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The Goode Life – A Presentation

June 17, 2012

Earlier this month, Susan Stanfield and I presented a workshop at the BCACL Conference in Penticton titled – you guessed it – The Goode Life. We were thankful that almost everyone who had signed up showed up for the presentation, which took place first thing Saturday morning, the morning after the big dinner and dance.

Our presentation focused, as most of you will have guessed, on the memoirs written by Barb Goode and published by Spectrum Press last year.

Barb herself was supposed to join us, but in the end she couldn’t make it. So, we thought, how can we make Barb a big part of the presentation, even in her absence? The answer came quickly. We would videotape an interview with Barb.

We brought the video camera over to Barb’s place, and after only two takes, we had what we thought was a great interview to share with the audience.

So, at 8:30 on the Saturday morning of our presentation, Susan started off with introductions. She introduced herself and Barb, and then she talked a little bit about some of the main ideas in Barb’s book, before moving on to show the 25 minute interview which Barb and I had prepared.

For those few people who don’t know Barb Goode, she really is a true Canadian hero. As Al Etmanski says, “[Barb Goode] is a hero who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Rick Hansen and Terry Fox.”

A lady who came to talk to me at our Spectrum Press book table at this conference picked up Barb’s book, flipped through it, and said to me, “We Canadians do not take enough time to celebrate our heros.” I couldn’t have agreed with her more.

Anyway, in the video interview Barb talks about things like why she wanted to write an autobiography, how long she had been thinking about it, what some of her main subjects were, why she added humour, recipes, funny pictures, and quotes in amongst the serious topics like sterilization, institutionalization, plain language, and labelling. She read an excerpt.

After the video, I introduced myself, and then Susan put on her interviewer’s hat and asked me several questions about supporting Barb to write her book, questions like: “How long did it take to write?” “What were some of the things you and Barb learned about supporting writers with disabilities?” “Was it easy for me as a supporter to write in plain language?”

In short, Barb and I learned that we needed to take the time to build up trust. Barb needed to trust that I wasn’t going to hijack her book or be judgemental about the content. For my part, I had to learn how to support Barb in a way that best suited her, which meant getting together more often for shorter visits, allowing Barb to be scattered in her memories, and dealing with putting things in order later on. Barb taught me a lot about plain language, which, in fact, did not come that easily to me. Only once the trust was built up between us did I start to make any suggestions about the content and the layout of the book, and with that trust firmly in place, Barb was more receptive to the ideas I brought to the table. Still, it was always Barb’s book, and by then she trusted that she would always have the last word on all aspects of it.

All in all (if I do say so myself) I think it was a great overview of what it was like to support someone like Barb to write a book. And it was, I think, a goode example for other self advocate writers and their supporters to draw from.

At the end of the presentation we showed a short video clip. I had put Barb on the spot while we had the video camera at her place and asked whether she would like to tell a story that wasn’t in her book. She gladly accepted the challenge and talked for about 5 minutes about her trip to a conference in India in the early 1990’s.

At some point I will upload the interview I did with Barb to youtube, but for now, take a look at Barb’s India story…

After watching this video clip at our presentation for the BCACL Conference, I was able to point out to our audience one of the ways that Barb and I worked together on the stories for her book. You see, at our meetings Barb would often tell me stories like this one. I would then go home, write up my notes and go over them, coming up with questions about the stories Barb had told me – questions I would ask her the next time we got together. After watching this video, what kinds of questions might you ask Barb in order to flesh out the story, to make it fuller and more informative?
Jim Reynolds
We believe we are surrounded by evidence of kindness, sharing and abundance.   If you’d like to share any of the articles or illustrations (not photographs of people or works which are obviously by individuals, who have only given us permission for here) from the 101 Friends blog  you are welcome to do so for the uses of non-profits or social justice organizations, giving credit to – a note letting us know either in the comments or by email or twitter would be great!   Copies of our books, posters and media works for use by groups are available at  Inquiries about workshops or facilitation can be made to  Spectrum is a charity, although Spectrum Press and Learning are Social Enterprises, and donations to our work can be made here – specify Research Training and Development if it matters to you, otherwise it’ll be used where it’s most needed.  You can subscribe to our blog as a blog on wordpress, or as a monthly newsletter at the link above.
One Comment leave one →
  1. June 17, 2012 10:24 pm

    Great post! Thank you for sharing the video clip. Can’t wait to see the whole video when it is available.

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