Building a Community of Belonging 2011

At the Arcadia Institute, we have a vision. We want to see Kalamazoo become a Community of Belonging, and we want you to be part of making our vision real. One way you can participate is by attending the second annual Building a Community of Belonging Forum on March 16 and 17, brought to you by the Arcadia Institute and its partners, the Boys and Girls Club of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Southwest Michigan Council of Boy Scouts and the Kalamazoo YMCA.

What is a Community of Belonging?

“It is one in which everyone is considered an equal part of it, and is welcome to participate, and no one is eliminated because of disabilities. No one is eliminated because of race or religion or any other arbitrary characteristic. Everyone is a valued member and we support each other,” said George Martin, President of the Arcadia Institute.

Since the first Forum in March 2010, the Arcadia Institute and its partners have seen the emergence of a strong cooperative desire to open the community to people with disabilities. The Forum is a chance for organizations and community members to come together and share their experiences and ideas.

The Forum is meant to be a place where “people come from all over to Kalamazoo to see what we’re trying to do here, learn from it and strengthen what we do here,” said Martin.

Why is this important?

Not only is being part of something good for an individual, it’s good for the community to come together and work toward a common goal, supporting each other.

The Forum is open to anyone in the community who wants to be part of this movement. The Forum is part of the Arcadia Institute’s Community Participation Initiative, a four-year-long effort to develop a community support network made up of community agencies that serve everyone: individual citizens, organizations that provide specific support to individuals with disabilities, advocacy groups, people with disabilities and their families.

Since 2007, we have worked with more than 50 community agencies and small business, and directly assisted more than 200 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Forum is building upon that work.

Please join us!

Learn more about the 2011 Building a Community of Belonging Forum here.

George Martin, Allison Hammond, Hyun Berkley and Heather Stewart The Arcadia Institute