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Blog: Creative Approaches for Life!

In this blog Ruth Johnston, ESS Administration Assistant, reflects on her experience of attending one of our workshops.

Creative Approaches for Life!

In June I attended Martha’s ‘Using Creative Approaches to evaluate your project’ workshop. Here I look at the practical element of the workshop which turned out to be not just enjoyable and useful, but thought-provoking. My group noted a sense of accomplishment in creating a tool that not only looked good, but was able to measure how much someone felt they were in control. We also thought the exercise would be adaptable as it could be carried out by individuals or groups or act as a springboard for discussion. The creative element really appealed to me as I am an expressive person with a keen interest in how words and images can be used to communicate feelings and ideas.

What did we do?

The task we were set was to develop an evaluation tool around the idea of measuring ‘control.’ We needed to represent control, but also its opposite – out of control. We divided flipchart paper in half and from magazines selected images that illustrated both concepts.

I found it interesting to see what kind of images people gravitated towards; whether they were powerful, frightening, provocative, or idealised, or, if they were of people, animals, objects, slogans or bold text.

We noted the tactile, therapeutic aspect of cutting out images and of seeing how they fitted together to form a coherent story. Crucially, the process humanised the concepts of ‘in control’ and ‘out of control’ and enabled us to put ourselves in the position of someone else.

The result was a collage of images illustrating what we visualised ‘out of control’ and ‘in control’ to be. A narrative flowed from chaotic/dangerous lifestyles – drug misuse, mental ill health, low self-esteem, loneliness, to ‘in control’ – improved quality of life, positive relationships, shaping your destiny, study, happiness, friendship, and collaboration. The image that epitomized this idea was placed in the centre: a woman holding a card with ‘1’ on it. We decided she represented putting yourself first.

What did I learn from the experience?

Creating the tool was a great team building exercise. Working together, delegating, compromising on what images were chosen, where to put them, and what to write on the tool, strengthened communication in the group. We talked freely about creativity, our hobbies and interests and why we picked particular images – how they reflected aspects of our personalities.

I learned that evaluation isn’t just about form-filling, it can be the stimulus for thinking about our own lives, who we are, and what we want to achieve.

If you are interested in learning more about creative approaches in evaluation or want to learn more about how to evaluate check out our workshops here.

Share your experiences of attending ESS workshops – send us an email!

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