Pathways to Inclusion

Submitted by The New Story Group on July 9, 2013 - 8:36am
Enabling Vulnerable Citizens to Belong in Neighbourhoods

John Lord has done a lot of work with folks who have special needs and is an strong voice advocating inclusion and belonging. For his workshop, he initiated a conversation about these things...

In his recent workshop at Neighbours 2013John Lord talked about how the New Story is changing the Old Story: how communities are looking at an individual’s capacity to live in community. John stressed the importance of seeding and supporting when individuals with disabilities are transitioning to their own homes, neighbourhoods, communities.


 He encouraged that we ask these three questions (which are inspired by the wisdom of John McKnight):

·        What can we do ourselves?

·        What can we do if we have supports?

·        What can we do if we don’t have support but can find it in the local institutional structures?

Two key values must be stressed if vulnerable citizens are to build a New Story in community. These are: 

  • Self-determination
    which means listening deeply to the words or actions of the person in order to understand their dreams and their choices.  We need to encourage people to make their own decisions.  He gave an example of his own daughter who has studied to be a certified Yoga teacher and now teaches Yoga in schools. Her whispers were heard and acted on; and,
  • Community which is vital in the individual’s life.  It should be approached as a first resort.  How we see the community around people, how we make connections to the neighbourhoods, and how important social networks are in sustaining the individual’s life. There are strong arguments around how relationships contribute to the good health of an individual.  It is also a human right to participate in the community.

A Support Network can be natural or intentional and are an essential part of the New Story.  They are both about relationships.  Relationships become a priority.  In a natural network we ask ‘who’ in the person’s life do we know in a neighbourhood.  The neighbourhood could include a family, neighbour, faith community, arts and culture and the health team.  An intentional network is one developed in a purposeful  way.  It can support an individual through friendships developed over time.  A connector does the asking  and inviting and looks for the open doors.  In John McKnight’s words ‘the safest people in the neighbourhood are those known to each other’.

Facilitators are also key to pulling a support network together.  In one instance, a family member gave out Tim Hortons' cards in the neighbourhood and invited people to a BBQ.  Convening the conversation and making the connections happen is a good process.  The job of the connector is to support the action.  In a neighbourhood you will find the gifts that people have to offer and we can all celebrate those gifts. John described how powerful the idea of independent facilitation is in the New Story.

Vulnerable persons are able to live in community.  John outlined how this New Story work is really about enabling people to ‘belong.’   






Thanks for sharing the reflection of this workshop!

In what ways can our society embrace inclusivity in a way a curious way? By this, I mean- our society seems to like the idea of inclusion, but in passive way- in a "I accept all people and all things" kind of way- BUT without really understanding what or who they are accepting. Peter Block often invites people to be curious.... I see this as connecting to the idea of inclusion. So, I'll ask my question once again: In what ways can our society embrace inclusivity in a way a curious way?