As a graphic recorder or facilitator, how do you “Listen for Diversity”? Many of us are working in specialized fields and it’s not one size fits all. Now for the first time, you can read expert advice from over 20 visual practitioners – in an easy to read Slideshare.
It’s about starting a conversation, not about finding one answer. As visual practice expands, it’s an exciting time for us to share techniques that work for practitioners, clients, and communities. Enjoy!
I wanted the workshop to include as many voices as possible – including people who aren’t able to make this year’s conference, and to amplify what’s working well for practitioners. So before the workshop, I reached out to the graphic recording community for insights.
Diversity comes in infinite forms — race, gender, cultures, age, and abilities to just name a few. Through their insights and experience, these graphic facilitators show that it’s vitally important that our work be responsive to the people with whom we’re collaborating, and that we all take time to reflect on the choices we make.
With thanks to the folks who took the time to share their thoughts and tips!
As a graphic recorder or facilitator, how do you “Listen for Diversity”? Many of us are working in specialized fields and it’s not one size fits all. Now for the first time, you can read expert advice from over 20 visual practitioners.
I wanted the workshop to include as many voices as possible – including people who aren’t able to make this year’s conference, and to amplify what’s working for practitioners. So before the workshop, I reached out to the graphic recording community for insights.
The responses are grouped by five themes:
self-reflection and diversity
diversity of perspectives
graphic recording as a participatory process.
Diversity comes in infinite forms — race, gender, cultures, age, and abilities to just name a few. As visual practitioners, it’s a great time to start a conversation.
Images were scribed/graphic recorded by participants of the Listening for Diversity workshop session unless otherwise noted.
As many graphic recorders noted, listening for diversity isn’t just about the people in the room, it’s about what we bring to the room – that is, we need to question our own biases and assumptions, and even how we conceive of our role. As Anthony queries, is it just about creating a visual record of events or about intervening? Having our peers record our work could also enable us to step back and look at our facilitation through someone else’s eyes. Only through critical self-reflection, will we be better equipped to listen for diversity.
In order to represent diversity in ways that advance it, create change, equity & inclusion, we ourselves need to be able to see what we are not seeing… We must question our assumptions and seek to understand what things mean to others, what made them so, and what is really their impact as visual practitioners … We all know that it’s hard to understand what we can’t see and our gift is to help folks see. – Claudia Lopez
When I worked with communities in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side on a potential redevelopment of the Woodward’s Building (which was then occupied by squatters), we engaged with many people marginalized by homelessness, poverty, addictions, and/or mental illness. In facilitation, we sought to respect their passions, their own vision for a better future, and to meet them where they were (literally and \). Checking my own preconceptions, attitudes and biases was vital for me to be open and credible- they had to trust me enough to share their (often very private) aspirations so that I could capture their ideas visually. – Drew Ferrari
Is there a better way for everyone to be heard? I think it’s a really good idea for us to have our own conversations drawn by someone else. – Aaron Johannes
As an Indigenous, mixed race facilitator (with many other identities) I notice how often marginalized groups are described by those who don’t belong to the group… What words do they use to describe themselves? [I also] notice my own tone of voice, body language, [and] who I direct my comments to. Make an effort to scan the room, make eye contact with various contributors. – Tiare Jung, with Drawing Change
How we present images on a page says everything about who WE are, how we see the world, and how we instantiate the biases, dominant points of view, and commonly-held reference points in our work. It’s a subjective business–and our subjectivity is both our Achilles heel as well as our calling card. It all depends on how we interrogate it, play with it, and use it to help groups and teams see their conversation. My suggestions are not prescriptive, but rather, borne out of inquiry. Do we have a role in “signal boosting” voices that are not usually heard? Do we have a role in saying directly to groups: “These are the voices I’m hearing…but what other voices need to be heard here?” What might we offer by embracing the role of “artist” and see the world differently, in contrast to the time-honored tradition of “capturing” only what is heard? – Anthony Weeks
2. Visualizing diversity
One of the surprising outcomes of the survey, was the number of excellent and thoughtful techniques about how to visualize or draw diversity! Given the nature of our work, it makes sense that we are also translators or interpreters – we put on paper what we hear. So, it’s important to consider how we put diversity to paper.
