The Oasis Game is a playful method developed in the slums of São Paulo, by Instituto Elos from Brazil. The participative method for community development is used by community members and change-makers working in local communities taking on the challenge of social cohesion, urban planning and welfare. More and more people are also becoming involved. Through cultural exchanges, the Oasis game has been exported to Spain and Netherlands and to more than 50 countries in total, developing new games inspired in the Oasis participative method. The E-mpulse game, as a result of this process, it is an on-line and off-line incubation challenge to support the creation and development of ideas, dreams and projects that will change the world.
Born in Santos: Working together to make dreams come true, instead of focussing on difficulties, is the basic principle of the Oasis Game. The Oasis Game involves both community members and volunteers in discovering, developing and realizing playfully a community’s shared dream (the Oasis). The Oasis Game is entirely about getting people together, getting people to understand each other, to dream together and to realize that dream. The point of departure is the idea that communities possess abundant knowledge and resources, and the desire to address some of their most pressing needs. The method focuses on unlocking their latent energy and confidence. This proven and successful Brazilian method for participative community development is now used at various locations in the Netherlands, due to the E-Motive exchange.
Focus on the community’s perspective on improving social cohesion
Several neighbourhoods in the Netherlands, especially in its larger cities, experience all kinds of social problems and have low social cohesion. Professionals working with local communities have problems finding the right approach to involving community members. The challenge and goal are to change the mindset of the residents, and to inspire professionals to work more from the community’s perspective.
Oasis Game: playfully realizing the oasis together with local residents
The purpose of the Oasis Game is to realize the most common dream of local residents in an interactive, accessible and playful way. During an Oasis Game, a team of residents and professionals continuously visit the neighbourhood, to mobilize and involve even more residents. It is important to include space for residents to actively participate in making dreams come true, and make decisions together and thus contribute to a shared result. The Oasis Game is complete when the dream has transformed into a spectacular material from in the area. This is then celebrated. Another end result is that people feel empowered by what they can achieve together. Playing the Oasis Game has enabled, informed and facilitated the residents to become more active citizens.
Result of the exchange in the Netherlands and Brazil
The first E-Motive exchange for Oasis game took place in 2010. A Dutch group (Fairground) visited Brazil (Elos) to experience an Oasis Game and to learn how they could use this method to work with residents and create improved community environments. The Elos crew came over to Amsterdam to facilitate the first Oase Game in the Netherlands. Part of the visit was also to exchange knowledge on how to work in a multi-cultural setting. The Elos Institute has a lot of experience in working with people from different social backgrounds. A main objective in training the Dutch professionals was to transfer this experience. There were many Oases Games after this in THE Netherlands, UK, Curacao, Montenegro, Madrid and even now in Barcelona, Zimbabwe and Soweto. A impressive global Elos network is established.
Result of the exchange: Oasis Game is spreading more and more
The Oasis Game method and manual have been developed by the Brazilian and the Dutch organizations. Although situations can differ from country to country, and problems like poverty and injustice are more serious in Brazil than in the Netherlands, this method can be used everywhere. The 7 steps of the Oasis Game remain the same.
There were many Oasis Games and Oasis training after this in The Netherlands, UK, Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba, Montenegro, Germany, Spain in cities as Madrid and Barcelona but also rural areas, Zimbabwe and Soweto. This was made possible by the impulse given in 2010 giving shape to a group to found a new organization: Elos Netherlands. http://www.elosnederland.nl/
A worldwide movement
For Elos Brazil, to be involved in the exchanges enabled them to position themselves stronger as trainers and experts and expand their network nationally and internationally. “To propel a movement to realize the world we all dream of, now” That is the purpose of Elos. Introducing their method to the Netherlands and other countries fits in perfectly.
With the history and the programs of Instituto Elos Brazil and the strong support of Elos Netherlands an impressive global Elos network is established. Having people participate in capacity building, learning-by-doing programs we have had participants taking the methodology to over 40 countries worldwide, involving over 20.000 (registrered) community members and giving shape to 5 regional groups who are representing the work of Elos in their region. This includes India, the Carribbean, Southern Africa and the GSAMadrid group and Altekio who are supported by E-motive since 2013.
From Oasis Game to E-mpulse game
Using the expertise of Elos with community gaming, this growing movement and the principles of E-motive we launch as part of the E-motive going global the E-mpulse game. The E-mpulse Game is an online and offline incubation challenge, based on the 7-step methodology, to support NGOs and social entrepreneurs worldwide to build E-motive partnerships to help them develop ideas, dreams and projects that will change the world. With participants signed up of over 20 countries in 5 different continents they take on 5 online challenges to take offline action in their community, build a powerful plan and an irresistible partnership proposal.
