Imagine taking the greatest social movement victories of the last 100+ years and teasing out the core strategies and tactics that made them successful. That’d be a pretty great movement resource right there. Now imagine a deck of cards and accompanying set of exercises that allowed you to play with these ideas in different ways depending on the challenges you’re facing. Strategy games. Campaign planning games. Action design games. All equipping change-makers with the strategic and tactical know-how to effectively and creatively upend the status quo.
Through our ongoing Beautiful Rising partnership with ActionAid, we stumbled into designing an early prototype of such a game, which we’ve been testing all over the world, from Burma to Zimbabwe, Bangladesh to Brooklyn, and have now launched in beta. The game has proven enormously popular with workshop participants, many of whom requested copies for their own organizations to use in strategic planning and action brainstorming. It’s a great way to disseminate the core concepts of strategic social change and get people applying them in practice, thus contributing to a deeper culture of strategy and analysis. In Amman, workshop participants invented new ways to play the game; in Yangon, they organically incorporated the cards into their own strategic planning process, and then challenged the facilitators to a head-to-head match, on their turf, addressing their issues!
About Beautiful Trouble/Beautiful Rising
In 2011, 70 campaigners and cultural workers collectively authored the book Beautiful Trouble, which has now sold over 10,000 copies and been translated into six languages, and we haven’t stopped making trouble together since. Today, our growing global team runs a training network and is heavily focused on expanding our new global south-driven platform, Beautiful Rising.
An innovative partnership between ActionAid and Beautiful Trouble, Beautiful Rising is a multi-platform toolbox for creative organizing. It is accessible as a messaging bot (https://telegram.org/blog/inline-bots); as a live strategy game that allows participants to apply the principles of strategic campaign planning and effective action design to their own situations; and as a customizable PDF that organizers can print and circulate locally via our Creative Commons license. Published in English, Spanish and Arabic, it provides an accessible and evolving suite of resources for activists all over the world to learn from one another, share successes, and strategize.
Over a hundred organizers from five continents have contributed insights and analysis, many as participants in week-long face-to-face activist jam sessions that we conducted in Yangon, Amman, Harare, Dhaka, Kampala and Oaxaca. The editorial team spans three continents and the Advisory Network spans five. Over twenty organizations including AHEL, 350.org and Tactical Tech have signed on as partners, and are now using, adding to, and helping to disseminate the toolkit. Contributors comprise dozens of frontline organizers, as well as notable movement strategists including Arundhati Roy, Vijay Prasad, George Katsiaficas, and Mark and Paul Engler.