Drawing diversity is a prickly, tricky subject for some recorders…I try to go for a light touch. It’s entirely possible to draw diverse people by making slight changes in the shapes of faces, noses, eyes and clothing. I try to avoid drawing “costumes” if that’s not what people wear in everyday life. I’ve also done a trick where I draw the country flag or country flag colors in the body of the person to show German or Chinese or French people. I think it’s good to be conscious of your visual biases when you draw.– Deb Aoki
When dealing with diversity issues, sometimes it’s best to put the pen into the group’s hands. Let them reflect on issues through facilitated exercises, drawing exercises, templates, etc. We’re only one person in the room. Sometimes it’s more powerful to let someone else draw. – Sophia Liang
To visualize diversity in a meeting, I ask participants to describe attributes of a successfully diverse team that they have served on or participated in. I draw a group of diverse people on a flip chart and add the words they offer up. I refer to this diversity chart throughout the course of the meeting. – Heather Martinez
We always introduce ourselves as visual practitioners and tell people it is very important to us that we get the images and words correct, then we show them our ‘delete key’ or ‘chart Band-Aids (large silver backed labels) so we can change anything on the chart, so please tell us if we have got anything wrong so we can correct it! – Rob Benn
I ask the participants to come to me during the breaks and tell me what they feel should be added. I also do couple of speech bubbles to note down different points of view. I note down also fun moments/random comments – this works amazingly well for the participants to feel connected to the recording. I also try to create a complex picture that makes sense as a whole (e.g. road to somewhere, a scene, a street in the city with different buildings around), but it always has to be connected with what is being spoken about. – Bea Broskova
I want to reflect the people in the room, so I try to look at the actual people present, and draw who I see. It has also helped me to study photos online of different ethnic groups, to practice learning ways to draw different types of people quickly, but in a manner that is (I hope) respectful. When I introduce myself, I let people know anything I write or draw can be changed. I encourage people to let me know if they feel mis-heard or mis-represented by anything on the chart, and to tell me in the moment or on a break and I will change it. – Emily Shepard
One big AHA moment I’ve had is to acknowledge the “white space”…the space where people didn’t have ideas, or realized more thought was needed. One particular event comes to mind. At the end of one session, there was the dreaded “vacuum of white space” that I didn’t know how to fill. The truth was that the group didn’t have as many ideas of HOW to execute their vision as they did on WHAT was their vision. So I put dashed lines around it, and labelled it “more discussion needed on how to build the archive”. It was actually really effective, especially when compared to other graphics of the day, which were full of diverse ideas and concepts. – Yolanda Liman
Let’s spread and integrate new terms in our visual vocabulary: symbols for different ways of reduced mobility, gender, colour… – KSt
I’m hosting a session called Listening for Diversity at the 2017 International Forum of Visual Practitioners conference this June. I’m excited to hear from as many graphic recorders and graphic facilitators as possible about this topic – so if you are not headed to IFVP 2017 I also want to hear your tips.
You’re invited to participate in three ways:
Spend 5 – 10 minutes on this survey (click the link)
Be interviewed in a short video (1-2 minutes – click the link to sign up)
Participate in a 10-12 person fishbowl discussion about diversity during the workshop, or NOMINATE someone (click the link to sign up)
I’ll compile everyone’s contributions and share them back to the field afterwards. You’ll get to hear what other practitioners are doing, and what is the learning edge for what is coming next. Answers will be edited for length.
Not ready to click to the survey yet? need to know more?
Picture an iceberg – what we draw is only what’s on the surface. We can support diversity in our drawings, and there’s also an opportunity to go even deeper.
