Young People Shaping a Diverse, Connected and Inclusive Europe was one event in several that the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) have been running as part of an Erasmus+ funded Structured Dialogue programme- bringing young people and policy-makers together to ensure their voices are included in big decisions. The young people at these events are inspiring activists. If you feel disillusioned about the world and worry for the future- tag along to one of these events. It will give you some optimism that future leaders may improve upon our generation's record.
Several other events have taken place around Ireland. I prepared 6 large posters with key questions that were asked at these events. I also created a one-page digital illustration to visualise the outcomes of the initial stages of this process. There will be more to come in November this year.
In May this year University College Dublin Access and Lifelong Learning hosted the European Access Network (EAN) Conference. Not just any annual conference, this was the Jubilee year of the European Network and was to celebrate all the achievements of the previous twenty five years as well as projecting some new ambitions onto the next. The Access team put together a three-day event filled with academic papers, diverse keynotes and plenty of social and creative strands woven into the packed schedule. They wanted the experience to be engaging, innovative and memorable.
In February I was approached to propose some ways of creatively harvesting the learning from the conference. After our initial conversations we agreed to create a participatory harvest that would be primarily visual but would also include non-visual ways of harvesting the learning. We would also work with the Access team to create a crowd-sourced illustrated Proclamation for the EAN’s next twenty five years over the three days. And it would all be digital! I had done a few one-day digital graphic harvests already so I was confident that with some extra preparation and a second person to help me this would be just an extra-long version of those events. In some ways it was but it was also so much more. It was a HUGE learning curve. Here are some of the images of the process and the end result.
I knew I would need help to complete this and I put out a call on twitter to see who would answer. Davy MacDonald answered and we met in Dublin in April to discuss the collaboration. Davy is a graphic artist and photographer based in Belfast and had all the skills and gadgets- plus the open-hearted enthusiasm needed for the job! You can read his own blog on this project here. Davy focused on the core output for the job- a digital graphic harvest of the 3 days, including many many speaker portraits.
Then, the Access team put out a call for volunteers and we recruited 14 wonderful, enthusiastic people. I ran an afternoon "Harvesting" workshop in advance of the conference. I invited the volunteers to contribute their skills whatever they may be in the service of capturing learning and making it visible/ accessible to the whole system. The very efficient Access team then created a detailed roster to have at least 2 volunteers at every keynote and parallel session over the 3 days- this was quite a long document! I really felt that the Access staff were willing to be creative and take risks- which is just as well! I myself wasn't sure what would emerge or how I would pull it all together. But I knew from years of facilitation experience that you have to trust people and give them the tools to make meaning. I think they trusted that their contributions would be used and would be important.
Over the three days I got to chat with many of the volunteer students and their willingness to get stuck in and try new things was key to the success of the event. The highlight for me was nothing to do with visuals, digital or otherwise. 2 students took it upon themselves on the final day to go through the (many) notes they had collected from paper presentations and keynotes. They transformed this into a song, put it to the tune of a well-known pop song and then (!) performed it for the closing plenary. I had been able to quickly type up their lyrics on a Word document and projected it behind the girls as they sang to the audience to join in. And they did! The President of UCD remarked that he had never seen a conference closed this way in his life. I was delighted because the student volunteers who gave this gift back to the conference, were the students who benefit from the work they do so it was meaningful on many levels. I can't take credit for all this by the way- I think I was lucky to tap into a pre-existing culture in this part of UCD, no doubt built on years of hard work and constant engagement with students.
The final outputs were one 48-page digital graphic harvest, one illustrated Proclamation and a short video comprising photos and audio of the 3 days. I could say a lot more about this experience and what I learned from it- and what I would love to have done better. But I'll let the pictures do the talking.
On the 27th of July I was capturing the learning at an event organised by NUI Galway, the Irish Development Education Association and the NGO Suas. The event was aimed at academics and researchers interested in how we educate for global citizenship- specifically how Global Citizenship Education can at times exclude those it seeks to educate about/ on behalf of. The seminar consisted of a number of presentations and some dialogue between the academics and the practitioners assembled. There were some fairly challenging ideas presented and discussed. The "graphic learning capture" was produced to share the learning of the day with wider audiences. Below are some screen grabs of the final pdf.
UCD Research and Innovation asked me to create a visually engaging map of the campus, communicating their Research and Innovation activities. This was a new departure for me in many ways- the flat style, entirely digital. I learned a lot! 45 or so individual icons were created and placed on the stylised map as well as numerous little extra bits to add visual interest. I really enjoyed creating every little piece in Illustrator and connecting everything up to the whole.
In May I was delighted to be invited by Trócaire to help 2 primary schools in Skerries paint a mural about Climate Justice. The project was coordinated by Milverton National School Prinicipal Johnny Tyndall and brought students from Milverton together with students from Réalt na Mara National School. Trócaire staff explored the theme with the students and then I came in to help them design and paint the mural. We came up with the slogan "There is Hope if we Act Together" and created 3 characters representing young people from all over the world becoming conscious of Climate Justice and acting together to create a better world. I really loved working with the students. You can see the mural in Skerries SuperValu carpark.
A series of 5 pop-up banners for UCDVO to promote the benefits of volunteering overseas. Photographer Graham Seely took the photos of the student volunteers and I illustrated their statements in Illustrator.
I have been drawing at 5 events over the last 3 months for the irish Green Building Council as they seek to engage and build support for a new national Renovation Strategy for Ireland which involves deep retrofitting of all of our building stock- offices, hotels, homes, schools- everything! This is a core part of Ireland's efforts to meet its climate change targets. The process is called Build Upon and is taking place in other countries around Europe. www.buildupon.eu
I was contributing visuals to a very innovative 2-day event organised by some powerful women in University Limerick. It was part of a longer process to develop interdisciplinary research proposals to tackle wicked health problems. This part of the process was a design-thinking workshop in which participants identifies "opportunity spaces" between their disciplines and built on the ideas that emerged from those spaces.
Here are some images that were part of a graphic harvest for Suas Educational Development, a great NGO that focuses on transformative education, both overseas with its partners in developing countries and at home with third level students. It co-hosted a day exploring the role of Higher Education on global justice. I was there to do three things: 1) A 14-page graphic harvest of the entire day which could be emailed out to everyone afterwards, 2) graphic tweets from the keynote and other speakers and 3) harvest the conversation circles which I did in an analogue (!) way- with coloured paper circles distributed and collected and made into a network-type mural for all to see.
All of the work was done in Illustrator and projected at the end of the day- even though it was not quite finished!
It is great to work with supportive clients like Suas who really value the visual contribution. I really like working digitally.... but my heart is still with ink and paper!
On March 10th I was facilitating creative activities and doing some live graphic recording for Think Visual. Their client, Cork Local Enterprise Office, had organised a networking event for young entrepreneurs in Cork City Gaol. The venue permitted no use of any wall whatsoever. We decided to use a digital visualiser with a large HD monitor. I really enjoyed it and thought it worked pretty well. A good digital alternative to projecting a working doc in Illustrator.