To energize the group
To reflect on decision making under stress and while handling unexpected tasks
1. Participants form a large circle.
2. A facilitator, standing within the circle, throws the first ball to a "community member", announcing that the farming in the community is going well. Participants must keep the ball in motion by continuously throwing it around the circle, not letting it touch the ground or stay in any one participant’s hands more than 2 seconds if possible. Allow some time for the group to find their rhythm.
3. At any time throughout the game, the facilitator may introduce new balls into the circle, either announcing their entrance in advance (e.g. "you are dealing with a specific livestock disease amongst your sheep" or "there is conflict in your community") or springing it on the circle of participants as a surprise ("there is a flash flood"). Either way, participants must try to keep as many balls circulating and off the ground as possible.
4. Close with a round of reflections: How did you experience the game? What does this mean for adaptation for farmers and organizations?
Allow time for critical reflection by participants after the game:
How did you feel in the first stage of the game? By comparison, how did you feel when multiple balls were in the circle?
Seeing as it is virtually impossible to keep all balls from dropping on the ground, how did you / the group prioritize which balls to put the most energy into catching? What qualities (e.g. size, colour, texture) might have played a role in this decision?
Up to 6 different balls (differing in size and material)
For safety reasons, the balls should be fairly lightweight and of a softish material. Also, if playing indoors, plenty of space should be set aside to play the game.
You can play this with a different story line too, to illustrate compounding stressors: e.g. an office situation, or implementing an adaptation process.
Relevance for adaptation and DRR processes
When farming under unpredictable conditions, farmers face many stressors. Too many stressors distract and confuse. This learning exercise explores how farmers often have to make choices regarding what pressures to give attention to. A good dynamic exercise to explore complexities and the compounding effect of stressors.