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Decisions, decisions*

PURPOSE

This is a decision-making activity that introduces competing ideas. Participants may find themselves taking on unfamiliar roles and dealing with issues and concepts that may conflict with their personal values; all decisions have consequences but not all of them will make the participants happy.

 

TIME REQUIRED

75 minutes

 

RESOURCES

A. In advance, prepare separate Role Cards with these statements:

1. LOCAL MUNICIPALITY REPRESENTATIVE: “Less traffic means the neighbourhood will be safer.”

2. LOCAL BUSINESS OWNER: “Less traffic means fewer people will come to my cake shop and I will lose money.”

3. LOCAL RESIDENT: “It will be nice and quiet without the traffic.”

4. A COMMUTER: “The new road will make my journey to work much quicker.”

5. LOCAL LANDOWNER: “The Municipality will compensate me by buying my land.”

6. LOCAL POLITICIAN: “This is much needed investment that will benefit the whole community.”

B. You should also prepare these Consequence Cards:

1. The new road will be very expensive and be paid for by local taxes.

2. Reduced business may mean job losses (not just in the cake shop).

3. Faster driving vehicles use more fuel and this is bad for the environment.

4. The landowner gets richer.

5. The route of the road will go through a forest and affect the wildlife.

6. Reduced neighbourhood traffic should reduce accidents.

7. The construction work will provide jobs.

8. There are local elections later in the year.

9. Further development often follows the building of new roads.

10. The construction may attract anti-road or environmental protesters.

11. New development means new jobs.

12. Land sales and jobs mean more tax revenue.

 

ACTION

1. Divide the group into smaller groups of six persons and invite them to choose a Role Card.

2. Give them all this brief: “The municipality is proposing to construct a new road to bypass the town.”

3. From the perspective of their Role, the group must a) develop their arguments to support their position, and b) identify at least three potential challenges to their position and prepare counter arguments. (20 minutes)

4. After 20 minutes, the Facilitator invites each group to choose 2 Consequence Cards; they have 5 minutes to discuss and make any revisions to their arguments. (5 minutes)

 

DISCUSSION (30 minutes)

The whole group is brought back together and arranges the chairs in a Town Hall Meeting format (see ACTIVITY: TOWN HALL MEETING):

1. The representatives of each Role sit as a group behind a chair in the circle.

2. One person from each Role sits in the centre circle; only occupants of these chairs may speak.

3. The facilitator then invites each Role in turn to state their arguments.
4. When all Roles have had their say other people in the groups may step forward and take the chair in the circle; the debate then commences.

5. After 20 minutes the Facilitator stops the debate.

6. The whole group re-arranges the chairs into a large circle.

7. On opposite walls the Facilitator places a card: ☑ ☒

8. The whole group is then invited to vote on the proposition: “This community approves the construction of the new road.”

 

EVALUATION (20 minutes)

The Facilitator invites the group to share their experiences. Example questions could include:

1. “How easy was it to be your assigned character?”
2. “How did your group decide on its arguments?”
3. “How do you feel about the voting result?”
4. “What persuaded you to vote the way you did?”
5. “Do you feel that your opinions matter?”
6. “ How do you feel about the ACTIVITY?”

 

ADAPTATIONS

How would the group use this ACTIVITY in the future and would they make changes? Capture, record, circulate.


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