A blog by Kat Dybzynska on her impressions of La Bolina through the lens of gaming, whilst volunteering last summer. Edited by Ruth Cross.

Learning from ‘Game changer’ approach

In conflict resolution a win–win strategy is a collaborative process that aims to accommodate all perspectives.

Game changers (in the world of gaming) are people who see the complexity of a game and learn to respond to the ever-evolving threads of connection between the seemly separate parts. The way to develop successful strategy in a game is to study the holistic network closely. You can only think few moves ahead if you really comprehend how the moves of single piece changes the dynamics on the whole board and affects the situation of every other player.

Living change

Mixing game changer approach with social change requires innovation – not only daring to vision an alternative future, but  daring to live it, now. And this is exactly what La Bolina are trying to do. For those of you who don’t know, La Bolina is a project working to regenerate the depopulating rural area of El Valle, 30 minutes south of Granada, Spain with thriving, intercultural and regenerative activities. The co-founders of La Bolina are an international group of people including migrants and refugees who joined together around their shared vision of environmental and social regeneration. Since 2016 they have been working to create the foundations of the project, with the 12 project members setting up a sustainable and social ecological veg enterprise. They are working together to implement win-win solutions to the complex problems of migration, climate change, degeneration, depopulation and economic instability. And I was fortunate to be able to volunteer with them for some months last summer.

Seeing the interconnections between the various parts of the project feels like looking through a kaleidoscope – every little part of the interlinking system is strongly connected and by turning the thing around we can see how one twist completely transforms the picture. That also signifies that we can never stop learning, because it is a dynamic process. The picture we see is ever-changing and yet always beautiful.  Kaleidoscopes are fun to play with. And so should changing the game: “if it’s not fun it’s not my revolution!”

We try to have a good time while making the shift – from organising football matches, through to facilitating theatre for social transformation workshops and giant food of the world picnics for migrants and local people in Granada and its surrounding villages.

“La Bolina is attracting people to move to the rural areas by showing that living sustainably from the land is not only possible but also great fun”

says Romo, director of Ecosuper, where La Bolina, the intercultural collective sell their organic produce.

The game where everyone wins

Stephen Covey author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” coined the idea of abundance mentality, the belief that there are enough resources to share with everyone. Abundance mindsets celebrates the successes of others, treating them as inspirations and proof of what is possible.

Jane McGonigal, game developer and author says that what surprised her in her recent work is that people no longer want to play the games where they need to compete against and between each. She claims that the new trend strengthens co-operation.

Gamers no longer desire to play against each other, but to play together. That is a revolutionary change.

So, what can we learn from gaming talk?

You can only make a puzzles by matching all the pieces. To reach the goal players need to gather as much resources as possible (knowledge, experience, strategy, allies…) and use them in the right configuration.

Level up! There is always another way, never give up – but don’t keep trying if its not working – just change track, adapt. Listen and then respond, learn from the evolution of different players around you.

A Regeneration Game would be the opposite to a regular War Game: – you are not here to kill, but to bring back life. There’s still fields where you can make allies and yes, you can expand territory – not by making it greater however, but greener. And the land does not come with ownership, but with a responsibility to care.

The more complex the challenge, the more adventures on the way. And we have loads to learn from observing nature!

Rules for regeneration

Principles of regenerative win-win approach in gaming are simple, because too many rules don’t allow for creativity to blossom. How are the principles playing out in La Bolina:

  1. There are no losers, just as there is not one ‘perfect solution’. Everyone co-creates the best solutions for the quests we are challenged with; migrants working along side locals to co-create the future together.
  2. All players need to be involved to create synergies. Our decisions are not singular and can create butterfly effect. By collaborating with others La Bolina is increasing its impact and also simultaneously adapting its strategy to best fit the changing context.
  3. Games work on many levels. La Bolina is interweaving external communication (to people like you), internal peer support, co-creating new cultures and values, along with a continual awareness on decolonialising patters from all involved, whilst having fun and living together as friends, and growing ecological veg and building commercialisation channels. We are testing solutions on ourselves and learning to live the change. No part is more or less important that the others.
  4. Every game has quest, power-points and a goal: La Bolina’s power-points are (not online presentations, but) the power of the community. The diversity of people and perspectives brings huge skills, ideas and allows for immense creativity. La Bolina’s quest: an intercultural community of radical friendship and co-workers; well, it requires a lot of effort on a daily basis, but ultimately creates a network of life-long support.
  5. The game measures time, pushing you to beat your records. But isn’t regeneration a race with time, again the already devastating effects of climate change? Nature teaches that good things take time. There seem to be no short cuts to the destinations that are worth visiting, but there are more exciting ways to walk the route.

Finally, how do you win the game that is not about winning?

You redefine, along with so many other stereotypes, the meaning of “win”.

And that is another accomplishment.

La Bolina are currently playing a worldwide game: putting out a request for financial support via a crowdfunding campaign. This is your chance to be a Game Changer and take part in their regenerative and solidarity revolution. Please show them that they are part of a wide network of supporters and share their crowdfunder now.

Your turn. Let’s play!

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