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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?

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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

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