Discovering community living’s gifts and possibilities
Michelle Strutzenberger

From co-housing to social enterprise, new ways to enrich the lives of people who have an intellectual disability are being actively explored through posAbilities and a number of other community living agencies across Canada.

As one example, posAbilities is spearheading an innovative effort to create intentional communities through fostering authentic connections with local neighbourhoods. The effort is based on an approach called asset-based community development.

In a recent interview with CKNW 980 in the Vancouver area, Inclusion BC’s executive director, Faith Bodnar, shares her concerns about the proposed budget constraints for Community Living BC. Even if funding is maintained, as the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation is saying it will be, about 500 B.C. residents become eligible to receive community living support each year, Faith points out. This means available funding will be spread “thinner and thinner” to more and more people.

Systems are in decay all around us, Axiom News CEO Peter Pula says. But there are questions that can help us discover what is sprouting from the compost of yesterday. What can be nurtured into new life? What is the new story, the new narrative?

Discovering the gifts and possibilities already resident in a system such as the community living movement is the most powerful place to start shaping the future, Peter says.

While there is much to be done on this front yet, some conversations based on this notion of discovering gifts and possibilities have yielded potentially fruitful insights. One of these insights, from Faith herself, is that more family groups in B.C. are coming forward to talk not only about their leadership roles in ensuring good supports for their sons and daughters, but also how they can contribute to driving the community living movement forward.

“We change the world when we create the time and space for heartfelt, unique conversations that discuss values and affirm doubts, feelings and intuition,” author and community thought leader Peter Block writes in his book The Answer to How is Yes.

Proposed questions to start with:

Think back to a moment when you saw the community living movement at its most energized and alive, while making a profound difference in someone’s life. What was happening? Who was engaged? What would you say were the root causes of this experience being what it was?

If there were any three individuals or organizations that you’d like to be in a room with right now, which ones would they be and why? What do you appreciate most about these people or organizations? What strengths do they have that attract you the most?

Who is an “unlikely” person/organization in the community living sphere that you think we can all learn something from, someone on the outer edges, offering a different perspective to consider?

What are this community’s gifts and assets that have yet to be brought out and shared more fully?

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