2.3(b) Sailing away


To consider who has influence to make things happen in the community.

You need

The work you did in activity 2.1(a) Community: What's In A Word?, flipchart paper, pens, activity sheet 15 and about an hour.

What to do

Cartoon illustrating topic

In preparation for the next community meeting, your group meets to look more closely at your three priorities for action (which may or may not have ended up as the top issues for the whole community meeting). You want to be prepared to make the most of so many people coming together to advance your cause. Who has the power and the influence to make things happen, to get each of those priorities moving?

a) Make a list of some of the people who were at the community-planning meeting. The list below gives you some ideas. Add as many more as you wish. Use your community plan to inform your thinking. It could be entertaining to draw a cartoon character of them, or you may have their picture from your community mapping activity.

  • Young people
  • Local head teacher
  • Community police officer
  • Local councillor
  • MP
  • Shopkeepers
  • Chair of the residents’ association
  • Detached youth workers
  • Journalist for the local paper
  • Local authority senior planning officer

b) Get into three small groups, each taking one of your group’s three priorities from the community meeting in activity 2.3(a) Community Interests. Draw a picture of a sailing boat on a large piece of paper, or use activity sheet 15. Name your ship, load her up with your chosen priority for action and get on board. Who and what can get you sailing directly and quickly for your destination? Who or what can hold you back or throw you off course? Label your diagram with the names of some of the people and factors where you think they should be. What power do they have to either help or hinder your voyage? Are they ropes holding you back from even leaving port, excess baggage on board simply weighing you down, or an anchor dragging over the side? Does someone just want to pose as a figurehead, wanting attention but not getting stuck in? Or are they willing hands, working as a team? Are they contrary winds blowing you off course, head winds causing you to have to tack from side to side, or are they favourable tail winds encouraging you and helping you along? Are there any hidden rocks lurking in the shallows?

(This activity is inspired by the hot air balloon exercise in Participation Spice it Up! Dynamix and SCF, 2002)

What do you think?

The activity is a useful tool to help you identify in the early stages potential allies and problems. Come back together and share your findings. Compare what you have done. Is there any pattern to your findings? Were some people always helping and others always holding you back? Or did it just depend on the issue you were carrying? What else might help or hinder you? Money, access to meetings, how young people are stereotyped? You can add more detail to your sailing voyage to represent these and other similar issues that may have arisen in your discussion. Keep this work safe, as it will be useful to the group at other times.


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