Local people already know more than any outsider about their community and the people living there. Many people assume they know everything about their local area, but there is always more to learn and understand before making new plans.
Take plenty of time to help people in the ‘community’ to tell their story together. One very effective way of doing this is to draw maps, either using clear ground with sticks, leaves and stones, or if available, large sheets of paper and pens. Encourage small groups to draw different maps to show:
- the natural and physical resources in the area (hills, forests, roads and rivers, for example)
- where people live, noting important people and organisations
- how the area looked 50 or 20 years ago (only for older people).
It is best if groups of different age and gender work separately as sometimes the different results are very revealing. For example, the young people’s map may show very different information from that of older women. Allow each group to explain their map fully. Encourage questions and discussions.