I’m curious about questions/ideas such as:
– “When I find myself in an unfamiliar context, I get ready and find resources to help me by…”
– “I didn’t know how to draw xyz, and I learned that drawing xyz this way is important because …”
– “The power of the pen is also about what is unsaid – and I listen for … ”
– “I am a member of this ______ group, and I wish other practitioners would draw ME as ….”
– “I mentor someone with lived experience to co-graphic record with me in specific communities. Has anyone else done this, and what did you notice?”
What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Will it help someone else? Share it here:
Sophia Liang from Graphic Footprints and I are also teaching a pre-conference class called “Towards Mastery” at this year’s IFVP conference, for participants with at least 3+ years experience. Spots are filling up and you can sign up here: http://2017.ifvp.org/agenda/. See you there!
And, there’s a fantastic list of professional development opportunities during the pre-conference – including lettering, building 3-D displays, becoming a FUNdamental facilitator, and more. Hard to pick just one!
Graphic Facilitation Workshop Description: Towards Mastery
This workshop is focused on emerging visual practitioners with 3-5 years experience to advance their core visual skills and deepen their business development knowledge. Our accelerated workshop (evening + 1 day session) is tailored to meet participant’s goals and is set in a highly participatory, peer-based learning environment. Passionate about continuous improvement and learning, Sophia and Sam will bring different facilitation techniques, a balance of theory and practice, and new tools to take your career to the next level.
A prequalifying survey is required to determine eligibility for the workshop. If you’re just starting out, we’d recommend the IFVP signature workshop GR 101 (Graphic Recording 101) instead.
When: June 19th – 5:00 pm to 9:00 pmand June 20th – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (we’re having dinner the night before, together)
Where: Decatur/ Atlanta, Georgia USA
Why: annual IFVP conference is a don’t miss-event!
Sometimes I’ll get a call from a client who says: “I don’t know what you do, but I’m told that I need you.” And it’s true. You might not know that you need graphic facilitation, just like you didn’t know you were hungry until you had a snack.
But those same clients will stand next to my images during the meeting and say – “yes, that’s exactly what I meant.”
Graphic recorders and facilitators listen deeply, and record what is said using text and pictures. Drawing out ideas live helps groups break through their existing paradigms and see connections. We create images that help groups learn together, connect, and lead.
Marketing what we do
Marketing graphic facilitation is often really easy: a picture is worth a thousand words. We have challenges in our marketing, too. We get asked: “Are you an artist? Will you come draw my wedding?” or “Do you doodle for a living?” No, not really. We’re not artists inventing images or doodling without purpose – we are skilled consultants where every mark is meaningful. We’re there to help groups tap into their hidden wisdom, by making it visible. And that’s a tricky thing to market.
On the plus side, it’s easy to share images on social media (when not confidential) and add to a conversation in real-time online. I market my graphic facilitation and graphic recording services by having great meetings. Participants experience the impact that visuals make in meetings of two people to 900 plus.
Graphic facilitation makes a difference for groups because it:
Synthesizes large amounts of information clearly
Helps with memory retention during the meeting
Is a tool for reflection at strategic points
Starts conversation at breaks and on social media
Keeps the conversation going afterwards, because there’s an engaging summary to share.
Displaying them in gathering spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Marketing joint services
Graphic facilitators and non-visual facilitators can be great partners. Together, you can provide better value for the client than either partner could do alone. Personally, I’m interested in using graphic facilitation to help groups think through problems. Here are some ways to pair up with a graphic facilitator or graphic recorder.
Do you need to facilitate a company vision? Bring in a graphic recorder to help the group think differently. What if the room was surrounded by brightly coloured visuals that inspired participants to see what was possible?
Do you need to engage the public at an open house, and you’re deeply bored of post-it note exercises? What if your team had a graphic facilitator, to ask questions of the passerby and draw out ideas, so people could see they had been heard?
