Riffing off of NorthernVoice 12 and Online Community Enthusiasts

Photo by Alan Levine
This past weekend I was up in Vancouver, BC, for two gatherings that I always enjoy, the BC Campus’ Online Community Enthusiasts group (led by the always wonderful Sylvia Currie) and the Canadian blogging/social media conference, Northern Voice. OCE is a place to hang with people who wisely use online interaction, mostly in the learning context.

This year I was once again on the OCE hosting team and my job was to give an overview of the agenda, then facilitate the afternoon’s Open Space. I made a visual agenda, but in a circle it is rather hard to see, so I spontaneously became a human lazy susan. Alan Levine caught me in the act with a still, and later with an animated gif.

We had a great time with Dave Pollard leading us in some exercises using the terrific Groupworks group process pattern cards. They really elicited some insightful stories from the group and I was so inspired, I called an Open Space session in the afternoon to think about how I could use them in a webinar I ran on Monday. Bingo! As always, hanging out with friends new and old was the highlight.

Northern Voice is where I always submit weird session proposals and those crazy Canadians usually say yes to me. Silly them. My supporting role for 2012 was to co-facilitate Moosecamp, the OpenSpace of NorthernVoice, with Brian Lamb. Brian asked me to make a little announcement at the start of the conference about Moosecamp. I had decided on a whim to bring my new uke, and at the last minute decided to improvise a song about Moosecamp instead of saying it. I blogged about that already. ūüėČ

This year my formal submission was a session with Rob Cottingham, Alan Levine and I on improvisation. I have been very inspired by Viv McWaters and Johnnie Moore’s work to bring improv into facilitation. ¬†Our session started with each of us telling a two minute story of where improvisation played an important role, while the other two mimed the story. Then we introduced the group to Viv and Johnnie’s improv cards, which I turned into flip chart images.

We ¬†invited people to go to the flip chart they felt MOST uncomfortable with. They then discussed the why’s and wherefore’s of their discomfort. THEN we invited each group to create a human sculpture that expressed that card. We had eight great, laughter inducing performances.

Alan then showed us his PechaFlickr applications which draws five cards with a shared tag from Flickr and you get to tell a story to go with them. Alan had five volunteers who each added an element to a story illustrated by tug boats! Give it a try yourself here. It could be a great icebreaker!

Then we segued into a classic gibberish improv and our three volunteers blew me away. They dove right in.  I was laughing so hard I was crying.

For us, it was important that this was not just about the performance side of improv, but about how improv can inform our practices every day, help us be more present in every moment. Rob Cottingham gave a insightful, improvised wrap up that inspired us all. We have 1140 minutes every day. We might as well use them well.

I loved Boris Mann’s recap:

Next I went to Improv Me, Baby with Nancy White, Alan Levine, and Rob Cottingham. My basic rule of thumb is ‚Äúgo to any session that Nancy White is involved with‚ÄĚ. Of course Alan and Rob are no slouches either ūüėČ Lots of interactivity and group activity in getting people to participate, and to understand what improv actually means. Rob closed things out talking about how the very best improv can in fact be the result of lots of preparation and practice ahead of time, while still using a ‚Äúgo with the flow‚ÄĚ approach to tailor presentations & experiences to the people and energy in the room.

In the Moosecamp/Open Space giulia.forsythe¬†ran a great hands on session about how to do sketchnoting on the iPad and I now finally understand layers. (I’m slow.) She later did a sketchnote of the improv session which I TREASURE! What a great memento/take away!

via Northern Voice Retrospective [visual Notes] | Flickr РPhoto Sharing!.image from Giulia Forsythe from NorthernVoice improv session

All in all it was a great weekend – learning, play, improv, music, friends and food! Perfeito!

Improvisation, Ukes and NorthernVoice.ca

@speakwhen¬†caught an image of me Friday morning when I promoted the NorthernVoice‘s Open Space — a.k.a. Moosecamp… with an improvised Uke song. My first public Uke performance. It was fitting, since later in the day Alan Levine, Rob Cottingham and I ran a session on improv. I’m still running a mile a minute with draft blog posts from the adventures of the last two months, but hey, a quick picture and a link to the audio from @felicelam¬†will have to do for now! Nothing like jumping off the cliff of risk! (And to discover KDot does a weekly #UkeTuesday post!!) I guess this was my UkeFriday! Thank you friends and NorthernVoice!!

Twitter / speakwhen: Today started with a ukule.

RossViz is Just Around the Corner

The early bird deadline is past, but we are sending out the word at a couple of F2F workshops in the next few weeks and I want this post findable on my (messy, messy) blog. ¬†The time to commit is NOW! ¬†I learned so many new things this year that I want to share. I want to learn from y’all. The folks who have signed up so far are fascinating and a few are far flung! So expect great, diverse interactions. We have a few more spaces available so MAKE YOUR MOVE!

Once again, here are the details:

Michelle Laurie and I are excited to announce the 3rd annual graphic facilitation workshop (aka Rosviz!) in beautiful Rossland, BC, Canada, July 18-20th, 2012. We had so much fun at #1 and¬†#2, we are going for #3! (See Sylvia’s¬†great video from #2¬†here.)

Drawing on Walls at the 2011 Graphic Facilitation Workshop in Rossland, B.C.

You are invited to this experiential workshop which takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface!

We’ll start the evening of July18th by warming up our drawing muscles and silencing those pesky inner censors. The second day, we’ll build into the basic practices of graphic facilitation and recording. We will pay attention to preparation, the actual visual work, and follow up including digital capture of paper based images. Our third day will be devoted to participatory graphic approaches, practicing and giving peer feedback. You can expect to go away with icons, ideas and approaches which you can use immediately, as well as ideas about how to hone your practice.

When might we use this practice?

Sometimes our imaginations are sparked by a visual where words fail us. Think about when communities plan and imagine their futures, when teams consider the possible outcomes for their projects, when groups create maps to track their progress.  These are all opportunities to use visuals to engage and deepen community dialogue. You can use visual thinking to improve teamwork, communications, meetings, build engagement and to plan work. Step out of the PowerPoint rut!

Who should attend?
Facilitators, project managers, team leaders and members, town planners, teachers and anyone who would like to engage others beyond words.

Please Note: You do NOT need previous experience or have to consider yourself an artist. At some level, we can all draw and use visuals to enhance our communications and engage diverse audiences.

Quick details:¬†Michelle¬†will be hosting and we’ll both be co-facilitating.¬†This 2.5 day workshop begins the evening of Wednesday, July 18th and ends mid-afternoon on Friday, July 20th. ¬†Pricing ¬†is ¬†CA $840.00 thereafter.¬†(US Friends — it is about the same in dollars! If you have/want to pay in dollars, I can take those. NW)¬†¬†Email Michelle to register: michelle.k.laurie(@)gmail.com.

via¬†Workshop Alert ‚Äď Rosviz is back! | Michelle Laurie rants and raves.

The Real Work — Wendell Berry

Just back from Bhutan, my mind and heart are full, and my mind is tripping forward to the next work that is flowing towards me. One is a collaborative session on improvisation at Northern Voice in a couple of weeks. This poem speaks both to the last 16 days in Bhutan and the upcoming collaboration. A bit of kismet that it floated in front of me, courtesy of Jerry Michalski. A little Saturday morning gift. I promise a post about Bhutan in the coming week.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do

we have come to our real work,


and that when we no longer know which way to go

we have come to our real journey.


The mind that is not baffled is not employed.


The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ Wendell Berry ~


(Collected Poems)

via The Real Work — Wendell Berry.