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Tapping into Collective Methods for Data Research & Analysis

Integrating Story Circles, Brainwriting, and Affinity Mapping

2023 Imagining America National Gathering

The Imagining America National Gathering is an annual convening of public scholars, artists, designers, students, and cultural organizers addressing contemporary pressing issues in emergent, creative, and critical ways. 

Judy Pryor-Ramirez, NYU Professor, Researcher & Facilitator for Social Change, and Constanza Mendoza, founder of terra cotta, are creative practitioners with a keen interest in decolonization, social justice, and research. Their collaborative exploration for this conference revolved around several key aspects:

  • Harnessing the power of storytelling to challenge dominant narratives by embracing the nuances found in everyday experiences and the unique stories of daily life.
  • Analyzing and synthesizing individual and collective stories to uncover larger research themes.
  • Creating inclusive conditions for participation when collaborating with individuals who represent a wide spectrum of dominant and non-dominant intersectional identities.

Combining their experiences with participatory research methods, they crafted a workshop incorporating Judy’s Story Circle Interview Method and Constanza’s experience in Brainwriting + Affinity Mapping methods.

Participants learned and practiced both methods in real-time and later learned how to integrate them into their own practices and spaces.  

Story Circles, Brainwriting, and Affinity Mapping are versatile techniques suitable for various scenarios where collaboration is needed to conduct research, brainstorm ideas, and ensure equitable analysis. For instance, these methods find applications in strategic planning sessions, community organizing events, and even within staff and board meetings.