Facilitation:Strong Wind Blows

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"Strong Wind Blows" is a game that allows individuals to assert their identity in a group discovery model. Playing one at a time, participants make statements which are true about themselves and learn how many others share the same characteristic.

The game rules are simple; the dynamic resembles "musical chairs", where players compete to sit in chairs. To set up the game, get all participants sitting in a circle with no empty chairs. The facilitator, who is standing and has no chair, is the first to play.

The person standing makes a statement that begins with the phrase "Strong wind blows for", followed by a statement that is true about themselves. For example:

  • A guitarist might say "Strong wind blows for anyone who plays guitar"
  • A parent might say "Strong wind blows for anyone with children"
  • A connoisseur of adult beverages might say "Strong wind blows for anyone who loves beer"

Statements might also be tailored to the topics of the event at hand; for Penguin Day, which focuses on open source software for nonprofits, these might include:

  • "Strong wind blows for anyone who uses Open Office"
  • "Strong wind blows for anyone who loves Linux"
  • "Strong wind blows for anyone who has been to sourceforge.net"

As soon as the statement has been made, every person for whom the statement is true must jump out of their seat and find a new available seat. The person who made the statement is almost always able to grab a seat, which leaves a new person standing once all seats are filled. That person must then make a "strong wind blows" statement to continue the game.

An additional rule is provided for amusement and chaos, as well as for anyone unable to fashion a "strong wind" statement: the person standing may yell "Hurricane", which compels all participants to scramble for a new seat.

When the session facilitator is ready to bring the game to a close (after perhaps 5 or 10 minutes), they simply stand and refrain from grabbing a seat when other participants are changing positions.

This game receives high praise from most participants, and some spend the rest of the day proposing "Strong wind" statements they would have liked to make. The exercise allows people to find kindred souls and like minds, while giving everyone a better idea of "who's in the room".