The Empowering Ability Podcast: Interview With Host Eric Goll

Julie and I met Eric Goll at the Presence to Citizenship Learning Exchange in Toronto in February 2017. Eric was in the process of launching his Empowering Ability podcast and invited me to join him in recording his first episode with a guest.

In this podcast I share some of the journey of LiveWorkPlay from its start in 1995 up until now, including the transition from day program to community-based supports.

We also discuss how families and individuals with a developmental disability can access Developmental Services in Ontario, and other dynamics within the systems environment as well as the community at large.

Listen in by clicking here or clicking the image below!


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Canada 150 Profile in The Philanthropist

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer as leaders in the social sector. What an honour to be featured in the first group of 15 profiles. You can see all those recognized here and view my profile by clicking the image below or clicking here. You can learn about a range of topics: my thoughts on philanthropy, the state of his desk, a defining moment, and my reading list!


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The Future of Developmental Services: Change is Here

I had the opportunity to visit with most of the current students enrolled in the Algonquin College Developmental Service Worker (DSW) program by speaking with four classes over the course of three days, March 1-3. I was particularly interested to find out if their teaching and their placements share any connection with the themes of the From Presence To Citizenship project. While some of the language was familiar to them, it is clear that their experiences in the field are much more programmatic and much less person-centred. My hope is that they will continue to prepare themselves for a different future even as they do what they need to do to gain entry to the field through jobs that may be less than ideal.

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From Presence To Citizenship


It was a fitting conclusion to almost two years of hard work with a tremendous group of partners, as we co-hosted the From Presence To Citizenship Learning Exchange in Toronto, February 7-8, 2017. I had the opportunity to introduce the project (click here for an adapted version of my presentation) and in addition to the amazing presenters, a highlight was the launch of our video.

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Festive Family Feast: Social Capital At Its Best

Last night I “hosted” the LiveWorkPlay Festive Family Feast. I am not exactly sure at this moment when we did this for the first time, but really it’s an outgrowth of one of the first community gathering efforts we (“we” being what is now LiveWorkPlay) ever came up with. It all started as a “Holiday brunch” in December 1998. There are some major differences – the key one being not making the food ourselves – but that’s a story for another time!


Last night about 200 people came out and probably someone who works in the “event organizer” business would have thrown a fit. But they’d be missing the beauty of what goes on – nobody needs to be entertained or told what to do. This is hard core Al Condeluci social capital and interdependence at work.

At one point I talked with Julie and we considered never saying anything at all (we were into the second of four courses by this point and and everyone was having a blast) but it made sense to publicly accept a $5000 donation from Ontario Realtors Care and also to say goodbye to Rebecca who is heading to BC and say hello to Alastair who is new to the staff team. It’s been an interesting journey to a place where I feel comfortable and in fact rather joyful at 200 person dinner where the interaction between the guests is by far the most important feature. That might be profoundly important, don’t you think?


PS: I did the lighting, including an LED strand wrapped around my head. I wanted to be festive but I don’t wear hats, I already run too hot.

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En français!

This has already been thoroughly shared on social media, but this blog is an effort to keep an active record of public speaking appearances, so my apologies if you have seen this far too often, but I do have to say it was significant for me to speak live on camera in French, even with Alastair backing me up. I can actually converse relatively fluently, but if you have ever done television interviews you will know that even in your first language the tendency to seek out the “perfect word” can slow you down, and this becomes much more difficult if you are speaking in a language that you don’t utilize all that often. I also used to be able to speak Spanish quite effectively, but it’s not like riding a bike (at least not for me) it requires continuous practice. I’m going to make more of an effort in 2017 to speak (and think!) in French more often.

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Ministry Marathon

My entire final week of November was consumed with government engagements, federal and provincial (yes, what are you up to City of Ottawa?).

I had the honour of attending a Parliament Hill event (thanks to CACL) with The Honourable Carla Qualtrough celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and a series of provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services events, including four presentations, two each in Ottawa and Kingston. Special thanks to Jim Turner from Community Living Atikokan and Clem Pelot from Mills Community Support for the seamless collaboration. And yes I wore my RedBlacks jersey to all of these presentations! I missed the homecoming reception and the parade. Duty called but definite mixed feelings.

And it was definitely not all fun and games – there were two evening sessions  (I called it a marathon with reason) with parents of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and more than a few chose not to distinguish between Jim and I as representatives of local agencies, and hammered us for the perceived and real misdeeds of MCSS from the beginning of time. I think we got through it admirably. Just thought I’d share as I think it’s often assumed that working for a charity is all butterflies and pretty bows 😉


Big Crowd In Kingston!

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