Over the last 23 or so years I’ve done at least hundreds if not thousands of PATHs… sometimes I think oh it couldn’t be that many but then I remember times when I did a few PATHs a day for a few days and think, well, maybe…
And, still, there’s always something to learn. In one of the small community based research projects we are working on, thanks to a grant from the Taos Institute, we are following social constructionist research principles – we are working in “future forming” ways with a small church congregation. We’ve had a great community dialogue and pinned down some themes to follow, and one of the things that has come up is the need for some strategic planning. In many research methods one would wait until the dust had settled and that slice of reality had been pinned down like a butterfly in a frame before going on. It wouldn’t really be the job of a researcher to be “helpful”. The need for a strategic plan might go into the recommendations section… and one would wish them luck.
But here we are, in relationship, ready to go, so when the idea came up, we offered several strategic planning models that we might work on together. Liz and Barb, familiar with PATH as a format used for and with people with disabilities for about four decades, thought it would be a great method; the church agreed. That Barb and Liz can see that the method, almost always used for individuals, can also work for groups, projects and strategic planning, is evidence of their active and thoughtful participation as co-facilitators. PATH is a great tool – it can be directed towards lives, networks, projects big and small, and can involve almost unlimited numbers of people if that is planned for. It was developed and continues to evolve with the folks from Inclusion Press.
However, no one in the congregation knows about PATH. There was a time when I liked the mystery and the way a group discovered the process of what we were doing – I liked mapping it out in fine pencil lines and the tension of the participants as the diagram of the planning, drawn with markers in images, formed a circle, and then an arrow, moving from “now” to a positive and possible future. It was like a performance! Tomorrow, however, we need people to quickly understand our method and walk with us as they lead us, moving into planning based on whatever their dream is as a group.
So we decided to distribute a little pamphlet about PATH which I’ve been using in trainings. You can find a copy of it here, at the bottom of the page, or here, with the link to my chapter from the anthology, Drawn Together Through Visual Practice, edited by Brandy Agerbeck, Kelvy Bird, Sam Bradd and Jennifer Shepherd. We’ve never tried this before but, at best, it will give people a way to stay on top of where we are in the process.
We will see how it goes!
We’re also getting ready to host another PATH training workshop. Check here for dates, costs and place. It’s looking like a really interesting group of people so far! Come and be part of it.