Andrea Moore and Faith Vidrine are friends, and like most friends, they share an easy back-and-forth rapport when they talk about other friends, all the fun things they’ve done together and how the world works. But while Moore is a founder of the Wayfaring Band — a Denver nonprofit providing experiential travel and equalizing learning opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities — Vidrine, who has Down syndrome, is both a member of the band and now also a colleague of Moore’s at the organization, where she works part-time.
Not that their cognitive differences matter: They view one another as equals, with Moore breaking down ideas into more direct pictures for Vidrine in conversation so that they can discuss and understand things better.
Moore credits the Wayfaring Band with teaching her how to communicate this way. “The most significant thing I’ve learned along the way and the thing I keep coming back to is the importance of mutuality. A lot of other programs are centered around services for people with disabilities.” There’s a lot wrong with that, she notes. “The people without disabilities aren’t targeted at all.” Together, Moore and Vidrine want to change that disparity and help people of different cognitive levels see each other as human beings.
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To that end, the two friends are now joining together in a new and unlikely venture that makes perfect sense once you understand those reasons behind it. They’re co-hosting an interview podcast called Everybody In that mixes things up in an unexpected way: Vidrine will be interviewing neurotypical guests without disabilities, and Moore will bounce back by chatting up people with disabilities, one each in every episode.
“Our boardmember Jake Freedle was on a jog one day while listening to a podcast,” Moore says. “So he left me this hilarious text that said, ‘Andrea, I’m jogging, and I think we should do a podcast.’ When Jake said it, I thought, ‘That’s us.’ The timing felt right,” she continues. “We got together and started thinking about the most exciting ways we could do this and still make sure Faith is not only participating, but also authoring it.
“We didn't have all the answers. But we knew the relationship was a good fit and that she and I would be good cultural partners,” adds Moore.
The Wayfaring Band’s offices are located in the Converge Denver co-working space, where there’s already a sound booth available for use. Moore and Vidrine began fooling around with microphones and equipment in the studio and doing some practice interviews. They combed the city for guests, choosing people they saw as movers and shakers, as well as friends from the I/DD community, and started taping the first season of podcasts in August, with help from sound engineer Carin Huebner.
Vidrine’s neurotypical interview guests include aforementioned “movers and shakers” like civic-minded small-business owner Erika Righter of Hope Tank, addiction and mental health provider and co-founder of Song of the Wolf sanctuary Ozzie Cabral, slam poet Hakeem Furious, Vidrine's best friend Danny Beck and artist/musician Jordan Knecht, to name a few, while Moore’s guests include other travelers from the Wayfaring Band and old friends she's made over more than fifteen years working in the community.
Vidrine is comfortable with her interviewees. “It feels good,” she says. "I'm having fun conversations and connect with people. It feels good to be open sometimes and talk about how we are the same and how we are different.” For someone who battles disappointment in some of her neurotypical/neurodiverse relationships, it’s a positive step. “Sometimes it’s frustrating, because caretakers — providers — sometimes talk over you, not always to you,” adds Moore, in conversation with Vidrine. “In the booth, you're in charge. I'm a provider, but I think about boundaries working in the disability community.
“Faith's right. We do not have many authentic spaces for us to co-exist as people, but in that space, we’re no longer providers or clients,” Moore adds.
And Vidrine wants everyone to listen in: “Especially the whole world! Some stranger is the whole world!” she exclaims, unlocking the story behind the title Everybody In. “This is why I'm serious about this, why I want the whole world to know. If they listen to the podcast and think it’s so cool — nice people talking about different things and feeling open — then they can know the truth of us.”
Moore agrees: “I think we already have plenty of podcasts about movers and shakers. The difference is that we want to know them better, and we also want them to know Faith better. We want to take time to celebrate our differences and build more inclusive relationships. “I really hope we strike a chord with people with and without disabilities,” she continues. “I do hope to create brand-new content for people with disabilities, and hope people without disabilities will recognize what we already know is true: that we are more alike than different.”
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Vidrine chimes in: “People with or without disabilities — they all matter, and they exist, and they’re just human beings. It’s really important to think about that.”
Join Moore and Vidrine at an Everybody In launch party on Thursday, January 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Converge Denver, 3327 Brighton Boulevard, to familiarize the public with the podcast and its aim of breaking down barriers between differently abled people and celebrating differences while increasing understanding.
The first forty guests will receive a small gift, and special prizes will be awarded to people who download available episodes, share the podcast on social media and review the project on iTunes. The first four podcasts in the series are now available for listening on various platforms, including YouTube; access the tapes at shows.pippa.io/everybodyin. Podcasts will be updated weekly.