Re: integrating new members/community building
From: Tree Bressen (
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2002 19:24:01 -0600 (MDT)
Rosa wrote:
>Any ideas as to ways to help
>new folks feel more comfy, and ways to help our (largely
>shy/introverted) "established" folks be more welcoming?  Activities, etc.

You could try a few "diversity"-type games.  Besides being fun and getting
folks moving, people often discover things they have in common during
exercises like that, and that gives them a connection to build from.  Here
are some examples:

*Big Wind Blows* (also goes by other names, and has many variations)
The version i think is the most fun is a type of musical chairs game.  Pull
chairs into a circle, each person in one chair and no extras, and you as
the starting caller stand up with no chair for you.  You call out, "The big
wind blows for everyone who . . ." and then fill in the blank, e.g. "grew
up in Massachusetts" or "wears glasses" or "likes spaghetti."  Everyone who
fits that category must change to a different seat.  Anyone who's not in
that category remains in their same seat.  Whoever doesn't find a seat in
time and is stuck standing then gets the fun of choosing what to ask next,
as they become the next caller.  Another great thing about this game is
that it's accessible to kids as well as adults.

Non-musical chair variations include having everyone who fits the category
step into the center, or stand up at their seat, or cross to the other side
of the room (that version is called "Crossing the Line").  Which version is
chosen depends on mobility of group members, etc.

Have people line up in order of birthday, or seniority in the group, or
some other spectrum that might be fun or relevant for getting to know each

*Spectrum Groups*
SET UP: Put big numbers from 1 to 6 (or, for a larger group, maybe 1 to 10)
on the walls at different places in the room.  Prepare several questions
that have the same number of answers as are on the wall, and put each
question with the answers, each answer coded to a number, on a piece of
flip chart paper.  For example:

Where are you originally from?
1 - Boston and suburbs
2 - Massachusetts
3 - East Coast city of 100,000 or more
4 - somewhere in the middle of the US
5 - West Coast or Hawaii or Alaska
6 - outside the US

How Many Brothers and Sisters do you have?
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 - 3
4 - 4
5 - 5 or more
6 - Only child

Pick questions that you think would be a good match for your group.

RUNNING IT: Show the questions one at a time.  Tell everyone to figure out
the answer that best fits them and then go stand under the number
corresponding to that.  Give them about 5 minutes to talk to one another,
then give the next question.  You might tell them to talk about the
question, or just let them talk about whatever; usually the answer to the
question will be the most obvious common ground for them to start to talk

Afterward have the whole group come back together and spend a few minutes
talking about what the exercise was like for them.

*Who's at the Table*
Have the group split into smaller groups, say around 4 people per table.
For each group or table at the opening, provide a sheet of paper with extra
space below the following instructions:

1.  For each person, enter their name and one characteristic they possess
that no one else at the table possesses.
2.  Find one thing that everyone at the table has in common.

Make filling out the sheet a precondition for eating, leaving, starting the
meeting, or whatever, and ask tables to each share with the whole group the
thing they have in common and one of the unique things.

*Find a Person Scavenger Hunt*
Make up a scavenger hunt for your group that is based on things about
people, instead of finding objects.  For example, you can make up a form
that is given to each person when they walk in the room, which says to find
someone to fit each of the following 10 items.  When the searcher finds
some who fits that criterion, they write in the person's name.  Whoever
fills all ten slots first "wins."
1. Find someone who has traveled in Africa or Asia.
2. Someone who has grey eyes.
3. Someone who goes to church on Sundays.
4. Someone who has a pet bird.
5. Someone who uses a computer that's at least 7 years old.
6. Someone who has read the book "The Fifth Sacred Thing," by Starhawk.
7. Someone who grew up seeing their grandparents at least once a month.
8. Someone who is allergic to cats.
9. Someone who was an adopted child.
10. A womyn who has ridden a tractor or a man who has sewn his clothing.

*Middle Name Guessing Game*
Have everyone write their middle name on a piece of paper and fold it up
and put it in a basket.  Then people pull the slips of paper out of the
basket, and try to guess whose middle name that is.

You also asked:
>Any facilitators out
>there (or recommendations thereof) who do community building workshops in

You might try contacting CT Butler, i'm not sure if he does exactly what
you are looking for, but he might.  I don't have his email address handy,
but he has a website at that i assume includes an email

Have fun,



Tree Bressen
1680 Walnut St.
Eugene, OR 97403
(541) 484-1156
tree [at]
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