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Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski
Al Etmanski is the President of PLAN (Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network) and has been a leading advocate for people with disabilities and their families in Canada for more than two decades. He is widely recognized as a visionary thinker in areas of social policy, community development and individualizing services for people with disabilities. Al is an author, advocacy consultant and social inventor who specializes in finding innovative, non-governmental solutions to social problems.

Recent Posts

Many are Cold… But Few are Frozen

Posted by Al Etmanski on August 5, 2016

Many are cold… but few are frozen

Those words by the exquisite writer Anne Michaels provide a glimpse into the source of Canada’s ingenuity.

You can’t understand Canada without understanding that you are never very far from winter here.

Our ingenuity comes from snow, ice and a harsh cold climate. Yes, it is warming. But it is still pretty cold in most places for a good portion of the year.

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ABCD in Canada

Posted by Al Etmanski on July 8, 2016

“Ain’t it how it seems to go.  You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” - Joni Mitchell


There is nothing extraordinary about Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). It’s as ordinary as looking out for your family, your neighbours, your environment. Or extending a hand to people who are down on their luck, struggling or vulnerable. Or banding together with others to fix a common challenge.

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The Journey to Transformation Starts with a Resurrection of the Ordinary

Posted by Al Etmanski on March 29, 2016

There is a great deal of caring, conserving, creating, innovating, entrepreneuring, protecting, advocating for all life on earth (human, plant and animal) that is done by so-called ordinary people. A quick scan of my friends and neighbours reveals C. who has been growing organic lettuce and greens for 15 years; P. a young mom of two who is leading a campaign to stop dirty coal-bearing trains from entering Canada; J. who is a sole source of support for a friend who may never recover from a debilitating stroke; W. who stopped the trees on our local dyke from being cut down; V. who is caring for her ageing mother; T. and his neighbours who cleaned up a local stream making it possible for salmon to return and D. who is part of a network of support for a friend with cancer.

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Embracing a Voyageur's Mindset

Posted by Al Etmanski on November 27, 2015

Change is like a friend you haven't seen in ages… it needs to be embraced before you can both laugh about the good old days.
- Shane Koyczan

Prévoyance is the ability to prepare for the unexpected in a world of uncertainty while maintaining your principles.

It is a concept introduced to Canada by the great explorer Champlain. There is no English equivalent. Pity. We could use more of this ability today.

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6 Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation

Posted by Al Etmanski on February 5, 2015

Have you ever wondered what cherry blossoms in Vancouver taste like? I didn’t have the imagination to even conceive of such a question let alone answer it until I attended a dinner hosted by Elementa a collective of young culinary talents in Vancouver last spring. Not only did they serve a cup of frozen aerated cherry blossoms (It was like tasting cherry bubbles) to cleanse our palette, they also offered their rationale for presenting authentic regional tastes. Elementa chefs believe in honest food that is both true to the place where it is grown or raised and true to the people who prepare it. 'Our grapes, hops, produce and game should remind us of who we are and where we come from. We shouldn't be trying to make our food taste like food from elsewhere,' said one of them.

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