Design and engagement practitioners have adopted mindfulness approaches to large group participation recently, that help participants move from “heady” intellectual interactions to more embodied states of presence and awareness. Perhaps the most well-known approach is that of Theory U (Presencing), which has been applied in a huge range of process contexts, including in the 2015 Unify Toronto series.
Stephen Sillett and Jenny Jimenez presented insights from dialogic design practice in long term community development. They explored:
How can we quickly enable diverse groups of participants to gain trust in their engagement and go deeper? (Using approaches appropriate to the people, place and purpose.)
How might we facilitate participants to feel both free and grounded, through emergent embodiment?
What would help support each of us to risk approaching the Edge of what we know, or to enter into an unknown area of inquiry?
Stephen Sillett shared theory and practice behind the “Come to the Edge” performance they coordinated in Belgium last month. Jennifer shared how this approach relates to developments in the disability arts movement and the shifting relationship to time. This involves grounding practices, but also practices that help people become transport to other realities, and involves crossing different types of thresholds.
The DwD engaged approaches to enable free exploration and collective trust and comfort to be achieved through intentional process design. We will share situations where we (ADCID) have helped participants with complex disabilities who can feel burden with frustration at their situation, and resigned to a state of endurance. We have developed different approaches for these contexts, which have adaptations from actor training, and mental space psychology.
Working with pre-verbal approaches, and metaphorical representations of burdens, we found major impact on communities who use alternative and augmentative communication. These can be used in the design of other dialogic engagements, and also for activities seeking to use dialogue as part of participatory design methodologies.
Several exercises were used to open up participants to deeper engagement:
- Chairs and Tables – exercise that uses a simple spectrogram followed by metaphorical objects which become psychoactive and which the group can bond as we unburden
- Passing the energy – exercise that opens up individuals and establishes a group dynamic.
- David Grove’s Clean Space – deeper engagement around an outcome
About the Presenters
Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett are co-directors of ADCID (Aiding Dramatic Change in Development), where they facilitate and direct dialogue, drama and art processes for healing and community development. Through ADCID projects and in partnership with other social actors, they explore approaches that engage community members in conversations, consciously orientated to maturing visions of the future. Research interests include the facilitation of non-verbal and spatial meaning-making practices within group workshop and the creation of interactive performance. They direct the InFusion Labs process where theatre artists, therapists, scientists and social practitioners explore spatial approaches to exploration and discovery.
Jennifer Jimenez has a background as a scenographer, theatre-maker, and arts educator. She seeks artistic projects rooted in devised collaborative processes where all elements can play an active role in creation. This can take the form of integrating lighting and design into the rehearsal and creation process, working with community members to create a performance piece or devising an audience interactive piece, where those present are actively involved in meaning making. She has participated in training workshops in collaborative creation with Ariane Mnouchkine’s Teatre Du Soleil, and in Image and Forum Theatre facilitation at the Centres for the Theatre of The Oppressed in London, Toronto, and New York.