The Ever–Expanding Visual Community

With the launch of my Graphic Coaching Clinic this past month, I’m powerfully reminded about how much the graphic community has changed and expanded since I was first introduced to it fifteen years ago.  With the aid of the internet, people from around the globe are tuned in, tapped in and turned on to the visual way of working – and are keen to learn, connect and share with one another.

For those who don’t know … I stumbled upon the graphic way of working back in ’94 while attending grad school in San Francisco at The California Institute of Integral Studies.  I was introduced to the visual way of working with groups (via a methodology called Graphic Recording / Graphic Facilitation) by the pioneering work of David Sibbet and The Grove Consultants International (previously Graphic Guides).  Back in those days, San Francisco was the hub for this innovative way of working and those early pioneers from the facilitation, adult learning, computing, military and social venture arenas spread their ideas and methods far and wide.

As a ‘second waver’ (being mentored by those in the first wave – if you want to cut the cards that way), I’ve been fortunate for many years now to be a mentor myself to the third wave and beyond. Integrating the fundamental skills I was taught into my own practice and personality, then teaching out my experience to others (first in my Meeting Graphics 101 and Graphic Bootcamp offerings, and more recently in my specialized niche of The Graphic Coaching Clinic).

This ripple effect is really miraculous to witness. It wasn’t that long ago that my colleagues and I from the ‘old days’ knew everyone in the community.  Over time, with the aid of technology and enhanced communications, individuals and groups from all over the globe have been linked – sharing discoveries, innovations and diversity, from many fields and classifications.  The visual field has quickly morphed from a relatively small group of creative, talented and perhaps somewhat eccentric (I’ll own that!) people into a HUGE buffet of choices, flavors and constituents.

I think its safe to say that this field has progressed from its infancy and early adolescence and is going through the sometimes awkward stage of becoming its own adult person (hopefully a creative one who still retains some of her/his quirks and fun loving nature!).  There is plenty of forming, storming, norming and performing going on in this wide-ranging visual field (to quote Tucker’s Group Dynamics model for you process wonks).  Some calls for standards and certifications have been voiced.  And some more formalized groups and organizations have and are continuing to emerge to address vacuums in access to education, information and community building.

Its been fascinating to watch and participate to some extent in the evolution of this incredible field – and it will be very interesting to see what emerges and shakes out in the years and generations ahead.  Below (in case the visual way of working is part of why you are attracted to me and my work) is a short list of some of the current visual organizations that exist in this emerging field.  I’ve stayed away from naming particular companies, instead focusing on places where groups of visual practitioners come together.

1) Global Community of Graphic Coaches (GCGC)

I’ve recently created The Global Community of Graphic Coaches (GCGC) on Facebook.

Global Community of Graphic Coaches (GCGC)

Global Community of Graphic Coaches (GCGC)

GCGC is an informal, grassroots online home for those of us playing with ‘graphics’ in the personal development realm.  Open to anyone who likes visuals and is / or wants to use them in their professional helping work.  This group is not about my proprietary SHIFT-IT system, but rather a place for members to create and experiment with visuals in their own unique ways.  Many people (my mentees and others) are experimenting with visuals in the coaching and personal growth realms. This is a place for us to connect.  While I am hosting it to get it going, should it turn into a vibrant community, my desire is to become a regular member and fade into the background as things grow.

2) The International Forum of Visual Practitioners (IFVP)

Voices of Visual PracticeFourteen years ago the International Forum of Visual Practitioners was formed via the inspiration, heart and vision of Leslie Salmon-Zhu and Susan Kelly. Started as an informal gathering of Bay Area graphic recorders and graphic facilitators the IFVP has grown to official association status run by a rotating volunteer board.  IFVP hosts a website, practitioner directory, list serve and runs an annual conference (locations change each year – this year its wonderful Montreal, Quebec!). Check Out IFVP Here

So, whether your interest is in using graphics and visuals like I do, to enhance personal growth work (GCGC). Or, group work via the skills of graphic recording or graphic facilitation (IFVP). You now know that there are several organizations and specialty communities to chose from in the rapidly expanding visual frontier. No matter which way you turn, the visual future looks bright!

Join the Visual Tribe and Doodlers Unite!

3 comments on “The Ever–Expanding Visual Community

  1. Betty Wingfield on

    It should be my destiny to make to one of your events before too long. Two of my fav people, Amy and Karen rave about you, your work, and what they’ve learned from you.
    I enjoy reading your blogs, and catching your tweets…and much appreciate the explanation for how the community is sorting itself out with a bit of something for most everyone.
    All for Now…from Nashville, TN

  2. Nicholas Head on

    Thanks so much for the issue on the visual community. Signed on to Viz Think and shared w a couple of friends.
    Did you per chance know Bert Parlee when at the Institute of Integral Studies? He is a Ken Wilbur protege and former classmate of mine at Naropa. Wondered if there was a small world story.

  3. Christina Merkley on

    Hi Betty. I look forward to meeting you too, after these years of our cyber connection. Both Amy and Karen are delights! And Nick, no, don’t know Bert personally from CIIS, but have come across his name via Integral Coaching connections. Wonderful that you are friends. It is a small world in these kinds of interest niches for sure. Thanks to both of you for your comments. Great to hear from you! ~Christina 🙂

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