fort collins

How do You Paint what Makes A Community Unique?

You’ve probably seen some cryptic emails from me over the past few weeks about a surprise project I was working on. I’m delighted now to share it with you all, along with a special behind-the-scenes look at what went into the design.

On August 2nd, to the sweet sounds of the Hazel Miller Band, the 100th Piano About Town was officially unveiled as a part of our community! And yep, you guessed it, I was the lucky artist to get to paint it!

100th-piano-fort-collins

The typical piano process includes a request for proposals from artists sketched out, which are then reviewed and selected for painting outside where passers by can watch the piano unfolding and sometimes even play while it’s being painted.

For the 100th Piano, the Bohemian Foundation wanted to do something a little different and include voices across the community. Enter: a graphic facilitator to conduct and capture focus groups to gather ideas for the piano content.

I listened to people answering the question “What makes Fort Collins unique?”: from seniors to second graders at summer camp to young professionals to those who represent diverse groups at university to musicians. I listened, captured, asked questions, and scribed each group’s conversations.

100th Piano Fort Collins BaseCamp Kids Graphic Facilitation Chart

Then, I took all the charts and began looking for themes. What places did each group bring up? What characteristics make our community special? Then, I sketched out a concept design to gather feedback and refine before painting the piano itself.

This was, to me, the most challenging part of the whole process. How do you distill over five hours of stories, memories, and connections into a single illustration? That’s where the scribe training of listening for themes, distillation and synthesis really shone in this process. It was important to me to make sure all the ideas were included, that key words emerged throughout the imagery, and most of all, that when anyone from the community looks at the piano, they see themselves somewhere in it.

100th piano draft sketch_conversketch

The painting took place inside so it would be a fun, beautiful surprise when it was unveiled at a free concert series last week. Over 12 days, the landscape, people, and stories emerged!

day-1-piano-ready-karina
karina-branson-100th-piano-fort-collins-painting-artist

Want to tickle the ivories and see it for yourself? The 100th Piano will be in Old Town Square for a couple more weeks, then will live in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery for the winter.

100th-piano-old-town-square-fort-collins-colorado

For more musings on pianos and creativity, check out this post.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

 

On My Way to New York, New York!  This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my  Instagram  profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

On My Way to New York, New York! This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my Instagram profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

In the Studio:   Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

In the Studio: Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

5 Insights from 5 Years in Business: Happy Birthday ConverSketch!

ConverSketch turns 5 tomorrow! I enjoyed reflecting last year on my top 4 Wisdom Nuggets from 4 Years, so this year it’s baaaaaaack as 5 Insights from 5 Years in Business.

1.       Trust yourself and the Universe. I’ve found through trial and error that trusting my gut instincts really is worthwhile. If you have a big or small decision to make, learning to trust your intuition can save you time and energy. If something doesn’t work out how you expected, try asking yourself “What can I learn from this?”

2.       Focus on what you want…Be very clear with yourself on this one, because I know from experience what I focus on is what I attract to myself. There is no right answer here. Some people want to work hard, hustle and build an enterprise. Some want a small business they can run from anywhere. Some people want the flexibility to work at 2 am when a stroke of brilliance strikes and not have to show up at 8 am. Whatever it is, be clear with yourself and others.

3.       …then actually DO it. Often it doesn’t take much time to get a significant amount done on a project. Research shows that checking email compulsively can actually have a negative impact on your IQ and creativity. I personally have found that not checking email first thing, and instead setting aside some morning time to do something creative, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, helps set the tone for the rest of the day. Dedicating a chunk of time to focus solely on one project without distractions, then giving yourself a mental break can help you get heaps done before noon! More on this and a tool I’m testing to help you in the next email (insert mental image of me rubbing hands together with anticipation).

4.       Be authentic. As a graphic facilitator, it can be easy to slip into an overly formal relationship with clients. I’ve found that being myself, cracking jokes while also honoring the vulnerability and dignity of the people I’m guiding through a process helps them be more real with each other and get more real work done. Please remember…YOU are a GIFT to this world. Nobody else can do the things you do the way you do them.

