No. “We are not all Orlando,” (But We Can Help)

His Goal is 103 hugs :: #prayfororlando #baltimorefororlando :: #lgbtpride #Baltimore #leica :: #DVNLLN

A post shared by Devin Allen ◼️◾️▪️ (@bydvnlln) on

“We are not all Orlando. We are all individuals with different experiences. I ask you to listen to those who were directly affected, but also to listen to LGBTQIA+ people of color, because this is our everyday reality.”—Alan Palaez Lopez, from Fusion

“Text or message or call your queer friends to simply ask if they’re OK or remind them you love them. Amplify our voices.”—John Paul Brammer

I’ve written about reaching out to others in the aftermath of tragedies before, and I wanted to provide some links to blog posts offering suggestions about what we can do to support Orlando shooting victims, their loved ones and LGBTQ communities.

For individuals who are LGBTQ and on the autism spectrum, GRASP has an online support group that could be a safe place to discuss what happened at Pulse and to connect with kindred spirits.

Moments of silence aren’t enoughgun violence is out of control.

Suggestions on How to Help…

Photojournalist Devin Allen took some beautiful images of Baltimore coming out to support Orlando. Check out his Instagram page. It’s filled with beauty.
MTA_NYC_Subway_R30_8506_interior copy

“Autism Without Fear: On Darius McCollum…”

I wrote about Darius McCollum on THE ODD BIRD a few years ago. As I was looking over old posts in order to begin putting this blog back on solid footing, I reread what I’d written about him and wondered how he is doing. Michael John Carley gives us an update.

Here’s a taste of McCollum’s story: he’s a middle-aged man who happens to have autism. He also has a special interest in the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) that has gotten him into a lot of legal trouble over the past three decades:

“Steal,”…is not the right word; because all Darius does is take riders on their pre-ordained route. He drops them off at their stop, tells them over the intercom to have a nice day….Unless he gets caught, Darius walks away from the vehicle once its route is over. He loves transportation; and one could argue that it’s as simple as that.~Michael John Carley


Image : Off the Rails/GTA PR 

A new documentary about McCollum goes into his story in-depth. Off the Rails, Adam Irving’s debut film is currently making the rounds on the Canadian and U.S. festival circuits and recently won the Best Documentary prize at the Newport Beach Film Festival. It’s also gotten some good reviews from news, entertainment, and arts organizations like The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, and Toronto Film Scene. If you’ve followed THE ODD BIRD in the past, you’ll know that I’m a documentary filmmaker with a great love of nonfiction storytelling. I’m looking forward to seeing this film and hope Darius McCollum’s personal narrative can provide the general public with a better sense of who he is and what motivates his actions. Knowing these things might encourage us all to respect, then look beyond his particular saga in search of a broader understanding of the social struggles atypical individuals face daily.

Alternative ways of thinking can be good for society. They often have a history of ushering in positive, global change. Peculiarities partnered with innovation can even help slower-moving bureaucratic organizations like the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority improve how they operate. Instead of placing Darius McCollum in a maximum security prison, perhaps the MTA should have offered him a job.

In his piece on the Huffington Post, Michael John Carley also writes that there’s a feature film about McCollum in the works that the MTA isn’t very happy about. It’s slated to star Julia Roberts. My question is: Who’s playing Darius? It’s his story.


Off the Rails screened in Toronto at HotDocs recently, and here are a few other festivals where it’s slated to be screened. Hopefully, it will soon make it to indie film houses as well as other traditonal and digital distribution platforms soon. Learn more. (~TOB)
  • PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Provincetown, MA – June 16 & 19, 2016)
  • OPEN ROOF FESTIVAL (Toronto – July 7, 2016)
Featured Image: By Mtattrain (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons



Rising …


Hunting the Phoenix

You must seek
the ashy nest itself
if you hope to find
charred feathers, smoldering flightbones,
and a twist of singing flame

~Denise Levertov                                                                                                                                               

I’ve returned to blogging with no great original poems to offer you, only a single, beautiful line by Denise Levertov.

I took a break and did things like clean out my storage unit. It’s amazing how readily the tosskeep and give-away piles lay your personal history out right in front of you. It’s like meeting an imaginary childhood friend again who you now know was too demanding of your time. Seventy-five percent of what I’d stowed away and thought I couldn’t part with wasn’t worth its keep. Its significance wasn’t real. I imagined it, and I’m happy it’s gone.

But in the rubble, I found this poem. At some point, I had taken the time to copy it, print it and trim it down to fit a tiny glass frame. I don’t remember doing any of this. I only know that Levertov is one of my favorite poets, and back in the day, I would sometimes frame lines from poets I really liked. I have Haiku from Richard Wright framed too.

Since I left it there waiting for so long, I’m keeping it as both a relic of the past and a guide for the future. I’m thankful for its patience. It’s presence means as much to me now as I think it did then.


Is Ratifying The U.N. Convention On The Rights Of People With Disabilities Necessary For The U.S.?

Is Ratifying The U.N. Convention On The Rights Of People With Disabilities Necessary For The U.S.?


Mindfulness & Attention

I saw this New York Times piece by Daniel Goleman when it first came out in May, but I came across it again while reading the New York Times this morning.

‘There are no long-term, lasting benefits from taking A.D.H.D. medications,” said James M. Swanson, a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, and an author of the study. “But mindfulness seems to be training the same areas of the brain that have reduced activity in A.D.H.D.” ~Daniel Goleman

“You don’t hear too much about hair care for little girls with autism, especially African American girls with autism who are natural, because  it’s not as prevalent in girls, number one, and not as prevalent in girls who are African American and black.” ~Simply. Natural. Natasha

How to Persevere without Perseverating |

Barbara Bissonnette is an employment coach who specializes in helping adults with Asperger’s Syndrome (yes, I know it’s no longer in the DSM-5), autism spectrum disorder and nonverbal learning disability find suitable careers. There’s great advice about job hunting and navigating the workplace environment in her newsletter.

How to Persevere without Perseverating |