All posts by stinabrown

Stina Brown is an accomplished meeting designer, trainer, facilitator, visual practitioner and consultant. She has an extensive background in visual and creative theory and design, strategic planning, visioning, skills training and group, team and organizational development.

Setting the Tone: Team Culture in Virtual Meetings

I think it’s fair to say that months ago, or even weeks ago, none of us thought we’d “be here”… Sometimes change happens incrementally over time or with specific intention. Sometimes it happens all at once. Change that is thrust upon us can create panic. Change we initiate can be deeply positive and renewing. The sudden season we are living through has inherent anxiety, “social distance”, and for all of us – a huge interruption of “normal” patterns, resources and comforts.

Now that many of us are working at home with kids out of school and an active global pandemic disrupting our lives in unprecedented ways, we are in a moment that requires vigilance, attention and much more energy in almost every aspect of daily life. In our work – industriousness, flexibility and care will be required on levels we never imagined… how do we navigate it all?

I agree with NICK MARTIN in his article Against Productivity in a Pandemic (March 17th, 2020) that this is a time to sustain, to find ease where we can – not to push ourselves to be massively productive.

With that in mind, we are in the beginning of the ultimate systems disruption/ transformation of our lifetime. When our patterns are interrupted, we pay attention differently. We have a chance to see with new eyes, hear with new ears and act in new ways. We are in a unique window of time in which we can set a new “tone” of what “normal” will look like over the coming weeks or months. How do we base our new normal on what we value?

As my friend Vanessa LeBordais wondered on the phone yesterday: “How do we stay human together?” What does that look like for you, your team, your organization? What does “in-person” mean now that it’s a collection of Brady Bunch videos on a screen with you doing your best to focus and “work together”, at home?

Internally facilitated meetings have certain “norms” – a certain kind of culture depending on how things “normally go”. Externally facilitated meetings are an interruption to the usual day to day work habits that inevitably set in around the office. Special meetings take place off-site – an invitation to arrive somewhere else, to be present and participate in meaningful conversations, build trust and make decisions with folks in new ways. You get to know each other outside our sometimes cruise-control familiar reality.

This is a prolonged kind of interruption – the move to all-virtual meetings.

Below are some lessons to support you as you “set the new tone” with your team – drawing on the best of in-person meetings I lead, and translating them into markers for how leaders and participants on Zoom calls can create healthy culture together.

  1. Form new “keystone habits” with your team that put human connection at the start of your meeting so you can know how your people are doing. Help them “arrive”. What is top of mind for them beyond the topics you’re meeting to discuss? This doesn’t have to be a group therapy session – simply a touch-base check in. You could share first to model what you’re inviting in – just a few sentences about reality – whatever you feel willing to share based on the level of trust on your team.
  2. Prioritize wellbeing on your team. Invite team members to share what’s helping them get through this time – walks or activities outside, mindfulness, meditative or breathing practices, calls/FaceTime with friends and family, helping neighbours etc. We all need help remembering creative ways to be well when we are told to “stay home”. This could be a good way to close a meeting on an uplifting note.
  3. Be clear about the purpose and outcome(s) of your meeting. Being on camera is exhausting in a unique way for many of us (myself included), even if it’s with your co-workers – and having your cameras pointing (now) inside people’s homes creates a new lack of boundaries in real-time. Be clear about what you’re meeting to do, what outcomes will result and stick to the time you set. Ensure you (all) have a clear sense of action items and responsibilities coming out of the meeting.
  4. Pay very special (new) attention to participation and privilege. Some folks are talkers – some are listeners. Some of us have power/privilege that will show up on Zoom in new ways. We all need to attend in a new way. If you are the one leading the meeting – track carefully how much time participants are using and the energy of the group. Invite your team to be extra aware of their impact on each other in this newly vulnerable space. We are all in added levels of exposure and stress right now and we all need care and compassion. We don’t know what our co-workers and families are dealing with outside “the office” that’s now in their living room, bedroom, kitchen etc. Err on the side of respect, humility and kindness.
  5. Have a conversation with your team about what they value in the time you spend together. How each of them perceive meeting time being well-spent is valuable information. We have ALL heard folks say “we have too many meetings”. If you can have fewer meetings – have fewer meetings!
  6. Include others in leadership – don’t try to do it all on your own. When you as a leader need to participate differently in the conversation, delegate or hire an outside facilitator (Ahem). Give yourself the chance to be a part of the conversation, rather than always leading. Taking turns facilitating gives your team a chance to “step up” and gain valuable new skills.
  7. Make the meeting visual in new and exciting ways. If hiring an external facilitator, you also have the option to hire a digital graphic recorder as well – screens can be shared and the meeting can take on an added creative dimension. Your team comes away with a dynamic beautiful artifact to anchor memory and actions and catch up team members who may have missed the meeting.

