Behind the Scenes – Community Scholar at our Graphic Facilitation Workshop

Our clients are leaders in organizational change – including working with Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) standpoints –  and so it’s important to grow the field of graphic facilitators to meet that need, too.

The Drawing Change Community Scholar and Volunteer program is a commitment to providing training for people working in community, grassroots, and social justice movements, at our annual graphic facilitation trainings.

Let’s meet the newest Community Scholar, Ayesh Kanani, from our recent October Graphic Recording & Facilitation workshop! Now they’re diving into graphic recording work, supporting a social enterprise with compelling visuals, in Ontario.

And you can learn more about Ayesh’s experience at the October workshop with this interview by volunteer Prodpran Wangcherdchuwong. She wrote up her experiences, including an interview with Ayesh, too. Prodpran and all the volunteers were instrumental to the workshop’s success. Thank you!

Hi Ayesh! Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m a ceramic artist with a background in LGBTQ+ youth support and advocacy work. I was born in the UK, but grew up in Vancouver on unceded Musqeum, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh territories. Three years ago I moved to Ontario where I have been deepening a creative arts practice and expanding my skills for community support work and activism.

What’s a book about creativity you’d recommend? 

I often look to graphic novels, comics, and zines. A recent favourite is Wendy by Walter Scott. It’s a satirical and uncomfortably honest series about being in the art world.

What inspires you most about graphic recording and graphic facilitation? 

I’m inspired by the practice of connecting people and ideas. I’ve seen how thoughtful visuals can propel conversations and keep ideas flowing. I feel inspired by Graphic Recording as a tool to support conversations to bring about more action and community centered outcomes.

Behind the Scenes at the Drawing Change Workshop – written by Prodpran Wangcherdchuwong

“My morning started at 5:30am. Still dark, I woke up to the sound of my alarm reminding me that I need to get up, or I’ll be late to the Drawing Change workshop. Don’t get me wrong, the Drawing Change workshop normally does not start that early. It just so happens that I was volunteering to assist with various tasks at the workshop and set up starts at 7 am at Creekside Community Centre. 

The air was crisp in October. Already you could tell that it was going to be a beautiful day with clear skies, kind of an anomaly for October really. Later I heard that we broke some temperature records again this October. I arrived, I met the team and we set up for the day. 

Fast forward – past bringing all the foam core, rolls of paper, easels and a million pieces of equipment up to the second floor – the day officially began with an opening from Elder Lilian Howard. Telling her story and her journey of healing and nurturing the artist within her, she told us “Don’t suppress the artist within. Express without shame, without guilt.” She told us that today, art for her is self expression, it is how she heals. 

Elder Lilian’s words reminded me that sometimes when others have put you down, sometimes you do the same to yourself too. Believe me, I can be my own worst critic. Of course, her context and mine are of two very very different worlds. But shame, guilt as well as fear, seem to stop me from “doing art” more often than it should. She reminded us to be kind to each other, but also to ourselves. She grounded the room in a way that prepared us for a creative day. 

And indeed the day had that tone. The workshop had several moments of reflection throughout the day. A couple times participants echoed her words. “Having a growth mindset” is one. And by that, the participant meant to not strive to be perfect, but to be better”. We did several gallery walks and gave feedback to each other. Sam emphasized that we would be doing this from a strengths-based approach. All in all it was a very positive experience for me. 

One person I had the opportunity to chat with during lunch on the first day was Ayesh, the community scholar for this round of Drawing Change. Ayesh comes with a background in youth advocacy, particularly in creating space and providing resources for trans and queer youth. We talked about a couple of things that stood out to us. One thing was the space for Indigenous participation and leadership. Elder Lilian said a few words of welcome and stayed to participate. One could tell that there was a long standing relationship and respect between her and the Drawing Change team. Sam mentioned that a lot of this graphic facilitation work revolves around relationship and accountability with the people we work with and for. 

Working in youth, trans and queer advocacy, a lot of Ayesh’s work is in facilitation. Even though Ayesh had lots of facilitation experience, combining the new skills of listening deeply, connecting ideas AND drawing, can always be a bit stressful at first. But later, Ayesh said it was clear how visual facilitation can really help organize conversation and perhaps things a group hasn’t thought about. There is really potential to improve group processes. To clearly show what has been discussed, and on the flip side, to clearly show what has been left out. 

By mid-day, day one, Ayesh was excited to hear more about centering oneself and connecting with the room while graphic recording/facilitating. Now that we’ve started to see the potential of visual techniques and the complexity of the contexts graphic recorders work with/in, they’re excited to flesh out more best practices regarding representation without tokenizing and the responsibilities of a visual practitioner to accurately reflect the ideas of the people they are working with. 

That afternoon, the whole workshop practiced, practiced and practiced with the support of Sam, Michelle, Adriana, Carina and the volunteer team. By the end of it, everyone (myself included) was exhausted. This work is quite physical, but at the same time, there is a lot of joy in listening deeply, and bringing life to conversations through lines and colours. It is very rewarding when others recognize your efforts, or that little detail you put in a drawing, and when others see themselves in the recording you’ve produced. I’m kind of a night owl, and I’d say that it was definitely worth getting up at 5:30 in the morning for the workshop.” 

Thanks Prodpran for the workshop writeup!

Registration for our Graphic Facilitation 2020 training is open now.  Volunteer and Community Scholar applications will re-open in 2020.