Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Circle of Trees: A Multigenerational Program about Nourishing Deep Connections with Nature

Activity 3: Story - Visual Essay

Part of Circle of Trees

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Story, "Visual Essay"
  • A computer and a digital projector
  • Optional: Printed copy of the visual essay
  • Optional: 15-foot length of rope
  • Optional: Clips, clothespins, or tape

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the visual essay, so you will be comfortable presenting it.
  • Decide whether to hold the workshop indoors or outdoors, which affects how you will show the visual essay. Indoors: The visual essay can be projected from a laptop onto a wall. If this is not possible, then a printed copy of the essay (preferably in color) can be posted on a wall (approximately 30 feet), at an eye level that is comfortable for all participants. Outdoors: String a rope between two trees and clip or tape each printed page to the rope so that participants can walk in a line around the essay. Post the first 19 pages on one side and the next 19 pages on the back of the first pages.
  • Set up and, if applicable, practice the display of the visual essay, using the method you have chosen.
  • If your group includes children younger than age 9, consider doing Alternate Activity 2, Hummingbird Video in place of this one.

Description of Activity

The story for this workshop is a visual essay by Canadian artist and environmental activist Franke (pronounced Frankie) James. Introduce the story with these words or your own:

Today, instead of hearing a story, we're going to "see" one-a visual essay by Canadian Franke James. In her work, she merges science, art, and storytelling to inspire people to take action for the planet. She is an author, artist, and game designer focused on the environment, ethics, and social justice. Bill McKibben, founder of, says, "Franke James is among the tiny handful of really powerful and profound artists who have taken on climate change-the most important topic on the planet, but one so big and all-encompassing that it often defies artistic interpretation. Her work is incredibly important for many of us around the world."

Explain how the essay is to be viewed. Remind the group how much time they have to view the entire essay.

If time allows, invite participants to share their reactions to the visual essay.

Including All Participants

Display the visual essay so that the viewing experience is physically accessible to all, including anyone with mobility limitations. Partner a visually impaired person with someone who can guide them through the visual essay and describe its components aloud. Project or hang the visual essay at a level accessible to all participants; it is far easier for taller people to gaze down than it is for shorter people to look up.