Get to the Root
Root of the Problem is a divergent thinking activity that broadens participants' thinking about the elements of a problem and where the experts are locally. It's also a great opportunity to use respectful language and generous listening as they work together in small groups, honoring all contributions and expanding on one anothers' ideas.
- Chart paper and markers for each group
- Internet access to look up resources
- Work in small groups.
- First, the group decides what problem they want to talk about. A problem describes what is wrong in the community, rather than the desired outcome. Examples: "polluted neighborhood park" or "kids come to school without breakfast" or "limited Internet access."
- The participants draw a tree as big as their chart with bare roots and branches.
- By the roots they write several root causes of the problem (no trash cans in the park, people don't respect the natural area, people stay inside).
- By the branches, they write several effects of the problem (kids can't focus on work, they are ill often).
- They draw bee and butterfly outlines around the tree on which they write expert resources to learn from (organizations, websites, people who know about the problem and solutions).
- The groups share their tree brainstorming with others and ask for further ideas and discussion.
Reflection and Next Steps:
Focus on what next best steps we can take right now. This may include the following:
- meet with nonprofits to ask questions about the issue and what they do
- investigate the problem and learn more
- tell others about the issue or things they can do (be an advocate)
- change habits
- collect resources to help others
- View Learning to Give toolkits related to Issues We Care About
Find Learning to Give lessons related to the identified issues, understanding nonprofits, or advocacy: use search terms related to academic or philanthropy goals, service project ideas, issues, or community resources.