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Case Study: Great Lakes Research Institute (now the Lake Michigan Research Institute)

 

January 6, 2016 was a typical mid-winter Wisconsin day with temperatures hovering in the single digits. But inside the conference room at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, a discussion was underway. The topic: the founding of Great Lakes Research Institute - an organization dedicating itself to providing collaborative Lake Michigan research opportunities for University of Wisconsin faculty and students, as well as the citizens of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (the hoped-for destination of the institute.)

 

Kick-off time was 8:30 A.M. I arrived early to set-up my workspace hoping to find a flat section of a wall with no windows. And when I walked into the room, there it was - a great flat wall, no sconces, no windows!

Conference facilitator Caitlin Oleson was going through her own pre-meeting rituals, setting up her PowerPoint presentation and huddling with breakout session leaders Nancy Aten and Dan Collins of Landscapes of Place, LLC.

The invite list was 30+ people and included science faculty from 5 state universities, state of Wisconsin employees, private citizens – an eclectic mix of public and private stakeholders ready to discuss an exciting new venture.

My workspace attracted some curious inquiries and I explained what I was up to as I sketched out the beginnings the drawing in pencil. Engaged discussion commenced and I set to work capturing the most critical elements in visual format – the graphic recording! My media of choice for the day: pan pastels and markers.

Hours later after the breakout sessions were a wrap and conference leader Oleson was summarizing the road ahead, I too was wrapping up the work of the previous 4 hours. People stopped by to view the finished work and ask questions. The electricity in the room warmed the frigid January day and animated discussion about the road forward continued for another half hour.

I put the finishing touches on the drawing, wrapped it up and dropped it off to be scanned. Per Caitlin Olesons request, 8.5″ x 14″ PDFs would be emailed to all attendees so as to keep everyone on the same page moving forward. The final work was 4′ tall by approximately 7 feet wide and will provide a path forward for the Lake Michigan Research Institute.

Reaction from conference leaders:

At the first conference for our new venture,  Barbara heard the sparks of insight and the key questions, and wove them into a graphic recording. Her visual responses during our conversations boosted the energy in the room. Now, her work is keeping us focused and introducing our venture to new colleagues – beginning good conversations for us with those we want to engage. She’s a valuable resource that was a revelation to us.

Nancy Aten, Principal
Dan Collins, Program Manager
Landscapes of Place LLC

Providing graphic recording services for this event was a great way to start the new year!

 

Comments

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I’ve never been to such a conference, because I’m not really into going to events with lots of people. I even had some problems with my study, because I didn’t want to go to class, because I was scared of people and didn’t want to leave my place. It got better with time and now I can visit crowded places, but before I always worked with grademiners, so I could stay home and have my assignment done. So tell me, if they would conduct similar conference again.