I’m including graphics (below) from my favourite digital recording collaborators. Each of these women are highly skilled, reliable professionals, who will add significant value in real-time and after your meeting ends.

Corrina Keeling is unparalleled in her online experience and artistry, providing sensitivity and highly tuned listening and documentation.

Yolanda Liman brings a world of experience, depth and skill as well – and is available for dynamic facilitation services in addition to digital graphic recording.

Avril Orloff and I have been collaborating and teaching together for years – she got me started 12 years ago! She is among the best graphic recorders in the world (IMHO) and is also a high octane creative design partner, co-facilitator and facilitator in her own right.

Check them out when you’re thinking about your next meeting!

Hang in there, everyone. We are all in this together!! If you’d like to have a conversation with Stina about what an external facilitator can do for you and your team in this new reality, she can be contacted by emailing Stina at stinabrown dot com. Stay home and well.

What does it mean to be a human being, now?

This question has been on my mind almost constantly, for years now… But until recently, it’s been my inner occupation – rather than a central business offering.
That’s changing now.

The most inspiring and important projects I’ve been involved with over the last decade here in Vancouver have a few things in common:
* Amazing people are involved: they are all-in (present and committed), intelligent, aware/awake to the real-life problems we are facing as a planet and people, and they are purposefully working toward being a part of the solution, almost regardless of the costs.

* Nature is a participant in the power of the learning these groups/individuals experience. Michael Jones goes into exquisite detail on what I mean here in his book “The Soul of Place”. Whether we know it or not, we are inter-related to “where” we are. We have a place, a role and a relationship with where and how we live – and our environment has a huge effect on us. There is an “inner” experience involved here and an “outer” experience as well. We need to build skills in more than one dimension.

* Scientific reasons to be moving with some urgency towards local and global systemic solutions: This is not the time (in history) for an “ordinary” job (IMHO). It’s time to step up – or as I’m thinking of it these days – “Align” ourselves to the deeper reasons we are here – or risk being a by-stander as future generations inherit impossible odds.

What are you here to be a part of?


Stina Brown is not an “ordinary” designer/facilitator.
Stina is a fine artist, writer and group experience designer.

She is brought in when there is a need for high level transformation: to build and experience new trust and clarity in a system, on a team, or with a group of individuals. Stina works independently and on teams to collaboratively design a process with decision-makers that will provide a group with time outside of normal circumstances, the chance to connect with themselves, their team, their purpose and environment – often in Nature. This creates a unique opportunity to change reality by increasing one’s own awareness, intentions and goals, learn new skills, and/or explore and set exciting new directions or shared future aspirations.

She works with clients in Vancouver, BC, Canada and internationally.

Stina has been designing and leading custom meetings and retreats since 2010. As an Artist, Stina offers highly engaging and often visual environments and processes, drawing out the potential of groups. Her specific client focus is to support leaders and organizations that recognize the need to be socially and environmentally conscious citizens. Her passion is to create the conditions for people to deepen their self-knowledge, access their own in-sight and lead in a new way.

To see some of Stina’s clients visit:

Stina Offers:
* Custom Retreat Design and Facilitation/Mediation
* Artist in Residence, Graphic Recording and In-Studio Graphic Charts
* Teaching and Coaching

Repost: Human nature and Communication in 2016

The following is a short piece I wrote for my colleague Sam Bradd‘s end of year blog post. He asked a number of fellow visual facilitators and graphic recorders the question:

“What did you notice about human nature or communication in 2016?”

