[COMM-ORG] query: power dynamic simulation

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Aug 22 13:57:37 CDT 2010

  [ed:  thanks to Michael and Deborah for responding to Vicente's query.]

From: Michael Paone <mpaone12 at gmail.com>

Hi Vicente,

Two thoughts:

Have you ever seen tools for doing a Power Map?

I've done some of these exercises through Wellstone Action trainings, 
which I've incorporated a bit in my work.  The Wellstone materials tend 
to focus on the levers of power in the public sector, as they relate to 
building a public policy based campaign.

Another more basic tool could be doing a Problem Tree.  This is more 
useful in the phase of identifying problems (perhaps a health 
disparity), and then extrapolating from that problem, to finding the 
issues relating to it, and the causes underlying it.

Hope this helps!


Michael Paone
Community Organizer
New York City Coalition Against Hunger
212.825.0028 ext. 215

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with 
potatoes. --Douglas Adams


From: "Deborah Zelli" <dzelli at kcsdv.org>

Hey Vicente,

As someone who works on a project funded by CDC and based on the social 
ecological model and risk factors, I think this is a great idea. My 
project focuses on the primary prevention of intimate partner and sexual 
violence but a number of our risk factors include items that CDCs could 
assist with (for example, poverty, etc.).

The public health field also does a lot of work on what they call Social 
Determinants of Health. If you are looking for more ways to "make the 
case," you may want to look at this area also (especially in Mass).

In terms of exercises, there are two that I use when we try to talk 
about anti-oppression and intersectionality that might work for you:
1) The Power Line - this one is highly adaptable. Basically, you create 
a number of personas in advance that represent the diversity within our 
communities. Most personas will include factors that raise social status 
and power and some that decrease social status. So, for example, one 
person in the line might be an African-American, male, gay doctor while 
another may be a heterosexual, white, factory worker. The audience lines 
folks up on the "power line" from least power (which includes social 
capital) to greatest power. The "trick" is - you only reveal certain 
aspects of the persona at a time and the audience has to keep adjusting 
the power line. So, using the example above, you might initially reveal 
one person as a doctor. The audience usually puts them high on the power 
line. In the next phase, you reveal he is gay. Now the audience has to 
readjust the power line.  The exercise generates a great deal of 
discussion about perceptions of power and adds aspects of 
intersectionality of oppressions to the discussion (avoiding the 
perennial problem of "Oppression Olympics."
2) Paul Kivel has a great exercise called "Ten Chairs." Ten chairs are 
placed at the front of the room and ten participants sit in them. The 
chairs represent resources and the facilitator re-allocates the chairs 
based on a series of economic moves (for example, one person gets rich 
and gets five chairs while the other 9 people are forced to share 5 
chairs). Prior to the chairs, the facilitator can do a brief overview of 
the economic pyramid (wealth distribution). The exercise really 
highlights access to resources and power dynamics that help to maintain 
economic divisions.

Both of these activities can be tweaked for time limitations and you get 
some great discussion.

Anyway, let me know if you are interested in more info on these.

BTW - I think this is an awesome potential partnership and I might just 
have to look into this in Kansas...

dzelli at kcsdv.org
Prevention Projects Team Leader
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

On 8/21/2010 10:28 AM, Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
> --------
> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
> --------
>    [ed: please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Vicente's
> query.  A couple things from me below.]
> From: vicente sanabria<evicentesanabria at gmail.com>
> Hola a todos,
> Here in MA we are planning the Ounce of Prevention conference Oct 14th
> (let me know if you're interested in more info) and I am leading a workshop.
> This conference is mainly sponsored by the MA Dept of Public Health and
> will attract mostly public health people.  Two years ago I co-lead a
> workshop with Steve Schnapp of United for a Fair Economy which focused
> on the role of Community Development Corp. and it had the most attendees.
> This year my workshop is called "Land, Labor and Capital: the Role of
> CDCs in Public Health."  The head of the Centers for Disease Control
> (the "other" CDC) came out with his 5 tier public health framework.  The
> foundation for public health is the socioeconomic factors or the social
> determinants.  It opens the door for public health to partner with
> community dev corp and other groups that do community organizing.
> As part of the workshop I want to do a simulation on the power dynamics
> that exist in the communities we serve.  The audience will be primarily
> public health folk.
> It needs to be about 10 - 20 minutes, debriefing notes would be nice,
> and the amount of participants 10 - 20.  Any and all ideas will be welcomed.
> Power to the peaceful,
> Vicente
> ******************************
> [ed:  John Ruoff's Love Acres simulation, linked from
> http://comm-org.wisc.edu/node/6 , and perhaps other things from the
> training manuals section of that page, may be helpful.  I also have some
> workshops in my Community Organizing and Development course that may be
> useful at http://comm-org.wisc.edu/node/23 , along with others in the
> community organizing section of that page.]
> _______________________________________________
> Colist maillist  - send messages to Colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
> To change your subscription, go to http://comm-org.wisc.edu/mailman/listinfo/colist
> All messages are archived at http://comm-org.wisc.edu/pipermail/colist/
> Please contact original message authors to request permission to forward messages.

More information about the Colist mailing list