Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg became familiar with LiveWorkPlay through social media. After many online conversations involving his work at the Spectrum Society for Community Living in Vancouver, Aaron became interested in how he might spend some time with LiveWorkPlay members for his thesis at Athabasca University, where he is part of the Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies program. He recently visited LiveWorkPlay and hosted a focus group (see below).
Ann-Louise Davidson at Concordia university has a long history with LiveWorkPlay dating all the way back to the On Our Own Together projects in 2003-2004. She is now an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in Educational Technology at Concordia University. As part of a team with researchers Stefanie Corona and Christine Hannum, Professor Davidson interviewed LiveWorkPlay members and produced videos for “Project Capabilities” which are now hosted on YouTube.
The focus of Aaron’s progam has been on Equity and Education, and his specialization is leadership and disability. Aaron’s thesis will be completed in January 2014 but the early results are the subject of a presentation he’ll be giving in Chicago at TASH 2013. He came to LiveWorkPlay looking for answers to two basic questions.
- What are some stories of successful and satisfying experiences of leadership in your life, groups you are part of, and in your community?
- Is graphic facilitation a useful accommodation for people with intellectual disabilities in complex discussions about ideas like leadership? Might it make it more possible for them to be participants in leadership groups?
According to Aaron, the LiveWorkPlay members who participated could not have provided a better conversation about leadership. What he found remarkable was their connections: they mentioned 120 connections with different groups. That’s about 11 connections per person. They talked about how LiveWorkPlay staff had helped them find and negotiate “the right fit.”
“I spend a lot of time talking to groups about support networks and these are really enviable numbers,” said Aaron. “Another striking aspect was the number of people working: almost 90% of the participants talked about their workplaces as communities where they are important and respected members of teams. That compares to the national average which is below 25%.”
Finally, Aaron commented that the fondness of the members for LiveWorkPlay and their appreciation for the organization was very positive and quite different from the feedback of most users of services. “I found it notable in particular that staff were credited with knowing how to help people without taking over.”
The Project Capabilities videos were launched on September 5 at a private video release party just for project participants. In the videos Daniel Pinsonneault, Paul Knoll, Carl Sanderson, and Caroline Matte share their passions for particular hobbies and interests, ranging from art to technology. Gage Emond talks about his involvement in the community that was ultimately recognized with a Duke of Edinburgh Award. Cooper Gage talks about living in a home of his own, as well as his concept of “community” as experienced in the LiveWorkPlay community. Last but not least, Ryan Nevitt shares details about working life and provides some insight into what makes for a great workplace.