Activity underway to bring asset-based community development approach to Vancouver communities
Michelle Strutzenberger


The challenge with a paradigm-shifting dialogue like the one in Vancouver last week on community building is sustaining the energy afterwards, posAbilities program director Gord Tulloch notes.

“I loved the energy in the room,” Gord tells posAbilities Today, reflecting on the Nov. 26-27 sessions that convened about 85 people.

While conversations on related challenges like systemic barriers and organizational management can often be soulless in some ways, this dialogue on creating communities of hospitality, caring and welcoming had a distinct vibrancy and life, he says.

Gord and posAbilities were instrumental in bringing Asset-based Community Development Institute fellow Joe Erpenbeck, who has worked with people who have a disability, to join the gathering spearheaded by the University of British Columbia Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship. The intent was to “thicken the dialogue” and get some real traction around community building in Vancouver.

But, as with any transformative or paradigm-shifting experience, returning to one’s regular routine often means the “sluicing-off” of the new.

“Our systems start creating all those demands on you before you know it, and it’s such a prevailing influence; it’s really hard to resist,” Gord says.

He’s hoping organizations that were represented by a number of people might be able to catalyze some of the energy as they work as a group, and that the leadership present in the room might take ownership for drafting some new directions.

Effort is also underway to develop a resource or institute to work long-term with a number of organizations in the Vancouver area to help them develop their capacity to have new conversations with their neighbourhoods and promote connections between people.

The intent is not to “get a person with a disability accepted in a neighbourhood,” Gord says, but to build the capacity of community and neighbours to care for each other, so that they become places of hospitality.

Recognizing the challenges of leading the way in this work through an agency like posAbilities, which has been engineered for service delivery for people with developmental disabilities, Gord says the hope and ultimate intent is to create a separate institute for the Metro Vancouver area and beyond dedicated to this mission — developing healthy, resilient, vibrant, caring, co-operative neighbourhoods.

In the short-term however, organizations like posAbilities are looking for ways to transform their conversations and relationships with the community so that everyone is better connected, including the people they support.

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