Text Less, Talk More: Get started with Picture a Conversation

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His Lens My PenA photograph shows a group of ducks gathered near the edge of an ice-covered shore. Some have turned their heads toward the land; others look out at the water. One brave soul has ventured into the water, swimming toward an unseen destination.

To some, the photo is simply a striking depiction of a natural scene. To JN advice columnist, journalist, author, blogger and entrepreneur Debra Darvick, it presents an opportunity for conversation, something she considers a dying art and is hoping to revive through her new endeavor, “Picture a Conversation.”
Darvick came up with the idea as an outgrowth of the greeting card line “His Lens/My Pen,” a creative collaboration between Darvick and her husband, Martin, an avid nature photographer. Each card includes a photograph taken by Martin and an inspirational message written by Darvick. The messages relate to universal issues such as relationships, taking chances and facing new (or old) challenges.
With the goal of inspiring people to “text less and talk more,” Darvick expanded the greeting card concept and developed a set of 25 cards, each with a photo and conversation prompts relating to the image. For example, the caption accompanying the photo of the ducks reads, “The choice is yours: Turn your head. Watch from the shore or swim into your destiny.” On the back are three conversation prompts that encourage participants to discuss experiences from their own lives involving one or more of the three approaches.

“My passion is to recapture something that is being lost and diminishing our experiences as people,” Darvick said. “We’re losing something in our humanity when we’re only texting or talking via computer. We’re still human; we need to talk, to look into someone’s eyes.”

The idea began a few years ago. Initial presentations met with positive feedback. After her daughter, New York-based graphic artist Emma Darvick, created a design, the Darvicks found a Michigan fabricator for the actual manufacturing process. After an initial printing of 1,000 boxed sets of the cards, the Darvicks hosted an “assembly party” to put the packages together.

“It’s a charming package, with no shrink wrap, just a clear seal with a sticker,” Darvick said. “I wanted it to be an experience where the box opens like a gift.”

The cards, which sell for $24.95 per 25-card set, are available in Arizona and Vermont as well as on the website PictureAConversation.com. The cards will soon be available in retail locations throughout Southeast Michigan. She plans to sell them at local craft and boutique shows as the holidays approach.

The Darvicks have used the cards to spark conversations with their children and between themselves, learning new things about each other even after 36 years of marriage.

Debra & Martin Darvick
Martin and Debra Darvick

“I find it very fascinating,” Martin said. “You end up talking for 20 or 30 minutes about something that would never have come up without the cards.”
Rabbi Boruch Cohen, spiritual leader of the Birmingham Jewish Connection, has used the conversation cards during discussion groups attended by married couples.
“I think the cards are marvelous,” he said. “They have led to some insightful discussions, brought people to a place of reflection they may not otherwise have gone. There are so many ways to use them.”

Professional relationship coach and mother of four Stacy Bishop Niskar has enjoyed using the cards with her husband, Joey, and their four children.
“In a world of technology, where we all have our noses in our phones, it’s wonderful to look into each other’s eyes and share from our hearts in a meaningful and authentic way,” said Niskar, who plans to start using the cards with her clients as well. “It was a nice way to connect and get to know each other better.” *

By Ronelle Grier | Contributing Writer

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