Diagramming the Diverse Economy of Organizations

This activity helps organisations involved in taking back the economy to get to know each other. It works well with multiple representatives, at least three and no more than 6.

SETUP: Come together around a table with pens and paper. Having a timekeeping device can be helpful. Photographs and other props can support dialogue across languages.

STEP 1: Nominate two or more people to capture the exchange in visual terms.

STEP 2: The cycle begins with a representative from the organisation providing a potted history and a few thoughts on the context. 1 – 2 mins

STEP 3: This member is interviewed by a member or two of another organisation. 10 – 15 mins (this may expand or contract depending on time availability).
Questions may include:
• What are you doing and why is this work important and needed?
• It can be helpful to flesh out the context – what is the situation that prompts this intervention?
• How many members do you have?
• How long have you been working together?
• What’s the most important part of what you do?
• How often do you meet?
• Why do you organise in this way.

STEP 3: Those listening and drawing should start by noting down key terms and then organizing these into 2 different kinds of images.

One drawer is tasked with using the formal device of the iceberg or other object (floating coconut, ant-hill, tree, cactus) that allows for a division between the visible/invisible. This will be a more standard version. The tip poking above the waterline is where you can portray elements of the mainstream economy, the capitalist dynamics, the specific problems confronting the communities in question. Belong the waterline, write or draw all the activities and transactions that are taking place that are not necessarily visible or recognised. What emerges is a rough categorisation of the types of activity, resources and more that comprise these different zones.

Another drawer is tasked with capturing the exchange in a diagram or drawing that is inspired by the story being told. Sometimes the specifics of this will only emerge over the course of the conversation. It could be this is drawn several times. For instance, we opted to use a diagram that described the Sydanlanka, a Karelian organisation, via a seasonal map because this is a central organising principle of this initiative.

STEP 4: Check in with those making the images; invite them to feedback on emerging shapes, relations, etc. 5 – 10 mins

STEP 4: Invite others around the table to ask outstanding questions. 10 – 15 mins

STEP 5: Draw/redraw the organisation in a way that makes it easier to share with others.

STEP 6: Talk through the diagram, discursively producing the features, flows, relationships and more. Putting the two together, talking across them, can reveal connections and differences between them.