Public Lab Wiki documentation

Setting Goals

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This is one of a series of guides for collaborative environmental research and advocacy projects. Setting Goals starts with listening to individual interests and priorities and builds toward establishing a shared, group agenda. This guide covers a sequence of asking individuals to write down their goals, then looking for similar goals, voting for important goals via dot, and finally choosing which are most important to measure progress towards. NB: this activity could be generalized to include interests in other types of environmental investigation such as documentation, management, monitoring, etc.

Planning this event

Ahead of time:

  • Pick a time for a 2 hour session that is convenient for the most people involved
  • Find a space, it may be useful to be indoors with enough chairs, restrooms, and some wall space, etc
  • Send invites two weeks to a month in advance

Materials to have on hand:

  • If available, the group's mental map from the Start Here activity.
  • post-it notes or regular paper cut into smaller pieces and stacked.
  • if using paper, bring tape
  • large chart paper or a roll of paper
  • colored dot stickers
  • consider nametags

Activity 1: Hello and Introductions!

Go around the room with everyone saying their name and introducing themselves in a sentence. Going up to three or four sentences is OK, use your judgement regarding the time you have available and the importance of hearing from everyone, because understanding a bit about where everyone is coming from is important to this activity.

Activity 2: My goals Our goals

Note: this activity is organized so that during different moments in this activity people may be doing individual work, coming together in small groups, or discussing as an entire group. This style is sometimes referred to as "One, Some, Many."

As facilitator, you may want to respectfully capture some photos of people during the activities.

ONE: People write out their ideas on their own on post-it notes / small pieces of paper. Pass out post-it notes / small pieces of paper and ask the group "what are you interested in doing with the garden project this year?" Suggest that they write no more than 3, but some might not be able to restrain themselves. As people get started, if it seems like prompts would help, you could suggest the following questions to consider:

  • What are we going to plant?
  • How much do we want to grow of these plants?
  • Who do we want to visit the garden?
  • Who do we want to help with the garden?
  • Who hasn't participated that we want to participate?
  • What animals do we want to visit the garden?
  • What kinds of fun do we want to have in the garden?
  • other good things?

SOME: People share ideas with one or two neighbors (stay seated). While they do this, hang a large piece of paper on the wall with the headline "GOALS"

MANY: Share amongst themselves as a whole group. Each person stands up and reads their goals and sticks them on the wall-paper. As facilitator, looks at which goals are overlapping and move them near each other. Once everyone has presented, observe which goals are widely held.

To conclude this portion of the event, you will help people decide on what goals we share as a group and will prioritize this year. Pull out the dot stickers and tell people they have three "dot votes" each. Ask people to come up one or two at a time and put a dot next to the goal they think are most important. When everyone has voted via dots, stand back and everyone review the page. (Optional: Allow a moment for people to rearrange their dots if anyone desires.)


If critical members are not there, consider leaving this part of the activity "open" for them to give input later.

Activity 3: Choosing which goals to measure progress toward

Tell the group that we are transitioning to the next part where we make final choices on which of these is important that we track progress towards.

  • Explain that the goals we choose to track progress towards should have the most at stake in terms of benefits to be gained (knowledge) or in communication to those outside the garden (funders, policy makers, neighbors, etc), and aim to choose a minimum number.

This may open up into a discussion or you may want to go around the room and ask people individually. Someone should be designated notetaker, and at the end of the workshop the notes should be collected by a garden leader for use in the next workshop, Choosing How To Track Progress.

Looking ahead to next steps:

The next guide, Choosing How To Track Progress, will describe how for each of the goals that the group chose to measure progress toward, you can choose how you want to measure, then design fun, "field-proof" measuring activities.