Creating Participatory Space through Partnership Exploring the relationship between a faith-based day programming organization and a cohousing community for individuals with and without disabilities
Patterson, Natalie Rose
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This thesis examines the relationship between a cohousing community and a related ministry center in a mid-Atlantic state that seek to encourage an environment for people—with and without disabilities—to live together while fostering the individuality and autonomy among members of both groups. This thesis explores how these two organizations attempt to create space for individuals with disabilities to exercise personal agency and independence, as well as encourage mutual relationship building between persons with and without disabilities. The implications of their partnership were the central focus of this inquiry. The analysis investigates how the physical structures, locations, and accessibility of formal and informal spaces for people with and without disabilities residing in the cohousing community create opportunities for their visibility and exercise of agency. It also outlines the structure and aims of the nonprofit that collaborates with the cohousing community, as those relate to agential possibility, including the role of personal development through a faith-based identity. Overall, the thesis employs Iris Marion Young's framework for inclusive democracy to explore the effects of the combined efforts of these two entities for the perceived agency and autonomy of a sample of residents with disabilities participating in both (Young 1990, 2000). In particular, this analysis explores the central tenets of the two nonprofits' organizational cultures as those relate to political agency, by sharing the findings of semi-structured interviews with residents, staff, and board members about their experiences as a part of each institution. The analysis also details the primary features of the physical environments each FBO has created and their implications for the perceived agency of a sample of those residents with disabilities involved with both nonprofit organizations. It offers insight into the importance of identity, equal inclusivity, and opportunities for expression in formal and informal settings for the encouragement of agential possibility. The results of this study indicate that the relationship between the nonprofit and cohousing community has allowed individuals with and without disabilities the opportunity to take ownership of their friendships and relationships, including their relationship with God. This suggests that the role of faith in this community provides individuals with disabilities a chance to express agency over their personal faith life as well as their goals and ambitions. Individuals without disabilities in this community encourage this personal agency because of their own definition of personhood as understood through Christian faith. This inquiry was based on 12 semi-structured interviews with staff, governing board members and participants involved with each entity investigated as well as review of their websites and relevant documents concerning their visions, missions and goals.
- Masters Theses