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Introducing : Shelley Nessman

January 11, 2012

Sophie, Aaron, Barb Goode, Shelley Nessman, Ryan - at the "Climb Every Mountain" workshop for self advocates, co-facilitated by Shelley and Barb, graphics by Aaron and self advocates, CACL/BCACL/FamilyFocus Conference, Whistler, BC

Shelley Nessman has recently joined the dialogue here at the Spectrum Society as a Consultant on Strategic Initiatives.   Shelley brings wonderful gifts to all our dialogues, and we are excited to introduce our community to Shelley.

Jules :  Shelley, Welcome.  Thanks for meeting with us.  It’s so neat to talk with you as you have such a diverse experience within the community living world here in British Columbia.   Can you tell a bit what your doing now and where some of your experience lies?

Shelley :  I would say I make a contribution to the ongoing conversations that we are having about transforming supports


I bring my experiences with CLBC and working with other agencies specifically Richmond Society for Community Living and Vela Microboard Association of B.C.  I’ve also been involved in knowing what is going on around the province for the last 3 years in terms of models of service delivery and such.

Jules :   Thanks for that Shelley.   One place you have a great commitment to the lives of people who have experienced a label of disability and are working to promote what they can contribute to society.

Shelley :  What I have observed over the last while, is that people with labels are really taking the wheel in many ways.   Sometimes they just bypass waiting for leadership and “do it themselves”.

From every region in the Province there are people saying- “I have an important idea I want to present, or a story write.”  An example would be the “No More Barriers” campaign by the Self Advocacy Foundation. There are 3 bloggers who have been posting really interesting questions to get people engaged.

Jules : I think as we talk with communities, more and more we see people having their own unique standards to what a good quality life means. I am interested in people accrediting their own lives.  How can people become their own accreditation?

Shelley : That’s an interesting idea and a neat metaphor really.  Because people in agencies hang on to their practices and might fear listening to what a person wants – because of all the competing things like agency accreditation.  I think that we are all just on a journey about “authenticity”.

Jules : When you say Authenticity,  do you mean within the self advocacy networks, or within the community living syllabus?

Shelley :  I like to think that Community Living is on the forefront of world peace.. I have always thought this is not a “disability related field”.   It’s a Peace Movement

Jules : I am always impressed with your answers.   In closing, what are you planning for the New Year?

Shelley :  I would say my vision for 2012 is to keep conversing, connecting and stretching my understanding of what we are doing here at Spectrum.  I’d love to keep this a dialogue, I’m looking for ways to talk with people and open up this dialogue.

Jules : Yes, that sounds great.  We can start with the comments below.

Shelley will be facilitating workshops, including a new PATH training and story circles, supporting our social enterprise department and leadership initiatives, and looking at U.S. models of support coordination services that might be useful in B.C.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 12:50 am

    This was so much fun, Thanks Shelly!

    • Shelley Nessman permalink
      January 11, 2012 1:35 am

      It was fun for me too! Thank you!

  2. Ernie Baatz permalink*
    January 11, 2012 6:26 am

    Nice interview, Jules. Hey Shelley! Nice to have you on our team. Here’s a question for you: There are two parts to the CLBC slogan “Good Lives in Welcoming Communities”. What do you think we at Spectrum can be doing about the Welcoming Communities piece of equation?

  3. January 11, 2012 9:31 pm

    Thanks Ernie. I’m looking forward to Shelly’s Answer.
    I think self-advocacy and sharing talents, through the web, is something happening all over the world. For example : check out
    “Learn anything from anyone, anywhere.” Or the


  4. January 13, 2012 4:21 am

    Jules – thanks for sharing the above websites – skillshare isn’t set up in Vancouver yet (as far as I can tell) but khanacademy is an AWESOME resource!!!!


  5. Shelley Nessman permalink
    January 13, 2012 6:38 am

    Hi Ernie! This is a wonderful question! I think there are as many answers to this question as there are people in our communities!

    First of all I think we continue to “be the change we want to see” which means that we all live our lives as expression of our deep, abiding value of all people. To me this means that no matter what any of us do – we are always celebrating diversity and seeking to find the gifts and talents of all of our community members and for ways to bring those gifts to the world. I love the definition of a gift that I found many years ago… “a gift is something you do that helps you to connect on a meaningful level with at least one other person. Some gifts are extraordinary but for the most part they are just ordinary things we are good at that help us to connect”

    It is important that we begin the conversation with people who we support and ask them “How would you describe a good life? When do you feel welcomed by your community?” We might give people lots of different ways to tell us.. through their stories, poetry, actions, artwork and so on. Deeply listening to the answers can start a lovely storm of ideas from all of us and help us to be more intentional in what we do in our communities for all members. Listening deeply might look like simply observing and honoring each individual’s indication about how he or she want to interact in community.

    If we enter into a state of curiosity about the people we support and find the way to understand their subtle answers and if we filter all of our interactions and supports to a person through our curiosity … we can work magic!

    Jules- the skillshare website is an EXCELLENT example of the sweetspots we are all seeking! There is such appetite for sharing, learning together and just plain having fun.. We are all looking for ways to connect- we also know about the amazing talents of the people we serve… it is a perfect example of what we can find when we simply stay curious about how to connect people in the same ways that everyone else is connecting!

    Another idea is to start to ask this question of ALL community members. “what might we do to ensure that all people are having a good life in their community?” We could do this lots of ways-
    simply talking to our neighbors and friends or supporting Spectrum folks to. We can create lots of opportunities for open dialogue such as getting involved in broader community events (different festivals, celebrations, information fairs and so on) and finding exciting and creative ways to engage in conversations on this subject. Let’s look for interesting ways to take some of those ideas and create action related to them! Let’s start a big think tank on the subject! Who is in for this discussion? I am!

    My experience has always been that when we open up this conversation, we find people who are ready and willing to engage.. even though before being invited in – they may not have given it much thought at all.. I see this as one of our responsibilities – as visionists for the future, it is something we should be doing all the time.

    I would love to continue this discussion! To me it is the very heart of our work.. anyone for coffee? 🙂

  6. January 15, 2012 6:18 am

    Thanks Shelly!
    I’m in for coffee anytime!

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