Newsletter – October, 2001

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 3, No. 10 October 2001

I spent much of my “weekend off” in activities designed to encourage support and bring in extra dollars for the agency I work for. I was glad to do it, on the one hand, but on the other hand, sad and weary that so many who are so close to the center of community building have to spend so much time raising funds.

While reading the headlines in the newspaper, I’ve thought more than once about a slogan that dates back to Vietnam days. A recent variation is found at http://www-personal.umich.edu/~parsec/wisdoms/a_Bake_Sale.html

“It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.”

The news is not good these days for non-profits. Everyone wonders whether the economic downturn coupled with the special giving to the victims of September 11 will mean hard times for those programs that benefit the most vulnerable in our society. A few examples indicate a disturbing trend:

* In Indiana, the much-heralded new Medicaid waiver for persons with developmental disabilities is not going to bring people to the top of the list faster after all. This will put ongoing strain on agencies striving to access all of those dollars they can to keep the programs for such persons afloat.

* In Michigan, one of the largest providers of services for persons with special needs in the Detroit metropolitan area just recently announced a $14 million dollar cut in its services. The cuts apparently include its web site which was one of the few in the world that consistently advocated for Gentle Teaching.

* In Ohio, a church-based peace and justice committee which sent out its fall appeal on September 10 is now flooded with requests for aid, but still desperately seeking the funding to enable it to continue to offer its resources.

All of this, as difficult and disturbing as it is, utterly pales in comparison to the thousands of refugees fleeing the repeated destruction of their homeland as our U.S. tax money is squandered in devastating what was already in ruins to find one man and a few of his associates.

In the midst of this kind of world, I look for signs of hope. Instead of focusing so much on making our world “safe” and “secure” I am heartened by two sample sites that talk instead about “quality of life.”

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Globe Star (http://www.globe-star.org/)

“Mentoring a Spirit of Gentleness for Individuals with Disabilities” is the sub-title to this relatively new site. This link is located on the Companion Resources “Gentle Teaching” page. If you are not familiar with the concept of Gentle Teaching, I encourage you to explore the links on that page (https://companionresources.org/gentle).

I recently had the opportunity to hear Anthony McCrovitz who directs Globe Star as he both spoke to caregivers and interacted with persons with developmental disabilities in a way that demonstrated a vision that goes beyond just the mechanics of Gentle Teaching to promoting a high “Quality of Life” for all persons.

Quality of life is a difficult concept to fully define, but to explore Globe Star’s pages helps the reader to begin to be infused with the concept. If we can be in touch with our own vision of the kind of life we want to lead and, at the same time, be in touch with the spirit of those with special needs, we can begin to act in ways which are gentle, non-threatening, and infused with unconditional love. This process can help persons dissolve the layers of mistrust and fear and begin to develop their full potential.

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Another site approaches quality of life issues very differently.

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New Urbanism (http://www.newurbanism.org/)

Having lived in cities most of my life (and perhaps secretly wishing to be back there!) I was intrigued by the news of this web site. This link is located on the Companion Resources “Community Development” page.

While one might be tempted to see the site as a place for trendy young professionals in big cities, I found that its relevance extends far beyond that. In fact, smaller urban settings are featured prominently.

Perhaps a few headlines will whet your appetite for the up-to-date relevance of this site:

* The serious problems with air transportation demonstrates more than ever the need for a new national high-speed train system. *

* U.S. Anti-terrorism strategy – first kill all the SUVs *

10 concepts are listed as key to the New Urbanism:

1. Walkability – services within a 10-minute walk.

2. Connectivity – eases urban gridlock and makes walking fun.

3. Mixed-Use of buildings in a neighborhood.

4. Mixed Housing

5. Quality Architecture & Urban Design

6. Traditional Neighborhood Structure

7. Increased Density

8. Smart Transportation – more trains

9. Sustainability – minimize environmental impact

10. Quality Of Life – This last feature is described as the result of paying attention to the other nine.

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I think all of us want a high quality of life, no matter what our situation. And there are certainly many different kinds of places where that can happen. However, as both the general population and the population of persons with special needs grows, it is going to increasingly become a matter of justice as to who gets to take advantage of the scarce resources available.

This is especially the case in a time of fear and conflict in our world. Let us encourage our government bodies at every level to pay attention to the real needs of the people, making the world a better place for everyone.

Blessings to all on this All Saints Eve!

Paul D. Leichty

The Goldenrod Community

Middlebury, Indiana

PDLeichty@cresources.org

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