Posts tagged work party
I spent a week in Amsterdam learning a method of playing for change developed by Instituto Elos, a Brazilian NGO which has its roots in participatory architecture. Their mission is: “To propel a movement to make the world we all dream a reality, now.”
I’d like to give a thorough description of how an Oasis Game works, so here we go!
Elos has distilled seven disciplines to move through in the process of facilitating an Oasis Game. Text in italics comes straight from their training manual.
1. Appreciative Seeing.
We walk through the community to find what beauty already exists. What assets and resources are already abundant? What is alive? Instead of looking for problems, we look for the existing beauty, abundance and value already present.
Now we dig deeper to uncover who created the beauty, nurtures the vitality or maintains an asset. This is a process of building friendships in the community by starting with a compliment. Through this process of making friends in the community, we find and map out the talents, skills and resources that can contribute to creating an Oasis.
3. The Dream.
Now we create a conversation space where people can feel comfortable sharing their biggest dreams and most profound visions. As a host of this conversation, we try to thread these dreams together and find the common thread. One practice is to Believe in Utopias so that people don’t feel embarrassed to share their most creative ideas, however ambitious they may seem. As a facilitator, you also guide this conversation toward finding dreams that can be realized in 2 days. There can be longer-term, larger-scale dreams identified, but the outcome of this step is a collectively-held vision on a scale that can be built quickly. This will give people the confidence and momentum to then pursue the bigger dreams.
Practically, this involves holding community gatherings where people can share their ideas for what the best Oasis could be.
Once a collective dream has been found in the community, the process of developing the vision into a design can get political. So the focus at this stage is on caring for our relationships and ourselves, and keeping the balance in chaotic situations. Planning from YES means beginning with the assumption that there is a viable route to find the oasis, and we say YES to challenges along that path.
Practically, this is centered around a community design charette where we build models and do Collective Prototyping of the dream. Once this design has been created, we split into small action teams to gather the physical resources needed. Ideally, all materials are donated in-kind, which maintains the feeling of a collective game toward which everyone is offering whatever is abundant to them. In Brazil, Elos did a huge Oasis and kindly refused a total of $300k reals (more than $150k) in monetary support! Money is by design scarce, not abundant! Some money may be required, but try to use as little as possible.
5. The Miracle.
The dream has been awakened. The design has been drawn. The resources have been assembled. Now the magic happens to make the impossible real.
In the process of actually building the Oasis, we balance Cooperation, Autonomy, and Proactivity. We try to nurture an atmosphere where people are truly working together gracefully, building this dream. But people should also feel empowered as a leader, taking initiative where they can offer expertise. And we take responsibility for our dreams and hold ourselves accountable to realize them.
Over two days of seemingly chaotic, decentralized play and crafting and innovating with the resources at hand, what had previously been a dormant, sleeping, impossible dream is now a living reality!
Once the Oasis has been built, its time to celebrate this miraculous birth! At the end of the second building day, we party down, and also sharing what we have learned in the process. It is important to bask in the beauty of this new Oasis, and set a good precedent for the use of the space. The Oasis is christened as a place to play, share gifts, and keep dreaming.
Don’t stop now! This is just a seed of what is possible! The drive for a new cycle of accomplishments, uniting a web of partners and collective dreams in a movement to expand and transform. We must use the momentum, energy and excitement that has been built in the community to realize more dreams! To do this, we build a sense of Belonging to reinforce people’s sense they are part of something important and incredible. We continue Spreading the network of partners, dreamers, builders and participants which will open up greater potential, new resources, and expanded scale. We Restart the process from the very first step, letting go of our assumptions and starting fresh with new eyes.
So there’s your 3,000 foot view of the basic process of a Game. There are also Characters like Ninja, Gnome, Angel, etc that each player takes on in the game to provide different functions within their team. There are specific tasks and missions within the seven steps that constitute the action of the game. If you want to learn more, you’ll have to attend an Oasis training or talk to someone who has done an Oasis Game!
If you’re still reading, and really excited about this stuff, here are a few videos about all the incredible Oasis that Elos have facilitated: