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From Down on the Corner

One of the things I’ve tried to do with you when I am showing the Bluestone that belongs to the Deaf Children Australia is attempt to put yourself into the shoes of the children that went there, especially for the first time.

leannecole-scdca-2331Through the trees you can see the Bluestone.  The building on the left would not have been there and when you stood on this spot the bluestone is all you would have seen. The tram stop is on this corner behind you, on St Kilda Road from the city, also on High Street coming from the Eastern suburbs.

I tried to get some white noise to play on here, but couldn’t work out how to do it, so maybe you might want to do a search and find some so you can do this exercise.

I want you to imagine that you are around 6 years old, and you are deaf.  The silence you see in this image is real.  You can’t hear the rustling of the leaves, or the birds singing in them.  You can’t hear the traffic, it is all silent.  You might be standing here with your mother or your father, maybe both.  They could be holding your hand.  You can’t talk to them, they don’t understand you, and you don’t understand them.  You don’t know why you are standing here, you don’t know what this means.  There is a great big building up ahead, and you have no idea what that building will mean for you.

I want you all to close your eyes and put yourself into that place, stand on that corner and try to imagine what it was like for that child who could have been you.

If you feel the need to write something about that, please pass it along.  I would love to hear what you think.

Remember if you would like to help Deaf Children Australia and the restoration of the Blueston then you can Donate Here.

51 Comments
  1. Wow, that’s powerful. I didn’t even think about my parents not being able to understand me or vice versa. That really got me. You make it so real, and it is real. It made me happy that they made the building so beautiful for these children.

    June 5, 2013
    • I had never thought of that, about the building, it must have seem like a very grand place to live, though also scary. I hope it got the creative juices going Nia.

      June 5, 2013
  2. Wonderful writing prompt, Leanne…and a nice, peaceful Autumn photo 🙂

    June 5, 2013
    • It was a beautiful autumn morning, Melbourne does those very well. Thanks Marie

      June 5, 2013
  3. That is a beautiful shot and I like how you invite us to walk in that 6-year’s old shoes, to feel the silence and the unknown.

    My friend Marjorie is a Deaf Ed teacher and her young students have multiple and various health challenges. But they are placed with her because learning how to communicate with the world around you….to be able to express how you feel and think, is critically important. She even baby-sits for the parents when they get in a tough spot. As a mom, sometimes I scramble for a sitter. But I never have to stop and think if the person can even speak with my child.

    Thanks for making us stop and think.

    June 5, 2013
    • Marjorie sounds like a wonderful person, I hope her work gets recognised by the community. It is so true, I have two children and they both have hearing. I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be for a parent not to be able to communicate with their child, and the little things that we don’t normally think about, as you said with the babysitter.
      Thank you Gina, it great to do something that makes people stop and think.

      June 6, 2013
  4. I would have been very frightened…
    Another wonderful image and yes a very powerful story behind it.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    June 5, 2013
    • Thank you Robyn, I hope it wasn’t too heavy.

      June 6, 2013
      • No not heavy. It’s good to think about how others feel… Especially the kids.

        June 6, 2013
      • That is good, thanks Robyn.

        June 6, 2013
      • Have a great day and good morning! 😀

        June 6, 2013
      • You too Robyn, I have a photoshoot this afternoon, so I am pretty excited about that. 🙂
        I hope you have been getting out and getting more jewels

        June 6, 2013
      • How was your photoshoot?
        Hope all went superbly!

        No jewels here lately but hopefully more to follow.
        We’ve got rain presently 🙂

        June 7, 2013
      • It did go well, thanks Robyn, I have more set for the weekend ahead, lot of photos.
        Shame about the rain, maybe you could take a water spray bottle with you, make them yourself. Hahaha. 🙂

        June 7, 2013
      • Ha ha I could do that, but somehow it would feel like cheating… Lol 😛
        Hope your next shoots are as successful 🙂

        June 7, 2013
      • I was thinking that when I was writing it. LOL.
        Thank you Robyn, next one is tomorrow afternoon, fingers crossed. 🙂

        June 7, 2013
  5. 1annecasey #

    Beautiful image. Very touching words.

    June 5, 2013
  6. Liana #

    I’ll never forget the story one deaf woman told me…she was very old at the time, and telling me about her childhood because she wanted me to understand how it sometimes is for deaf children (since we had just learned that our baby boy was deaf). When this woman was about six years old, her mother told her they were going to get new shoes, so she was very excited about this, especially since her mom said she could bring a small pillowcase full of her favorite stuffed animals. Then they drove and drove for a long time, finally stopping in front of the school for the deaf. Her mom said they’d arrived at the new school.

    Can you imagine the horror of realization that you’d lipread something so important that wrong? (Say “shoes” and “school” and imagine how they look on the mouth–almost exactly the same.) What betrayal and abandonment you’d feel as you were left with perfect strangers…as a parent of a deaf child, I can assure you it would have been as traumatic for the mom as it would be for the child.

    I am forever indebted to the deaf adults who came into my life to help me understand my own son in ways I couldn’t imagine…they helped me be a better mom.

    June 5, 2013
    • How horrible for the woman, to think one thing and then out she had misunderstood. I wonder if her here was as impressive as this one. Such a big school. I don’t know where you are, and I don’t know if she did go to this one. Though I can imagine how scary it would have been. It would have been like being dumped there, as though they didn’t want her anymore. I wonder how many children felt that way.
      It is one thing I have come to realise since becoming involved in this project is how strong, supportive and caring the deaf community is. It is wonderful. It is also wonderful that you got the support you needed. Thank you Liana for telling me your story.