5.       Maintain an attitude of gratitude. I think this is foundational to the success of anything a person does. When I’m rooted in a space of appreciation, I find that’s when the Flow happens – creativity, business, generosity from others…The most beautiful thing is, there is no limit to the amount of gratitude you can feel and share!

I’m so grateful for each of you. I love reading your emails and reflections, answering other questions and sharing resources. Without you, my fabulous clients and conspirators, ConverSketch wouldn’t be much of anything!

Click on the image to see the larger version.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Ready for an authentic, trusting, action-oriented, gratitude-filled session of graphic recording?!
 

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

After Kenya, 2017 has been off to a rockin' start. I've had the pleasure of creating and implementing graphic facilitation processes for clients and taught a two-day intensive facilitation course for graduate students in natural resources here in Fort Collins. I'm also at varying stages of video production for the CSU Alumni Association, the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program, the WiRe wildfire research team and others. Next stop: San Diego!

Spring - Nature's way of saying "Let's party!"

I love this quote from Mr. Robin Williams, it just encapsulates the energy of spring and the music of the earth waking up after winter. 

This spring has been particularly full of energy and life for ConverSketch...meaning the blog updates have been thin but I've been on the ground (or the paper, if you will) with several big projects. Here's a snapshot of what I've been up to!

Visual facilitation for the Colorado State University Dryland Collaborative Knowledge and Learning Network:

Partners from Kenya, Mongolia and the Western US visualize their successful collaborative.

Illustrating the City of Fort Collins' Journey to World Class video:

Coming soon to the Internet near you!

Graphic recording the Colorado State University Agricultural Innovation Summit

A lively and challenging discussion on water and agriculture in the West.

Months of planning and research went into the two-day visual facilitation for the Colorado State Forest Service Strategic Planning meeting. All the charts I created are proprietary, but here's a nice shot of the Nokhu Crags, an area managed by CSFS and near and dear to my heart:

Photo: Aaron LaVanchy. Rippin' snowboarder: Spencer Branson

Graphic recording for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Native National Partnership meeting:

A synthesis graphic done during the two day retreat.

Graphic recording the University of Colorado Denver's Food Justice Symposium:

 

There's plenty of other exciting projects in the works, including the launch of a quiet and helpful email sent to you regularly (but not too regularly) for drawing tricks, inspiration and updates from me! Stay tuned!

A Week of Giving Back

nature-in-the-city-chart

This week has been about giving back. It started off doing some graphic recording for Colorado State University's Center for Public Deliberation as students facilitated an event for the City of Fort Collins' new initiative to plan for green space in the city in the future called Nature in the City. The folks running the project solicited input from city leaders on what kinds of parks, green spaces, and wildlife habitat were most visually appealing to them and why, to guide the planning process.

Students share their map of a conservation collaborative.

Students share their map of a conservation collaborative.

I also had the opportunity to be a guest teacher in three classes at Colorado State University this week teaching about graphic recording, visual thinking and participatory decision-making. Working with both graduate and undergraduate students focusing on Conservation Leadership and collaborative conservation, I shared my thoughts on how visual thinking can be a useful tool when working with diverse groups and complex situations.

The students blew me away with their willingness to jump in with both feet and a rainbow palette of markers to process the projects they are working on. Many of the graduate students will be traveling internationally next spring to partner with agencies across the globe to help research and implement conservation work.

Conservation Leadership through Learning students discussing their program and projects.

Conservation Leadership through Learning students discussing their program and projects.

Additionally, I'm delighted to do some drawing for the FoCo Cafe, a pay-what-you-can restaurant rooted in local food, building community, sharing stories and meals, and every person should be treated with dignity. Here's a "before" snapshot of the large chalk boards that will show and describe how the FoCo Cafe works. Stay tuned for updates on the final product!

Donated chalk boards -- before!

Donated chalk boards -- before!

...and after! With Jeff, co-founder of the FoCo Cafe! Soon they will be hanging above the counter. 

...and after! With Jeff, co-founder of the FoCo Cafe! Soon they will be hanging above the counter.