This method provides a process for empathic engagement with non-human beings and entities when focusing on a specific case or project.
When considering a specific issue or case study, people typically approach it exclusively from a human-centric perspective, prioritizing anthropocentric values, needs and visions. Learning to appreciate non-human perspectives, however, is crucial for socio-ecological harmony. This method brings ‘more-than- human’ viewpoints into the workshop by asking participants to embody the perspectives of specific beings and natural entities, such as animals, plants, rivers, forests, or mountains. The ‘characters’ selected are linked to the case or issue being addressed in the workshop.
For example, the characters can be more deeply integrated into the workshop by including them earlier via Storytelling. Additionally, this method can be combined with Prose, wherein participants write a poem from the perception of their character.
Masks can either be made by cutting out the face of the character, leaving eye holes, or using pictures portraying only the “eyes” of a character, with sticks attached. Participants can wear the masks or lay the “new eyes”on top of their own, allowing for a moment of reflection.
Cards with images of various characters used in the exercise on one side, and a short description of the character on the other; paper and pen; (optional) masks based on the characters.
The characters chosen should reflect the type of thinking you want to inspire (e.g. characters with different lifespans to inspire long-term thinking, or characters that are important to the relevant ecosystems or cultural heritage of a specific case).
This method was inspired by Joanna Macy’s “Council of All Beings’: Macy & Brown (1998). Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World.
More-Than-Human Empathy: Abram (1997). The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World.
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