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welcome to the November e-newsletter

November 1, 2011

As ever, its been a busy month…   the first excerpt of Susan Stanfield’s new bookcame out and it looks great – 356 people came to visit it!   We hope to have a publication date soon, and the ability to pre-order from our store, www.spectrumpress.ca   We’re excited about spending days with folks from PosAbilities and BACI early in November, and possibly folks in 100 Mile a little later if we can figure it out.    Last month Susan and Shelley Nessman, our newest team member, went up to Vernon for a couple of days with people there.    If you’re interested in a workshop, please let us know.   You can contact me at aaron@spectrumsociety.org

We also spent a couple of great days with Mary Kealy, from County Clare, Ireland, learning first about agency transformation and then together with Erin Holland from PLAN, self advocate leader Barb Goode, a number of self advocates and family members, Susan, Shelley Nessman and myself we spent a wonderful day talking about Right Relationship: support networks, circles of friends, shared living and informed hiring of supports for Community Living at the Centre for Peace.   A wonderful gift was that we ran into Norman Kunc at a dinner and he happened to be free to come spend the day with us – it’s the kind of magic that only comes about in a world café.   It was an interactive day of world cafes, discussions and a panel presentation.   Small groups worked on the kinds of questions that are cropping up around the province – how to keep people safe, how to grow as individuals and agencies, how to keep moving forward.   One of the participants, a self advocate, said that it was the first day that she’d ever spent talking with others about what mattered in her life.   That’s reward enough for us!   We’re considering making this event a quarterly one, a kind of think-tank about relationships and community development for like minded associates.

Earlier this month we went to the demolition of the last building on the old Woodlands’ site – what a powerful day with old and new friends, and powerful self advocate leaders who have worked so hard to bring this about.   B.C. People First members gave out pins that represented a yellow and black ribbon tied together – those who died in institutions and those who continue to live in institutions and institution-like settings.   As we say good-bye to a model that we know was inappropriate and flawed, we can’t help but be concerned about the promotion of the group home model, which we know doesn’t work for everyone.   Check out “A Reflection on Group Homes and Supported Living,” by David Wetherow for an informed look at how life in a group home works.   Wetherow’s breakdown pretty much reflects my own experiences of working in more than a dozen homes for another agency, prior to coming to Spectrum.   Well, actually that anyone spent 58 minutes focused on any one individual, even if it was broken up into bits, didn’t happen that I can remember.   Susan’s written an excellent little article in this e-newsletter about our agency’s experiences with shared living, a model in which we’ve seen huge commitment from caregivers and those who are supported in reciprocal relationships and community building.

With Remembrance Day upon us, it’s hard not to consider those other kinds of warriors, who lived and died in institutions, and those who supported them despite all the guardedness around family and advocate involvement.   Have a peaceful November 11th when many people will join together for 11 minutes of silence for peace – on 11.11.11 at 11.00 o’clock (a.m.).

Aaron

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