Elos Nederland is scaling up for a bigger impact. Their goal: serve a larger number of communities and help a larger number of volunteers to participate in the Oasis Game. The Oasis Game is played in empoverished neighbourhoods. Whilst appearing small in scale, the game brings profound results in terms of people’s self-esteem and the feeling that they can determine their own future. We asked founder Niels Koldewijn to describe this transition: what choices did he make, and what implications does it have on the way Elos is organised?
“After 2.5 years of bringing the Oasis Game to Holland – it is a Brasilian method originally – our initiative is turning into a growing organisation. With the Oasis Game we’re supporting communities in realising their common dream (the Oasis) in an accessible, fun and rapid process (the Game). An Oasis game is organised by experienced practitioners and played together with community members & volunteers. In the last two years, we implemented over 10 games in deprived areas in the Netherlands.
Elos grew out of the need to better organise the first practitioners in the Netherlands. From the circle of practitioners we have formed the team of Elos Netherland Foundation. We registered as an organisation. This way we brand ourselves by gathering under one name, constantly evaluate the quality of our work, and form a reliable partner towards the organisations we already had established relationships with. So its form has grown in an organic way, roots upwards.
The growth model is as follows: practitioners bring in money by giving Elos a percentage when organising Oasis Games. At times, volunteers or community members become so inspired they start organising things in their community, some even become part of the community of practitioners. Thus both the circle of practitioners and the circle of volunteers grow. A movement is slowly but surely developing.
Another important step in developing this movement is this weeks’ launch of the Elos Foundation’s official Dutch handbook, which you can preview here. It releases the principles of the Oasis Game from our own hands and puts them into others. It’s a great tool for those that have already been trained in the Game to start taking a bigger part in new projects as practitioners. The handbook will help us to stay co-ordinated while Oasis visits more places and more people come to know about us. The latter seems to be happening without us even knowing about it. For example, the Oasis Game was mentioned in a recent WRR report (Wetenschappelijke raad van regeringsadvies): they mentioned ‘vertrouwen’ (trust) as a new practice in community building using the power gaming. We didn’t know about it until somebody told us!
People have asked if I am not worried that people might use the handbook and apply the knowledge without becoming part of the movement. I see it this way: We’re in a constant capacity building journey where – besides making a healthy social business – we want to continually evolve our skills and knowledge. The learning environment that we co-create has proven to be of great value to the practitioners A handbook is one thing, but it won’t work without practice and experience. Therefore we organise a quarterly community of practice, each time organised by a member of the community. Last time we looked at community gardening where we designed an edible Hub garden at the Westerhuis.
For those looking to become part of this community and learn more about the Oasis Game we organise Oasis trainings, a week-long learning immersion. The latest coming up are in Brazil in the fall and one in the UK at the end of this summer. We would love to have you as part of the Oasis movement. You are invited!”