Our friend Al Etmanski is a proverbial gentle giant, both in stature, big of heart and presence of mind. He’s changed the landscape for people with disabilities and their families by action and by listening. If it wasn’t for Al, our son would not have a Registered Disability Savings Plan. A godsend for some many with disabilities who can feel more secure about their future because of the RDSP. I was trying to think of an appropriate way to describe The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World. In true Al fashion, the stories of others are shared along with how they have changed his actions and perceptions. This collection is like a really good bag of trail mix; it works together well and yet each individual piece is delicious, healthy and good for you! Ten valuable lessons in humanity, decency, love, living a good life, and belonging from each featured person abound in this book. You can finish the whole bag of trail mix for an immersive buffet, or you can snack your way through it, pausing to reflect and digest the thoughtful meals over time. However you choose to consume the insights in this book, you will finish up feeling nourished and replenished.
Al is a community organizer and author. He is an Ashoka Fellow and member of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He has received distinguished awards for his activism, including the Order of Canada. And he’s an old friend. We attended The Power of Disability Concert, a live-streamed celebration showcasing the release of Al’s new book and the power of disability through music, storytelling, and humour. Whenever Al came on the screen, Jim toasted him (we soon switched to club soda).
Published by Berrett-Kiehler Publishers, Oakland, California, 2020