31 July 13

Veering Middle

I have just returned from a conference in New York preceded by a one-day class in Graphic Recording. This is a field I’d never even heard of before March, but it turns out one of the eminences grises of the field, David Sibbett, went to school with a friend of mine, and runs the very successful Grove Institute in San Francisco, dedicated to Graphic Recording and Facilitation.

I’ve been taking the Conflict Resolution Certificate through University Extension since March also. Convergence? Yes. Convergence of intent, convergence of right and left brain. Changing careers to a move to the middle ground of graphics and words, where it actually makes sense instead of compartmentalizing as I suppose I’ve been doing. And doing it to help people find clarity, so that they can move forward, too.

Graphic recording is all about listening, listening to what people say. There may be just one person giving a plenary, or it may be many people in the room in conflict and in pain, all speaking together. The key is to listen and to record what’s happening. Since I’ve now seen this done quite a few times, I can say from experience, and not just from hearsay, that it’s potentially transformational. People see what they said on a huge white piece of paper, and feel heard. This means they have room left to listen to what other people have to say, instead of sitting on the one thing THEY have to say and making sure everyone else hears it.

My trial-by-fire, the morning after our class last Tuesday: I volunteered to record a presentation by the ebullient, fast-talking bi-coastal Michelle Boos-Stone. I gulped. I stuck five markers, uncapped, in my left hand, looking like Wolverine intent on ruining my new handknit cardigan. I made a huge title, giving me and everyone else a panic attack because I’d used up a huge amount of real estate on a 4’ x 8’ sheet of paper before the talk was even underway, but I stuck with it and basically pretty much captured everything substantive. I had help — my mentor Julia quietly and calmly passed me post-it notes with suggestions — and I think I managed to do it all without freaking out too badly.

Graphic Recording in New York

Nuggets from the panel of experts who came into our classroom at the end of Tuesday:

“You still draw better than most people in the room.”
“Don’t show your ass the whole time, let people talk to you.”
“Keep a lot of white space available; prepare a template.”
“Commit to your line, use pen.”
“Don’t be afraid to record content on a post-it note.”
“If in doubt about your drawing, just label it ‘cat’.”
“Set your intention and go with it.”
“Diversify. Go small, go big, go digital.”
“Help the people in the room get over their own fears of drawing. It helps them too.”
“Open your possibilities to this work; it can change everything.”

I feel so lucky to have discovered this new and exciting way forward for me. I think it is the most interesting thing about living in the United States: it’s perfectly normal for people to reinvent themselves over the course of a work life, sometimes several times. Look out, world, I’m 53 and armed with Neuland markers.

Posted by at 09:08 AM in Design Arts | Link |
  1. Pica, I love, love, love this for a million reasons. It’s SO exciting to see you stepping into a field that is so clearly a perfect fit for you.

    Lorianne    3. August 2013, 08:32    Link
  2. Finally caught up on your blog. I want to hear more about this new world of yours.

    robin    5. August 2013, 09:29    Link
  3. So exciting to read this, Pica. I am so happy for you that found this calling that brings together your talents. And, by the way, what a small world… David Sibbett’s wife & I were part of the same publishing collective some years ago that published our books of poetry. :)

    maria    6. August 2013, 21:01    Link
  4. Hi Pica, (I know, long time, no visit!)…. I also did a half day workshop in graphic facilitation this summer and really enjoyed it. But I need practice so I don’t lose my new found courage to go for it. You have to be fast, don’t you? AND interact at the same time!

    Gail    15. September 2013, 00:48    Link
  5. Looks like a fantastic, creative way to get ideas across and seems to suit you perfectly. Great picture! Hope you’ll keep a photo record of the sessions you’ll be doing.

    Natalie D'Arbeloff    5. October 2013, 03:39    Link

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