WHY SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE, PEOPLE????? I thought this was about accessibility!
Because ANI doesn’t have the funders/Granters to cover part of the actual costs. These fees include dorm rooms (it’s on a college campus), meal plan, presentation rooms, the badges/printing, etc. for four nights. (Closer to time, there will be rates for those not on meal plan or who are not spending the night on campus.)
Expedia tells me the super 8- the cheapest motel in the area according to Expedia- would cost you approximately $297ish for the week. Excluding their continental breakfast- which wouldn’t have options for those with dietary restrictions- you also have to factor in meal cost.
Having a room + food for under the rate of the Disability rate would be next to impossible, especially for the (really good) vegan meal plan with a good amount of variety and Gluten Free options. (Four days of GF that is nutritionally balanced for under $35? That doesn’t require a lot of prep as you will be in a hotel room. UM. Let me know where you are shopping.) Admittedly, though, the full time employee rate is kinda 0_0, but I think it also covers the portion that the Disability rate doesn’t of the cost per head.
I’m sure at one point someone gave a break down of the costs for an Autreat on the autreatinfo list, but I don’t know for sure.
Were ANI to get their full 501c3 status, grants, and funders the Autreat rates absolutely would drop, or at least a larger number of scholarships would be available. But it isn’t. Seriously, Jim fills xir van with the Autreat supplies from one of the rooms in xe’s (?) house and hauls it to the site ximself. ANI hasn’t even put out a paper newsletter in several years. There’s only so much money available to go towards making it accessible financially.
That’s not to say it’s “okay” that it isn’t financially accessible. It’s not. But until we make solutions, it’s not going to change. At this point, it takes less convincing to fund individuals for this than it would for ANI to get a funder willing to cover people.
That said, I’m sure that if you have a funder willing to fund scholarships, the Autreat Coordinators would be keen to know details. They are very morally fixed on certain points, which is excellent for the environment- ableism isn’t okay, cure oriented stuff isn’t okay, etc- but make getting funding from some sources where there might be strings attached a no no. Which, honestly, I admire. Seriously, Jim has done so much in the building of Autistic Culture since the 1980s. Xe is one of my heros.
Most people who need it get funding assistance from local organizations, charitable trusts, and so forth. There is an Autreat funding guide, which those following my convo with codeman38 would be aware has its own flaws. But it is a generally good place to start.
The point is, despite a lot of factors that don’t help, Autreat still exists and has since 1996. That’s about 15 years this year. ANI will be 20 years old next year. (You can read about ANI’s history- and a lot of evolution of ideas, though a not mentioned but big step in the past 10 years was moving away from the “high/low functioning” terminology- In the History of ANI written by Jim Sinclair.)
For a group that is- and was especially when it was founded- so very much controversial in being about, by, and for Autistics rather than about Autism by and for parents/providers this is a a huge thing. And there has been progress on a number of fronts, and there is currently progress happening, that breaks down a little more all the time the barriers between Autistics.
It’s proof we can have community and culture, even if it’s one that needs built and reexamined. But honestly, once a culture gets to not being built and reexamined, it means it is dying, becoming stagnant. And Autistic culture- via Autreat, ANI, Autscape, etc- isn’t something we want to have die soon.
I am entirely in support of my people’s culture, and I absolutely agree with the purpose of Autreat. That’s why I want to go. Furthermore, I would absolutely love a retreat that respects my freedom to fully be myself. I have a husband, five children, and an autistic nephew, but we can’t all go due to price. Cost added with other factors in our lives this summer, I don’t know if any of us will be going. It is possible I may come by myself to test the waters, so to speak, and return with more the following year.
Disrespecting the work of Jim Sinclair or anyone else was not my intention. The numbers simply came as a shock, and I do react impulsively.