A cottage industry program modeled after the historical Penland School (1920s and 1930s) and using an approach similar to that of Heifer International's "values-based, holistic and community development approach" can promote occupation in arts and crafts, improve self-sufficiency, and enhance quality of life for disabled participants and the community at large.
A cottage industry program designed to encourage occupation in arts and crafts by disabled persons can be designed to produce and market regional arts and crafts. It should be a not-for-profit enterprise. Focus should be on products, services, or performances locally or regionally produced.
That which is produced provides insight to what makes a community / region distinctive (from its people.) A member’s unique disability should not be over-emphasized or be used to promote that which makes a person’s craft desirable or interesting. A disability gives a person a unique perspective on problems and arriving at solutions, but the existence of a disability in and of itself should not be used to market products or otherwise be exploited. A person’s disability should not be used to over- or under-value their contributions to a program or the artifacts they produce. Resources should be leveraged for advocating and promoting equal opportunity for persons with disabilities.
The program should be community- and value-based, run locally and self-supporting with help from an oversight mechanism or governing principles and guidelines. Programs, regardless of community or location, should share the same mission. (e.g., ”to enable and promote occupation in arts and crafts, encourage regional industry and entrepreneurship, and provide venues open collaboration as a means towards improved self-sufficiency and quality of life for all members of a local community, regardless of disability.”)
Program participation by persons without disabilities should be allowed, thereby expanding the available network of people and resources in the community for such an arts and crafts cottage industry. Input from all local community and government stakeholder groups builds alliances, expands available networks, and grows similar programs in other areas. "Social Capital" includes all members of a community, who share similar values and goals, despite individual abilities and disabilities.
Settings should include rural counties or parishes and not be restricted to large city centers convenient to one demographic. Local artisans and professional artists should be invited to participate in educational programs and offer their expertise in a particular discipline to improve the quality of products produced by the collective group and individuals in the group. Persons with disabilities should be empowered and encouraged to participate in leadership roles, planning, arts administration, production, teaching, asset management, etc.