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Wishing you all good things from the folks at Spectrum, Spectrum Press, the Personal Support Networks project and the Better Networks project (and Barb Westfield rocks!)

December 31, 2011

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Its been an amazing year – I’m not even sure how to sit down and put together how amazing its all been…

Spectrum’s new website, with our new logo, will roll out any day now.  What an interesting process and bigger than we expected – to figure out (with someone who knows how – the marvellous Elena Rivera) what we stand for and want to convey and how to do that in colour, with a new logo that has to do with listening to each other and cycles of interdependence.  I’m really excited about a new feature called “our stories” – there are just a few entries so far but we’ll build on these as time goes by (send us yours!).   This year we’re preparing to celebrate 25 years of successful supports to folks living in our neighbourhoods – and things have changed a lot, in the world, in government, for people with disabilities, in our own concepts of what “the work” is.

Spectrum Press had a wonderful launch for Barb Goode’s book and opened an online storefront which has received orders from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, all across the states and Canada.  We’re putting together what we think is an amazing anthology of current thinking about how people with disabilities can be supported, for next year, plus our first children’s book and a new book by Susan Stanfield that is just great.   Look for another great launch party in October 2012 – with David Pitonyak (a featured writer in our new anthology) in attendance.

The Personal Support Networks project, aka the 101friends project, has gone on to work with groups of self advocates to create documents that are meaningful to them and their friends in their lives – we’re proud to have been part of C.L.B.C.’s growing arsenal of best practice and accessible literature about our field, as well as continuing to offer training (this year we’ve been as far as New York state, San Francisco and Atlanta, Georgia, as well as around the province) that brings groups of families, support workers, self advocates and government workers together in ways that build trust and confidence.   As of October we’ve added Shelley Nessman to the mix – to our huge delight!   And now we’re building a new set of workshops to offer.   We’ve also been delighted to support workshops by Mary Kealy, from Ireland, Dr Michael Kendrick, who knows more about best practices than anyone, David Pitonyak, Barb Goode, Jule Hopkins, Pat Fratangelo, business leader Michael Walsh of Kaizen Consulting, Norman Kunc and Emma Van der Klift.  Norman and Emma, particularly, are great new friends and we’re looking forward to spending more time with them and, with every event, learning more from people who should be national treasures.

The Better Networks (for Better Lives) project began almost 9 months ago as a priority for our new strategic plan and we’ve learned so much already.   What happens, we wondered, if we throw all we know and all we can do behind about ten individuals who are looking for more leadership in their own lives and supports?   The commitment and perceptiveness of those who support them has been incredible, and the way that the folks involved have jumped in to seize the opportunity to let us know what works (and doesn’t) in their lives has been great.   We imagined this little group as the nucleus to agency transformation – a kind of kindling of spirits and skills that would build and grow and ignite (this idea came out of a PATH with our management team in which their “north star” was a lit match held up against the world) – so as both staff and those we help organize supports for have come in to increasingly ask “how do we spread the word?  how do I involve my friends and colleagues?” we’ve known we’re on the right track.

A thing that we’re all really proud of are all the collaborations and partnerships that have developed through these various streams of our work – our good relations with families, advocacy groups like B.C. People First, B.C.A.C.L., and the Vancouver Parents Transition Group, professionals, other organizations and government.  We are led in this idea of connection by those we support…  by their insistence on finding ways to be peaceful and grow together.   Our hope is that in the coming year this quality which we’ve learned so much from will grow in us, and in all our colleagues, and that the potential leadership of people with disabilities as an ethical, humane force in the world will be increasingly recognized.

I could certainly try to thank everyone who has been involved in all of this but it’s a pretty long list and I’m pretty sure I’d forget someone.   So instead, of the many people we might thank, I will thank one person who has singularly led us forward and keeps showing up and asking “How can I help?  What can I do?” and voices her ideas to the enrichment of us all.   When we first met Barb at Pearson Hospital and she asked us to help her get free, hopefully before she turned 60 (!), we hoped she’d be part of our “family” and her contributions have been immense.   The photo slideshow at the top of this article just gives a sense of her life.   She’s a great friend to us all, and to Spectrum.   Happy New Year, Barb! (and Happy Birthday too!)

Yours, Aaron

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ernie Baatz permalink*
    January 13, 2012 5:14 pm

    Here’s a link to a blog post entitled My Mentor Barb:
    http://beaconnews.ca/calgary/2011/12/civil-rights-now-my-mentor-barb/

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