      June 6, 2013
  7. Thanks, Leanne, for challenging us to think about what is the real story behind the photo. I love to look at beautiful images but it’s easy, sometimes, to forget about the deeper meaning and connection. This is a very poignant post.

    June 6, 2013
    • No thanks needed Steph, it was an interesting post to do and I thought people would think I was mad, judging by the few comments that is probably true, but I think it is important to remember who the building was built for and what their impressions of it would have been.

      June 6, 2013
  8. I went right along with you, Leanne – great post, it stirred something in me.

    Greetings to you from the sunny Rhine Valley
    Dina

    June 6, 2013
    • That is wonderful Dina, thank you, and greetings back.

      June 6, 2013
  9. Powerful writing

    June 6, 2013
  10. One of the things I admire about Deaf Culture is their unapologetic view of their lives – “yeah, we do not hear, but it is not a disability, we just communicate in a different way from people who hear…” – but, this has not been the historical take on those who are hearing impaired. Good post!

    June 6, 2013
    • That is so true, even when you look at the historical documents, the school was originally known as the Deaf and “Dumb” school, that is pretty bad, apparently I am told that I should never use that, except when talking historically. Thanks Robert.

      June 6, 2013
      • Thanks – pardon my nerdy-ness, but one of my degrees is in Mental Health and Disabilities – yes, home for the dumb or feeble are all historical names that are no longer used.

        June 6, 2013
      • You don’t need to pardon that, it is something we shouldn’t do, and it is good that the word isn’t used for them anymore, I am sure it was never applicable.

        June 6, 2013
  11. A powerful story to go with the photo. Very well done!

    What comes to my mind is that on the outside it is a very beautiful building. Inside, it is quite a different story. One with lots of secrets. May be a scary story, or two, as well.

    June 6, 2013
    • Thank you David
      I may not have portrayed it well, from what I can gather, after the initial terror of finding them there, many of the children grew to have a wonderful time there, well as much as you can in a place like that, and they do talk about the great times they had there. I do think, or I like to think that it was a very nurturing place.

      June 6, 2013
  12. fabulous shot…the entrance! As an adult I can appreciate the beauty, as a small six year old child who, besides being left by his/her parents is deaf, I’m sure it would be terrifying to look upon this huge monstrous place, and eventually understand that this is where you are going to live…heart breaking really!

    June 6, 2013
    • I totally agree with everything you are saying Heather, I love the building, but I am not six years old and this isn’t to become my home. I do believe many of the children did love it and what it would go on to represent for them. It is amazing how hard the community if fighting to save the place, and I think that says a lot.

      June 6, 2013
  13. Leanne, you can turn ordinary into extraordinary. Love your work

    June 6, 2013
  14. Your image enhances the ‘inviting’ quality of the building, yet through the eyes of a deaf six year old, perhaps they thought it might be nice to visit. I go on with their thoughts at the point when the parents leave…and the silent cries become haunting.

    June 10, 2013
    • Yes perhaps, I love the view from that corner, it is a view I have seen many time over the years. I used to live off the road that runs beside it and catch trams past it to work in the city. I would see the kids from the school on the tram as they signed to one another, of course no one knew what they were saying, it was interesting to watch them.

      June 10, 2013
      • How cool was that? I have attempted several times to learn signing, but my old hands just don’t seem to want to cooperate…it’s difficult enough, some days, to type!

        June 10, 2013
      • Oh yes, I have been thinking about learning, not sure really whether I will or not. I thought it would be good for when I am around the bluestone. I know what you mean about the hands.

        June 10, 2013
      • I figured you’d understand, Leanne…we both have some hand problems, don’t we?

        June 11, 2013
      • Oh yes, mine have been very sore lately, I wonder if it is the cold.

        June 11, 2013
      • The cold does affect them, Leanne…when my hands are hurting from cold, I wear a light pair of gloves, even for typing! Is it arthritis?

        June 12, 2013
      • I don’t think it is arthritis as as soon as I stop doing what I am doing the soreness goes away. I think I have tendinitis. I like the idea of the gloves, I might try that, or even some fingerless ones.

        June 12, 2013
      • With tendinitis in my right wrist, that pain is always there, though some days it’s less. It’s my fingers that, some other days, do’t want to act properly…very disheartening. It’s called Connective Tissue Disorder, but it’s really a ‘disease’, and I seem to have had it all my life…always have had ‘cracking joints’ and joints painfully getting ‘out of whack’!

        June 18, 2013
      • Mine is more in my hands,wrists and elbows, not too bad now. Though my right hand has been giving me hell the last few days. Mine comes and goes, it sounds terrible for you though.

        June 18, 2013
      • Yeah, it’s crummy, alright…but I’ve learned to ignore the pain a lot, just so I’m able to get things accomplished (‘they’ say forcing yourself to do things builds character–and it works, cuz I am quite something of a character!).

        June 19, 2013
      • Haha, that is great to hear. I must admit I tend to ignore the pain as well when I can.

        June 19, 2013
      • Have to, or we’d never get anything accomplished!

        June 21, 2013
      • That is so true.

        June 21, 2013
  15. Reblogged this on Sherry's Space.

    August 1, 2013

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