Even when the world storms around us, we can find peace and a sense of purpose in the blue spaces that live at the centre of the storm. That is the basic principle behind Creating Blue Space: Fostering Innovative Support Practices for People with Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Hanns Meissner’s groundbreaking book that suggests we have all the tools we need to innovate community support for people with disabilities.
In this podcast, I invited Pamela Mansell to serve as guest-host. Pamela interviews Hanns about what that blue space is and how we can find it. Hanns identifies four basic models of disability service—the institutional model, managed-care model, person-centred approach, and community support model—and talks about how although we’ve tried to transition from the abusive institutional models of the past to more progressive and collaborative community support approaches, the transition hasn’t always been seamless. By understanding how blue space works and how to wield it, people with disabilities and their advocates can break the boxes they’ve been placed in and assert their right to a meaningful place in their communities.
Hanns Meissner, PhD, is the former Chief Executive Officer of The Arc of Rensselaer County in Troy, New York, where he worked to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of community life since 1979. His doctorate is in Ph.D. in Organization Development and he is interested in promoting social innovation as a way to bring forth vibrant diverse communities at the local, state, national, and international levels. He is the author of two books about disability service innovation and is the recipient of the 2018 Excellence Award for Leadership in Person-Centered Thinking from the NY Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation, as well as the 2017 NYSRA Adrian Levy Professional Leadership Award. Over the years he has assumed leadership roles with such groups as the National Rehabilitation Association, New York State Rehabilitation Association, a local Community Services Board, the NYS Capital Region Council for Young Children with Special Needs, and Partners of the Americas. He has also served on numerous NYS government committees, councils and task forces.
Pamela Mansell has over 20 years of experience working in a range of social care settings in Ireland and has held senior and regional management positions in the sector. In 2016 she founded Future Solutions, a coaching and consultancy business. She teaches on the Supported Self-Directed Living course and works extensively with organizations that are working towards the implementation of high-quality individualised supports. She has designed and delivered leadership and change programs for services involved in de-congregation and organizational transformation. She is accredited in Executive Coaching and Personal Leadership, qualified in Integrative Psychotherapy, and skilled in management, strategic planning, leadership, and organisational change. She continues to support, coach and mentor families, and people receiving services, in their pursuit of a better future.
Thanks to Pamela and Hanns for an insightful, engaging conversation that helps paint a picture of just how proactive people with disabilities can be in guiding their own path through life.
Thanks for Listening!
Resources & Links Mentioned:
- Hanns Meissner’s Book: Creating Blue Space, Expanding Blue Space: The Learning Institute for Social Innovation
- Philip Hallie’s Book: In the Eye of the Hurricane: Tales of Good and Evil, Help and Harm
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Special thanks to Hanns and Pamela for joining me this week. Until next time!