We're calling this Starter Project, the Me, Us & Them Project…
Because we're exploring how people construct their sense of self, versus other. And the ways in which the labels attached to us - immigrant, poor, disabled, senior, average - influence who we are and what we can become. How could we re-group people by stuff that's more interesting - their interests, experiences, aspirations? What kinds of services and supports would help folks develop a great sense of self?
Initially we framed the Starter Project in terms of connectedness and belonging. About how to help people - particularly those folks on the margins - move towards greater living as part of community? Rather than separately or apart.
But then we met Paul. Paul lives in a group home not far from the local Starbucks. He seems to know everyone. For over 10 years, Paul has received support from services. To live independently in the community. Rather than in an institution. He feels a lot of connectedness and attachment to those services. So much so that it's hard for him to fathom trying new things, or exploring all the other things he's capable of doing.
Paul got us thinking. There is a difference between connections that helps us to explore, to expand, to adapt our sense of self over time. And connections that keep us a bit stuck, or stagnating, or stigmatized.
We started to see connections as a means to a bigger end. Is that end, how we develop rich and fulfilling inner and outer lives?