Q18 DESCRIBED: Letter from the Guest Editor

Audio Description of Q18 Cover

dis/sustain/ability defined

Lead Editor’s note: We will be publishing excerpts from Q18: dis/sustain/ability, in order to make the content accessible to blind readers with audio screen readers. We’ll also be including audio descriptions of the Quarterly’s original layout designed by Stephanie Plenner, described by Katie Murphy. Please stay tuned for future posts and share widely.

In this our first chapter, Guest Editor Bronwyn Preece gives an overview of the issue to come, and an unpacking of the issue’s title: dis/sustain/ability.

Audio Description of Q18 Letter from the Guest Editor

Dear Reader,

Buried amongst the leaves and lakes, memes and moss, skin and sidewalks, woods and wheelchairs, normal and nuance… dis/sustain/ability begs us to consider, albeit subtly, who can claim disability in this Anthropocenic age of constant climatic flux? 

This CSPA special-themed issue offers a diverse array of artistic responses, underpinned with strong critical leanings for interrogating the overlaps of sustainability and disability and the relevance of conjoining these concepts in/for today’s world.  Drawing on practitioners and/or scholars from three continents – some self-identifying as ‘disabled’, others not – this issue grapples with the neologistic tensions, hurdles and gifts of our cultural, social, economic and environmental propensities towards and with notions of disability.

dis/sustain/ability embraces transnational intersectionality and the multiple imbrications made accessible through doing so.  This issue serves as a catalyst, as gentle invoker, as provocateur, as reflective medium through which a variety of ideas are offered up by contributors.  It has inverted blatancy through diverse response. It asks more questions than it does try to form firm answers.

As guest editor, it has been nothing short of inspiring to gather the contributions.  The curated call was framed openly, welcoming broad and interpretative possibilities to what was provoked by the notion of dis/sustain/ability.  The issue wheels us down new paths and forks in the road, encounters the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, fingers away notions of freaks, examines irreverence, marginalization, activism and policy, adds dimension to crip vernaculars, poeticizes the political, swears at homogenization, artistically interrogates impairment, sews together and performs through the very being of disability, sustainably…

It has been an honor to curate this issue….

Bronwyn Preece,

PhD Candidate, University of Huddersfield: Performing Embodiment: Improvisational Investigations into the Intersections of Ecology and Disability


dis/sustain/ability: DEFINED

Each contributor was asked to ‘define’ dis/sustain/ability in 25 words or less…


You will never be out of the woods.

You will never be the woods.

You are the woods.


At first I was crashing and burning—consumed by loss. Acceptance was arduous; I was being prepared to have all of my perceptions changed forever.


Interdependency, vulnerability, co-habitation, across and between, you/i/we/me/us. 


We each use systems to make our worlds usable and thriving. The bright sun makes our lives work in so many ways. A good joke sheds light on life when we need laughter.


Continuing to be in flow, through the years, while living in an ableist society. Searching for connection, taking responsibility, engaging, widening the circle.


breathe inside fire or water or soil. make like a succulent, plump and adaptable. try on constraints then wiggle. notice movement – micro / macro.


arranging human, physical, financial, and environmental resources in such a way that every being can live a meaningful, productive, and comfortable life now and into the future


To separate these three words…though dis is not a word by a slash….makes them read as separate. 

Dis is to negate, deem valueless…sustain is to lift up, support for all time and forever…ability is the skill, the life within that understands and knows how. Together…dissustainability…though unrecognized or hidden, is the life within that knows and breaths within us all.


“Disability” and “ability” are not binary terms; making art about Crip/disability experiences is to sustain disability culture and the heritage of resistance and resilience. 


It’s the long slow note made up of a feast of harmonics, always in flux, ever changing, transforming and subverting.

Bronwyn (guest editor):

… circles with edges, borders with welcome signs, awareness of networks, improvisation, interdependence, adaptation, vitality, necessity, inextricability, knitting/weaving/breathing-being…living in shared uniqueness/norming difference…verbing: …

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