Resilience Games

Communities face a host of unpredictable challenges — stronger storms and heavy rains, heat waves and droughts, invasive species and wildfires, epidemics and fires. Wouldn’t all this be less depressing if it involved games?

It takes true resilience to prepare and respond — the ability to work together, solve problems, and build back stronger than before. It takes action and collaboration in a number of diverse areas to build that resilience — emergency response, environmental protection, local government and utilities, community building and education. And yet hazard mitigation and emergency plans are often written in silos, by a few key experts.

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Resilience games, interactive assessments and collaborative workshops make these topics a whole lot more fun, engaging and accessible. A slew of interactive activities are out there today, all of which can help build connections among a broad range of stakeholders and community leaders, helping to build understanding of shared challenges and build momentum for shared solutions.


Check out some of our favorites and try using them in your community. Want to bring an event or customized version to your group or town? Get in touch - we’d love to help!


  EXTREME EVENT  WAS Created by the Koshland Science Museum (now LabX)

EXTREME EVENT WAS Created by the Koshland Science Museum (now LabX)

The Extreme Event Game

Any closet dungeons & dragons fans out there? Participants of all ages love this immersive resilience game, where they take on a variety community roles, work together and find out what it takes to build true resilience and community in the face of disaster. This detailed game is ideal for 20-60 people, whether community members, planners or technical audiences. You can download a full set of game materials that simulate a city of about 200,000 people and include variations for floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, rent the materials, or hire a facilitator.

What We Love: You’re immersed in this award-winning game from the minute you walk in the door, and participants always have some big “aha moments” about the complex interactions between planning and response, and the importance of building community.

How We Adapt It: We work with many small towns and rural areas, with their own distinct needs and challenges. We’ve created an adaptation of this game that more accurately depicts communities with less than 50,000 (or 5,000!) people, and incorporates the real lessons we’ve learned from working on resilience projects with Vermont communities.


 Resilience Bingo was created by community workshop LLc.  DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!

Resilience Bingo was created by community workshop LLc. DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!

If Extreme Event sounds pretty intense (it is!), Resilience Bingo is about as simple as it gets. This simple activity is a great ice breaker or intro game for any community meeting or workshop: just design and print your bingo cards, pass them out, and go! Instead of letters and numbers, these bingo cards include a variety of skills and resources needed for community resilience. Participants win by completing a row, and the whole community wins by learning more about their neighbors and needs. Download our free printable version here or design your own!

What We Love: This activity is incredibly simple to create, use and adapt for most any community or group. Even better, it helps people get to know each other and learn about community assets.

How We Adapt It: We tailor the cards to whichever town or group we’re working with — changing or adding squares that are important for that particular place. We try to offer a prize to up the ante — bonus points if it’s related to resilience (think first aid kit or seed packets). And we often use this activity to kick off a real asset mapping process — collect the cards at the end, and you have a head start on identifying local resources!


Community Resilience Assessment

This great tool isn’t quite a game, but it can be a fun and interactive (and serious!) way for community members to work together and understand how their community measures up in a range of resilience categories. The assessment includes four big categories and several dozen areas; participants evaluate where they are on a spectrum and give their community a score. Individuals can take the assessment as an online tool and save their results, or download a copy to use in a meeting or group setting. Communities can track their progress over time and see how they improve.

What We Love: This is a robust tool that allows communities to look comprehensively at their resilience actions, and understand a range of ways to improve on them. It’s simple scoring also makes it easy to hone in on areas of improvement, and it can be used in a variety of ways.

How We Adapt It: Most communities wouldn’t have a single person with all the knowledge needed to fill this out, so it works best when you bring together people with different roles in the community to complete it together. Bonus: that means they have to talk to each other! We like to run this activity as a larger event — either following the Extreme Event game, or in a workshop with keypad polling to prioritize areas for action.

 we worked with Community resilience organizations to develop the tool and pioneer workshop methods. The assessment is  available for free.

we worked with Community resilience organizations to develop the tool and pioneer workshop methods. The assessment is available for free.


