Horticulture is a taxonomy, not a hierarchy.
1. We love Hybrids.
Creative projects have multiple strengths, and few can be defined entirely by a single garden tool. Sometimes the core strength of the project itself is different from the way it is used; i.e., a Wheelbarrow could, with the proper strategy, be used as a Rake. You’ll probably find overlap in our definitions, too. We agree. That said, in an effort to highlight clear examples, we’ve matched projects to the tool we think will illustrate its essential contribution.
2. We designed Horticulture for media makers, funders, and others who strive for social impact. We can’t say this enough.
Many excellent media makers and artists oppose the very idea of categorizing, measuring, defining, tracking, or applying other methods to creative work. We hear, understand, and respect many of these concerns and are always interested in discussing them. In other words, by no means are we suggesting that Horticulture and the concepts on this website should be applied to the entire spectrum of arts, culture, and creativity.
3. We think measurement can be a great way to learn, improve, adjust, and celebrate. But for some creative work, metrics are not possible or appropriate.
Much of the effect that media and the arts have on people is immeasurable; how do you affix a number to an incremental, short-term shift in culture or put a value on the way people feel after experiencing a profoundly moving piece of art? And even when measurement is viable (say, how many people joined an organization after seeing a movie), there is no single method or template that can be applied across the board. Nor should we try to invent one.
The “We” in How Do We Know are the range of groups in what we call an Ecosystem of Change—a network of people and organizations invested in a particular social issue. Learn more and see where you fit in.
With this in mind, How Do We Know was created for:
> Media makers such as journalists, visual artists, playwrights, photographers, and other creatives who want to define and articulate how they hope to contribute to social change and movement building.
> NGOs, advocates, and organizations who want to work with media makers and artists—and who need a new framework for considering what kinds of creative media will help them advance which outcomes.
> Funders, investors, and donors who want to understand what media and culture can contribute to the issues they care about—and who are looking for new ways to support, analyze, and communicate about impact.
> Evaluators and social scientists who often face the challenge of modifying expectations or unpacking the unrealistic expectations baked into program, advocacy, and funding strategies.
> Communications and impact strategists who plan the activities that heighten visibility and deepen influence for institutions, ideas, and campaigns.
Lead image by Tony Webster. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.