Voting starts now!
A fellow ABCD organizer, Amanda Bell of Living Our Visions in Madison, WI is one of three nominees for National Organizer of the Year! This could be a win for the whole ABCD movement as she is the only ABCD style organizer in the running.
Please go to http://www.facebook.com/grassrootssolutions and cast your vote for Amanda right now.
Really, this vote is for Living Our Visions and the families and people with disabilities who built LOV from the ground up and continue to build it every day. It's also a deserving high-five to asset-based, relational community organizing.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
And please encourage your friends or family members that care about community, inclusion, and the power of assets, to do the same.
This would be a huge win.
Here's what one nominator wrote about Amanda:
What would you do if your county hired you, handed you a list of 300 families on a waiting list for services for their adult child with disabilities, and said "Go"?
Amanda Bell picked up the phone and developed a taste for coffee. She spent two years in coffee shops listening deeply to those that didn't hang up on her. She empowered those families to "use what they have to get what they don't have", mobilizing their gifts and relationships and those of the greater community to create meaningful lives brimming with friends, contributions and choices. Knowing the service system and government funding are forever stressed, Amanda asked families, "What would the good life look like for your child? We'll go from there." Families who know isolation answered a "community-centered life." For them that included creating a community building non-profit they named Living Our Vision's - Dane (LOV). These families have created a web of relational support and family-designed projects they pool their own money to fund, to meet needs.
Knowing that people with disabilities have limited access to genuine relationships in community groups, Amanda imagined and created a Citizen Connector group to act as a bridge. Citizen Connectors are well connected, community folk who open their rolodexes to support LOV's vision and meet regularly for coffee. Need a horse, astrologist, free baked goods and a meeting with a government official in two days? Citizen Connectors will likely make that happen in 10 minutes or less. And they'll be smiling. That's organizing done right.
LOV members are also spearheading a "Get Your Vote On" project that includes leaders with cognitive disabilities reaching out to their peers around Wisconsin's new Voter ID law.
Amanda is one of the most natural community organizers I've met. She listens deeply and focuses on assets versus deficits at both a global and individual level. The eight families that started LOV-Dane in a living room, have built themselves into a 30-family strong organization. It's not easy or clean, but it is the roots of grass and sustainable if I've ever smelled it.
And a damn good organizer with a little dirt on her face is behind it.