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Review: Modern Biology at Indian Summer Festival - Low Vision Friendly by NatureShawn, Kristy and Annika sit in Ron Besford Park

It is a rare thing to feel welcomed with open arms when you have a list of accommodations.

Well, it feels like a list to me.

My boyfriend and I would love to attend Modern Biology at Indian Summer Festival (ISF). Would it be possible for someone sighted to meet us at a bus stop and guide us to the venue? And, oh, we’ll need to be guided back to the bus stop afterwards. If there is printed material, we’d appreciate digital versions, please.

Wow, reading that little spiel made me cringe. I sound like a bank robber. Only thing missing is a request for a helicopter. And a demand for free tickets to the event.

Perhaps it is this self-consciousness, this perception of being a square peg amongst round holes, that dissuades people with disabilities from trying something new.

In this world of systemic prejudice, who can blame the marginalized for being cynical?

And yet, I was not treated like a criminal or a burden by ISF staff.

My request to attend was met with enthusiasm and an eagerness to include, not just accommodate. By all means, someone could meet us at the Granville Island Bus stop and guide us to Performanceworks. If I would feel more comfortable bringing my own sighted guide, ISF would be happy to provide a companion ticket at no extra charge. Minutes after an email exchange with Melissa Ratcliff, I had three complimentary tickets to Modern Biology in my inbox.

And so it was that, on July 10, 2022, my boyfriend, Shawn, and I, along with my colleague and friend, Annika, found ourselves sitting on a verdant hill in Ron Basford Park under the spreading branches of a mesquite tree. Shawn, Kristy and Annika stand with ISF co-founder Siresh Rao and Community Development Director Laura June Albert

We would be witnessing what very well would be the first ever musical collaboration of plants and sitar.

Modern Biology indeed.

Veteran musician Tarun Nayar, Formally trained in Indian Classical music and educated as a biologist, uses modular synthesis, home-built synthesizers, and other analog equipment to transform plant bioelectricity into music. As an added treat that day, his sunflower serenade would be accompanied by sitar virtuoso Sharanjeet Singh Mand.

And, so, I put aside my self-consciousness, my gratitude for being accommodated and soaked in the beauty and awe of a truly unique and inclusive experience. 

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