Do you have a 200-page report of the new strategic plan you facilitated for three months? You need an eye-catching graphic that summarizes the report on one page.
Are you working with vulnerable communities? Graphic facilitation can map out someone’s personal story (such as experiences with homelessness), and it can recognize and validate their experiences. Graphic facilitation can synthesise a lot of information, but it can also help us lead with our hearts and tap into something deeper.
Finding a great fit
Graphic facilitators and graphic recorders are often asked to recommend a great facilitator and vice versa. Both parties want a good fit, and it’s not always about location. Clarify roles and approaches.
When hiring graphic facilitators to work with you, does the group need someone with “outside ears” to listen for plain language and clarity, or is it better to have a subject matter expert who will understand the nuances? Our professional association is IFVP.org and there you can find practitioners worldwide using the handy map directory.
Different approaches to marketing in the visual field
Like non-visual facilitators, there are practitioners in many places. Most are solo practitioners or consultants, and some are facilitators with full-time jobs who also use graphic facilitation tools in their jobs.
Some practitioners rely on word-of-mouth, some people bid on RFPs and some lead with facilitation and then bring in visuals in many aspects of their practice (pre-drawing timelines, using templates for group work, Visual Explorer Cards, etc).
I love that feeling when I leave a great meeting. People are fired up from the inside out. They feel heard, and they’re truly communicating. Bring visuals – and snacks! – to your meeting to make this happen.
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Thanks to Monique Walsh at the IAF and The Global Flipchart who reached out to me. The Global Flipchart is IAF’s quarterly magazine about the power of facilitation – made by members, for members. Contact the editorial team by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2016, I saw the power of graphic recording and graphic facilitation around the world first-hand. Visuals help people connect, find belonging, and work on urgent problems. And visuals are now a global approach.
And it was a good thing I learned a lot about rabies and One Health, because the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) invited me for graphic recording in Bangkok, Thailand for a conference on veterinarian education:
The visuals at the conference, with 180 delegates from 90 countries, were a huge hit on social media and online afterwards. Thailand was stunning (and delicious):
We wanted these graphic recording posters to stand out from the June session, so I created a different icon for each session:
Not the usual weather for me at Christmas!
It’s a true privilege to be able to go where I’m needed. I also spent a lot of time this year working closely with Indigenous organizations across Turtle Island. From Tl’etinqox territories to Fort William First Nation, I heard and visualized stories of resilience, wellness, economic development, and reconciliation in the justice system.
And speaking of our new book – it’s out in the world now! We’ve shipped it to all sorts of far-flung places, which is exciting, and it’s started many conversations which is even more exciting. With 27 chapters and 25 contributors, it was a great opportunity to gather with colleagues online and in person, advance the graphic facilitation field, and spread visual thinking even further.
Visuals help people tap into their creativity, too. People email me photos of the first time they drew during a work meeting from halfway around the world, and also share their students’ projects (thank you twitter). I love seeing what inspires you.
Can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for our visual practitioner community!
This year, I noticed that visual templates help group work, and solve three key problems.
Time pressure: We have to maximize the time together, because sometimes the hardest part is to get the right people in the room.
Keeping people engaged: Good conversation is all about the question.
And sharing insights: a comprehensive stand-up-and-report out format gets tiring fast – let’s capture more information visually to build on the knowledge in the room.
Pair visual templates with graphic recording
Visual templates pair perfectly with graphic recording. If you don’t have a graphic recorder, you can still use templates. You’ll still have an easy way to share information right after the meeting. It’s visual, it’s easy, and you’ll help facilitate at the tables with a fun, and focussed, approach.
Efficiency under time pressure
We only had less than one hour to articulate a vision for post-surgical care, with about 80 people, for the Doctors of BC.
