“Our lives are stories, and the stories we have to give to each other are the most important.  No one has a story too small and all are of equal stature.  We each tell them in different ways, through different mediums – and if we care about each other, we’ll take the time to listen.”  Charles de Lint

Spectrum Press is a social enterprise: books and products by, for and about people you care about.   We sell our products at conferences and workshops and through an online bookstore.   The idea of a social enterprise has a long history, and they have a few intentions that are different.

First, we create revenue that furthers the mission of our organization, which is to provide person-centred, individualized supports to those we care about.

Second, we create jobs for people with disabilities, who are our research companions, shippers, receivers, co-presenters and authors or co-authors. In 2009 we paid out about $150. In 2010 we were able to pay about 40 people between $25 and $600. In 2011 we have at least doubled that amount, and our plan is to double this again in 2012.

Third, we hope to use our leverage as a best-practice organization to demonstrate to our communities ways in which we can support those we care about as valued citizens who contribute much to our culture. We do this by conducting research and publishing works that focus on self-determination, networks of support, community building, participatory leadership for self advocates and families and interdependence.

Here is an example.   One of our 2012 projects uses a focus group of adults with disabilities to create an alphabet book for children learning to read, with photos of models with disabilities participating in their communities for each letter.   Dr. Susan Powell will be working with adults to “imagine,” write, plan and be models for the book in community settings they use, and the book will be sold to libraries, schools, groups and individuals so that images of people with disabilities participating in valued roles will be available to those communities.   Participants will be paid for their participation.  We will host a book launch and invite the press so that the larger community is aware of their engagement and understands our mission of interdependence.  People looking for materials like this will come to our storefront and better understand our mission.   They may purchase books there, or at our workshops, or at conferences where we often have tables.   Orders for the book will be shipped out by Jenny, who has a disability, and she will be paid for her work.  Profits from the book will be used to further our programs (currently we are working to fund a supported literacy program for adults with disabilities who want to write their stories).

Orders for our books have come from Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the east and west coast of the United States and from every province in Canada. We’ve been particularly interested in how many libraries are excited about materials that their patrons with disabilities will find interesting and useful.  Our books allow them to better include these parts of their communities.

Check our storefront site to find information on anthologies that we are currently working on and other opportunities. Feel free to email us at spectrumpress@spectrumsociety.org or call 604-323-1433. On twitter you can find us @101friendsbc or Aaron is @imagineacircle and Jim is @JimReynoldstw  We also have a Facebook page where we welcome visitors and comments!

Spectrum Press Feature Book

We currently have four publications, with another four planned for 2012. We were thrilled when self advocate Barb Goode, an admired local teacher and leader, approached us about her dream of telling her story. Barb was the first person with a disability to speak to the United Nations and one of the self-advocate leader in the “Eve” case against forced sterilization, which brought the rights of people with disabilities to the attention of Canada and changed history. We all learned so much from this experience, and look forward to publishing more books as meaningful and empowering as Barb’s.