Activity time: 35 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Cameras (preferably digital cameras)
- Sketch paper and pencils (these can be in addition to cameras or as an alternative to cameras)
- Clipboards (optional; for sketching)
- Newsprint or poster listing the UU Principles
Preparation for Activity
- List the UU Principles on newsprint or locate a poster that lists them.
- Make sure there are adequate materials (cameras and sketching materials) for all participants.
Description of Activity
- What does "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" mean to you?
- Have you ever had an experience in which you realized that you truly "saw" something differently from someone else?
- What does the phrase "point of view" mean to you?
Invite participants to share experiences of having differing points of view with someone. Consider invoking the tale of the non-sighted people who touched different parts of the elephant and then labeled the elephant based only on the attribute they touched. If the group seems interested in the discussion topic ask, "Is it possible to have an objective point of view?" Invite them to share examples.
Tell participants that this activity is called, "Claiming a Point of View." Participants will use photography and/or make sketches to capture their UU congregation or building from their point of view. They will need to think deeply about how they feel in different places around the congregation. Invite participants to work either on their own or with a partner. Outline the following steps for participants and stop to generate ideas or examples as needed.
- First, develop a list of all the places around the building that are important. Be sure to include places that evoke certain emotions and places that may be symbolic. Younger participants may benefit from jumpstarting their thinking with examples or idea generators. Ask them to think about places in the building that feel: -
- Relaxed or informal
- Point out that places may feel one way to one person and another, different way to someone else; each person has his/her own point of view.
- Next, invite participants to go to [provide a certain number that is appropriate for the group here] of those places and photograph and/or sketch them as best they can. (If time is short, suggest that participants choose one place that best represents what the congregation means to them or where they feel most at home, and to photograph and/or sketch only that one place.) Encourage participants to try both forms of representation - photography and sketching. If they are representing several places, remind them to record the place and the meaning it holds for them. For example they might sketch a place and label it, "Spiritual place for me." They might label another place, "Where I feel least at home" or "The most relaxing place in our congregation." If choosing more than one place, suggest they aim for a mix of places that evoke different feelings for them (i.e., their favorite place to hang out with friends could be one sketch and their favorite place to be alone could be another). Offer safety reminders, time constraints, and any other limiting parameters as needed.
- When they have completed gathering images/representations, have them return to the group. Leave at least ten minutes for whole group sharing.
When all participants have returned, gather in a circle and invite them to share their sketches, their point of view about different places in the congregation, and stories about their process. Allow time for participants to listen to each other. Use newsprint to record ideas as you see fit. If the conversation wanes, insert the following questions as prompts:
- What might other members of your family have included or not included differently?
- Do you think your perspective and the places/things you chose to photograph would be different if you were a different race, ethnicity, or gender?
- Do you think your perspective would be different if you had a different body?
- Do you see any patterns in the places participants chose to capture?
- What links does this exercise have to Unitarian Universalism? To faith? (Refer to the list of UU Principles as you see fit.)
- What does this activity have to do with our photo-documentary project?