And, he said of our responses: “We agree that we’re headed into a VUCA world – characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Responses to VUCA can include authenticity, anxiety and change, clarity, and being good to each other.
Here’s 12 insights into what we noticed…”


Here is my response. For the full article, click here to go to Sam’s Blog.

I recently worked with a struggling board intent on setting new cultural norms to be more effective. Several members were new, and the board chair was hoping to build a more “leader full” organization, in preparation for succession. One thing was clear:

This group needed to have honest conversations.

Through a couple of walking talks in alternating groups of three, members were asked to discuss “What expectations do team members have of each other – what is important?” and then “What do you think we should be able to count on from one another?” We walked in one direction with the first question and walked back with the second. We debriefed both conversations in our session space with members highlighting themes and epiphanies. Success for this team came back to being seen, to building trust, and to naming and committing to certain actions and expectations – raising the standard, so to speak. They were empowered by these authentic conversations with each other, and now each feel seen and heard in a new way.

For the full article, click here to go to Sam’s Blog.

Raising the Standard: Conference Day Innovation

Seven Design Elements to Build Human Connection in Meetings

I arrived before the hundreds of participants, before the speakers took their place on the grand stage, and before the enormous background screen was lit up with countless images, text and camera zoom shots of the presenters on stage or Skyped in.

The collective event – the experience they shared – was one of listening. Conference goers, experts in their own right, listening to experts with a higher profile. Highly qualified keynotes, professionals in panels and dignitaries reading their speeches were given all the time in the day. There were over twenty presentations, varying in length from five to forty-five minutes. The dynamic the entire day, from 8:30 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon was audience-and-speaker. It was all PUSH.

Even if you have the best content, it’s still just content.


This experience was not unique. It was not unexpected. We have all been to that conference – heck, many of us have planned and led that conference. People didn’t get to share, or really ask questions, or hear from their colleagues from around the world beyond the handful on stage or in a video.

There was a cocktail reception offered at 5:00pm, and about a third of the people stuck around for a drink or a visit. One participant approached me at the reception and said he was exhausted from the day and regretted not getting to meet others in the room. “Unless you’re an A-type personality, you’re not networking right now, you’ve gone home.”

Granted, nowhere did this event tout itself as a community-building event, or an event about engagement of any kind. It was about innovation, but it wasn’t social innovation.

When you add up the time and effort – the actual financial cost, as well as the rare opportunity to have hundreds of people from the same industry – leading thinkers – in the same room for the whole day… why would you have them silent and listening the whole time?! Is this really the best use of a day and a room full of that kind of knowledge, innovation and human collaboration potential?

What if, when you brought people together, they could be fully present – not sitting and ignoring neighbours at their tables, tweeting questions that never get answered from the stage, or worse, checking their email or Facebook? What if people experienced a collective purpose in coming together, creating something new right in that room – new understanding, new achievable outcomes, new vision, inspiration or new connection for future collaborations?SONY DSC

What if innovation happens on the day of the conference, not just as a topic, keynoted retrospectively and beamed through a virtual presentation from Boston or Berlin?

Design Elements to Build Human Connection in Meetings:

