Let´s Talk about Billion Strong Episode 9 Season 2
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#3DVU​​​ Let´s talk about Billion Strong Episode 9 Season 221 min read

If you follow any one of us on social media or #RuhGlobal or even @Debraruh. You’ve probably heard about something that we’ve been working on. That’s called Billion Strong. And we really wanted to dedicate this episode to walk you through what is Billion Strong and what, what it’s addressing, and why we are creating this organization. Join the Movement and Donate Today!
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Transcript of Episode 9 Season 2

LaMondre Pough: Welcome to 3DVU, one conversation, three different perspectives. I’m LaMondre Pough.

David Pérez: I am David Pérez.

Richard Streitz: And I’m Richard Streitz. Thank you for joining us.

David Pérez: Welcome everyone to another episode of 3DVU. If you follow any one of us on social media or Ruh Global or even Debra. You’ve probably heard about something that we’ve been working on. That’s called Billion Strong. And we really wanted to dedicate this episode to walking you through what is Billion Strong and what, what it, what it’s addressing and why we are creating this organization.

So to start the conversation rolling, I really want to start, instead of asking directly, what is Billion Strong? I want to ask you guys, what is the problem that Billion Strong is adressing?

LaMondre Pough: Well, first of all, we are excited about this. This is something that’s really, really amazing. And the first problem I believe that we are addressing with Billion Strong is the identity of what it means to be a person with a disability.

We know that there was an incredible stigma attached to it. The world health organization, estimates that they’re at 1.3 billion people on the planet with some form of, of disability, but so many people choose to not identify as a person with a disability. Why? Because of the stigma, because of the stigma associated with disability, because of ableism that exists around the globe because of how certain cultures view and, and really manage the concept of disability.

And so one of the reasons that Billion Strong exists is to create a pride movement around being people with disabilities and how we identify and how we are identified. So that’s one of the main resists that Billion Strong exists. Richard?

Richard Streitz: Well, yeah. You know, I, I think it’s certainly one of the most, absolute most important.

The other aspect is providing a platform providing a platform for those that that may be extremely talented in any given area, whether it’s art, sciences, literature music, entertainment. That they have the opportunity and the ability that’s beyond their geographic location to to, to share what their abilities are and what they can do.

And, and Billion Strong will What we’re looking to do is to be able to offer and provide that platform. And, and it serves two purposes, not only in allowing individuals to be able to have a greater exposure on the global and world stage, but also on the other side of that by working with major corporations and, and, and strategic business partners and so forth all over the world being able to help connect connect the dots between the supply and demand of, of of these services and these talents and, and, and these experiences.

David Pérez: Yep. And I think I really want to add the, that there’s a third problem, which I think is encompassed by, by both of the things that you guys talked about, because what Richard was talking about is about economic empowerment and economic, and actually being able to, to, to do what you love and get money from that.

But there’s also the fact that we have talked about, for years about, a business case on disability and the fact that there’s, there’s going to be a lot of change if the community comes together, but that’s what, what has been missing. I think the community being together and that has led to the community as a whole, not being meaningfully included. Because there’s organizations, governments and people in general are confused about what the community is and what the community is looking for. Even though inclusion seems so simple to grasp, it isn’t. And I think that that’s part of what Billion Strong is trying to address. Correct me, I’m wrong?

LaMondre Pough: No, no, absolutely.

Absolutely. I mean, just imagine what could happen if 1.3 billion people came together and spoke as a unified voice. Imagine the power that just imagine the power to change. Imagine the power to influence. Imagine the power to really make a difference in this world. That’s mindblowing.

David Pérez: It is.

Richard Streitz: Yeah. You know, absolutely.

I think one of the larger challenges that corporations and individuals who want to try to embrace inclusivity and accessibility across and across their enterprise is the fact that the, many of these groups are so fractionalized. And, and I think that a lot of people may not necessarily be aware of how challenging it can be.

But between the different groups and sometimes within the groups on not necessarily agreeing to, to one particular thing or another, and, and or how they view You know how they view themselves and how they view others. And, and so that is something that one of the things is that we’re looking to do is to provide sort of a common tent for all these groups to to come under and to feel comfortable expressing how they view themselves and and how they want to express themselves.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely. Yeah.

David Pérez: Yeah. And all of those are problems, but let’s look at the numbers as well. LaMondre already mentioned it’s 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world. Let’s put that into perspective. That’s one in seven around the world, and it’s even higher in most areas of the world. And the people that are, that have disabilities are 90% less likely to have an education across the world.

So there’s a big link between disability and poverty.