Niels Koldewijn, director of Elos Netherlands:
“When you approach people positively and ask them what they want, and let them think and decide about the answer together with you, instead of putting the problem at the centre and decide for them, then the creative solutions just emerge on their own."
Our world is full of vast ‘deserts’: regions and communities where the social and environmental vitality was destroyed. However, these places still have inevitable points of light full of hope, beauty and joy. The Oasis Game intends to develop more of these points of light, by creating new ones or by expanding what is already there.
An Oasis Game is about involving local people, and working together on improving the neighbourhood. An Oasis Game is always structured in the same 7 steps. You start by taking a good look at your neighbourhood, seeking out its beauty instead of only the problems. Participants get in touch with people in the area. Together they work creatively and quickly (usually over 2 weekends) on building a shared dream: a physical space that nourishes life, joy and restoration. The major goal of an Oasis Game is not the material end result, but the connections that emerge in your neighbourhood. That is why an Oasis Game is always concluded with a celebration, to share the joy of achieving a result.
The 7 steps of the Oasis Game
An Oasis Game is always has the same 7 steps:
- Appreciative gaze: Observe the area and look for possibilities. Look for the beauty.
- Affection: Meet and talk with local people. Truly connect with people. Look for the person behind the beauty.
- Dream: Express ideas, share dreams, build images of what you and they would like to accomplish. Prepare, find connections and similarities. Reflect on the dreams.
- Care: Prepare. Plan, seek and put together resources (materials available around you, in the neighbourhood), building the model.
- Miracle: The collective action: building ‘an oasis’ together. Neighbours, professionals and volunteers working together to make it happen.
- Celebration: Share the joy of your accomplishment, of carrying out the action together.
- Regeneration: Create visions of the future. Launch a new challenge. After playing the game the people are encouraged to keep working together and initiating new projects.
Result of the Oasis Game: empowered communities
The Oasis Game is at heart a way of empowering community leaders committed to joint action. It gives them tools to help their neighbours come together and co-operate effectively. The Oasis Game’s strength is on using locally available resources. It relies on people taking possession of their talents and command of the materials at their disposal. By working together for a common good, a community creates meaningful and long-lasting solutions to its problems. The social fabric is repaired, and a sense of citizenship and connection with society is re-established. The material result reflects the strengthened social structure and affective connections that were built in the process.
What end is served by an Oasis Game?
The Oasis Game is recommended for a number of situations:
- When you want to launch a community development plan with your neighbours.
- When you want to disseminate values through practice.
- When you want a group to reach for the sky and makes things happen.
- When you want to promote radical change in the culture of a community, group or team.
- When you want to encourage and develop group work.
Elos Nederland organizes community activation programs that strengthen communities, groups, organisations and individuals in realizing their collective dreams, by building meaningful relationships, empowering participation and giving the space for everybody to contribute to the best world we dream of. Our mission is to propel a movement to create the world we dream of, now. Our works revolves around the power of community, the Elos philosophy, the 7 steps that guide our transformation processes and the 7 social techniques that we apply. This has been mostly manifested in one of our main programs, the Oasis Game and Oasis training. We facilitate communities not only to bring out the best in themselves, but jointly materalize these dreams in physical, economic and social results on community and personal level.Our dream for 5 years from now is to have a pan-European network, an Elos learning centre that works in communities, companies, governments and promotes a community leadership style that supports individuals and groups to keep changing our lives for the best it can be.
Elos Netherlands was created after the first E-Motive exchanges between Elos Brazil and the Dutch organization Fairground. Fairground inspires people, teams and organizations in The Netherlands and worldwide to develop them, by linking them to civil society project in development countries. The seven year track record in ten countries with more than 20 project partners is proof of a sustained community development work from an innovative angle. Oasis Game is one of their key tools of the Dutch program.
Instituto Elos Brazil
Instituto Elos Brazil (2000) is a NGO created by architects and urban planners. They address the root causes of the unequal power relations and social disintegration in marginalized communities. Their purpose is to impulse a worldwide hands on network to make the world we dream of happen. As a result Instituto Elos is the spider in the web of a vibrant and dynamic network of social entrepreneurs, and has positively impacted more than 200 communities in 26 countries. Worldwide 360 persons are accredited trainers of the method.
“It is increasingly evident our planet’s greatest wealth is diversity. We rely on this diversity when it comes to building strategies for transforming the world. In our vision for a better world, companies and communities, adults and children, governments and civil society work, coexist, live side by side and offer their best for the best of all worlds.” (Elos)
Altekio, initiatives towards sustainability, is a social enterprise that offers training activities, projects of research and intervention, design of projects, providing advice to public and private entities, and facilitation of processes to organizations with the horizon of sustainability in all its aspects: environment, community development and social economy.
Stichting Elos Nederland