We believe that the people most impacted by any given social problem are the experts. In our work of building belonging, we focus on supporting the voice, dignity and leadership of these experts through creating visual legacies to showcase their insights. We then create opportunities for the rest of the community and system influencers to listen in new ways and act on what they hear. The benefits of visual legacies play a significant role in building belonging and creating the conditions for both personal and system change.

How visual legacies build belonging

In our experience of delivering Belonging Matters Conversations for the last 15 years, creating visual legacies is one of the most powerful ways we begin to bridge the gap between people with lived experience and system influencers and build a genuine culture of belonging.

Below are 5 ways you can see the benefits of visual legacies in action.

#1: Build trust

When we convene people with lived experience, we work hard to build trust every step of the way by following through on all agreements as well as by listening and acting on what we hear. Creating a visual legacy with a graphic designer shows that we have listened deeply and value what we heard through creating something beautiful and useful together.

#2: Deepen learning

We often say experience is a great teacher. However, it is only when we reflect on our experience that we learn. When we review transcripts, synthesize multiple perspectives and work together to create visual legacies, we are reflecting on what we have learned and, in the process, we deepen relationships with each other and strengthen our change efforts.

#3: Amplify voice

When people are “pushed out” of systems and networks of people, their voice is often disregarded. Creating a visual legacy showcasing their key insights, tips and strategies is a powerful way to value and amplify the voice of the people most impacted by the social problem you are working to address.

#4: Provide an effective communication tool

Often Belonging Matters Conversations participants use their visual legacies as a communication tool to support the stories they tell during community presentations. Participants tell us that having visual legacies strengthens their confidence and provides them with a powerful opportunity for all stakeholders to join them in disseminating the visual legacies to their networks.

#5: Recognize contributions

Visual legacies showcase diverse perspectives and, in doing so, recognize the contributions of each expert (aka, the person with lived experience). Seeing their words showcased in an eye-catching visual legacy provides participants with a powerful experience of being valued for their meaningful contribution. Some visual legacies also include a spot for logo banners to recognize the contributions of partners and funders.

Seeing the benefits of visual legacies in action

We have created a web page where you can view and download visual legacies from Belonging Matters Conversations initiatives. Many of the visual legacies are made up of learning posters that address diverse social problems such as poverty, the overdose crisis, affordable housing, isolation, elder abuse, disability awareness and much more.
In keeping with the increased visibility of digital and social media, a new genre of visual legacies was added in our Belonging Matters Conversations for our Leaders program. By the end of the program, participants author their very own visual legacy that illustrates their key insights, tips and strategies.  

Check out a virtual version of the Instagram book created by our May cohort:
If you would like to experience the process or learn how to be a Belonging Matters Conversations facilitator, connect with me.
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About the Author

Jessie Sutherland

An international speaker, trainer, and consultant, Jessie Sutherland works with organizations and communities to engage diversity, build belonging and ignite intercultural collaboration. Her approach creates sustainable community change that effectively addresses a wide range of complex social problems.

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