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Archive for March 2009

A different kind of job

Last October (yeah, I know – it’s taken me this long to post this) I had the rare privilege of heading up a whole team of graphic recorders at the National Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD). In Austin, Texas, no less, which was a kick in itself! But the gig would have been great even if we’d been in Podunk, because (a) I had such an amazing team to work (and play) with, and (b) I felt that we integrated graphic recording into the program more tightly than ever before, and that it was a high-water mark in terms of people’s awareness and appreciation of the process.

FramingIn addition to real-time mapping of plenary presentations and panels, we were presented with 5 ‘challenge’ areas for the field of Dialogue and Deliberation. Since there were 5 graphic recorders (what luxury!), we were each responsible for one of the challenges. I chose ‘framing’ – i.e. how to present D+D in a way that is accessible and attractive to different interest groups and audiences. The night before the conference started, we each stretched out our paper on the wall and put in the title and a couple of pertinent comments and images. Then we spent the next 3 days building our charts, with input from conference participants throughout. My finished chart is above.

One of the most interesting talks at NCDD, in my view anyway, was a panel of conservatives whose conversation I mapped. My politics are not conservative, so it was quite a mind-expanding experience for me – and especially interesting to find myself agreeing with the speakers as often as I disagreed with them. I was particularly taken with Joseph McCormick, who heads up an organization called the Transpartisan Alliance, which seeks to de-polarize politics and find ways of cooperating across political divides. Hey, sign me up! I’m soooo over partisan politics and blaming the “bad guys” on the other side of the room. But that’s a discussion for a whole different blog.

Below is the chart from the Conservatives Panel. It’s actually a pretty crappy chart – much too wordy, doesn’t flow well, and the pictures are bitty. But I’m including it here just because I was so intrigued by the conversation and think it deserves posterity. Plus, posting pix of my not-so-great charts keeps me from getting a big head when I start to think I’m hot stuff with a marker.

Conservative subplenary

Springing forward…

It’s March 1st, and at least in Vancouver, March brings with it intimations of spring – YAY! I’ve always felt a bit of a Bad Canadian in my dislike of winter. Our literature, our icons, supposedly our very identity, are bound up with cold and snow and ice…. But I grew up in Vancouver, which is more about chilly and rain, and…more rain. And early springs that start in February and stretch gloriously through to June. So today I was walking along in the rain, and was pleased to note lovely clumps of crocuses, snowdrops and purple heather, and despite the rain I realized spring is just around the corner. And I say again: YAY!

And on that note, I’m going to spring into action by updating my blog with a few images I should have posted a long time ago.

Here is one I did some time ago for a session for the Burnaby Understanding the Early Years Project. The team members were invited to celebrate their accomplishments, and this is what they looked like (click on images to see larger):


I like the way the words and images flow in this chart. It feels celebratory to me even when the words are too small to read!

Fast forward several months, and I’m co-facilitating a session with a group of youth workers who were charting the journey they had taken as individuals and as a team. To help me choose a resonant image for their map, I asked them to think about what the journey looked like to them. A river? A winding road? Climbing a mountain? They thought for a few minutes and then one of them said, “To me it looks like…a rainforest!” And he proceeded to explain exactly why. And everyone on the team agreed that yes, a rainforest was the very image to describe their journey!

Well, who knew? Of all the images I might have come up with myself, a rainforest would not have been among them! Which just goes to show the value of asking people what things look like to them. Here is their rainforest journey:


(The blue-rimmed boxes contained names, which I removed for confidentiality’s sake.)

What especially delighted me was that once they had chosen the visual metaphor themselves, they really owned it. They used the imagery in talking about their journey, and situated their accomplishments and challenges within the framework of the rainforest. And it was on the group’s instruction that I included the giraffe in the corner!