LaMondre Pough: Okay. I want you to say that one more time, David, so we can really get the weight of that statement. Say that one more time. 90% what?

David Pérez: 90% of people with disabilities don’t have access to education. It’s, it’s not about having an education because they decided to leave education it’s because they don’t have access to it.

LaMondre Pough: Right. Right.

David Pérez: And that leads to poverty. Of course, it’s a, it’s a vicious circle. If you don’t have access to education, you’re poor. So it leads to you not being able to provide for your family and your family probably being poor as well.

LaMondre Pough: Right.

David Pérez: So it’s a whole system that we’ve created that’s depriving a lot of people of actual opportunities, but it’s also depriving governments and the world of gaining from the people that they are depriving of opportunities. Like it’s there, there’s a number it’s 7% of the GDP that’s costing the OECD countries not to include people with disabilities. So if we put that number into dollars, it’s a number that we can even pronounce. It’s so much money that we’re losing by not including people with disabilities, that it simply makes no sense not to do something like this.

LaMondre Pough: Right, right. And there’s no way to ignore a seventh of the world.

There’s no way to ignore a fourth of the United States. There’s no way to ignore a fifth of Australia and Canada, and so many other countries that absolutely don’t acknowledge or recognize the value of a major portion of our citizentry. And, and, and, and this, this is why it’s important. This is why it’s so important.

It really does become a cycle. It becomes a cycle that’s hungry. That’s, that’s, that’s running and running well, if we can say it that way.

Richard Streitz: Yeah. You know, absolutely. I think it’s the. When you look at the scale I think, you know, people in, in large metropolitan centers say, well, how can that be true? You know, everyone has access to a to education and to services and so forth. You know, when they’re looking at like Chicago, New York or Los Angeles or Florida, or, you know, in Orlando or Tampa, it, you know what I think people don’t necessarily always realize is that when you look at a country like India or China, where you have, you know, the populations of persons that fall into the, into this community persons with disability, that population alone is almost the size of the US population. And, and so the scale of that is what I think is, is, is not necessarily something that most people are aware of and that the issue, this issue at a global level, which is what we’re trying to address and trying to to, to bring light to, in, with Billion Strong is, is that fact you know, that, that that these individuals don’t have access to these services, that the majority of these individuals don’t have access to, to education accessible education and so forth.

LaMondre Pough: And I think that that’s an important point is that this is about unity. As, as we mentioned earlier, you know, the community in itself is very splintered is very scattered. And for some reason, people have a tendency to think, oh, well obviously someone is addressing that issue. Well, of course it’s not as bad as that.

But when we really began to look at the data, just from those statistics alone, that David just mentioned, we realized that we are not as far along as a world, as we thought we were. I mean, you know, we, we, we think about disability rights and even disability justice for that matter. But it’s ‘Can my child be educated?’, not, not, not, not do they have the ability to learn, but will they have access to an education?

Will this man, or this woman who has a disability, will they actually have adequate housing? And, and when I say adequate, I mean actually having a roof, these are the questions that are be, that are being asked in many parts of the world. So it’s not just, you know, will they have the right to, but is the infrastructure even there for them to exist?

This is the, this is the impact. This is the problem.

David Pérez: Yeah. And what could happen if we actually did something about it, right? How much could society benefit in general about, from, from the changes that can come from uniting the community? It’s it’s just incredible. I just mentioned it’s 7% of the GDP would be gained.

But that translates into economic empowerment for everyone, right? If people have more money to spend, they are spending that money in businesses that make more money, and that means more education and more progress and more research, more development. Inclusion benefits everyone.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely.

Richard Streitz: Well, and you know certainly the economic benefits it is, is, you know, without question also there’s, there’s the human potential aspect of it.

And in regard to the tapping into these, these resources that have that, that are, that aren’t being currently tapped into, for example, advances in science, there’s, you know, we’re not even aware of the brilliance individuals that may be out there who can solve some of these you know medical challenges. Who can solve some of these engineering and technical challenges who can, you know, who are brilliant musicians or, or, or brilliant artists who only because of, of their their situation and their cultural situation or their geographic situation. They don’t have the benefit of, of having the resources to be able to demonstrate that you know, the, the human resources that are, that are just sidelined right now. You know, at the, at the numbers and scale that we’re talking about, it’s, there can only be great, huge advancements to and benefit for everyone when those individuals are brought to the table and included into the discussions.

LaMondre Pough: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I look at it from a sustainable model. You know, there, there, there when you look at sustainability, there are three major components, that’s environment, society, and economics. All of those things, all of those things will benefit through inclusion. All of those things benefit if you have people with disabilities involved in that.

