Positive & Possible

About a year ago, I was introduced to the PATH process by Jo Krippenstapel.  I had

really never heard much about the Person Centered Planning world, and Jo set me

straight over coffee and all kinds of books, pictures and articles.  At first, I got it

confused with Ohio’s PATHS training, an equally important effort that Scott Osterfeld

and some other friends are involved in.

Once I sorted out exactly what PATH was, though, I was in love.

I don’t know what PATH stands for, but I know that talking about people’s futures, and

especially discussing what’s positive and possible in our lives, is incredibly

powerful…and fun!  We decided to experiment a bit, and each of us at Starfire did a very

brief PATH on ourselves in small groups last August.  Everyone loved it, and I credit my

PATH for kicking my butt and making me finish the work on the house so we could have

the Derby party this year.

After dipping our toe in the PATH pool, we decided to jump right in.  With Jo’s help, we

were able to do a PATH for each person entering their 3rd year of Starfire U.  We had a

ton of great volunteer facilitators and graphic recorders (headed up by the wonderful

Dawn Freudenberg!) from Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services and

ended up completing about 20 PATHs!

I sat in on the PATH for two of my friends, and I got to talk to all the families as they

left.  They all raved about how wonderful this process felt to them.  They came in

expecting an IEP meeting or some other baloney, and they left feeling energized and

excited about the potential the future holds.  AND…..The people who the PATH was for

have started doing incredible things!  One man is now coaching a swim team.  Another

guy started riding the bus on his own for the first time..and has since done it more. 

Literally everyone involved in the PATHs we hosted has been changed in a positive way

by the process. 

I think that’s primarily a result of the power of PATH’s North Star and “Positive and

Possible” discussions.  Both are refreshing changes from SWOT analyses and

other approaches that focus on problems to be solved.  A PATH, by contrast is about

futures full of possibilities based on present gifts and assets. 

As you can see in the pic above, the process is very visual – lots of drawings and

pictures.  In fact, notice that even though Juan’s PATH is in Spanish, we can still tell

that he loves basketball, wants to fly/travel, make some money, enjoys music and wants

his friends and family to be a part of his future!  I was a little skeptical at first (I

remember thinking “What is this hippy stuff?  Can’t we just write it out, put it in a Word

doc, and email it to everyone?”)  But the visual component helps everyone think

differently…more creatively. 

Don’t take my word for it, though.  These people taped their feelings on their PATH


Something cool that we’re working on:  A new version of PATH (and its cousin MAPS) is

out, and we’re trying to bring Jack Pearpoint, John O’Brien, and Lynda Kahn to

Cincinnati in the Spring of 2011 to train us on it.  Will keep you updated!