Exploring the Bicycle metaphor as a vehicle for rich story development: A collective narrative practice project by Marc Leger

In this video Marc talks about a Collective Narrative Practice project which involves exploring the Bicycle as its central metaphor. He will provide an overview of this collective practice methodology and share specific examples of how he has explored this metaphor with the use of ‘place-based’ narrative questioning practices within his own context. Marc has recently teamed up with a bike mechanic, a community developer, an outdoor education teacher and a grade 11 high school class, to explore this methodology as an alternative approach to mental health promotion work while they learn to rebuild and restore bicycles bound for the local scrap yard.

Marc Leger works as counsellor and community worker living in Ottawa, Canada.

Published March 4, 2016

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Francesca

    Thank you! This is very creative and useful. :)
    What about Tandem? Coul it be a nice metaphore for couples?

  2. chana rachel frumin

    wow creative
    well thought out
    universalistic can apply to any age, any culture
    I appreciate the thought you put into this
    Chana Rachel

  3. chris caron

    Dear Marc,

    Thank you for sharing your “bike of life “project with youth in Ottawa, Ontario. It brought back fond memories of when I first heard you present in November of last year. Although many things stood out for me while listening, it was wonderful to envision how different parts of the bike helped to facilitate a meaningful rich conversation with a young person, starting with the rear tire and asking “Where is home for you”? As well, I appreciate how the metaphor of the bike chain provided opportunities to having a re-membering conversation and linking to hearing a person’s culture, relational history, including significant meaningful places for him. In hearing your project again, I found myself excited to envision how I could use the “bike of life” exercise with adult learners in our Academic Upgrading program at George Brown College in Toronto. This metaphor would be relevant for many students who bike to school and have a history with biking. It can also be an opportunity to invite students to speak and write down their hopes, dreams and goals for the future as was reflected in your questions connected to the front tire. I equally appreciate how the spokes identify significant figures in a person’s life, drawing on who would be part of their club. I also love the idea of the bicycle basket as a metaphor for who would you bring along with you on your journey to sustain, nourish or orient you. I often ask students what they would carry in their knapsack or school bag get through difficulties.

    Your project has further encouraged me to think of different metaphors to use with students to connect to their varied interests, including music. Different components of a musical instrument guitar strings could offer opportunity for rich story development. This is relevant because I also work with many students who have a strong relationship with music. Perhaps the strings could represent significant figures in the person’s life. And like the frame of the bike, I’m wondering how the frame of the guitar could represent skills, knowledges, abilities, intentions and values, and how the front of the guitar could represent future journeys. I also valued the question linking unique outcomes, “How would you manage to stay connected to these interests despite your relationship with depression? What kinds of skills/abilities will you need to draw upon?”

    Thank you for sharing your practice project; it is a wonderful way to engage using different metaphors that contribute to both second story development and collective practices. Many possibilities of your project reflected thoughtfulness, including hearing how taking different bike paths have helped young people deal with stress.

    At the same time, I really appreciate hearing about the community development and initiatives that included creating an opportunity for young people building a community bike while honouring and exploring their connections among land, community and social action. I also appreciate how you situated yourself in your work in terms of the dominate culture and how feminism has challenged you not to reproduce privilege. I just recently came across this article (https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/how-bicycles-helped-liberate-women-in-the-1890s/) and thought of your reflections on the history of biking for women being connected to the suffragette movement. I equally appreciate the “road conditions” metaphor, such as road hazards (violence, abuse and obstacles) in reading the world in relation to power and privilege. For example, due to gender, ability, race, class, sexual orientation, some routes in life are risky, dangerous and just simply boring. What are the alternative and non-narrative roads? What are some ways spaces are unsafe for women and why, and who benefits from this? I also appreciate the Road wisdom collective document and recording insider knowledges.
    Finally, I appreciate how your project has encouraged me to reflect on my lengthy relationship with biking and how it has allowed me to travel and to see places, shift my worldview and think differently of my life while feeling safe exploring unfamiliar places.

    With thanks, Chris Caron

  4. Giorgio Rossi

    I think Marc´s works is a fantastic way to explore hopes and values with people. It made think about how people can “re ride” the wheel of their lifes. I would love to adapt some of his ideas to my spanish context and use it in my school community. Thanks for sharing it!!

  5. Lisa

    Thank you Marc. This is such a powerful and rebuilding way to explore and empower the individual. I would love to be in this line of work. I know many of my past students that would benefit from this immensely. So well delivered.

  6. Ray Lazarus

    Hi Marc
    I just wanted to thank you for your presentation. I found your use of the bicycle metaphor helpful, not only for its potential for application with young people, but also for the way you used it to illustrate so clearly central concepts of narrative practice and to bring in ways to link to broader social questions of power and privilege.


  7. Marco

    Amazing Marc. You are know sharing your knowledge, your experiences, and your inspirations with the world. Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us and now Friday Afternoons at the Dulwich.

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