And I don’t, when I say involved, I don’t mean as an afterthought or, oh, we made it accessible for you, no, I’m talking about, at the table making the decisions along with everyone else. So if we’re talking about as, as, as David mentioned, the economics of it, but also as Richard mentioned, the social aspect of it as well, but then there’s also a, an environmental component that comes to this as well.

So it’s just, like I said before that. The other system was strong and it was hungry and it’s moving. This system can be that as well. If we simply change the perspective, if we simply begin to focus differently than we’ve focused in the past. And I really believe that that’s what this is about.

David Pérez: Yeah.

And with that, knowing the problem and knowing the benefits, I think we, we are ready to define what Billion Strong is. So what is Billion Strong LaMondre?

LaMondre Pough: So Billion Strong is a global identity organization that’s established for people with disabilities, by people with disabilities. Our goals really are to educate, to unite, to elevate and to empower the global community of people with disabilities. Yes, it is about disability rights. Yes, it is about inclusion. And when we say inclusion, we’re also talking about recognizing and honoring all of the intersectionalities that are represented in this beautiful community.

As we said before, at 1.3 billion people on the planet, imagine if 1.3 billion people came together with a unified voice, you can’t ignore that then. There was no way that that community could be ignored. And we want to highlight and amplify the things that are going on in the different parts of the world that are really good in terms of the community of people with disabilities, the work that’s being done in different areas of the world.

It is not our goal to go in and tell people how things should be done in terms of their culture, in terms of those things. But what we want to do is we want to support and amplify the efforts that are being made by organizations, by individuals on the ground that are in support of the community of people with disabilities.

So this really is an internal movement that speaks to identity that speaks to education that speaks to the elevation and the unity of the community of people with disabilities. And this is something that I’ve never seen before, not on a global scale.

Richard Streitz: Well, you know, absolutely. And you know, some people may consider it to be ambitious, overly ambitious to try to pursue this.

But but you know, it’s, it’s worth pursuing. And you know, one of the things that you said, I think is so critical for people to understand is that. What we’re trying to do is not necessarily create the end all be all. But, but share in what other individuals are doing all over the world and amplify, you know, use, use that term to, to, to help amplify good work that’s happening all over. And, and through the collaborative efforts of different organizations that can share between, you know you know, you may have an organization that’s that’s in Sweden. And then an organization that’s in China that are doing that are doing the same type of work.

But aren’t necessarily aware of each other, but the, the shared intelligence and, and, and collaboration between their efforts can produce even more and be even more valuable. And that can be shared with groups that can be started everywhere, elsewhere. And, and, and, and again, so amplifying, which is such a great term the efforts of, of global organizations all over in all areas. So it’s not about replacing it’s about sharing and amplifying and, and collaborating with organizations that that are in place.

David Pérez: Yeah. And they’re, there’s actually a slogan that accompanies the Billion Strong logo that I think encompasses most of what you guys have said.

And it’s, It’s a global disability movement. And I find it interesting because global there has more than one, meaning it’s not just about the whole globe and every country in it. It’s about making it global that it addresses economic, it addresses employment, it addresses social empowerment. It addresses accessibility.

We’re trying to address. Everything that has to do with disability with this organization. And that’s why it is, why it is global. It is global because we’re trying to do it for every disability and bring everyone together under the flag of inclusion. And that’s just beautiful. And it, even though it’s gotta be hard because it is a huge undertaking.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely.

David Pérez: If we didn’t do it, who would, who would take it?

Someone has to take the first steps. It’s probably going to be a huge undertaking that’s going to take millions of people coming together to make it a reality, but we had to start it.

LaMondre Pough: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I will tell you the, the, the, the thing that, one of the things that’s so beautiful about this is that it is truly a cross disability movement.

You know, we, we, we have to really deal with the issues that exist within our community. I’m talking about the whole hierarchy stuff I’m talking about the internal ableism that holds us back the fighting over the, the little crumbs of the pie, those kinds of things. We, we, we really have to begin to address that.

And this is why I love the whole concept of, of it being global. And as David said, not just encompassing the entire world, but from a global perspective, from a perspective that says, Listen, this is not about the specific disability or the specific issue or the specific right, or this specific lack of justice.

But this is about personhood. This is about who we are as individuals, as a community and presenting the value that we bring and having a space. A space to communicate with each other, having a space, to share our victories and our challenges and to support and to guide, to get it. That’s what this is about.

And I am, I feel like I’m about to jump out of this chair as I’m describing what the vision is for this organization. It’s it’s It is huge. It is huge, but guess what? We’re a part of a huge world. And so strength meets challenge. And this is, this is the path. This is what we’re doing.

