These are some more images from the plenary sessions of the PNCIMA Forum to add to the one I posted just below. For the two charts above I worked alone, but for the two below, I joined forces with the volunteer graphic recorders who helped out at the forum. This was a group of young women with artistic ability but no previous training in graphic recording. I gave them a 2-hour basic training a few days before the conference, then left them to their own devices to record the breakout sessions. They did a stellar job on their sessions, and for the breakout updates and final plenary I asked any of them who wanted to help me map the conversation. Can you tell where my work leaves off and theirs begins?
That’s what I get for not updating my blog more regularly: people are still asking me if I’m enjoying my vacation. Actually, I’ve been back for almost 2 weeks. And yes, thank you – I had a splendid time. First of all, I got to hang out with my dearest friend Robin and celebrate the silver anniversary of our friendship, as well as (belatedly) her graduation from the Mills College MBA program last spring. That in itself, as we say, would have been Dayenu!
But on top of that, I also had the pleasure of:
(1) Hiking on beautiful Mt. Tam on a gorgeous, sunny day with Ken Homer, a smart, funny guy who knows more than most about one of my favourite topics: how to convene great conversations that make things happen;
(2) Getting a tour of The Grove from David Sibbet and being invited to play with his cool Wacom tablet!
(3) Spending a delicious afternoon in the company of three brilliant graphic recording colleagues, Julie Gieseke, Mariah Howard and Leslie Salmon-Zhu. We had all kinds of plans for what we would do that day, but wound up just sitting and talking, talking, talking…and laughing our heads off in between all the talk. It was such an inspiration to hang out with these women and share stories, questions, ideas and giggles, and I only wish I could do this regularly!
What joy: in a few days I’ll be heading off on vacation – long overdue, and (if I do say so myself) well-deserved! I’m going to San Francisco where, among other things, I’m looking forward to a day of fun & inspiration with a group of lovely colleagues, and hopefully a visit to The Grove, which is kind of like Mecca for graphic facilitators.
Meanwhile, in my ongoing (and possibly futile) attempt to catch up with myself, I’m posting a few more pieces of work I’ve produced in the past few months. The first 3 are from the Community Foundations of Canada conference held in Montreal last November.
The next couple of images were for Gaaysiigang – An Oceans Forum for Haida Gwaii, which was held in January in (no surprise here) Haida Gwaii, aka the Queen Charlotte Islands. This was a source of great excitement for me, because I’ve long wanted to visit Haida Gwaii, which I envisioned (correctly, as it turns out) as a rather magical place. So when my pal John Talbot told me he’d lined me up for this gig, which he was moderating, I was over the moon!
I learned a lot about the state of our oceans at this forum, almost all of it truly depressing.I was subsequently contracted to map several other oceans forums, and what I’ve learned since is even more depressing. From what I can understand, we’re rapidly killing most of the life in the world’s oceans, with predictably catastrophic results. But I don’t know enough to comment intelligently, and anyway that’s not what this blog is about.
What was different and fun about this job was that I trained a couple of volunteers to help with the mapping, and we often worked on the same charts together! It was wonderful to see the newbies jump into the fray with such enthusiasm – and fascinating to see what came out, and how our styles meshed on the page. Here are 3 charts from the Haida Gwaii forum – see if you can figure out where my work stops and the others’ stuff start!
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.
In 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, so let’s get back to the graphics.
Here is the graphic from the Conservatives Panel:
Visually it’s not the best chart I’ve ever done – I think it’s too wordy and it doesn’t flow as well as I’d have liked. But I’m including it here just because I was so intrigued by the conversation and I think it deserves posterity.
Speaking of posterity, I can’t close this item without a shout-out to my fabulous teammates: Mariah Howard, Julie Gieseke, Sunni Brown and Marilyn Martin. They are all kickass graphic recorders and wonderful women, and I would work with any and all of them again in a heartbeat!
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):
This is still one of my favourite charts – I just like the way the words and images flow. 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:
What was especially fun 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!
Here is one last one for today. This one was done for a visioning day for the staff of Maple Creek Middle School, who were looking to explore their vision, what their school represents, and their “true north”. I can feel their pride in their school as I look at the image we created.
….getting easier by the day! Yup, things are slowing down for the summer, and I don’t mind. I totally love my work — but I also love my holidays, and have never quite gotten over the idea that July and August are supposed to be Summer Holidays. So here’s to long, lazy days, sunsets on the beach, reading juicy novels in sidewalk cafes, and catching up with what’s really important: friends & family. OK, OK, and a bit of work, just to keep my wits about me.
Today I’m posting a couple of pieces I did for the BC Healthy Communities conference last month. BCHC was one of my first graphic recording clients and I’ve continued to work with them on several projects. I love their holistic approach to healthy development, which draws heavily on Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory and its 4-quadrant model of consciousness (intentional, behavioural, cultural and social). (I make it sound like I know something about this! But I’m still at the steep end of the learning curve. But it’s really interesting stuff. Check it out.)
