ABCD Europe

Asset-based community development in action, all over Europe.






Facilitators Guide: 12 Domains GAME




















Background to the Game


This is a game with the intent of triggering some ‘serious fun’. The game creates a framework for having a complex conversation about the unique functions of communities and institutions, as well as exploring the areas where can best work together.


Because we live in a consumerist world, where too often the assumption that a good life can be purchased in the market place is made, we have intentionally designed the game to make a point, that is: Community has unique and irreplaceable functions in building caring and sustaining societies. Systems are also important since there are limits to local and things we cannot do simply using people power, so too is it true to say that there are things that neither systems nor communities can do unilaterally and must partner with one another to achieve. Democracy is predicated on understanding and negotiating these spaces. My hope is this game makes that conversation a little easier and more fun.


Community: The Forgotten Tool of Change

The bias of this game is as follows: we can do more with People Power than most believe. Of late, the most important lesson to emerge, from what seems to me to be a fledgling renaissance of community life across the globe, is that there are certain things only citizens, organising themselves into associational networks, called communities, can achieve. 

So what are the unique capacities of citizens that will propel this renaissance to its tipping point-that can not be purchased on the high street, and that the occupation of Wall Street will not release? What is it that only we can do together, that if not done by us will not get done?

I believe there are at least 12 domains[1] that call on the unique competencies of citizens working together, and whose ambitions cannot be achieved without people power:


1.         Promoting our Health & Wellbeing

2.         Safety & Security

3.         Nurturing Environment

4.         Nurturing the Local Economy

5.         Mindful Food Consumption & Production

6.         Raising Powerful Connected Children

7.         Ageing Well in Place/Locale

8.         Building Communities

9.         Civic Action for deeper Democracy & Just Society

10.       Responding to Natural Disasters and climate change

11.       Co-producing knowledge & sharing wisdom

12.       Changing the World

When initiatives in these domains are viewed as an expression of collective intelligence, rather than isolated happens, we can begin to see them for what they are: the global emergence of a new invitation back to community, and a mobilization of a hidden wealth which could become a viable complementary currency for more sustainable investments in our shared future.

The message to government and other institutionalised systems, from citizens who are sharing their creative power in this way, is clear:

  1. In areas where citizens are most competent, do not obstruct or try to replace them.
  2. In areas where they require support, facilitate them to come together to first identify what they have within their own communities and then to figure out what they need from outside.
  3. Past the boundary which marks the limits of community competency and the beginnings of systems capacity, share generously, humbly and transparently the services and supports that can only be provided by systems or co-produce in partnership with citizens.

We are fortunate to live in a time when after decades of amnesia, we are again remembering what we all innately know: that in the ‘community way’ is found a path to health, wellbeing, safety, prosperity and environmental sustainability, which cannot be found elsewhere. We tell our ‘David and Goliath’ stories about our communities because we know that such amnesia can easily return, responsive to the whims of economic change. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, community prospers in adversity, and dies in prosperity. There is work to be done in building our futures, if we don’t do it using the giftedness of community, it will not get done. There is no substitute for people powered change….

“Every gift contains a danger. Whatever gift we have we are compelled to express. And if the expression of that gift is blocked, distorted, or merely allowed to languish, then the gift turns against us, and we suffer.” (Johnson, L - Thoughts on giftedness. Understanding Our Gifted)


Before you Play!

Before playing the game invite people at each table to read one of the summary cards that describe the domains, and encourage them to discuss what the cards meant to them. It is helpful if the numbers are large to do this in small group discussion within a cabaret format. You can then take feedback from each table, by asking: ‘what are the three nuggets of wisdom that we can take from these cards about People Powered Change?’ Encourage people not to repeat what has already been said by other tables, but instead to add and deepen.


When this is done after the We Can Game, it creates a powerful experiential learning environment for exploring the principles of Asset Based Community Development.




Facilitator’s instructions:


As the designer of this game my personal preference is firstly, to play this game after the We Can Game, and having read through the 12 Domains summary cards, over the period of a number of 60 minutes.


Secondly, I see this as much a tool for shared vision making as a discrete group exercise. Therefore the activity card options enclosed should not get in the way of people inventing their own answers to what activities should go where in the matrix.


Here’s how I suggest you proceed.


  1. Split into small groups, between 4 to 10 people. Set out the game referring to the activity instructions attached and some slides that illustrate the layout:


  1. You can simply invite people to place the activity cards (of which there are 100) where they as a group, see fit. This works best if one person reads and asks in a facilitative style ‘where do people feel it should go? And please say why? ANY other thoughts? Other ideas? Suggestions?’
  2. People should be encouraged to first think about which of the 12 domains it (the activity card e.g. walk a neighbours dog) might fit into and then which of the three categories: People can do this using people power; Professionals and citizens can do this together; Professionals must do this unilaterally.
  3. With many of the cards people will debate and suggest that they belong in more than one of the 12 domains, therefore if the groups determines that the activity mentioned in the card fits into more than five of the domains, place it in the ‘change the world’ domain. If under five, gently encourage people to select the domain that they feel is most appropriate. (there is a sub text to this dimension of the game, in that it proves quite hard to do, since doing so involves siloing-the lesson here is that life does not divide so easily)
  4. Many participants will also debate that some activity cards could fall under more than one of the three categories. Here we are exploring the unique competencies of citizens/communities; professionals/systems, and the space for co-production between the two. The question that should resolve equivocation is which of the three is most competent?
  5. My preference is to limit the use of the pre existing deck of activity cards, by suggesting that each group use between five and ten to get started, then start generating there own suggestions using blank cards that they write on after group discussion to fill in the blanks in the matrix.
  6. To help with group dynamics why not use world café and after about 20 minutes invite one person to stay behind as group ambassador and ask the others to move to separate tables and continue the exercise. This will spread the innovation across the room, help build a wider conversation and move towards some shared insights.
  7. You can choose to rotate for another 20 minutes if the energy allows.
  8. Finally facilitate a group discussion. You can chose a variety of processes for this discussion, including using it to begin an in depth discussion on neighbourhood planning. Whatever you choose: have fun!
  9. Let me know what you learned by emailing



[1] for a detailed description of the 12 domains of people powered change visit

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