Visual Practice Workshop: Bologna

Having experienced a fruitful workshop in Taipei November 2106 (above photos), we are happy to announce an upcoming workshop in Bologna, Italy 15-17 February 2017. Costs: Individuals €1,800 – Students €600 – Scholarship on request.

This workshop is designed for intermediate and advanced visual practitioners and facilitators who wish to strengthen and deepen their existing knowledge, towards developing mastery in their profession and field.

DOWNLOAD FLYER: EnglishChinese
REGISTER HERE or contact Alfredo Carlo:


In times of widespread transition, visuals serve as key facilitative aids for collective seeing and navigation. Live scribing–giving form to the content of a social body, in the moment and across boundaries–is a method especially suited to address today’s great challenges. As visual practitioners seeking to meet and influence these current realities, we face a particular need and opportunity to expand our awareness, mindsets, and choices that feed into our outward expression.


Over the three days we will combine theory, exercises, reflection, and peer learning to explore the following topics:

  • Highlights of work from around the world to surface trends and leading examples
  • The call of our times for visuals as a primary means of communication
  • A Model of Practice that grounds inner cultivation
  • Extensive work in areas of Presencing, levels of listening, systems thinking, discernment, and generative scribing
  • Dialogue on what it means to draw from and for an emerging future reality
  • Review of experience with large scale change initiatives


Drawing will be the primary form of practice. It is not required that participants be skilled scribes – but be prepared to use this expression as the main means of application over the course of the workshop.


The workshop will be led by internationally recognized practitioners:

Kelvy Bird has been working as a scribe in the fields of human and organizational development since 1995, with a focus on leadership, collective intelligence, and systems thinking. As part of the Presencing Institute’s core team since 2007, Kelvy has helped shape many of the global community offerings, most recently the edX course: U.Lab: Leading from the Emerging Future, for which she provides extensive visual material. In 2016, Kelvy co-edited the anthology: Drawn Together through Visual Practice, and is currently completing her manuscript: On Scribing. At heart, Kelvy is an abstract painter, having received a BFA and BA from Cornell University.

Alfredo Carlo, born in 1975 in Brussels, is a designer of collaborative processes and a graphic facilitator. He’s the founding partner of Housatonic Design Network and since 2011 partner of Matter Group. Together these organizations deliver graphic facilitation and collaborative sessions to facilitate complexity in organisations and in communication. Alfredo is a member of The Value Web, a not-for-profit organization made of an international facilitators and designers network, which helps big and medium organizations all over the world in their processes of research for systemic and complex problems solutions.

Jayce Pei Yu Lee is big at heart, small in size, and organic in spirit. Born in 1972 in Taipei, Taiwan, she studied Typographic Design and Fine Arts while lived in New Zealand for 8 years. She has diverse professional experience ranging from graphic design, visual merchandising, retail marketing, and sales. She devotes her time to creative work and bilingual graphic facilitation (Mandarin/ English) with the MGTaylor Methodology and, since 2010, in collaboration with The Value Web at the Summer Davos in China. She is a member of The Value Web, a fellow traveller of Theory U, and a visual collaborator with the u.lab MOOC since 2015.


Dates: Wednesday 15th February (starts 09.00) to Friday 17th February (ends 16.00)

Venue: Housatonic Studio, Via Battindarno 159/2, Bologna, Italy

Costs: Individuals €1,800 – Students €600 – Scholarship on request.

Fees include lunches & coffee breaks every day, as well as course materials and basic supplies. Accommodation and dinners are not included. Recommended hotel options will be sent with registration info.

REGISTRATION: CLICK HERE or contact Alfredo Carlo:

To receive notices about the upcoming North America workshop 17-19 May 2017, please sign up for our general mailing list here.


Images by Tsunami Lin from the Taipei Workshop, November 2016

u.lab 2016

Here are higher resolution images from the 4 live sessions of u.lab 2016:

u-lab_wall_20160915 u-lab_wall_20161006 u-lab_wall_20161027 u-lab_wall_20161215

For reuse of these images, please contact me via email: bird(at) Thanks!



Almost every scribe I’ve talked with shares some apprehension when facing a blank wall at the onset of a session. Many of us are introverts by nature, and need to summon courage to even be at the front of a room, audience at back.

As we try to follow cadence of voice and quickly make sense of streaming words, accents, acronyms, metaphors–and just as quickly choose what to draw–confidence goes down, and questioning of self goes up: “Am I worthy? Why do they want me here anyway? What on Earth am I drawing? Will anyone notice if I crawl up and hide behind this easel?!

The line “I can’t….” creeps in easily and perennially. And unless we learn how to notice this running tape in our heads and abruptly turn it off in favor of another line, it’s really, really easy to get psyched out and freeze. It’s a slippery downhill slope.

