Richard Faucher is a modern courier de bois. He is Executive Director of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion. Read his refreshing call to action below. Here is his response to the question: What would you like to become more visible in 2011? You can also Download Becoming Visible - the complete collection of 58 essays including Richard's.
Leveraging Our Collective Assets
I learned a long time ago that ʻidentifying needsʼ as a starting point for supporting people with disabilities was not the way to go. The more lists I made, the more impossible it became to imagine meeting all the needs. Worse, making the lists distracted me from recognizing the talents, gifts and assets that exist within the people we serve – not to mention those within their families, friends, BACI (Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion) and community partners. This deficit-based approach perpetuated the image of the people we serve as ʻneedyʼ and impeded our efforts to support their inclusion in the community. What I am just now starting to learn is that the deficit roots in our sector run deep, and moving away from them is far more difficult than I imagined it would be ten years
A decade ago, I thought the answers lay in values-based staff training, person- centred planning, the development of effective safeguards and personal support networks, and family advocacy. I thought that if we truly focused on a personʼs strengths, and then supported the person to share those strengths with others, they would be welcomed into community and they would belong. What I didnʼt understand, or at least underestimated, was the depth of influence the deficit perspective has had on our sectoral practices, from policy development to advocacy approaches, funding agreements to service provision.
I am beginning to learn that as an organization we have got to behave differently if we want different results. I am learning that when we actually think in new ways, new strategies are plentiful and opportunity is everywhere.
To start with, we must no longer see ourselves as, introduce ourselves as, or promote ourselves as, a needy charity that looks after all the people that donʼt belong. We must see ourselves as the agents of a huge talent pool with tremendous assets, introduce ourselves as an economic contributor with huge purchasing power, and promote ourselves as innovative change makers with amazing concepts and ideas ready to move forward. To do otherwise will perpetuate deficit.
In 2011, I would like to make our collective assets more visible and more
effective. I would like to explore new ways to better leverage these assets with our community partners and farther advance our agenda of social inclusion. If we do that, there will be no stopping us as a movement.
Please share and distribute to your friends and through your various networks, websites etc. I think you will agree – these are too good to keep to ourselves.