  1. Understanding the Purpose Together:
    When people come together, they likely do so with some idea of why they are coming together. But let’s make it explicit in the room. Address it with a question like: “Why are we all here together?” Frame the gathering around the people in the room, not around the subject. Too many events become self-important. On the day of the event, the only thing real is the people in the room. Give them that. People’s presence makes a meeting great. Too many meetings are full of absent people. Step one: give them a purpose for being present.
  1. Understanding the Outcome Together:
    Participants want to know, “What is going to happen here?” Yes, the agenda gives you an idea of this – but going a little deeper into it can help people participate more fully, see how they can best invest their attention and energy in the day. “What are we doing together?” “What will we accomplish today?” Give a flyover to add a meta perspective. Make it visual to allow extra engagement, creativity and complexity.
  1. Understanding My Role:
    Honour your participants by offering them time and space to consider: “What is expected of me?” “How can I enjoy today?” “What are my priorities in being here today?” Too many times, this part is skipped over. If you guide this process well, people can see themselves as included in the success of the day, and can share in the responsibility for a positive, participative outcome.
  1. Understanding Who Else is in the Room:
    This is almost always missed in big meetings. Knowing who else is in the room is one of the greatest resources in large groups. Shared awareness about who is at your table is the first step. Provide ways of showing the group who is there: participant lists with photos in a booklet, a big bio wall with photos, an app, table templates, name tags with extra info on them such as their hope for the day. Make it visible if possible. Have people move around. Call if out from the stage: “What groups are represented?” “Who is local?” “Who came from other communities?” Ask people “Who might you most want to connect with?” Leaving the masses stuck and silent at their tables is the worst use of their time.
  1. Human One-on-One Connection and Rapport Building:
    Only confident extroverts introduce themselves all day to the folks they meet. Make the meeting fun and accessible from a relating point of view regardless of how introverted individual participants are. Start at the table level. Offer people meaningful conversation starters; inquiry that is relevant and interesting can create short but authentic moments of connection. For example, “Tell me about something you love about where you live or how you live?” The topic could also be something closer to the topic of the meeting – no matter, make it appreciative, energizing and short, just a minute or two for each person in pairs. Find ways to do this type of exercise several times with different questions to ensure more connections.
  1. Have Small Group Conversations:
    Taking turns hearing from each other in small groups increases understanding, creates a diversity of perspectives and fuels creativity and new relating. When all you have is speaker-audience communication, your “participants” habitually zone out into TV-watching mode, not relating mode. Those speakers are not responding in the moment to your eyes, your curiosity or even your boredom. Most of them have a canned presentation, with an introduction video, PowerPoint slides, and five to ten minutes to respond to the top tweeted questions. It’s not a human connection; it’s something else. But conferences don’t need to be ONLY THAT.We can be humans, relating to other humans, working to solve the most complex challenges of the day. Have conversations. Meet and listen to many people. Share your ideas. Change your mind. Open your heart to walking in others’ shoes over a cup of coffee. This is how community gets built at meetings.
  1. Shared Enjoyment:
    Finally, many of us don’t enjoy all-day meetings (gasp!). How can this change? What if those meetings are actually a day of discovering new ideas, meeting inspiring people, being seen and heard, being creative, learning or inventing new things – new methods solutions or possibilities, and… even something like singing or… dancing?! Well – it’s possible!

Set a new standard with your next meeting or conference. Break out of the default conference models, people. They suck. Nobody wants to sit at a round table all day ignoring their neighbours and listening to presentations from twenty-four people, let’s be honest.

So – let’s not. Instead, let’s be humans with each other. Let’s share and laugh and connect. Let’s tackle the complex challenges we have before us with courage, creativity and humility. Let’s open our minds to learn and be seen and heard. Enough with the anonymous PUSH conferences. Let’s build community with our meetings.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of elements that build community in meetings, just a start. You could also consider: having a listserv for the group to stay in touch, plan future smaller gatherings, create topical groups, launch a follow up survey, create a community of practice or further points of connection. Please add your ideas or thoughts on how you build community through meetings in the comments section or email me directly. This is just the start of the conversation!

Contact Stina by calling 604-612-8563, email stina at or fill out the form below.


A Learning Journey Becomes a Book and a Community


Last year I embarked on an adventure without even leaving the comfort of my home office. Sam Bradd asked me to join him and 25 other colleagues to write and publish an anthology on our flourishing yet somewhat unknown industry: “Visual Practice”. What began as a writing assignment for a 2,000 to 2,500 word essay has now become a connected and diverse talent pool of practitioners all over the world – oh, and a book! Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.

We celebrated locally in Vancouver this weekend, and many of you took part! Thank you!
On October 29, 2016 the Gallery Gachet hosted somewhere around 50 of us. Four local authors were in attendance: co-editor Sam Bradd, and contributors Aftab Erfan, Stina Brown, and Aaron Johannes. We heard about the work being done by leaders in the field of facilitation, conflict mediation, education, and all other areas using visual process to establish common ground. Seasoned pro’s Avril Orloff and Corrina Keeling drew live at the event.

What many people might not know about “our” industry – the field of folks working away in meetings, retreats and conferences as visual thinkers, scribes, graphic recorders, facilitators and teachers – is that this is a profoundly generous and caring profession. In every case, the need to truly listen to what’s taking place in a room or meeting at any given time requires the full attention of the recorder and/or facilitator. There’s no “half-ass” in this business. We show up fully, for the sake of the meeting, the people, and our own high standards. There is a certain gentle power or “presence” in that – our full focus adds a quality of attention to what’s already happening in the room. Besides bringing creativity, visual practice elevates the energy, attention, retention and engagement in the room.

We as experts don’t often tell our stories – so often the meetings are confidential. But we come together in this book to share some of the mystery and magic we work within. My chapter is called: A Learning Journey – Connecting Self to Planet. You can download my chapter for free here. It’s based on four gatherings I led with the Climate Justice Project through the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives with Marc Lee. In this initiative, Marc, Sam and I guided a group of strangers toward self-determined transformation – connecting their individual experiences with each others’ to see themselves in relationship with the larger context of the planet and our collective future. It was an amazing eight weeks!

A Conversation on Climate Justice

So, the next time you have an important meeting coming up; an initiative that you are leading or change you are hoping to create in the world – anything that involves getting groups of people together to relate or collaborate – consider this community of Visual Practitioners. We are here to serve! For more information, visit the International Forum of Visual Practitioners, pick up our book, or contact Stina directly: stina at

A handful of the authors in Drawn Together Through Visual Practice

ENGAGEMENT: A Quick How-to Guide

I was in a conversation the other day when a colleague started telling me about her work challenges. She has recently become the point person in a health network that will bring together 400 people around the common cause of fighting a terrible disease. She was lamenting the line item in her budget: “Engagement”… “What does this even mean?” she asked. She was at a loss.

Engagement is a word thrown around by innumerable bodies these days. Simon Fraser University is “the Engaged University”, countless organizations have “Community Engagement” strategies and plans, and even individuals can be targeted for engagement in their learning, voting, citizenship, employment and parenting, etc.

Engagement can be defined differently for different organizations and situations – there is no one definition. It can be thought of as absorption of focus or concentration, relating or making meaningful connection. It could be about communication and investment of time and energy – taking action, for example.

SO, when an organization has “Engagement” as a line in their budget, what are the next steps?
I have outlined some options for anyone grappling with this question.

Define what Engagement means for your organization. Is it about…

  • Understanding an issue more deeply?
  • Building relationships within your network?
  • Creating a shared vision or plan?
  • Hearing from your constituents?
  • Creating a community of practice among peers?
  • Discovering new tools, methods or approaches in your work?
  • Gathering feedback or input?

Regardless of how you define it, there is always an element of trust required for healthy engagement. The people who are being invited to engage have to be able to trust the host or sponsor on some level. Trust may need to be restored prior to an engagement initiative if there was a wounding event or dynamic in the past.

Choose your Engagement Goals:

  • Why/how do you want your group or organization to become engaged?
  • What will the world look like if your people are engaged?
  • What are the benefits to your people and to the mission of your organization if people do become engaged?
  • What is the risk if your people are not engaged?

Consider your Methods of Engagement:

  • Online Meetings and Gatherings: We are able to reliably reach most people online for the most part these days, even with Zoom fatigue. To reach your engagement goals, an expert in facilitation for engagement can guarantee a quality design that helps you realize your priorities. “Regular” online meetings won’t cut it! A special approach is required to create captivating meetings.
  • Small group calls: Engaged meetings have all members participating, actively contributing and involved. You can work with graphic recorders, experienced facilitators or creative community members to make it memorable and meaningful.
  • Interviews: When even small meetings are not possible, you can conduct interviews online or by phone. Reach out and connect with team members to show them their ideas and input matters. Engage them in the conversations that will affect the future of the organization. Stina uses the Appreciative Inquiry Approach. Download this pdf on Asking Powerful Questions.
  • Surveys: This can be a very helpful step in an engagement process, but is less effective when it’s done as a stand-alone strategy for engagement. Depending on the size of your survey group, you can include questions that are open and not leading, giving each respondent an opportunity to share authentically and anonymously. These findings can be brought into any of the other methods outlined above, to help create shared awareness.

Evaluate your Engagement:

Don’t forget to put the metrics in place to measure your Engagement initiatives! There should be a return on your investment. This could look like increases in quantity and quality of strategic partnerships, better employee retention, improved performance in meetings and team dynamics or even a transformation in the workplace or organizational culture. Whatever the case, keep the communication going after the initial engagement “push” – because true engagement is about relationships. And those don’t end!

Hire an Engagement professional:

There are a small but passionate number of facilitators and consultants in the Metro Vancouver area who are dedicated to creating the settings for engagement to thrive. Qualified professionals should have proven experience at creating successful outcomes for their clients.

For more information on how Stina could serve your engagement needs (in Metro Vancouver or beyond), please contact her directly.
Call 604-612-8563, email stina at or fill out the form below.

WHO Works with Stina?

  • Executive Directors, Board Chairs, managers, or heads of companies who are responsible to lead your teams to a new level of engagement, relevance and success.
  • Virtual Teams, Networks, Associations, “Learning Communities”, and groups of colleagues
  • Consulting professionals, facilitators, entrepreneurs and educators, committed to taking your vision, your meetings or your own effectiveness to the “next level”
  • Designer-facilitators or strategic, management or organizational development consultants looking for a dynamic and energized partner to help execute a well-designed, visually memorable, highly relational meeting or event – with or without Graphic Recording.

Quick Case Studies of Stina’s Design and Visual Facilitation Work with an Engagement Focus:

  • A Conversation on Climate Justice in BC: In late 2014, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives asked Stina to design a series of four full-day meetings over the course of two months as an engagement aspect of their Climate Justice Project (CJP), led by Marc Lee, Senior Economist. The CJP “asks how we can tackle global warming with fairness and equality. Our challenge is to build a zero carbon society that also enhances our quality of life.” This series of “deliberative dialog sessions,” which took place in the Metro Vancouver area, was intended to advance the outreach work of the CJP and deepen understanding of effective engagement processes. It also held the potential for expanded activities across BC and Canada to spur climate action. Stina hired Sam Bradd for complimentary Graphic Recording services. For a full description of the facilitated sessions, you can download Stina’s recap here. To see other best-practices examples of “visual facilitation” in action, you can purchase or download the just published anthology Drawn Together Through Visual Practice.

A Conversation on Climate Justice
A Conversation on Climate Justice

  • David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) – Sustainable Diversity Network Launch, Fall 2015. The Purpose of the event was to share DSF’s knowledge with their partners and allies, and empower them to integrate the findings of the Multicultural Report in their own public engagement work. To consolidate existing partnerships and form new relationships with ENGOs and new Canadians, strengthening the engagement of diverse communities in the green movement.

Sustainable Diversity Network Launch
DSF Sustainable Diversity Network Launch

  • Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses Summit, March 11-12th 2016 in Vancouver. Stina provided live Graphic Recording Services for 2 Days of summit activities. This is visual and participant engagement which added a dimension of deepening the learning and memory of the people present. The added benefit of bringing this form of engagement into a meeting is offering people a visual record to share when the day is done, continuing the positive momentum and possibilities begun at an already successful event. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see images.

  • Abbotsford Community Services, Stina designed and facilitated a focused, fun and productive “Team Day” for Staff of Abbotsford Community Services, Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services Division.

Abbotsford Community Services
Abbotsford Community Services

To read what Stina’s clients have experienced, working with her, please visit Stina’s clients page.

Advancing Retreats

“retreat” noun re·treat \ri-ˈtrēt\

Normally this word is associated with withdrawing, changing your opinion or moving backwards. But there is a form of retreating that moves you ahead in a new way. I have had the great pleasure of designing and leading “advancing retreats” for business and non-profit leadership, learning communities, and groups of professionals who want to take their work to the “next level”. It’s not as out of reach as you might imagine.

We all need time away from our regular schedules, habits and environments. Why not invest in advancement: to open yourself to new vision and perspective, to deepen relationships and effectiveness, and to unwind your mind.

Here are what some of my clients are saying about working with me, on retreat.

“Stina sets the stage for deep trust and sharing at our annual retreat. She works with our wily band of entrepreneurs to design an agenda that never loses momentum and she pilots us through a focused, five day process of sharing and discovery. Under her expert guidance, new ideas and deep understanding comes to the surface.”

“Having Stina in the room brings trust that the output will be beautiful and meaningful.”

“I’ve worked with numerous facilitators over the years and Stina was hands down one of the best! She has the amazing ability to focus the group, pull out the gems of the conversations, and ultimately create a unique and meaningful experience for the group.”

“I don’t think we can or should separate out the person and the presence from the product, and Stina is such an authentic, vibrant, intense person – part of the value of her work is just having HER in the meetings.”

“Stina’s facilitation goes beyond just facilitation. Her facilitation is about connection, cohesion, and vulnerability. She has the ability to create a safe space for tough work and conversations.”

“Have you every been to a retreat that was not only productive but truly satisfying? Decisions get made, plans get laid and at the same time people feel heard – their time was valued and well-spent. If you’ve had that experience, thank your facilitator. That’s the magic Stina brings. People will comment on how the retreat was the ‘best ever’ and how everything ‘just flowed’. Great facilitation is not a performance. It’s about empathy, deep listening, tracking and gathering on multiple levels, and gently but clearly guiding things forward. No one does that better than Stina Brown.”

“Stina is always focused on outcomes for our group. She knows why we’re there and skillfully leads us over the finish line. Having Stina facilitate our retreat ensures that at the end of five days we leave with the insights, ideas and roadmaps we came for. With Stina in the room there’s no going off the rails.”

Are you interested in seeing what advances are possible for you or your team through a well-designed and facilitated retreat? Contact Stina today to explore what’s possible: stina at, call 604-612-8563 or fill out the form below.

The Benefits of Visuals Over Time

I have had many clients who see the advantages to bringing large custom visuals into their group process work. Most of us are visual learners. “If you use the visual style, you prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. You can easily visualize objects, plans and outcomes in your mind’s eye.See the figure here and notice different learning styles.

Visuals can help make your meetings (Strategic Planning, Board Retreats, Annual Meetings etc.) far more productive, memorable and enjoyable.

One client of mine, Richmond Multicultural Community Services (and Richmond in 3D) has hired me many times over the past few years to do live and in-studio pieces. The collection of visuals is now enormous. We can share the story or journey the initiative (more inclusive communities) has taken. See this video for some examples at a workshop and examples below.

Also, for community engagement, consistency and saving on prep-time, nothing beats re-usable graphics. This graphic was used all over the Central Okanagan to engage citizens over many months about the Regional Growth Strategy.

Contact Stina (604-612-8563) today to find out more about how this service can exponentially benefit your project over time.

Experiencing the Change Lab @ SFU

Did you know, there’s a group of 9 students, putting a high priority on “experiential learning” and experimental class structure, with engagement, community building and sustainability at the heart? Well, now you do. They want to see positive changes made at the Burnaby Campus of SFU and beyond, and are committed to hearing (and creating space for) student voices, faculty and beyond about how to do that. (read more at

I had the joy of working with this dynamic group of young adults last week to get them on the same page as they plan out their big project. I took them through a personal reality check (context map), looking at their motivations, an inventory of their skills, what they value and what values they want to see in the world. We talked about their collective Change Lab group values. I lead them through a high energy appreciative inquiry retrospective visioning exercise and we launched into their mission and purpose from there. As the project was put in the context of a strategic plan, next steps were obvious. The group looked at what we had done in one afternoon and seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief. “Now it’s clear,” one student commented.

Meetings can be about “seeing” something together, as you create it. It’s a collective and creative process, where everybody in the room has something unique and important to offer. I believe this class of senior undergrads is on to something. Experience, experiment, engage, community. Love it! Read more: Change Lab).

“The Change Lab is a collaboration and partnership between Sustainable SFU (Founding Partner), CityStudio, SFU Sustainability, the Faculty of Environment, the Institute for Environmental Learning, SFU Career Services and the Experiential Education project (Office of the Vice President Academic).” (from the website)