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Strength-based conversations help to shape strategic plan

Process fits with BACI’s mission of inclusion through innovation
Lisa Bailey

A grassroots process with an appreciative view is helping to set the stage for the future of the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI).

A new, five-year strategic plan has taken shape following “a good conversation” with BACI’s stakeholders, says co-executive director Richard Faucher.

Hopes and dreams of the people served through BACI

In December, BACI hosted sessions with four groups – people with disabilities served by the association, families, staff, and community stakeholders. Each group was asked to identify their strengths and assets, what needs to be preserved, and their hopes and dreams for BACI and for life in general.

Richard says this appreciative approach is key to moving forward with BACI’s mission of inclusion through innovation.

Hopes and dreams of staff

“We want to achieve a goal, which is people with disabilities included in the community through innovative ways. And one of the ways we thought would be innovative would be to take a crack at this asset-, strength-based approach,” he says.

This moves away from the sector’s historical and deeply rooted deficit-based approach that affected perceptions of people with disabilities.

“Not long ago, people were in institutions. We’re far past that but we’re still often looking at what’s needed rather than what people have to offer,” Richard says.

Hopes and dreams of BACI families and friends

“We have so much to contribute in many, many respects,” he says.

“We’re change makers. We have a huge talent pool of all kinds of people. We’re a huge purchaser in our communities so we can leverage our assets.”

“There are many things we could do so we wanted to have a strategic plan that explores this asset-based discussion with all of our stakeholders,” Richard says.

New to this process was having “a real conversation with our community stakeholders” such as suppliers, the City of Burnaby and the Burnaby Board of Trade, he says.

“We wanted to hear from people we engage with all the time but don’t really know what they think of us, what they see as our strengths and our assets.”

What resulted from the approximately 20 community representatives in attendance was “really cool because they see BACI as a huge player in the community, a real champion of hospitality and an organization that has tremendous power to influence around inclusion.”

Amongst their hopes and dreams is to see BACI engage the community more.

Hopes and dreams of community stakeholders

Mapped out graphically by an artist on four canvases, these conversations and the resulting emerging focus areas for the strategic plan were outlined to BACI’s board of directors by two representatives from each of the four stakeholder groups.

“I think it gave the board a really good toolbox, or really good sense, about what people said,” Richard says.

He says the grassroots process is important in decision-making.

“We wanted to make sure that when we get to the board of directors, they have all the information they need to set the stage for the future, so they have it graphically recorded on paper.”

Amongst the four focus areas that emerged for the strategic plan are social and economic inclusion, person-centred thinking and planning, sustainability and BACI as a top employer.

Now, the board will set BACI’s path for the next five years, with action plans to follow.

If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.ca.

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