 RAND CORPORATION DEVELOPED THE  HUNGRIER GAMES TOOLKIT , AVAILABLE FOR FREE ONLINE.

RAND CORPORATION DEVELOPED THE HUNGRIER GAMES TOOLKIT, AVAILABLE FOR FREE ONLINE.

Resilience is a tough concept for adults to understand, and it can be even trickier for kids. This toolkit from Rand is the full package: talking points and simple messages, activities that integrate with school curriculum, and a fun scavenger hunt game that empowers high schoolers to understand and identify ways to proactively build resilience.

What We Love: This is an approachable and adaptable game that brings resilience down to earth. It’s also a full kit, with carefully designed messages and instructions that make it easy to run.

How We Adapt It: Like most games, we change this one up to have specific details, challenges, talking points and clues that fit the particular group of kids or community we work with. And while this game is geared toward high schoolers, we find that younger kids are pretty great at building resilience too — we’ve adapted parts of this kit to work for middle schoolers or even mature elementary-aged kids.


 Game of Floods was created by Marin COunty, CA.

Game of Floods was created by Marin COunty, CA.

Here’s another great role playing game, this time geared more toward professionals with a solid understanding of hazards and mitigation actions. You get the same collaborative decision-making fun of the Extreme Event Game, but with a more technical challenge based on sea level rise on the California coast. Players must argue for specific investments in hazard mitigation steps, based on a detailed understanding of flood projections and mitigation benefits. You can download the materials for free or pre-order a game set from Marin County.

What We Love: This game gives professionals real practice at understanding tradeoffs and making tough choices about where to invest and where to let things go. The mitigation actions are realistic, and the big picture questions are applicable to many communities.

How We Adapt It: The California model is applicable to many coastal communities, but not so much for inland areas or communities facing non-flood hazards. We’ve used the concepts of this game to create game boards with different maps and investments that work for rural mountain communities, smaller towns, or areas facing fire, wind, snow and ice, or other hazards.


Want more?

There are dozens of great games out there — we can’t stop at just 5. Here are links to additional games, activities and resources. Leave us a comment and tell us about others that you like and we’ll keep adding to the list!

  • Rand Corporation has developed a number of resilience toolkits with activities and messages, table top exercises and more.

  • Games4Sustainability includes a blog and Gamepedia platform with more than 100 simulations and games around climate and sustainability, including stories of how they are used.

  • Centre for Systems Solutions offers several simulations and multiplayer games for systemic challenges including energy transition, sustainability and more.

  • Climate Interactive has a great list of 19 games that could change the future, from computer games to apps to board games — including many familiar games that can be adapted for serious resilience education and planning.

Community Bingo Game Kit

Need a fun ice breaker or group activity for a community event? Community bingo is one of the easiest activities you can do. Plus it has a whole bunch of benefits, from building relationships and helping neighbors get to know each other to identifying community skills and assets.


We developed this easy activity as a great starter for community workshops and planning events, but there many ways you can use it. We’ve done versions for resilience and climate change workshops, for neighborhood networking events, for municipal planning and more. Just change the categories and the text to help your group discover all kinds of things about their neighbors.

Download our complete versions (for community asset mapping, neighborhood connections or resilience), print and go!

Want to change it up? You can also download a Microsoft Word template and add your own categories or create a new version.


Community Bingo Kit Instructions

  1. Download and print

  2. Click download above to get our print-ready files for resilience or community bingo. They’re chock-full of good community-related skills and assets. Print on paper or cardstock — you can even print two to a page if you want to walk the sustainability talk.

  3. (Or customize)

    If you want to add your own categories or design a bingo game tailored to a different topic, download the Word file instead and click on each square to add your text. Try one for school or education planning, for food and farm events, for climate and energy, or whatever floats your boat.

  4. Plan your event.

    This works well for groups of many sizes, from about 10 up to 100 or more. If you have a small group size, you might need to let people fill in the same name for more than one square. At a community meeting, set aside at least 10 minutes for people to do this activity, or hand out cards on the way in and let people fill them out as they mingle and get settled.

