This method surfaces challenging, unspoken issues and it highlights diverse voices and perspectives which might not be present in the room.
Before a workshop or focus group meeting, the facilitator/organizing team carefully selects and prints a series of images that represent key “hot-button” issues and “missing” or “invisible” stakeholders (human and non-human) related to the topic at hand. The images don't have to be literal depictions of the issue, but could hint at the kind of controversies that are expected to remain dormant during the engagement. Such issues might be ignored because directly addressing them would break the rhythm of the process or trigger defensive attitudes or because of power asymmetries and fear of retribution. Since the images are not created by the participants, they can address the issue without being directly responsible for bringing it into the conversation. During the session or during a break, images are distributed on the floor in a snake-like train tracks shape. Participants then walk around, following the “tracks”, and choose an image or two that represents an issue and/or stakeholder that they think is important and that they want to highlight to the rest of the group. Afterwards, participants can discuss their images either in small groups or in a “fishbowl” format.
A selection of images that allude to the “hot topics" that the facilitators think might emerge during the workshop
North, J. & Aspling, A. (2014). A Meta Collaboratory: The Global Responsible Leadership Initiative. In Muff, K. (Ed). (2014). The Collaboratory: A Co-creative Stakeholder Engagement Process for Solving Complex Problems
T Macintyre, et al (2016). Co-designing Research on Transgressive Learning in Times of Climate Change
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