The design solution: the facilitation team and I refined the right questions ahead of time, and I illustrated these oversized placemats. We handed them out to groups during the session, and they got to work right away, because the templates showed them what area needed to be done in sequence. After about 45 minutes, a member of their team brought 2-3 key insights on post-it notes over to my graphic recording area. I transferred their notes to my graphic recording, using the exact same layout (not pictured here). By copying the same layout in my graphic recording, it was easy for participants to see what ideas were in common and what were outliers. The report out was fast and painless, and gave the core leadership direction for next steps. Visual templates laid a strong foundation for us.
keeping engagement high
CUPE National held a bilingual session about human rights at their 2015 national conference. The session was in the evening with presentations, videos and performances, and then small group work with the assembled delegates/human rights activists. Because they didn’t yet know each other at the tables, templates made a great design solution. The facilitation team and I came up with questions that reflected the presentations, and launched into the future with personal commitments. This balance of questions kept engagement high and people talking. (It’s nice to use art to talk about activism, too!) This session still needed a stand-up and report-back format with microphones at the end due to the size, and I drew their ideas into my graphic recording. This meant the report out at the microphone gave us a high-level summary, and we also had the detailed group ideas on the visual templates.
At Youth4Leaders in Williams Lake, the group work was an opportunity for youth to say what they wanted! The Summit was a high energy day full of inspiring speakers, cultural presentations, and youth voices. For this part, we created visual templates to help youth identify their personal inner gifts, what gifts they had to offer community, and other questions. The visual templates were printed on individual letter sized pages, and giant flip chart sized paper.
Everyone at the table was given pens. I noticed the large template size meant that each youth had a physical space to write – it helped to democratize participation and more than one table added their own drawings. In the two photos below you’ll see the youth at work. I coloured in a template of my own, so when we shared ideas in the room it was easy to listen and place the text into the right areas. (For the non-drawing facilitators out there, this is perfect for you!)
Sharing insights #2: Open Space / UnConference
The joy of Open Space technology or UnConferences is that everyone gets to have the conversation they want to have – and people are curious about what others said.
Design solution: use a simple, legal/tabloid sized handout to capture one or two key ideas.
Then, pick the best way to showcase the sheets. You can digitize the handouts on twitter/online so others can read the notes, put them into a report, or give them to a graphic recorder to draw up.
After their conversations, the groups brought me these small sheets. Then I drew them up into one large graphic, like this quick cel phone photo from DisruptED16. The trick with this type of harvest/capture is that you have to work very quickly.
At another UnConference/ Open Space, the group asked me to draw up a template just using an ordinary Sharpie. My favourite part was they asked for a section called “haiku”.
To answer the question, “what do you want to bring back to the whole room” – participants were asked to write a haiku (poem of 5, 7, then 5 syllables.). Why not! Why can’t a report out be fun? Instead of transcribing the haikus, I decided to create illustrations inspired by the poems and add just enough text to honour the intent.
Free download of a visual template for you
Ready to start? You can call them worksheets, visual templates, handouts – whatever works for you. I called this one a Creativity Planner and you can download it here for free. One of the fun things of my jo is that people send me photos of using it in action. I’ve seen groups use this Creativity Planner to design a marketing/communications campaign – and also artists using it to plan their next graphic novel. Tip: Just scale up the post it notes to a bigger size if you’re working with a group.
If you enjoy filling in templates, then the next step is to ask groups to design their own templates. Groups can decide if the template should use a metaphor, for example. Or, use them as a tool to engage before a meeting – for example, managers can ask staff to create them as a way of play with the content on a deeper level. You will be surprised at the creativity – and subsequent buy-in- that can emerge.
Live graphic recording created in tandem by Avril Orloff and Corrina Keeling
On October 29th we celebrated the release of our new book, Drawn Together through Visual Practice! We had a great turnout for the book launch event, which took place at Gallery Gachet in Vancouver, bringing together local facilitators, visual practitioners, friends, curious creatives, and even our moms.
Local authors gave short presentations on their work, and facilitators in attendance shared some practices, including a live graphic recording, and fielded questions from the audience.
