Theory of Change Workshop

Mid-February, the ResiliencebyDesign Research Lab ran a one and a half day Theory of Change Workshop at Royal Roads University to launch their new project, Youth-Centric Social Innovation: Gen Z and Climate Change. The session brought together a diverse group of youth and adult movers, shakers, change makers, and innovators who are invested in imagining what enlivening, inspiring, and transformative engagement and learning with youth might look like. Participants collectively explored the vision for the project, and discussed strategies, processes and activities that would support youth engagement in Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). Desired changes (outcomes) for the project were identified and captured using the Theory of Change framework, and the project team will take these away for refinement and further development of a Theory of Change model for the project. The team intends to keep workshop participants informed about the research process as it unfolds, and hopes that many will choose to stay engaged as knowledge mobilizers, influencers, advisors, and active partners.

Elder Shirley Alphonse from the T’Sou-ke    Nation welcomes participants.

The workshop was opened on February 22nd with a welcome and prayer from Elder Shirley Alphonse from the T’Sou-ke Nation. Participants then began getting to know each other with an an affiliation exercise, where they gathered in designated areas of the room according to criteria they most identify with (i.e. the primary context you work and play in – youth engagement/ climate change/ transformative learning/technology and innovation), and had a conversation with others who identify similarly. Afterwards, pairs engaged in dyad conversations about why youth engagement and transformative learning are important, and what inspires them to contribute. The group then reconvened in a circle and introduced their partner and shared highlights from their conversations.

Following this, Robin Cox the Director of the RbD Lab and Cheryl Heykoop, an Assistant Professor in School of Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University and RbD Lab member, gave an overview of the ResiliencebyDesign Lab approach. Then Brian Belcher, Canada Research Chair in Sustainability Research Effectiveness, introduced the Theory of Change process and outcome mapping framework, which will be used to design the project.

Participants reflecting on the the future of youth engagement and what transformative learning means to them.

Later that day, participants were asked to reflect on what the future of youth engagement and transformative learning means to them, and choose an image (from a selection of visual cards laid out in the adjoining room) that represented the future they were envisioning. In breakout  groups they had conversations about the images, and created posters that reflected this future. Each table then described their vision to the larger group with poster presentations.

                 Visual map of the participant’s overnight reflections.

Day two of the workshop commenced with a moment of silence for Tina Fontaine and her family, in recognition of the not guilty verdict delivered the previous day in her murder trial. Elder Shirley Alphonse then welcomed participants and shared a prayer that was filled with appreciation for the connection between the land and people. Participants were then invited to share their overnight reflections by creating a story at their table, inspired by Story Cubes. A gallery walk of the graphic recordings followed, which prompted a meaningful discussion about the importance of emphasizing ancestral knowledge and communicating with youth on their own terms when designing project activities.

Next, Brian presented the emerging Theory of Change for the project, with potential project outcomes in the model under Sphere of Control (the operational environment), Sphere of Influence (people the project works with and through) or Sphere of Interest (social, economic and environmental benefits). He also outlined the emerging impact pathways for the project:

Brian Belcher presents on the emerging theory of change.

  • Direct Engagement;
  • Research/Learning from Experience;
  • Policy/Engagement/Influence;
  • Education

 

With the information about the emerging Theory of Change for the project in mind, participants broke out into groups, based on the impact pathways, to discuss what types of activities the project can do, who we should involve, and what knowledge and relationships can be fostered through the project.

In closing the workshop Robin invited participants to write an action they are committed to taking on a postcard, which will be mailed to them in a few months as a way of connecting them back to the inspiration they felt in the session. Robin discussed the steps to follow the workshop, then the group gathered together in a circle. Tossing a ball of yarn from person to person, a web was created as everyone shared their parting thoughts, and appreciation for the significant connection and learning that had taken place in their time together.

                                            Remarks shared in the closing circle.

The RbD Lab worked with Get the Picture and specifically, Visual Map Maker/Graphic Recorder Lisa Edward to create the powerful visual maps throughout the workshop. Get The Picture is a leading visual facilitation and recording consultancy that partners with organizations around the world to help them visualize and launch into their desired futures. The rich, engaging communication experiences Get The Picture provides result in highly productive dialogue, shared understanding, alignment and high-quality decisions. Learn more about them here: http://getthepicture.ca/

Local community group takes over RbD Lab #YouthVoicesWB brand as Social Media Hub

The ResiliencebyDesign (RbD) Lab at Royal Roads University launched the #YouthVoicesWB (https://resiliencebydesign.com/youthvoiceswb/) social media campaign Sept. 2017 in northern Alberta to champion youth ideas for a better community after the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire disaster. The campaign applied creative arts and action research as part of the “Youth Voices Rising: Recovery and Resilience in Wood Buffalo” project, funded by the Canadian Red Cross. The research specifically explores how youth voice can be strengthened during and after disaster in recovery response and planning (https://crossroads.royalroads.ca/news/rbd-lab-partners-give-youth-ideas-flight)

The RbD Lab strategically used #YouthVoiceWB as a process to explore, amplify and promote youth voice in the community through creative arts. For instance, the campaign asked youth age 14-24: “What would you do to make your community better?”  Nearly 400 youth responded to the question through song, surveys, sticky notes, photography, poetry, art and more. The RbD Lab team is now analyzing the findings and connecting youth and their ideas to local decision-makers. The researchers also hoped the campaign could ignite ways to sustain youth voice and support their recovery needs in Wood Buffalo beyond the project timeline, and explored possibilities.

 

Hannah, a youth community member, performs her original poem “Shattered Vase” about mental health and wellbeing at Talent Show connected to YouthVoicesWB.

“In the campaign, young people said they wanted own digital space to not only know what’s happening in the community for youth, but as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to find extra support for drug abuse and domestic violence or to respond to suicidal thoughts,” said Dr. Tamara Plush, Lead YVR Researcher at the RbD Lab. “In support, we were fortunate to connect with Some Other Solutions in Fort McMurray to take over #YouthVoicesWB in February; and they are now developing their own strategy of how they will operate it as a Social Media Hub for youth.”

Some Other Solutions share their first YouthVoicesWB Instagram post.

#YouthVoicesWB is currently active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Some Other Solutions (SOS) plans to tie #YouthVoicesWB into their youth programs and mentorships in schools, as well as connect to schools and other youth-serving social profits and organizations in the region. They also have plans to work with youth to build an app for youth events and access to crisis resources.

According to Tamara, the shift of #YouthVoicesWB as a research project to that of a community-based Social Media Hub is both exciting and essential. “We are thrilled the brand will continue with SOS because many youth talked about the need for adult mentorships, health and wellness support, and crisis intervention. These are core areas for SOS, so the transition feels like the natural progression of #YouthVoicesWB in the community.”

Jason King, SOS Executive Director, agrees and laid out the SOS vision for the Social Media Hub. “What I like about #YouthVoicesWB is that it gives opportunity for youth to be heard in our community. Not just in what they see but in what they do,” he said. “We see the vision of #YouthVoicesWB as showcasing the authentic and uncensored voice of youth. We want to capture what people are saying and what place they are speaking from. We want to show that they are leaders and holders of the community.”

To learn more about the role of Some Other Solutions in Wood Buffalo, visit their website at https://someothersolutions.ca; and follow #YouthVoicesWB across all social media platforms to watch how SOS continues to champion Wood Buffalo youth voice.