Building a Community of Belonging: A Forum of The Arcadia Institute and Its Partners

"Imagine a world that works for everyone.” Beth Mount, TEDx Talk, May 21, 2012 On March 21, 2013, at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the 4th Building a Community of Belonging will be held. This year, Beth Mount, Found of Graphic Futures and Capacity Works will be the guest facilitator.

The purpose of the Forum is: • To increase opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in community activities open to everyone. We are expanding this beyond just meaningful community activity to employment and housing. • To identify and discuss more ways to support organizations who are committed to involving more people with disabilities throughout their programs and services. • To broaden the concept of inclusion beyond the focus on individuals with disabilities as a means to make Kalamazoo a community where all people belong.

In the morning, Beth will guide us to create story maps of some people with disabilities that we have worked with through Community Participation and Community Brokering. She will facilitate us through a process to make maps that are collages of pictures, drawings and other items made in small groups. These story maps are a way to make what is discussed in the afternoon real and not just composites of characteristics of people with disabilities.

The afternoon session will be about how to learn from people’s stories and continue our progress toward full community participation of everyone. Through a creative process, we will explore how gifts emerge from the stories shared in the morning. How can we as a community find places for gifts to be shared in meaningful ways? How can more doors be open for people with disabilities to be employed and live independently?

Through this exploration, we will develop plans to move our community forward toward full inclusion in the areas of meaningful activity, employment and housing. This forum will be creative and fun; however, it is part of a larger community movement toward equity for all people and not simply a one day event.