  5. Make it worthwhile.

    Believe it or not, there may be a few people out there who are NOT chomping at the bit to play bingo or are reluctant to get all friendly and talk to their neighbors. Prizes will help get them in the game — even small ones. Bonus points for giving away community-related swag: try seed packets, first aid kits, or coupons to a downtown shop.

  6. Make it snappy.

    Another way to get people moving and stay on track: timers. Timers offer instant motivation; as soon as you show them a ticking clock, people will be off and running.

  7. Start your asset map.

    This activity can be just plain fun, but why waste all the info that people gather? Collect the sheets and at the end and you’ll have the start of an inventory or asset map of community skills.

Pop-Up Theater Kit

What if our downtowns and streets and storefronts weren't just about getting where you need to go and doing what you need to do? What if they were also spaces for play and fun and creativity? We think they can be - that's why we created the pop-up theater. And you can too!

CW is proud to be one of fifty winners nationwide in the Play Everywhere competition from KaBOOM.


Kids need play for their brains, their bodies, and their spirits. Grown ups and communities do too, for all the same reasons.

Community Workshop was one of fifty winners nationwide in the Play Everywhere Challenge, designed to bring play into everyday spaces and improve the lives of kids and families. Putting up a bright, fun play space can transform a vacant downtown lot (or a Laundromat, office, or bus stop) into a dynamic space for kids, while transforming ordinary errands into an opportunity for families to connect and create. Kids can get dramatic while their parents get the laundry done or pick up a pizza. That makes play truly accessible and makes families' lives easier and more fun.

We designed and built a whimsical, compact, portable play stage that kids can use to create and put on impromptu puppet shows and plays. Our build partner — Living Edge Woodworking — created a flexible and inexpensive design that can easily fold up and fit into a wide variety of small and unexpected places. The prototype has spent time in a downtown parklet, homeless shelter, rec center, and on a Main Street sidewalk. As part of our launch, we partnered with the Arts Bus to offer two kids’ art events to activate the space and help kids make puppets to use.

Check out the other amazing Play Everywhere competition winners, from municipal slides to sidewalk games to a kit of parks. We're honored to be in their company! 

You can download the plans for free and build your own. If you’re in the neighborhood and would like us to bring the theater to you, get in touch! We are happy to loan it out for community events or sites, or facilitate a kids’ art or theater event.


POP-UP THEATER KIT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download the full pop-up theater kit.

    The kit includes detailed plans and directions for building your own pop-up theater, painting it, and tips for installing and using it. You’ll need a number of building supplies, paint, some tools, and basic carpentry skills.

  2. Find a place that needs play (or several).

    The best locations are safe, legal, accessible, and in need of things for kids to do. They can be public or private, indoors or out, one-off events or longer term installations. We’ve brought our pop-up theater to a vacant lot on Main Street, community festivals, schools, businesses, shelters and more.

  3. Install the theater.

    Set it up, be sure it’s stable and secure, and add a sign telling people what it is and letting them know they are welcome to play! Stop by regularly to check for damage and maintain it if needed.

  4. Program it.

    The theater may be just fine by itself, but it will be even more successful if you can add on some fun elements or include events and programming. Try leaving puppets, costumes or props to make it exciting. We built an improv spinner wheel to give kids ideas when it’s set up in an outdoor location. Puppet-making events, open mic sessions, or theater classes would also help draw people in!

  5. Get social! #popuptheater

    Take photos and spread the word on social media. We’d love to see your theaters popping up everywhere, and we’ll share them here!


Thanks to our partners for help making this happen:

Small Change - Grants and Funding for Small Community Projects

We work with lots of community groups and organizations that want to do projects. Small projects — maybe a community celebration, public art project, engagement event, or building a parklet.

Many of these projects need less than $5,000 (or even $500!), but that funding is critical to helping projects get off the ground. So where do you find funding for those small projects with big impact?

Here is a list of the top places you can look, plus a special list of specific funding programs for our Vermont communities.

