Special Feature

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At least two principles are key for individual and social flourishing: The need to foster a context of community that supports autonomy and belonging, as well as the need for each individual to find a creative, and generative drive that will motivate their life-long curiosity, development and learning.

Community provides us with support, belonging, care, engagement, and a place to contribute value – all helping us to create an identity, which, with the right conditions, will enable us to grow and evolve as a person. The paradox of individuation, however, is that the more connected we are, the more individual we can become.

In the world of accelerating change – learning emerges as a vital capacity for adaptation. Even with a focus on job-occupation, the future looms with eternal challenges that will require a constant capacity to create and to learn just to stay in the same place. A creative interest-drive provides a person with a scaffold for the life-long development of a sense of identity that embraces learning and evolution to form an identity that is more robust in the face of change.  

I’ve joined forces with a team of local, and largely Ottawa-based community and family members, advocates and academics, to support the opening of theSpace, a truly ground-breaking community hub and social-studio gathering place for adults with Autism and Intellectual disabilities. We found the necessary start-up funds through a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign that received $32 thousand – surpassing our initial goal. This enabled us to rent a ‘storefront’ that we transformed into a safe third space—that was neither work nor play but where those who are too often isolated or relegated to the fringes, could, quite literally, drop in and find the ready opportunity to create, connect with others, feel a sense of belonging, membership and genuine personal agency---and learn through doing! Doing-learning where work is play and play is work.

theSpace aims to support the ‘social nature’ of creative learning and increased self-efficacy – to fill a gap in enabling generative community engagement – and to provide richer opportunities for both younger and older adults with Autism---across their life course.

Please consider supporting the initiative – it is both a prototype for those with cognitive disabilities but also anticipates a more general transformation of both social and creative community spaces.

Links to theSpace website


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The historical town of San Miguel de allende exists in the central highlands of Mexico at 6200 feet above sea level. For many years it has been a favored destination of American and Canadian visitors seeking winter warmth, inexpensive living and intellectual stimulation.  Becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and home to one of Mexico's largest foreign populations, San Miguel is a fabric of typical Mexico and foreign resident harmony that attracts the world.

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