David Pérez: Yeah. And among the things that we will be doing.

We’ve gotta be empowering the community as LaMondre has said, we are going to be creating research and development. We are going to be creating educational resources for people with disabilities that help them empower themselves. We’re going to be working on shared economy programs, technology, development, support for entrepreneurs.

And one very important thing is that we’re going to be making the community discoverable. Making it easy for corporations that want to make an impact by hiring people with disabilities to find them and hire them. So we know how that sounds. We know that that sounds like a lot, but it is all part of a, of a very cohesive program because if we don’t address one of those things, we are leaving people behind and that’s what we don’t want to do.

We really want to make sure that no one is left behind following the motto of, of UNICEF. We cannot leave anyone behind in this situation. And that’s what Billion Strong is going to do. We’re going to do everything, even though it sounds hard. We have to do everything at the same time because we know what has happened in the past.

When people have tried to address one specific little thing. And that’s, that’s part of what we say is the problem. Promises have been made for years, that things are going to change and things are going to get better, but the numbers don’t lie. They haven’t, they haven’t had the pace that they should, even though there’s hundreds or thousands of organizations around the world doing their best.

If the community is not together and if there’s not a global approach, it’s going to be very hard to address this problems in a comprehensive way.

LaMondre Pough: Right. Yeah. We, we, we can’t keep putting a single patch on a water pot that’s riddled with holes. You know, we have to start thinking, wait a minute, we have to recreate the pot. We have.

And what I mean by that is no, not recreating the services because here’s the thing, the water is in the pot. The thing is we’re losing so much though, because we’re only focused in that one area. So. How do we do that? How do we do that? Well, first of all, we need you to become a part of the movement.

We need people to become a part of the movement to stand up and say that I am Billion Strong to say that we’re stronger together. So if you’re a person with a disability or you love someone with a disability, or if you’re an accomplish or an ally, join the movement. We need people, we need people, we need voices.

And we also need volunteers. We need energy. We need people to really put their shoulders to the wheel. We want to hear the stories. We want to know what it is that you’re doing and, and how you’re showing up in the world. And honestly, also want to hear the challenges, want to hear, you know, what’s going on.

What is the reality of this particular situation, your particular situation. So it’s really about coming together and being a part of the movement. Something that is bigger than just an individual pursuit and don’t get me wrong. We would certainly support that as well, but it’s really about how do we make the community stronger?

How do we make this world a better place?

David Pérez: I was going to ask how do people join the movement?

LaMondre Pough: Well, you can go to Billion-strong.org. That’s billion-strong.org, and you can sign up. You can join the movement that way you can sign up to be an advisor. You can sign up to be a partner. You can sign up to donate to the cause. We’ve just launched, we’ve just launched our first major funding campaign and we’ll have the link attached to this for that.

But that’s that’s what we need. That’s how we’re moving forward. So we really need you to get engaged. And there are all kinds of things on the website. So you can see the team members, you can see you know, some of the content that we’ve been putting out, you can see some of the stories that we’ve been sharing.

So it really is a way to get in there, get your hands dirty and move this thing forward.

Richard Streitz: It’s critical that we, we be the reality that we want to see. And, and it can’t happen without without the contributions and feedback and input from the billions of individuals around the world. That’s what’s going to make a sustainable model, because again, what we’re doing, isn’t just for the next four or five, 10 years.

What we’re trying to do is to set wheels in motion that that, that last in creating a sustainable model for years and decades into the future. So that not just for us, but future generations can keep passing that Baton forward to, to advance and to support and to help. And you know, that’s, that’s why we call it a movement. This isn’t a, it’s not a company, it’s not organization, it’s a movement. And, and that’s why we need your help and support.

David Pérez: Yeah. And just as a reminder, go to billion-strong.org and sign up to be part of the movement. Follow us on social media, wherever you can share whatever we’re doing, that’s going to help us incredibly reach our goals.

And if you have extra money. Don’t hesitate to donate to our cause because we really need all the support that we can get in whatever way possible. We’re looking for volunteers advisers in every country. So go to our website and, and get, get more information. If you’re looking for more information. And if you have questions, ask on social media, we’re happy to engage.

Thanks everyone.

Thanks for joining us this week on 3DVU, make sure to visit our website Ruhglobal.com/3DVU. That’s RUHglobal.com/3DVU. Or you can subscribe to the show wherever you listen to podcasts or join our YouTube channel so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you find value in the show, we appreciate it if you would leave a like or comment or simply tell a friend about the show that would really help us a lot too. If you would like to join our conversations, you can join our Facebook community 3DVU, three perspectives, one conversation. .