I’ve also heard countless people say, “What you do seems so cool, but I can’t draw…” To which I almost always respond “Oh–you would be surprised how little it takes…”

Recently, to strengthen my (physical) core, I’ve enlisted the help a personal trainer, Carl. When he asks me to try a new exercise, of which I can barely do one repetition, I often find myself moaning “Oh, man, you have GOT to be kidding! I can’t…!” He stops me in my tracks: “Once you decide you can’t, you’ve pretty much guaranteed you won’t.”

“I can’t” is a belief.

It festers in (some of our) psyches, ripe to bolt out and take the stage at the slightest challenge. It’s belief that I am, for example: not strong enough to lift a particular weight, not capable of staying fit over time to even be at the gym. Sometimes it’s not about what I can or can’t do, but is about who I am. The line in this case would be “I am, by nature, lazy.”

And here is where judgement comes in, residue from past experience that leads to the formation of belief. Something happened, we felt embarrassed, rejected even. Shame might have set in, reinforcing future choices and outlook.

As a young girl, I played municipal softball with great enthusiasm. Then at some point, I tried out for a local basketball squad, and–after falling flat on my face when attempting a layup–was the only girl who did not make the team. My enthusiasm for sport quickly dwindled. And now, some 35 years later, I have Carl’s voice helping to turn around an old, hardened belief that I am inherently unskilled at physical activity.

Maybe “I can’t” is a kind of stop sign, a temporary pause until we turn the light in our mind green. We face a choice point: collapse into old attitudes, or face this moment fresh, opting new possibility?

Maybe every “can’t” is really a gift in disguise, a twisted offering to reframe within the present to a mindset of “if”?



Under all distraction and perceived fragmentation lies a coherent whole.

In any moment, under pressure–at a wall ready to draw, or in the midst of an argument with a loved one–when we want desperately to understand of things, we can inquire into an underlying order. “How does this make sense?”

We only need to look into the woods to understand this principle. Once on a mini “solo” retreat, I remember the feeling of awe when looking closely into a patch of richly entwined roots that lay with mushrooms and moss and twigs and insects and lichen and leaves and bark and earth. They represented pieces of the forest, all jumbled into one spot. And, at the same time, there was absolutely no separation between the parts. There was a perfectly natural co-existence of life forms in simultaneous decay and growth.

Another way to explain coherence was presented by physicist and dialogue pioneer David Bohm: “Ordinary light is called “incoherent,” which means that it is going in all sorts of directions, and the light waves are not in phase with each other so they don’t build up. But the laser produces a very intense beam which is coherent. The light waves build up strength because they are all going in the same direction. This beam can do all sorts of things that ordinary light cannot.

This is probably where my practice starts to lean towards the mystical, because I correlate coherence with a belief in universal oneness.

Aikido master Richard Moon, writes: The universe is one system, a unified field of energy of which we are a part. When we feel ourselves a part of the universe, we feel where we are in the flow of Creation, we naturally experience a connectedness with the earth. Feeling this connection effortlessly heals the isolation that characterizes modern life. Life becomes connectedness and we find ourselves in empowered alignment with the universe as it unfolds.”

In applying this principle at the wall, sometimes I will draw a large curve or shape, seemingly out of nowhere. No one in the room has said “And it all starts with a large circle…” But in the moment, I am likely feeling ungrounded and am seeking assurance, and this is where coherence comes in.

I quiet the rambling mind, look at and into the wall, and have a quick conversation with that surface: “What is your story today? What wants to be seen on your gleaming white surface?” Obviously the wall does not talk back. But… in a way it does. I receive some sort of impulse towards a certain gesture, a direction, even a color. And I go from there.

I trust that the mark will fit with all marks to come, that the mark is originating from some deep unseen place of aligned intent – like Bohm’s laser – and, through my hand, will manifest into something that makes cognitive and aesthetic sense.

There is a similar alignment to be found in conversation.

If I find myself ramped up and ranting about how someone has “done me wrong!”, latching onto the face value of the exchange will likely limit my growth. Instead, seeking the coherence in the situation can increase compassion and development. “How and why are these things playing out in this way, at this time?”

Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes is a first step to shifting awareness about where that person might be coming from. Trying to see the entire exchange from above can enhance perspective. And seeking sense in the underlying root causes can further increase understanding.

We have to see a larger, more entwined, interconnected picture to be able to discern any one fragment.

If I draw isolated elements, it’s as if I display an arrangement of rocks collected at the beach. They’re beautiful, and dismembered from their original context. (And I do this all over my home!) When scribing, we do re-contextualize elements all the time, and that is where coherence can aid us; we can re-order with our will and impose structure on content and/or we can inquire into a natural, whole emerging state that is seeking birth.

Seeking coherence demands a lot of trust.

Whether it be a picture on a wall or an awkward conversation with a coworker–trust encourages us that this picture or conversation is exactly what is meant to unfold in this window of time. It’s a piece of a greater context, not yet known.

Influences to this thinking: Bill Isaacs, Barbara Cecil, Glennifer Gillespie, Beth Jandernoa – and this post is for the mighty, always coherent Alicia Bramlett