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a facilitation idea…

May 31, 2009

IMG_0685_JPGI love the poem/declaration of self-esteem “I am Me” by Virginia Satir, which ends:

I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do.
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive,
and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me –
I own me, and therefore I can engineer me –
I am me &


In one of the favourite days of my career I worked with a group of self-advocates and their helpers on a large mural-like drawing/collage using this poem (you can find a copy of the entire poem here).    I cut and pasted the poem into a word file and then enlarged the letters to about an inch and printed a copy in light grey, then cut out the lines from the poem into strips.   With the self-advocates, we began gluing the strips into patterns acrosss the paper, and as we glued they began telling stories that had to do with their own self-esteem – things that had happened to them that they were carrying around, and things that they felt good about.    As they talked, we began to draw those events, which led to further drawings…  one young aboriginal fellow began drawing a totem pole which told a story of abandonment and confusion.   Another, profoundly autistic, started drawing but couldn’t bring himself to look at what he was drawing so sort of drew with one hand, looking elsewhere the whole time.   Another brought me photos of people they cared about.   Some people had us make their drawings for them, and some drew, and some wrote down their stories into the mural, between the lines of the self-esteem poem.    It was a very powerful experience. 

I find that making art with people is almost like talking to a friend or partner while you drive – the focus is somewhat elsewhere and the words and thoughts can flow, and another modality of understanding and processing is being accessed.

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