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Musical Chairs as Commons: The Resource Challenge

A workshop to playfully learn about and familiarize with the concepts of the commons and natural resources

As we tend to forget how we can work together for a common cause, Alekos Pantazis designed the workshop ‘Musical Chairs as Commons’ that helps us explain the concepts of scarcity and abundance in an experiential way. A highlight of our capacity building toolkit, it is an interactive educational activity that prompts us to think differently, and teaches us how we can manage a common resource, like water or energy production, together.

It is recommended for local associations that envision an alternative approach to water or resource management, as well as for teachers, students and parents’ associations, but also to people interested in collective self-management.

The workshop involves three steps that can be modified according to context.

  • Playing the traditional musical chairs

Participants dance around chairs. When the music stops, they quickly find a chair to sit on. Failing to secure a chair results in exclusion, prompting discussions on exclusion after the round.

  • Reversing the traditional version

The process is repeated,despite removing a chair each time, no participant is expelled. Instead, all players collaborate and share the available chairs, fostering discussions on the experience of sharing a common resource after each round.

  • Co-creating solutions for the local challenges (optional)

Participants split into sub-groups and select a real world scenario concerning a community facing a problem of a scarce resource, e.g. water or energy. They discuss potential community rules for the co-management of the resource. 


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