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  1. Community Foundations

    If you’re lucky enough to have a community foundation in your state or region, that’s the place to start. If they don’t have small grant programs of their own, they can likely advise you on sources and point you in the right direction.

  2. Local Banks

    Local banks are often very generous with their funding. Many have foundations, and most have smaller, flexible giving programs on a rolling deadline. Managers can sometimes make a donation of a $100 or so on the spot, or ask about bigger programs and opportunities.

  3. Community-Minded Businesses

    Look around your community for the businesses that operate in your area of interest, that contribute to local projects or causes, or that are known for being good neighbors. Ask whether they have grant programs or make contributions. Planning a community energy project? Try a solar company. Looking to build a park? Google landscapers.

  4. Similar Events

    If you’re really at a loss, look around for similar events in the community. Check out posters, programs or websites and see who sponsored them.

  5. Philanthropy News Digest

    PND is one of the best national grant aggregators, with hundreds of listings of grants. Most are larger, and most will not be relevant, but if you scan it often you’ll sometimes find smaller grants in your area of interest. This could be a great place to find a few thousand dollars to build a community garden or start a reading program. Search online or sign up for a digest of grant announcements.


Small Grants for Vermont Projects

  • Vermont Community Foundation’s SPARK grants

  • New England Grassroots Environment Fund

  • Ben & Jerry’s Community Action Team grants

  • Vermont Natural Resources Council

  • Catamount Solar

Local Heroes Kit

Who are the local heroes in your community? The firefighters and schoolteachers, the people who quietly pick up trash and pull weeds, the movers and shakers, or the peacemakers? Whoever they are, there's power in recognizing them. Download our free Local Heroes kit with printable cards. Hang it up at an event or public space, and watch your community smile as you honor these special folks.


Everyone needs a little inspiration. There's no better way to learn about your great neighbors than to ask people to nominate their local heroes. That's why we created a FREE kit to help you shine a spotlight on people just being good to each other.

The Local Heroes kit sets you up with a simple way to discover and celebrate the good in your community. You set up a table on the street, at an event, or in your store, then ask passers-by to nominate their local hero. Make sure they explain why, and then hang up their nomination cards on the wall or on a clothesline.  

Simply download, print, and share the love. This FREE kit will help your neighbors smile, come together, and remember that we're all in this together.


LOCAL HERO KIT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download our Local Heroes card template.

    Print enough copies for your event, or to set up a good clothesline (20-50 is usually a good start). Colored paper makes them stand out!

  2. Find a spot.

    Find a place and time that will work well. You can just set it up and leave it there (we recommend hiding in the bushes to watch the fun!) or you can set it up at an event, which is a good way to get a lot of traffic. We love putting these up at community festivals, town meetings, or in the hallway of a library, town office or school. They are also great on downtown bulletin boards or empty storefront windows!

  3. Set up your Local Heroes line or wall.

    Clotheslines work well for trees or on a wall, but you can also use a bulletin board or just tape on a wall. Hang up some blank cards and leave out pens and markers. Fill out a couple to “seed” it and show people what to do!

  4. Snap a pic and share! #ourlocalheroes

    People will love seeing photos of the clothesline as it goes up, and of people taking comments.

  5. Keep on celebrating….

    If you set up at an event, you’ll likely need to take down your line at the end. But don’t throw it away! Many community organizations will find it inspiring and might want to take it over - ask your library, school, or fire department to start. If you can’t find a new home for it, you can still spread a lot of smiles by handout out the cards you collected to the people they honor. Stuff them in mailboxes, deliver them with a smile and thanks, or tape them onto front doors under cover of night!

Emergency Election Affirmations Kit

Calling creative community first responders!

We're in a state of emergency... national politics is a giant mushroom cloud of wacko negativity. And that trickles down. The name calling, disrespect and partisanship aren't just bad for our country — they're bad for our cities and towns, our neighborhoods and our own personal karma.