The event was hosted by Stina Brown, MC extraordinaire. Stina’s book chapter explores how to connect the self to the planet using facilitation. In these times of great uncertainty, finding ways to lead groups into taking action is empowering. Stina also shared an activity with the audience, which is often used by graphic facilitators: a spectrogram that can be easily set up to ask a group questions.
Local author and graphic facilitator Aftab Erfan gave a short presentation on her chapter about Deep Democracy, which uses visuals to help explain what’s under the surface. Aftab works with groups to help unearth what is in the unconscious in the room, and the audience definitely learned more about itself that day!
We were also treated to a presentation by author Aaron Johannes-Rosenberg on his chapter about PATH: a visual process to help people with disabilities dream of a full life and a plan to make it happen.
I spoke about my chapter about using cultural safety and cultural humility. Originally, it was my Master’s project – but after writing about anti-racism and graphic recording, I realized it came down to this basic question. are we drawing whiteness? And my answer was yes. So now you don’t have to read the thesis. I decided to answer a more interesting question instead: How can visual practitioners work with cultural safety and cultural humility? For more on my chapter, check out my 4-part blog series on using cultural safety and cultural humility.
Here’s me talking while Avril and Corrina work on their amazing graphic recording for the book launch. Vancouver is lucky to have such a strong visual practitioner community!
Thanks to everyone who came out, and for making the book launch a great success!
Final post in this series on how to become a better graphic facilitator through engaging with Cultural Safety and Humility.
Cultural Safety is an emerging core competency for visual practitioners working with Indigenous organizations and community groups.
This series concludes with a summary of these suggested core competencies, and ideas for implementing at an organizational level.
THE HAND: DRAWING VISUALS TO SUPPORT CULTURAL SAFETY
Although it will always be faster to draw simpler icons, what is gained in speed may be lost in distinction when ideas are distilled to universal concepts. Illustration can model holistic ways of knowing. Drawings can show us a strengths-based approach.
It’s important today to reflect on how our work is representative of the people with whom we’re collaborating. Because graphic recording and graphic facilitation are fast work, there is no easy answer. The important part is that as a practitioner, I am aware of the choices I make. Most practitioners use familiar ways of drawing people—often as “everyman” stick people (star people, bean people, and other shapes). This “Everyman” idea is meant to be a stand-in for a universal symbol—and in North America, we consider all other differences to be compared against Whiteness as the default.
A question I’ve come to consider is how can a stick figure (if it doesn’t have a race or ethnicity) represent, or support, cultural safety?
Although it will always be faster to draw simpler icons, what is gained in speed may be lost in distinction when ideas are distilled to universal concepts. I find myself asking in a graphic recording or facilitation session, what is more important: cultivating cultural safety or how I draw this stick figure? This may mean in some cases, I decide it is appropriate to use stick figures, because there are other drawings or text that create imagery or processes that support cultural safety. Sometimes on the same poster I will have a number of “everyman” stick figures balanced with other types of images. Overall, I challenge myself to go beyond different skin tones in what I draw, avoid reinforcing stereotypes, and utilize all resources to ensure respectful representations.
It’s important today to reflect on how our work is representative of the people with whom we’re collaborating.
Sometimes I draw culturally relevant images, and I also avoid being inappropriately reductionist. For example, while working with specific First Nations on the west coast of British Columbia about their traditional herring practices, I was able to refer to each Nation’s unique fishing traditions. But while graphic recording at a national First Nations data conference, I was careful to not choose one symbol (not a tipi, nor a medicine wheel, etc.) to represent the diversity present. Using one symbol would be applying a pan-Indigenous graphic and would potentially be received as disrespect. It’s an important moment of choice that needs to be made quickly while working. The strength or limitations of my decision is based on my own knowledge.
