Dear Friends,

Nine of us attending Elevate Engagement happily took on the task of paying close attention to what was said and documenting the emerging themes. We were participant observers, meaning that we were not on the outside looking in, but on the inside, reflecting back to the whole group what we all were learning. Of course, what seemed important was influenced by our own values/life experiences, by listening carefully for the deeply-felt truths of the speakers, by sensing the energy of the room, and also by our recent deep dive into the JTM report on the principles of civic communications.

As the conference proceeded, we documented the nuggets of insight that we heard in a shared document, clustering them as we went. It was interesting (and informed our sense of the themes) to see how often we captured the same “chunks,” which we also saw pop up on the Twitter feed. The shared document that contains the clustered chunks is over 20 pages long, so what I have produced here is a summary in outline form (https://tinyurl.com/lrhetb8), with several illustrative quotes sprinkled throughout. If you’d like to see the full document, which also contains photos of some of August’s playdoh creations, go here: https://tinyurl.com/kxtdolk

I’m sure that there are still some great nuggets in that longer doc that I didn’t do justice to in this summary, so if you see some ideas that aren’t represented, we should add them. Let me know.

This outline (https://tinyurl.com/kxtdolk) is not the final analysis, by any means. Some “data” still hasn’t been integrated, such as the full list of open space sessions topics, observations from any OS sessions that did not have one of our team present (especially on Sunday), the Pro Action Café, the postcards, and probably some other items I can’t think of right now. (We were able, however, to fold in the harvest that Nitya did in her amazing graphic recording posters). It would also be great to take a closer look at what showed up most loudly in Twitter.

At this moment, I don’t know exactly what the next steps – if any – will be to do a “checks and balances” process that would incorporate more of that data, to get validation of the themes and identify what else is missing. The hosting and developmental evaluation team will be discussing that over the next few weeks, I’m sure. Be in touch if you want an update.

That said, my understanding of what is going to happen on Sunday morning is that you all will be looking at conference artifacts, including these notes, but also the other material that was generated and do a collective theming process. While I am so sorry to miss that (being now in Phoenix for my niece’s wedding), I am very excited that it’s going to happen. It will be a great way to do some of that checks and balances I just mentioned (“triangulation” in eval speak). I am so eager to see how your themes compare to/inform/deepen/shift what we have in these notes.

If you’d like to learn more about the process that our group of nine used, there are documents describing our method and the developmental eval. approach, in the Resources section of Gather. Also, feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like to talk more about developmental evaluation, or other ways to infuse the asking of critical questions into our work.

I know I said it so many times over the last couple of days, but I just need to put it in writing here, too: Thank you deeply to the U of O Journalism students and their incredible mentor Lori for joining me on this adventure: Alex Powers, August Frank, Emily Olson, Mark Kellman, Matt Gatie, Payton Bruni, Sydney Padgett, and Lori Shontz.

With love and appreciation,

Developmental Evaluator with Journalism That Matters
Yve Susskind, Ph.D.
Praxis Associates, LLC.
Planning, Facilitation, Research and Evaluation
for Education, Governmental and Non-Profit Organizations

10515 SW 110th St.
Vashon, WA 98070
(206) 304-0015


Please go here for the actual Themes document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_Vc_-Zt5p6vnu5eh4tcIazpo4mpNFbVKbu4SUhhX1vY/edit?usp=sharing