SOS Workshop at Youngstown State University

Earlier this week, Meredith, Katie, and I travelled to Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio to spend some time with undergraduate art and design students. While there, we gave a talk about our work, specifically recent projects In a state far from equilibrium, Germantown City Hall, and Structures of Support. The connective thread we chose to explore throughout this work is captured in this question: What happens when people in a community see themselves and their own power?

We also facilitated a workshop with students as a part of our ongoing Structures of Support project. One of the goals of the Structures of Support work is to give people the opportunity to understand and visualize their own personal support structures — the people and resources they have or do not have. We’ve begun to prototype and test a set of building pieces that allows participants to model their support structures and see where these are strong, but also weak. Through this workshop, we learned a great deal about each student’s support structure, and they spoke to how the visualization exercise prompted them to reflect upon what is missing from their own lives. We heard some very powerful stories, and really appreciated how open the students were with us and each other.

We’re also getting useful feedback about the workshop, the visualization tools, and our facilitation, which is helping us iterate how we run them. If you are reading this and are interested in starting a visually-supported conversation about support within your group or community, please let us know.


Many thanks to our friend and colleague, Dana Sperry, who invited us to YSU as a part of his “Emergent Futures Now” lecture series in the Department of Art.