The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Entries for March 2011

Dream Paths Workshop

Have you been living with a dream and do not know how to start fulfilling it, or are you aware of a deep desire to make a difference but have not been able to clearly define what that would be? In either case a structured and supportive group may offer you that little something to get you started. The Dream Paths Workshop will provide direction to move toward your dream.

You may want to design a plan for a new vocation or for a specific project. You may be at the point where you need assistance just figuring out what you really want to do. You will receive guidance and mutual support in a group environment that provides encouragement, a time for reflection and homework between sessions.

As with all Institute events, Dream Paths is inclusive. It welcomes a diverse mixture of participants. The workshop furthers our mission of full community participation for all.

The workshop facilitator, George Martin who is President of The Arcadia Institute, has worked for more than 30 years as an advocate. He has taught classes on leadership and facilitated many diverse groups. He will draw upon that experience and his educational background at the university of Chicago Divinity School where he received his Doctor of Ministry degree.

The Workshop will consist of 4 sessions (April 14th from 7:00 P. M. to 8:30 P. M.) & April 16, May 7, and May 21 from 8:30 A.M. to noon. There will also be a follow-up session within 60 days to share successes.

The cost is $175. Please contact George Martin at or 873-4734 if you are interested.

What We Learned

The following is a reflection on our recent Building a Community of Belonging Forum from guest speaker John O’Brien. This summary is a portion of his comments. You can read his entire recap here.

Recently, Connie Lyle O’Brien and I had the privilege of learning from people involved in the Building a Community of Belonging Forum. We are grateful to George Martin and Allison Hammond for the invitation and their hospitality, and to those who made time to tell us about the work of three community partners: Jenny Metz at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Chris Broadbent and Rebecca Achenbach at the YMCA, and Jill Angell at the Boys and Girls Club.

We have had the chance to see what’s happening in many communities. In too many other places, families face many barriers to their children’s involvement in the same activities and organizations that benefit their brothers and sisters. Because of this, they withdraw.

Kalamazoo’s community partners shared that including others is a straightforward process of getting to know a person, figuring out the individual accommodation a person may require, and finding the most natural possible way to offer what the person needs to participate.

During the Forum, we also learned how the Arcadia Institute and its Partners approach inclusion:

•Strength in Numbers by allying with organizations that positively represent the community’s history of civic action.

•A Network of Support includes people who combine commitment to inclusion with relevant expertise. When situations are difficult, they encourage those directly involved to step back and take another look, offer alternative ways to understand the situation, and join in generating new options.

•Invest In Leadership by bringing organizational leaders together to assist and support each other.

•Cultivate a Desire for continuous improvement by encouraging organizations and individuals to participate in making Kalamazoo a place where all people belong.

John O’Brien

[Editor’s Note – You can join us on April 25, 9am-11am (location to be determined) for the next step in this exciting process. For more information, please contact the Arcadia Institute:]

We’re not done yet!

The time for Building a Community of Belonging: A Forum of The Arcadia Institute and Its Partners is here! However, even as we experience this event we have not really arrived at our destination – yet.

This is only one more, albeit exciting, step in our movement toward the vision of The Institute and Its Partners to make the Community of Kalamazoo one where all people belong.

Coming out of the Forum, facilitated by John and Connie O’Brien of Responsive Systems Associates, we will have a plan. This plan will drive the activities of our community with support from The Arcadia
Institute toward our vision. In fact, we have another date set to gather and begin acting on that plan. Our date is April 25, 2011 from 9 – 11AM at a place to be determined – so stay tuned!

Even if you are not able to participate in the Forum, we want you to be part of our network. So read our weekly blog and periodical e-newsletters. Let us know what you are doing to support community
participation for people with disabilities or to make Kalamazoo a place where all people belong! Together, we are creating a bright future for our Community.

Two Big March Events

The Arcadia Institute is very pleased to have two major community events happening in March. We have talked much about the Second Annual Forum occurring on March 16th and 17th. We are hopeful that these two days will broaden and deepen the commitment in our community to open wide its doors to people with disabilities.

The second March event is our Fund Raiser to support Urban Blend Coffee House located at 714 North Burdick. Urban Blend has service to community as an important part of its mission as a business. We are calling together some of the people with disabilities who have participated in our Community Participation Initiative to lend their talents to help Urban Blend raise start up funds.

We operate on the principle that people with disabilities have valuable gifts to contribute to the community. They are not just on the receiving end of support from others.

At the fund raiser on March 27th from 3:00 to 5:00, several artists and musicians will provide entertainment to guests who will be asked to contribute to this worthy cause. They will help The Arcadia Institute fulfill our responsibility as an organization with an office on Kalamazoo’s Northside to do our part to make this community stronger.

George Martin
President, the Arcadia Institute

Partner Spotlight: Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo

Giving someone a chance is what the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo is all about.

Through activities and programs, children learn about teamwork and sharing. But they also experience the benefit of a positive, adult role model. Whether they’re learning about their health and lifestyle or character building skills, members of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo are given the opportunity to become productive, caring, responsible members of their community.

Working with the Arcadia Institute, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo is creating opportunities for all children and giving them something to believe in – themselves!

A chance to learn, to shine, to succeed: these things are important, no matter who you are. That’s why the Boys and Girls Club of Kalamazoo supports the Building a Community of Belonging Forum and its vision to make the Kalamazoo Community one where all people belong.