That's why we've put together an emergency election affirmation kit. If you’re feeling icky, simply download, print, and blanket your community in positive, happy thoughts today.


Ugly rhetoric and disrespect are seriously harshing our national mellow. That's why we created a FREE kit to help you paint your community in positivity.

The name calling and partisanship aren't just bad for our country - they're equally damaging to our communities and neighborhoods. How can we rebuild streets, tackle climate change, and educate our kids if we can't stop chasing emails and grabbing each other by various body parts?

It's time to stage an intervention.

Simply download, print, and share the love. These FREE stencils and tear-off posters will help your neighbors smile, come together, and remember that we're all in this together.


ELECTION STENCIL KIT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download our Election Affirmation Stencil designs and make your stencils.

    Print the design out onto a material that will work for stencils. Plastic or mylar sheets are best; cardstock or cardboard can work. If you want the stencils to be larger than your printer paper, project them onto pasteboard or a larger sheet, and trace around the design. Cut out the letters, and if you use cardboard or cardstock, tape or laminate so it will hold up to paint.

  2. Pick a spot, get your paint, and spray positivity.

    Find a good location and materials for stenciling. Keep it legal, folks — use temporary chalk spray paint or tempera paint and steer clear of private property (or get permission). Public locations are great — Main Streets, town halls and political venues. Smooth sidewalks or pavement work best. Polling places are great, as long as you abide by local election rules. Use tape or a buddy to hold down the stencil while you spray.

  3. Snap a pic and share! #imwithUS

    Share on social and spread your message even wider. We’ll post some of our favorites here.


TEAR-OFF KIT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download and print our tear-off fliers.

    Easy peasy: download the file, load up your printer, and run off copies to post around your neighborhood.

  2. Post & enjoy.

    Bring along some tape or thumbtacks and hang up your tear-off sheets on bulletin boards or other public places. Keep an eye on them - we have a feeling the tabs will be gone in no time!

  3. Snap a pic and share! #imwithUS

    Share on social and pass the word along.

Community Flash Mob Kit

You haven't lived until you've danced in the streets! At CW, we believe in the power of the arts to bring people together. We also believe that nothing beats a spontaneous dance party. So why not combine the two? Use our free Spotify playlist and organize your own... 


Flashmobs are spontaneous mass performances — dancing, music, theater, or any other creative spectacle. Why? Why not?Flashmobs are fun, surprising, interesting, thought-provoking, community-building wonders. They can be simple and just for fun, or can be carefully planned to educate, inform, or engage people in serious topics.

For the past few years we've organized community dance flash mobs for events, including this one at the Foodaroo food and music festival in Middlebury Vermont.

Ready to go? Use our Spotify playlist to get grooving!

Need some inspiration? Check out Flashmobs on YouTube for some great examples.


FLASH MOB INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Find your opportunity

    Picking a great time and place is half the battle. You want it to be public, at a time when a lot of people will be around — but don’t obstruct traffic or block sidewalks, and we don’t recommend interrupting important speeches or events. The less people expect something crazy, the funnier it will be.

  2. Tap your team.

    Decide whether you want this to be a hush-hush event, which will mean a smaller, invite-only flashmob, or whether you want to go big and spread the word. Either way, put out a call for dancers early on. You might need to do a little arm-twisting.

  3. Plan, share and practice.

    Choose a song and plan some choreographed dance moves — it helps to have a choreographer friend for this step! It’s up to you how choreographed and complicated you want to make it. Think about how skilled your dancers are and how much time you have to practice. Then share around the song and the steps, and get your team to practice on their own and/or in person. Make a clear plan for where you’re going to meet up, how you’re going to start, and what everyone should wear, bring or do. Pro tip: make a simple video to teach the moves if you can’t all get together.

  4. Bring it! #communityflashmob

    One the music starts, there’s no going back! Test out your sound equipment and set up ahead of time, and get the volume right. If you’re attempting something top secret, be sure you arrive in cognito and at different times. Don’t forget to plant someone in the crowd to capture it all on video and film! Post it up on social at the end and share it with the world.