Suggested tool: Amplify Indigneous voices
Overall, try and amplify Indigenous voices wherever you can – for strength and resilience. Another way to amplify voices is to encourage non-Indigenous conference organizers to include Indigenous voices on panels, organizing teams, and in outreach. As graphic facilitators, we weave between many sectors, and you might be surprised at the connections to different organizations you may have access to.
And amplifying Indigenous voices is also about sharing the markers! This year, I’m taking my practice one step further and mentoring an Indigenous artist who wants to learn graphic recording/graphic facilitation skills so we can work together on projects. As well, I’ve been invited to a series of high schools in a remote/rural area to work with Indigenous youth and share sketchnoting skills. It’s a two part project: we’ll share skills at the workshops, then interested youth can come to a community youth Summit to be part of the official conference sketchnoting team.
Suggested tool: Be an anthropologist about yourself
Take personal notes during a session, similar to how teachers-in-training keep journals or how anthropologists keep field notes. This is a reflection-in-action project. It was challenging to take time out to make notes, but later on, while I reviewed them, I was amazed at details that I had already forgotten. For example, one of my blind spots is feeling I need to capture new-to-me information as fast as possible. Being confident that I can wait, and use that time differently, is one of my reflection-in-action learnings. I’ve noticed times where I drew a list, but a diagram or model would have brought more meaning.
For my graduate work, I designed a research study about my own practice that is easy for other practitioners to duplicate. I selected five illustrations from my portfolio over a period of 10 years and analyzed my design and content choices about how I drew issues of race, gender, or other markers of difference (or how I avoided it). Educators will recognize this as a self-study, or action research. Next, I kept a journal to better understand my biases and my worldview. I shared this journal with a trusted reader or group to deepen the learning. Then I wrote up the research findings and adjusted my work based on my learnings.
CORE COMPETENCIES IN CULTURAL SAFETY FOR PRACTITIONERS
Graphic facilitation has the potential to enhance knowledge and build on the self-awareness necessary to advance meaningful change. As professionals, we can help the groups we work with by developing our core competencies, just as we work on other aspects of our practice. Here are suggested core competencies to support building cultural safety in our work:
My relationships with others in the room. How I introduce myself in a culturally appropriate way, and how do I behave. Who are the leader in the room? For this engagement, have I established appropriate networks in advance?
Understanding my biases and worldview. Start from an assumption that things are not equal, institutions are not neutral, and that at the same time, people inside them may be very well-intentioned.
Review my body of work as a critic. Pull out a selection of my images, and examine my work with a lens of cultural humility. What patterns do I notice? What choices did I make?
Become an anthropologist-about-myself. Make field notes during a session one day. Use reflection-in-action. Take time out of the work to reflect on it and write down in as much detail as I can.
Go beyond multiculturalism on the surface, and don’t limit myself to drawing different skin tones. How do I avoid reinforcing stereotypes in my images?
Listen for the paradigms of colonialism, systems of class, gender, privilege.
Support traditional Indigenous knowledge, connect stories to land and place.
CORE COMPETENCIES IN CULTURAL SAFETY: SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS
Graphic facilitation can help support an open type of discussion for challenging issues, bringing art and conversation together in a room. Organizations can adopt graphic facilitation as a change methodology to tackle tough issues such as cultural safety, while learning about First Nations cultures with the richness visuals can bring to group conversations.
Here are some implementation ideas:
Cultural safety depends on people understanding histories they likely weren’t taught in schools; graphic facilitation is an engaging way to explain histories.
Encouraging people to learn—starting with self—is key to building cultural safety because competencies are not developed overnight. Information from keynotes or presentations is synthesized into smaller, bite-sized chunks.
Graphic facilitation creates reflection tools that create a natural conversation or solo reflection area which can prompt people to examine their cultural identities.
After the event, the visuals can be shared by email, newsletter, intranet, and in reports to continue to engage people emotionally and intellectually.
Graphic recordings can support organizational change: saving time by quickly summarizing meetings, identifying next steps, and mapping out change processes such as assessment tools, trainings, and human resources policies.I believe each mark we make is an opportunity to reflect in the moment and adjust the course forward, together. In writing this, my intent was to share my personal learning with others, to ask for and gather feedback, and always consider how we can challenge our own work to go deeper.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series! For more on the incredible work being done by graphic facilitators and visual practitioners, check out our new book, Drawn Together through Visual Practice.
Third in a series about cultural safety and graphic facilitation.
Here, I look at how graphic facilitators can use our hearts, in order to better understand how emotion and empathy can be utilized in graphic recording sessions.
I’ll offer concrete strategies to help us build stronger connections and relationships.
THE HEART: EMPATHY IN Graphic facilitation
Be aware of what triggers me emotionally. Build my own resilience. Define my role in the room. Show stories of success, not just trauma. Be humble.
Graphic recording intense stories and histories requires empathy. My colleague Kelvy Bird wrote to me that “the work we do is not emotional, but generates emotion in us and others, and involves accessing empathy through it all.” Developing empathetic listening and relational skills as part of Cultural Safety is more important than a new set of icons.
It’s important that I am not swept up in strong emotions that pull me out of the meeting and into my own inner world. The first time I heard an elder tell me about their traumatic experience in Indian Residential School while I was working, I froze. I knew the histories—but how could I make art that did this justice? I needed to come back to center quickly, because my role was to make images, and capture her story, not mine. The key is building my own resilience.
An approach that keeps cultural safety to the forefront is to introduce myself in a culturally respectful manner where I describe where I am from and acknowledge whose territory we are meeting on and thank my hosts. This builds relationships based in the processes of cultural humility. Similar to any instructor or facilitator standing in front of the (class)room, the graphic facilitator has a position of authority in the room, so it’s important to me that I tell the group how I am there to amplify their voices, and put their needs first. The person with the markers doesn’t make all the decisions – I’m there to follow the group! – but it’s crucial to acknowledge this. Working live, I can explain that I can make adjustments to the posters as needed. I can also confirm with keynote presenters or participants one-on-one about the way I’ve captured their words. Contractually, I ensure that First Nations organizations retain ownership/copyright of the images, using the principles of OCAP (c): Ownership, Control, Access and Possession.
Engaging with participants while self-reflecting about visual processes is a praxis: it can lead to more questions, which lead to new, better approaches to the work. Participants may experience legitimate doubts about raising “concerns” with the graphics—they might feel their feedback would “ruin the pretty picture,” they may know race or culture is visualized incorrectly but are unsure how to “fix it,” especially around a sensitive issue such as race. Therefore, the responsibility is up to me to actively check with participants about their experiences: I can create the safety for people to approach me. While doing longer term illustration projects and developing imagery, I often ask my clients if we can directly engage community feedback via elders, an advisory group, or an informal network, and I am open to feedback during all stages of creating illustrations.
Suggested tools: Build capacity for respect, and find ways to stay grounded
When I work from a place of empathy, it gives me joy. There are as many ways to build empathy as there are people. We can build empathy toward others by being honest about our own culture, and strive for open-mindedness through cultural humility to learn, honour, and respect other cultures. We can demonstrate empathy in our actions: giving people our full listening focus, or being attuned to body language. We can nurture our spiritual selves so we arrive to our work balanced, and have the capacity to build even more empathy. When we are thrown off balance or triggered, we need tools to become re-centered and return to the present moment. Breathing, moving my body, self-soothing with a drink of water, anchoring my feet by pushing them into the floor, or engaging in self-talk help me while I’m working. When I’m engaged in community-led processes it helps me move from reflection to action, and gives me joy- listening and taking direction from leaders in the room about what’s needed.
How do you negotiate emotions and empathy in your own graphic recording sessions? what strategies work best? Please feel free to share your experiences or suggestions in the comments section!
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In the final post in this series, I explore how our hands can be best used to ensure that our work is representative of the people with whom we are working with, and outline core competencies for cultural safety.