- Name the wide range of potential directions that the group could move in, affirming the contribution of all participants.
- Clarify the meaning of each topic for the group.
- Make connections between topics, note trends across the spread of suggestions.
- In preparation for this step, go through all of the suggestions written by participants in Step Two and write each topic in simple language on a big piece of paper. This might require facilitators to make some judgement calls on how to simplify and clearly express the written ideas as they interpret them. For this reason, it’s important not to throw the original suggestions out. Participants should have the opportunity to challenge the facilitator’s interpretation of their idea at any stage.
- Some ideas might appear multiple times, or some variations on themes might crop up in the suggestions. Try to merge similar ideas into general categories. You want to represent the whole range of ideas suggested, but not have any two ideas that are too similar.
- Exclude any ideas that do not fall into the range of ideas that has already been discussed as appropriate for the group, but be prepared for participants to push back and make justifications for why topics that you have excluded might be appropriate in ways that you have not yet considered. As an example: You may not see the connection between skateboarding and social justice, but the participant might make an argument about youth’s access to public spaces that you had not considered.
- Present the long list to the group. “Transparency” is a very important concept at this stage, and throughout this process. Transparency means being open with the group about how the process is working and why the process is designed in this way. As the facilitator, you are in a privileged position of power, and there are many ways that you can “fix” the system or use your influence to push the group’s decision making in a certain direction. This should generally be avoided, or in the case that it is absolutely necessary (eg facilitator showing support for one direction over another in order to break an intractable deadlock), it should be done with transparency.
- Go through the entire list and check that the whole group understands what each of the topics means. Give and ask for examples, make connections to their lived experiences, and point to portrayals of each topic in the media.
- Ask if this long list is the complete set of topics that will be in the running, and explain that it will quite quickly be narrowed to a short list of 3 or 4 topics. Now is basically the last chance to add anything to this list. Use the same type of combination/simplification/exclusion logic that you used when you put together the long list from their suggestions.
- Congratulate the group on coming up with a rich set of topics, and remind them that ultimately only one (or perhaps a combination of a few) of the ideas on this list will be chosen. Discuss some of the challenges in making a complex decision with a large group of people. Responses could include ideas around people’s feelings getting hurt, egos running wild, creative disagreements, or in a drastic situation – participants leaving the group.
- Recap the process going forward, and remind the group that the goal of this process is to make a reasoned decision that is fair to the group and that in the end everyone can support, even if it’s not 100% what they would have chosen to do if they held sole power over the group.
This model was developed by Dan O’Reilly-Rowe, benefits from his collaboration with a number of educators at Global Action Project in New York City, and builds on practices common in many youth media organisations. The model was first recorded and refined as a part of the Youth Media Learning Network Fellowship , 2007-2008.
By Dan O'Reilly-Rowe, 2009. Quality sound recording is often sadly neglected in community media production. This simple activity helps participants get familiar with their microphones and helps the crew make thoughtful choices in how they record location sound. Goals...
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