness Week from May 31st to June 6th, have been postponed due to COVID-19. The events will now take place in December in conjunction with International Day for Persons with Disabilities. Details for these celebrations will be announced after the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. ***
Celebrating the spirit of women with disabilities: Sheroes Rising Symposium
- On June 4, 2020, Halifax Public Libraries is pleased to partner with Makers Making Change to present a virtual National Accessibility Week event. Register here, opens a new window.
- On Thursday, December 3, guests will come together to celebrate the spirit of women with disabilities in Nova Scotia at The Sheroes Rising Symposium. The event is being held on the International Day for Persons with Disabilities and also serves as a belated celebration for Access Awareness Week, which took place on May 31st to June 6th.In the morning, Suzanne Rent, coordinator of the Not Without Us Project, which is a partnership between the Nova Scotia League of Equal Opportunities and Easter Seals Nova Scotia, will present the What We Heard report on the project. Over several months, Rent met with women with disabilities who’ve experienced domestic violence, as well as the staff at organizations that serve these women. This report highlights much of what she heard about being a woman with a disability trying to escape intimate partner violence.Also, Maria MacIntosh, executive director with Bryony House in Halifax, will be on hand to talk about Bryony House’s new, fully accessible transition house.The afternoon will be dedicated to sharing the stories of several extraordinary women with disabilities. Julianne Acker-Verney, Jillian Banfield, Grace Han, Anna Quon, and Milena Khazanavicius will share stories that are inspiring, funny, and show us the importance of accessibility in our communities.
Sheroes Rising will take place at the Atlantica Hotel on Quinpool Road and Robie Street, December 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration starts at 8 a.m. Lunch will be served. For more information, contact Sherry Costa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Suzanne Rent at email@example.com
Sherry Costa is the provincial coordinator for the Nova Scotia Leaque for Equal Opportunities. Suzanne Rent is the coordinator of the Not Without Us Project.
Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards
Nova Scotia’s Hourglass Action Awards were created and launched in 1992 during Access Awareness Week. That year, an hourglass symbolized the spirit of timely action the awards recognize. In 2000, the name of the Award was changed to the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Awards in honour of Mr. Melbourne Hebb, a former awards committee chair. Hebb, who passed away in October 1999, was the personification of dedicated action.
Each year during Access Awareness Week the Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia (PAANS) invites nominations from around the province for the Mel Hebb Hour Glass Action Awards to help recognize Nova Scotians for their contributions to the lives of persons with disabilities. These contributions are diverse in nature and come from a wide variety of sources.
Scholarships for Students with Disabilities
The annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony is a prime example of celebrating achievements. Students’ extra curricular and academic achievements are recognized, and their career and life goals are supported through the commitment of our generous sponsors. Each scholarship award helps an individual student to attain his or her goals and to achieve his or her dreams.
Because there are additional costs for a person with a disability to obtain a post-secondary education, the Scholarships for Students with Disabilities were created to assist Nova Scotians with disabilities in their pursuit of post-secondary education and training. Since its beginning, more than $250,000 in scholarships have been awarded to successful applicants.
Events hosted by ReachAbility
ReachAbility is hosting a wide variety of events throughout Access Awareness Week, including a speaker series. A full schedule of events can be found here, opens a new window.