Game Brings Networks Together and Spreads Innovations

Authors: Michelle Medley-Daniel

If you’re a regular follower of this blog you no doubt read about our recent field tour featuring Front Range issues and projects hosted by the Coalition for the Upper South Platte and their partners. That was one part of the joint session designed to introduce the Fire Learning Network and Fire Adapted Communities Networks, with the intention of finding opportunities to work together and apply common networking principles to our joint efforts.

In addition to the field tour, we hosted a poster session to help showcase the work of network participants. But this wasn’t your ordinary poster session, the FAC Network’s research team, Bruce Goldstein, Sarah McCaffrey, and David Burchfield developed a marketplace game that utilized peer learning to help the two networks get to know more about the current work and aspirations of their peers.

The game allowed players to make investments in the projects they’d most like to support. “Play” checks were distributed and participants then visited the posters and asked the poster hosts questions. Once people had visited all of the posters, and in doing so met people from each of the project sites, they were able to make investment decisions. The checks assigned both a monetary investment value and described the rationale for why that investor wanted to support the project. Once all the checks were tallied every project had received investments, and people left talking about the great ideas they’d seen that they could import into their local work.

The marketplace game capitalized on three of the basic principles of both the FLN and the FAC Networks:

  1. Valuable networks invest in relationships. This game created a great space to interact in-person and learn more about both project work and individuals.
  2. A learning network should create opportunities for people to share what is important to them, and encourage interaction that is driven by the needs and interests of its members. The game relied on both the posters and the poster hosts to convey the importance of the strategies each participant was pursuing; this allowed individuals to share different angles of their work, and to customize their “pitch”. The messages were shaped by the participant’s interests and passions.
  3. Make it fun! We all have to make choices about where to put our energy. If your network is fun and value-added people will be able to invest in participating.

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