Skip to content

Welcome to 101 Friends

Our 101 Ways to Make Friends Book and Website will share strategies for creating, expanding and deepening networks of support for folks with disabilities, their supporters, friends and families... for our workshop schedule, check out

You can sign up for a regular email newsletter at:
Email SignUp Form

You can buy the book at Amazon or direct from us on our Book Order Site.

Literacy and Adults with Disabilities in greater Vancouver: a conversation

May 15, 2017

We took advantage of Dr. Chris Kleiwer’s presence in Vancouver to host a small gathering of folks who are interested in literacy across the lifespan for people with disabilities – bringing together people from the worlds of schools, colleges, adult services, advocacy, libraries, research and professional supports to look at where we are and where we might go.

LiteracyWiChrisKleiwer copy

We are hoping to host a day long program in October 2017 with different short workshops on literacy through the lifespan.

Next Chapter Book Club – Vancouver: May 2017

May 15, 2017

NextChapterBookClubGraphic2017-04-20 copy

We have been very busy with reading our current book, Heart of a Champion, and two special events: a trip to the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby, and an evening dinner with visiting professor, Dr. Chris Kleiwer.


Our current book takes place in 1941 in Vancouver. The story is about a Japanese-Canadian family. At the Nikkei Museum we learned about the way the Canadian government treated Japanese-Canadians and the tragic history of internment camps. There were lots of photos about what life was like back then. We saw a model of a camp, just like the one the Sakamotos (the family in our book) were sent to in New Denver. There was even a baseball field at the internment camp. Our museum guide took us to the back and showed us an Asahi baseball uniform. The Asahi were a winning baseball team in the 1940s that were great at bunting and played “brain ball” and won many games. At times our book is depressing, but at the museum we learned that people survived at the internment camps by keeping each other’s spirits up. We also learned that people of all ages played baseball at the internment camps.

495_Lobby Small

The museum also had an exhibit of Japanese-Canadians who fought in World War I. We saw women wearing kimonos and practicing their dance routines, origami crane art and photos of the fishing boats in Steveston.

The visit brought the book to life. We would like to go back to the museum, and even visit Japan one day! We really think others would enjoy going to the Nikkei Museum.


Our evening with Dr. Chris Kleiwer was lots of fun. He did not know about Next Chapter Book Clubs so we explained how the group works. We read our book and showed Chris how we read and talk about a book. We ate pizza, talked about the plot of the book – the Sakamoto family who were now living in a shack at an internment camp and what was happening to Japanese-Canadians in the 1940s. This was new information for Chris. Liz and Aaron drew our conversation. We think sharing about Next Chapter Book Clubs is important, particularly to small communities who may not know of our existence. We discussed the educational challenges that many people with disabilities face. It would be great if someday all kids with disabilities were in classes with their peers, where everyone is equal regardless of ability. Next Chapter Book Club shows others that we are capable of learning.

If you are interested in joining Spectrum’s Vancouver Next Chapter Book Club there are sometimes spots available, usually when participants are moving from one book to another.   Please email and I will get you in touch with the right people!  

Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver

December 9, 2016

nxtchapterbookclubWe are members of the Next Chapter Book Club in Vancouver. We thought you would be interested in hearing about what we are reading and doing these days.

We meet every Thursday evening from 6:30-8pm at the coffee house The Grind in Vancouver. There is a bus stop nearby so it is easy to get to by bus. Spectrum Society for Community Living supports our book club and buys the books we read. When we finish a book we can keep it or donate it.

We work together as a team to read and talk about books. We read out loud to each other. If someone gets stuck on a word we help them out. We stop every once and awhile and talk about what we have been reading. We also look up words and pictures to help us understand what we are reading.


                                                        (members with the author Jenny Story)

When we finish a book we have a celebration. We have

  • watched a movie at a member’s home and eaten popcorn
  • eaten fish and chips while we played the board game Clue
  • created bamboo weavings with an artist
  • eaten at a Greek restaurant (yes we like food!)
  • and had a question and answer session with the author Jenny Story.

Our next book is “Heart of a Champion” by Ellen Schwartz. It is an historical novel about a Japanese baseball team here in Vancouver. The author lives in Burnaby and we hope to have her come and talk to our book club.


We have just started a pen pal project with another book club. We are hoping to get together with them once and awhile.

It’s good to be part of a book club. It gets you out spending time with friends. We all like getting together and have become better friends with each other. It’s good for your imagination!

We are looking for 1 or 2 new members for our book club. If you are interested please contact Judy at our office, 604-323-1433, or

A Week with David Pitonyak

November 9, 2015


It’s always a pleasure to draw for David Pitonyak, one of my favourite colleagues, friends and speakers.

On Monday we hosted David Pitonyak for a workshop with Home Share providers and others who choose to share their lives with folks with support needs focusing on The Importance of Belonging – in a recent provincial exploration of these models one of the things that kept coming up was the desire to have more training specifically for folks who do this, where they could meet and talk to each other.   The feedback was great!  Sketchnotes from the day:

IMG_2871 IMG_2870 IMG_2869 IMG_2868

On Tuesday we worked with David and a small group of leaders on clarifying Spectrum’s strategic plan – a method we’ve been really pleased with since we began focusing on action oriented, communicable goals.  We looked at it in relation to David’s Toolbox for Change, a workshop we brought him in for previously, that we’ve all been talking about since.  Graphic facilitation notes:

DPitonyakStrategic2 DPitonyakStrategic

On Thursday we spent a last day with David and a group of about 90 folks, talking about “Beyond Behaviours: Supporting Competence, Confidence and Well-being” – more good conversations!

