Creating Blue Space



Creating Blue Space:  Hanns Meissner was the director of The Arc of Rensselaer County in Eastern New York State for 25 years.  It was a ‘legacy’ agency with all the traditional approaches.  But Hanns had a relentless commitment to create enough blue space to create innovative ways to support individuals with developmental disabilities to flourish in spite of system constraints. Read, reflect, and learn about “bushwhacking” through the bureaucratic wilderness so you too can create blue space for innovation and citizenship for all to blossom.

Also available as an ebook

A NEW article by Hanns:  Disrupting the Exclusive Reliance on Expert Systems to Solve the Problem of Social Exclusion.  2021


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Creating Blue Space:   Hanns Meissner has emerged from years of ‘formation’ at The Arc of Rensselaer County in Eastern New York State with lessons learned from a journey of individualizing supports. His agency’s story is one of relentless commitment of creating enough blue space for innovative ways to support and partner with individuals with developmental disabilities to form and flourish in spite of system constraints. Read, reflect, and learn about “bushwhacking” through the bureaucratic wilderness so you too can create blue space for innovation and citizenship for all to blossom.

Includes downloadable Exercise Book

Book Review by David Towell on Centre for Welfare Reform:

Comprehensive set of slides by Hanns Messneir Meisnerr:

Good Things in Life Podcast Hanns Meissner with Pamela Mansell:

Also available as an ebook:  

Forward by John O’Brien

Print and pdf copy options available


There is no organization that I admire more, or have learned more from, than R-Arc…the wisdom you gain from Creating Blue Space will enable you to change the course of your organization, the lives of the people you support and your own worldview.

Fredda Rosen, Executive Director
Job Path NYC

Organizations and agencies looking to transform their existing services to more innovative, individualized supports will find a fantastically helpful guide in Creating Blue Space. Powerful exercises and reflections in the book will improve and change how people help individuals with developmental disabilities to have exceptional lives in the community.

Ann Hardiman, Executive Director
New York State Association of Residential and Community Agencies

Creating Blue Space is Meissner’s offering to transformational leaders everywhere who are concerned about blazing a trail through an era of uncertainty. This book is a powerhouse combination of advanced organization theory, personal account experience and applied learning opportunity rolled into one remarkable field guide. This is a must-have resource for anyone invested in changing the landscape with and on behalf of people who experience life through disability.

Carol Blessing, Faculty
Employment & Disability Institute ILR School Cornell University

Creating Blue Space shows us the crucial importance of following the path less traveled…

Janice Fitzgerald, Executive Director
Parent to Parent of New York State

As organizations re-imagine how they support people with developmental disabilities to live the lives they and their families imagine, we need thoughtful leaders, innovative thinkers, and people who can teach, write about and skillfully share their experiences. Meissner does all these things in Creating Blue Space, as he takes the reader on an intentional journey to individualize supports…

Steve Holmes, Administrative Director
Self Advocacy Association of New York State

Creating Blue Space tells the story of how one agency intentionally created a culture that promoted individualized services and community membership. This book is a must read for anyone interested in helping to transform the system of providing supports to people with developmental disabilities towards individualized as we move into the future.

Christopher Fortune, Executive Director
Orange County AHRC

Hanns Meissner provides an extraordinary account of organizational innovation that is integral to authentic person-centered work. This multidimensional journey illuminates the value of Theory U frameworks and practice in navigating the difficult passage of challenging old deficiency based models to create room for surprising new possibilities. Creating Blue Spaceawakens our collective minds, hearts, and wills to generate profound social change that enables people to be in touch with their highest potential. Finally, we have hopeful maps and new pathways for finding our way forward!

Beth Mount, PhD Founder
Graphic Futures

Creating Blue Spaces is a beautifully written, groundbreaking book. It offers profound thinking about how service agencies, systems, and professionally organized efforts can authentically value and build the gifts and capacities of people on the margin. It makes the connection between the importance of an authentic internal culture and the “good form” we wish bring into our communities in our wish to reduce human suffering. It is one example of how systems can possibly deliver authentic care. While focused on the developmentally disabled world, the wisdom on leadership, conversation, practices and learning applies to all efforts to restore humanity to organizational life. The book is the calm, clear eye at the center of the storm of modernism.

Peter Block, Author and
Partner in Designed Learning

In a public policy world that increasingly seeks to commoditize people who have intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, Meissner stands among the few turning the discussion back to the people who seek support and their rights to true citizenship. In Blue Space Hanns Meissner translates his years of study, commitment and deep organizational change at his agency into a remarkably readable guide for organizations who seek this journey.

Max E Chmura, Human Service Consultant
former New York State Commissioner of the
Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities


  1. Jack Pearpoint

    Excellent review by David TOWELL – published in Centre for Welfare Reform :
    David Towell reviews Hans Meissner’s illuminating account of the journey from institutional services for people with learning disabilities to individualised housing and support. (104 kB)

    Pretty comprehensive set of slides:


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