Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Under The Influence

A few days ago I watched a powerful video from Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the video, Tyson argues that, “in the 21st century, when it comes time to make decisions about science, it seems that people have lost the ability to judge what is true and what is not." That shift, he says, is a "recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.”

I know this is a controversial topic, and I’m not here to tell you which side of the debate you should be on. I will say, however, that I came away from that video with eerie sense of the parallels between Tyson’s discussion about how we use (or more accurately, don’t use) scientific data in determining much of our public policy to the ways that use (or more accurately, don’t use) hard data when it comes to determining how best to deliver services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

Are we good at demanding that those in the position of making decisions about the future of services provide solid data as to why their policy decision is the correct one? I would argue we aren’t. Perhaps because we are in the human services field, we place far too much emphasis and trust in opinions about services and make far too little effort to determine if those opinions are backed by hard data. Influence without accountability is the result, and it has been disastrous for the folks we serve.

I’m reminded of an old episode of “The Simpsons,” when Homer’s long lost brother recruits Homer to design a new care for his company.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Homer knows nothing about cars, and forces a design based on his tunnel vision about what a car should be. He didn’t know what the public wants in a car, he doesn’t know anything about the cost of making a car, and he doesn’t have any data to back up his ideas.

Instead, he just throws ideas out there. His brother’s employees, too scared to disagree with the boss, create Homer’s dream car. In the end, Homer’s dream car wasn’t what anybody else wanted or needed.

I’m not asking if we want a bunch of Homers out there trying to design our services. I am saying that, just like in Homer’s case, there isn’t enough pushback and questioning of why we’re doing things the way we are, and almost no emphasis at all is being placed on whether or not we can defend why certain decisions are being made.

Opinions are like noses – everyone has one. Defensible opinions are data driven. Having knowledge of one small aspect of an incredibly large and complex system does not an expert make. We have to make better calls when it comes to whose influence we fall under, because too often we’re following influence without accountability.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Technology Tuesday

This week's Tech Tuesday takes us to the Art Lab at our CORE/Labor Source hub in Longmont, where they're putting a new spin on a (relatively) old twist. Some time ago, we had implemented adaptive brushes for people to use in Art Classes, allowing individuals with mobility challenges to reach the canvas with their paintbrushes and create their own masterpieces (see Shelly painting pictured above).

Now, we've added a little conductive tape, and voilà! An adaptive stylus for painting on an iPad. Now project the image on the iPad through a projector, and Toby (pictured below) can see what he's doing in fine detail right in front of him. Excellent work, team!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Good News Friday!

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with local community leaders and longtime supporters of Imagine! to discuss the current state of Imagine!, as well as the future of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Boulder and Broomfield counties. We shared ideas and explored challenges and areas of opportunity.

We are so fortunate at Imagine! to have access to community leaders who are willing to act as a sounding board as we work to create a world of opportunity for all.

Meeting attendees included Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin, Longmont Mayor Leona Stoecker, former Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Susan LaHoda, Foundation Board member Walt Pounds, former Foundation Board member Kathy Coyne, former Boulder City Council member George Karakehian, and former Foundation Board member Jay Montgomery.

I thank them all for their insight and wisdom, as well as for their belief in the potential of all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Out & About Story Updates - 4/19/17

Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

Here’s a nice quote from a parent of an Out & About participant discussing how Out & About has become a big part of her son’s (and her family’s) life.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year. You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

I encourage you to visit the page often – there’s a lot more coming!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Imagine!’s Annual Community Forum is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 25. We understand that not everybody is able to attend this event in person. Some people have family or work obligations, while others may have mobility or health concerns that make traveling to our headquarters difficult.

That is why we are using some simple technologies to ensure the forum is accessible to as many people as possible. If you can’t join in person, you can attend by phone by calling 1-877-668-4490 and using access code: 800 999 446. While listening in, you can view the corresponding slideshow presentation at

And if you can't join in at that particular time, the event will be recorded and available online (same link as above) afterwards.

You can even submit your questions/comments online in advance:

I hope you will be able to join us, whether in person or virtually.

Below are some other details about the upcoming event.

You Are Invited to the Annual Imagine! Community Forum
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 from 7:00-8:00 PM

Imagine!’s John Taylor Conference Center 

Join us for our Annual Community Forum on Tuesday, April 25. Representatives from Imagine!’s staff and Board of Directors will be on hand to answer questions and receive input from families and local community members.

Topics to be discussed include:
  • The State of the State 
  • Legislative Update/Budget Perspectives 
  • Workforce Capacity 
  • Boulder County Pay for Performance 
  • Housing Survey Results 
To attend in person: R.S.V.P. to (303) 665-7789

Monday, April 17, 2017

Third Thursday Happy Hour Supports Imagine!


Bring your friends and join us on Thursday, April 20, for New American Funding-Boulder's “Third Thursday” happy hour event. Imagine! will be featured as the event's nonprofit partner. We look forward to sharing our mission, goals, and community services over "Cans for a Cause." Donations are welcome and will support Imagine!'s services.

WHEN: Thursday, April 20 from 5:30 - 7:30 pm
WHERE: Canyon Center Plaza, 1881 9th Street, Boulder
WHAT: Third Thursday: Cans for a Cause -- Complimentary Beer from Finkel & Garf ... food from the Bamboo Skewer food truck ... live music ... prizes and drawings

Hosted by New American Funding and sponsored by Stewart Title, Juniper Wealth Advisors, and Organization & Relocation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good News Friday!

The latest performance of Imagine!’s Out & About Center Stage for Kids program, “The Bremen Town Musicians,” is scheduled for next Friday, April 21, 7:30 PM, at Centaurus High School, 10300 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette, CO.

Center Stage works this way: class participants get the opportunity to learn the basics of theater. Each activity focuses on integral aspects of theater production, including acting, singing, dancing, choreography, set and costume design, and lighting. Throughout this class, participants work together to create a stage production. At the end of the class, the group performs its show before a live audience.

The performance is free (donations are accepted) and guaranteed to be fun!

And even if you can’t attend the performance in person, you don’t have to miss out! Out & About will be showing the performance live on their Facebook page, and the video will be available after the performance on their Facebook page as well.