A Sense of Belonging (Things for Thought Toolkit)


Through the universal language of touch, the toolkit ‘Things for Thought’ explores materiality and the act of understanding artefacts physically in order to connect with a sense of ourselves and others. A sense of belonging is a vital human need that is strongly linked to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Things for thought serves as a starting point for discussion and enables creative thinking by allowing users an opportunity to better understand their unique and shared experiences of the world and what it means to belong.

Drawing on a Kaupapa Māori framework, Things for thought is narrative based and follows the Māori creation story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku to guide participants through the process.  The guided activity asks people to embrace external artefacts and speak to tangible and intangible qualities in order to consider and reflect on personal values that contribute to their sense of belonging. The process of engaging in haptic interaction and the act of projecting ideas through artefacts combines to stimulate reflective conversation that is grounded in physical interaction and is simultaneously personal and impersonal. The textures and interactions are intuitive in nature and allow for impartial and non-hierarchical discussion so that multiple perspectives are valued as equal?

Things for thought uses engagement (via haptic interaction with physical objects), connection (with others by working collaboratively to subjectively identify similarities/differences), and discussion (using abstract physical objects, questions, and inclusive discussion techniques. The aim is to create a psychosocial space that allows users to explore their experience in a productive and inclusive environment. By using a shared language, it creates an opportunity for innovative discussion around the topic of belonging and designing for socially inclusive communities.

Things for thought could be used in a range of settings, to facilitate community discussions, co-creation workshops, workplace interactions, and any context in which an in-depth understanding of oneself and others is useful. It also has the potential to enhance meaningful interpersonal connections in collaborative scenarios where time for in-depth exploration is limited.

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