Here is the chart from the first presentation, on — wait for it — integral capacity building (remember to click on the image for a larger view):
It’s interesting looking at these pieces after the fact, since I feel I hardly know what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I often think this work must be like being a simultaneous translator, except that instead of translating people’s words into another language, I translate them into images. But you’re really ‘in the moment’ as you’re doing it — not much time to reflect until later. I’m quite happy with the pieces I did for BCHC. I feel I’m beginning to develop a style of my own, and am also (gradually) beginning to organize the material better.
Next up is a fun piece. I’m attaching an unretouched photo here, as the poster had streamers attached to the bottom, which don’t clean up well in Photoshop.
The idea of the streamers was that people would write their ideas for the ‘imagined culture’ on each one, and in the final session of the conference we were going to have another exercise where people ‘wove’ their ideas together. In the end we wound up jettisoning the final session, so these ones wound up as a standalone. I like the effect, though. And I like that people contribute to the artwork.
Finally, I include a chart I did for Robert Kegan’s keynote presentation on Day 2 of the conference. This was one of the best presentations I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending, and I am thrilled to have made Bob’s acquaintance. Aside from being absolutely brilliant, he is also funny as hell, and his presentation was liberally peppered with witty stories and wry observations.
As you can see from the chart, the subject was Understanding and Overcoming the Immunity to Change. He presented a really interesting theory about this, which I’m going to quote a bit below, just because it’s really interesting.
“We think we have discovered a powerful dynamic that tends to keep us exactly where we are, despite sincere, even passionate, intentions to change. A recent study concluded that doctors can tell heart patients that they will literally die if they do not change their ways, and still only about one in seven will be able to make the changes. These are not people who want to die. They want to live out their lives, fulfill their dreams, watch their grandchildren grow up—and, still, they cannot make the changes they need to in order to survive.
“If wanting to change and actually being able to are so uncertainly linked when our very lives are on the line, why should we expect that even the most passionate school leader’s aspiration to improve instruction or close achievement gaps is going to lead to these changes actually occurring?”
What this implies, says Kegan, is that more knowledge is needed about the change process itself, and more understanding of the “immunity to change.”
“Our work pays very close—and very respectful—attention to all those behaviors people engage that work against their change goals. Instead of regarding these behaviors as obstacles in need of elimination, we take them as unrecognized signals of other, usually unspoken, often unacknowledged, goals or motivations.” The countervailing tension between these two sets of equally sincere motivations creates the “immune system,” and sustains the status quo.
What I also loved about his presentation was that it was highly interactive. He didn’t just stand there and talk — in fact, I’d guess that he only spent about 1/3 of his time talking. The rest of the time he had people pairing off and doing the exercise he lays out in his book. The buzz in the room was palpable — so much so that I drew it into the chart because the energy was a presence in itself!
My only complaint was that because I was recording his session I couldn’t do the exercise myself. But never mind: Ali has promised to do it with me some time over the summer. Can’t wait!
Well, hello there! Fancy running into you here. I haven’t been here lately myself — have you? Ah, well, you’ve probably been busy too. I sure have.
Apart from an explosion of work, I’ve spent the past several months being a Full Time Daughter as my mother landed in and out of hospital with health issues of increasing severity. It’s been a sobering education on many fronts — not least being the confrontation with mortality, which most of us would rather avoid. But the good news is: we both survived! My mother is back home now and doing much better, I’m finally able to breathe again, and we’re both keeping our fingers crossed that things stay this way for awhile.
Talking about mortality, in between everything else I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert (♥♥♥) and realized that the first time I saw him in concert was…half my lifetime ago!! Talk about sobering. Well, he is still THE BOSS — and I still have my rock & roll spirit. So all is not lost in my world.
Oh, and I did some work too! Actually, a lot of work. And what follows are the fruits of my labour. First up: some charts I did for a terrific conference on food security earlier this year. Food security isn’t a topic I knew a lot about going into the conference, but I was able to sit in on a few sessions that I didn’t have to record, and I learned a lot! That’s one of the things I love about this work — I get to go to all kinds of interesting events and learn about things I didn’t know much about before. Or learn more about things I did know something about. And, of course, meet all kinds of interesting people in the process.
Below are the charts from the World Cafe sessions that took place each afternoon of the conference. Here is the World Cafe ‘harvest’ from Day 1:
And here’s Day 2:
An added bonus of this conference was the opportunity to collaborate with my great friend Ali Grant, who is a most engaging facilitator (with a gorgeous Scottish accent) and a terrific creative partner. This is another aspect of this work that just delights me: the fact that I get to team up with some of the brightest, most thoughtful people around and co-create processes for change together. What I learn from my colleagues on the job is priceless!
