Access is justice

Episode 3, 6/8/22

Access is justice

In this episode, we focus on accessibility in the Great Lakes region. We hear powerful stories from people making a difference and we hear the bittersweet stories of people experiencing their first “kayak experience” – when water gives them a special sense of freedom.

First, we hear from the founder and executive director of the Ability Center, Damian Buchman. He shares his experience as a Temporarily Able-Bodied person and how this led him to starting his own company. Damian tells us about his efforts to turn Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach into the country’s most accessible beach.

But we were also curious about accessibility at the rest of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes beaches. We spoke to Courtney Gunville about her work as a Wisconsin Sea Grant Intern in 2021, where she used GIS to examine ADA accessibility at Coastal Access Sites in Wisconsin. Sea Grant’s Natalie Chin, who worked alongside Courtney, emphasizes that accessibility benefits everybody.

Lastly, we hear from the founder of Pine Forest Lodge, John Stratte. He tells us about his story of becoming paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 22, and how that has led him to his current work. We hear some of his stories and experiences since starting his accessible northwoods retreat.

Pictured here is Damian Buchman at the opening of the Ramp Up project through the Ability Center where they brought accessibility to Bradford beach. 
Front left: Tim Ochnikowski
Front right: Jonathan Heider

Back row from left to right:

State Rep. Robyn Vining
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley
Damian Buchman founder of The Ability Center
County Supervisor Shawn Rolland
Milwaukee County Parks Director, Guy Smith
Commissioner Deb Falk-Palec

Pictured here is one of the retreats at Pine Forest Lodge, where John Stratte and the rest of his team hold retreats for disabled people to try different activities like Kayaking, sailing, waterskiing, xc skiing, pheasant hunting, and many other outdoor activities. 

Thanks to our guests

Damian Buchman, The Ability Center

John Stratte, Pine Forest Lodge

Courtney Gunville, Wisconsin Sea Grant (former)

Natalie Chin, Wisconsin Sea Grant


Smiling woman standing in front of a lake.

Bonnie Willison | Host

Video Producer

What I do at Sea Grant

As the videographer and digital storyteller, Bonnie uses her video and animation skills to showcase the stories of Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Hali Jama | Host

Student Podcast Producer

What I do at Sea Grant

Hali brings her background in social justice, business and marketing to Wisconsin Sea Grant, where she is the co-producer and co-host of The Water We Swim In.