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Botanical Empathy



This canvas has been designed to facilitate empathy between participants to each other and to the natural environment. It allows participants to speak honestly about themselves using plant metaphors. 

The choice of plants will evidence diversity and uniqueness amongst the team members, providing an opportunity to establish genuine, respectful, and strong connections with each other.

This canvas is specifically useful when the conservation challenge involves riparian planting, reforestation, or similar activities.

1. Distribute 1 template per participant and provide drawing tools for everyone to share.


2. If you were a plant, what kind of plant would you be? 

Participants can name a specific plant or just mention general characteristics. Encourage them to be candid and honest in their choices, describing their real selves, their essence, not what the world expects them to be. Encourage them to use adjectives that apply to the plant realm (e.g.: delicate-tough, small-large, exotic-native, colorful-discreet, resilient-vulnerable, etc.)


2. What do you/could you provide to your community?

Ask participants to describe their role within their community. e.g: Protection (shelter/shade), Nourishment (vegetable, fruits, nuts), Health (medicinal properties, wisdom), Beauty (decoration, scent), Other. 



3. What are your main challenges and aspirations?

Ask participants to use plant metaphors to describe their current emotional state. Which are their biggest challenges? Which are their greatest aspirations? e.g.: Seed (waiting to emerge, potential), Decay (unhealthy, oppressed, unnourished), Bloom (shining, joy), Other.


4. What kind of environment do you need to thrive in?

This refers to the participant's connection place and to the natural environment. E.g: a space that provides nourishment, amplitude, sunlight, connection, birdsong, etc.


Ask participants to sketch their plant self.


5. Share in a circle (make sure that it is a safe space: no judging, no cellphones, no pictures). Each participant can share individually (if you have time). If the group is too large, each participant is invited to say 1 keyword for each question. The facilitator reads aloud each question and then in a circle, each person says only one word that summarizes his feelings.


Additionally, each participant can show (or pin on a board) his/her drawing.


- Pens

- Canvas template


40 minutes

- Pens, pencils, colours
- Canvas template

Botanical Empathy

CREDITS: Created by Gabriela Baron 2020.

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