Sometimes something emerges from my pen that I really don’t expect. That was the case with a piece I did for the Burnaby School District. We were trying to chart the many projects and initiatives they’ve put in place to support literacy in Burnaby, and came up with the idea of representing it as a tapestry. I had an idea that I’d include words, drawings, and some collage elements (which I’ve long wanted to play with), and that the ‘tapestry’ would be built around the 5 participant groups Burnaby’s programs support. But beyond that I was pretty fuzzy.
So I rolled out a l o o o o o o o n g piece of paper — the longest chart I’ve ever done — sketched in a pencil outline of the edges, and started drawing. I sketched in the boxes containing the main categories. Then I sketched in boxes containing the subsections. Then I started adding colour…and images…and collaged in some photos of Burnaby student art…and thought, “Hmmm.” I wasn’t at all sure that I was going to like what came out. But I kept on. I added connector lines, added more colour, added texture…and bit by bit it started taking shape. I started liking what I saw after all.
By the time I finished the second section it was starting to look quite rich. Then it was time for the Aboriginal section. Instead of doing it in a square like the others, I made it round to match their Aboriginal Circle Program.
After four days of work, the tapestry was finally finished. (I had somehow imagined I’d get it done in a day — talk about underestimating the time things will take…) I added a bit of pastel to the main headings to punch them out a bit — and it was done! It didn’t (and doesn’t) look quite like anything else I’ve done in this genre, and I don’t think I really had a clue what it would look like till I was about halfway through. But I have to say, I’m pretty pleased with the final result. More importantly, Burnaby S.D. is delighted with it. Here’s what it looks like:
Righto, I said I would post a few charts from C2D2 (the Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation), which happened here in Vancouver in mid-November. As I said in my previous post, it was both fun and exhausting — fun because graphic recording is inherently fun, and it was cool to actually be doing this at C2D2 when it was at the first C2D2 two years ago that I was first introduced to graphic recording! Life is a circle. It was also fun because I got to work with two other graphic recorders, Sue Davis and Deborah LeFrank, whom I had met at Christina’s ‘Graphics Bootcamp’ last spring. I love working as part of a team, and as you can see from the picture at left, we had a good time working together!
It wasn’t all goofing around, though: we worked HARD! That’s where the exhausting part comes in. It was 2.5 days of very intensive charting, both up front during the plenaries and on sketchpads during breakout sessions. By the end of the conference, I was well and truly bagged. I haven’t got good photos of all the charts yet, but here are a couple of the main ones.
Just so you can see how very differently two graphic recorders can capture the same talk, I’m attaching Deb LeFrank’s chart here as well. (I don’t think Deb has a web page or I’d include a link…) I like the way Deb organizes her material, and particularly how she handles text. One thing I realized when I looked at her work is that most of my body text is the same size, whereas Deb works with more variety of text size, which creates focal points and an interesting typographic ‘texture’. Note to self!
The chart at left is from the Day 2 plenary panel. This one went even faster than Adam Kahane’s; I was so busy scribing that I hardly took in anything they said! I think that’s an occupational hazard of this work. You listen, you get it down, you let go, you move on.
The one below is a collaborative effort. I did the bits around the edges at home before the conference (Welcome to C2D2, the map, and the drawing at bottom right), then we filled in the centre on Day 1 as people called out things they discovered they had in common with others at their table. As you can see, some of the things people had in common were pretty funny!
Here’s the last one for today: another chart I created at home (my bedroom wall is serving as my studio these days) — this one is a chart showing what topics were being addressed at what tables.
One of the things I mean to do this year is to keep my blog relatively up to date! (Are you listening, Avril?) Actually, what I’d really like is to make enough money to hire someone to design me a real website — but that’s a wish for another day, and this column is about today. Or rather, about the past few months, since what I mean to do here is to update this site with examples of stuff I did since my last post, which was…whenever…
So, without further ado:
And this is another part of the same mural. (There’s more, but this covers most of the visually interesting part of it.)
I quite like this one just above, which illustrates a collective vision for a successful supported child development program. It was done live but I had more time than usual to think about the layout and organize the content.
On the other hand, this is an example of a custom chart I created at home for a conference I later graphically recorded live. I like going back & forth between live chartwork (on-the-spot recording) and advance chartwork that I can do on my own time. The live work is exhilarating and challenging, and I love the interaction with people. But the home work allows me time to design the mural and to think more carefully about what images I’ll use. And to research new images that then (hopefully!) get stored in my memory bank for future live work. And so it goes…
OK, it’s late and I need to get my beauty sleep. My next post will feature images from C2D2, the Canadian Conference on Dialogue & Deliberation. That was a 3-day marathon, which was both fun and exhausting. What was especially fun about it was working as part of a graphic recording team. But I’m getting ahead of myself. More tomorrow (which of course will appear above this post, thus appearing to have been written before it, but oh well…)