IMG_2867 IMG_2866

As always, David reminds us to take care of each other.  There are things to do, ways to be, plans to make but, really, it’s all about being members of a pack and taking care of each other.


What do you want to plan? With whom? Upcoming Person Centred Training events.

October 1, 2015

652656527_531b076931_oIn November we have three events related to person centered planning, graphic recording and facilitation with two more coming up.

MAPS and PATH Training in Vancouver, Wednesday, 18 November to Friday, 20 November, from 9 – 4.   Shelley and Aaron will be joined by some special guests for three days of hands-on training and great conversations.

Expanding Graphics for Person Centred Planning and Thinking with Aaron Johannes, on Saturday, 28 November 2015 from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM in Vancouver.

Facilitation!  Tips and Techniques with Shelley Nessman.  Date TBD.

Community Centres, Neighbourhood Houses and Other Places of Belonging are Waiting for You!  Join Geri Briggs to learn about what’s available and make a plan to get out more, meet new friends and contribute!  Date TBD.

“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

Brene Brown

Photo by Ehsan Khakbaz H.

Creative Commons

Tom Kohler and Tim Vogt ponder the Possibility of People, by Shelley Nessman

October 1, 2015
What Can People Come to Mean to Each Other.  Graphic by Shelley Nessman and Sheldon Schwitek

What Can People Come to Mean to Each Other. Graphic by Shelley Nessman and Sheldon Schwitek

I recently spent some time with Tom Kohler – Executive Director of Chatham Savannah Citizen Advocacy and Tim Vogt – Executive Director of the Starfire Council of Cincinnati Ohio as they co-presented about “The Possibility of People”.

A key question that they asked was “What can people come to mean to each other?”  As I sat with my colleagues pondering this fundamental question for the work that we do with the people we support, it occurred to me that we often are asking some very different questions:

  • What will we do today?
  • Where can I support this person to find a job?
  • Is this person safe, healthy, happy?

Now don’t get me wrong- these last three are important questions but if we don’t take a crack at that first question on a daily basis- we are likely missing a significant thread in our work, that of honouring the person’s gifts and capacities and puzzling through the idea that the world is waiting to know and love this person so what are we waiting for?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tim talked about the 5 Valued Experiences which are foundational to the work at Starfire.

The 5 Valued Experiences

  • Sharing Places – People sharing the ordinary places of community life at the same time and in the same way as others helps them be seen for their gifts and passions.
  • Making Choices – Choices big and small, in all areas of one’s life, lead to possibilities and opportunities to grow.
  • Making Contributions – Attaining valued roles that use our gifts, talents, passions, interests, ideas and opinions are all ways to make contributions.
  • Growing in Relationships – Taking time to develop a wide, diverse range of relationships with people to grow stronger in our relationships.
  • Experiencing Respect – Being seen as a valued person who has positive roles to play in other people’s lives by putting our best foot forward.

They also talked about the ways in which we must let go of old ideas and ideologies to make room for the emerging future for citizens.  “What has to die to make room?”  inspired much talk around the room as people committed to let go of their fear of change or other negative influences in their work to make more room for their vision for a future that includes all people in an authentic way.

Next time you are with the people you support or your colleagues or even your mom… ask this question “What can people come to mean to each other?”  See what happens!  Let us know what people tell you… we would love to know!

”All citizens have better life chances, and everyone’s world grows more interesting, when communities offer rich opportunities for all people to have these five valued experiences.” John O’Brien and Connie Lyle O’Brien

Parker Palmer on finding institutions…

October 1, 2015

SteppingInToWhoYouAreThis great article came to me via colleagues – Parker Palmer on “A New Professional: The Aims of Education Revisited.”  In this he is writing about education and medical institutions, but the ideas are easily transferable to our field…  if we dare.

One of the things he writes is,

. . . as Ivan Illich reminded us 40 years ago, the functions of a profession are not necessarily those of the institutional structures that house it. The fact that we have schools does not mean we have education. The fact that we have hospitals does not mean we have health care. The fact that we have courts does not mean we have justice. We need professionals who are “in but not of” their institutions, whose allegiance to the core values of their fields makes them resist the institutional diminishment of those values.

I’m a sucker for Palmer.  I love his gentle, appreciative, dialogic, Quaker based approaches.  But in this article, he’s pissed.  How do we send students (or staff) to “work in institutions that too often prove toxic to their deepest commitments.”  It’s one of my favourite moments in workshops, where we get to remind each other of the emancipatory intentions that brought us into this work, before we got caught up in a world of boxes to tick off and forms to be filed.

Of how meeting people with disabilities and realizing that what we’ve been told about them in the media and in our cultural stories and even in our textbooks isn’t true – they are not dull-witted, necessarily concrete thinkers, boring, needy, and all those other things that a lot of the messages about them convey – potentially radicalizes us.  If what we’ve been led to believe about these folks – who show up at our doors with cakes to share, remember our birthdays, remind us of the things we’ve forgotten in the most gentle appreciative ways, point out that blue socks don’t go with a black suit, faithfully bring us valentines each year (this may just be my own list and if you have friends or family with disabilities you will have your own amazing list) – are some of our most valuable community members: what else might not be true?  What else are we in danger of throwing away?

Parker J. Palmer, A New Professional: The Aims of Education Revisited, November-December 2007.  Change: A Magazine of Higher Learning.  

%d bloggers like this: