Department of the Interior "Consensus Building" Through Art
A 40-foot by 8-foot mural, acrylic painted on wood panels, 2003. Part of the University of the Department of Interior's "Art, Collaboration and Conservation" Series, conceived of by Lynn Scarlett, Assistant Secretary of the Department of Interior.
In June of 2003, 40 Department of the Interior employees from five bureaus painted this mural as a leadership training exercise, led by Laurie Marshall. Using the concept of the four directions of the Medicine Wheel from Native American tradition as described by Hyemyohsts Storm in Seven Arrows, Marshall gave each of the five teams an 8' x 8' space with four circles drawn on it. The teams discussed the wisdom, knowledge, mission and challenges of their bureau and out of that conversation, invented visual ways to express their perceptions. They employed communication, risk-taking and problem-solving skills to create new solutions. The project served as a type of indoor Challenge Ropes Course, where paints and colored pencils are the tools for accomplishing the team-building exercises.
Following the leadership training exercise, the mural was exhibited at the U.S. Department of Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. from August through October, 2003, in Los Angeles during November for the Federal Stewardship/Partnership conference and at the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Virginia in 2004. The mural's creation and display highlights the importance of including diverse voices in the Department's decision-making process.
Photos courtesy of Bob Burgess