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The Oasis Game; supporting communities in the global south to design and build community-driven urban solutions (re-)using local resources.

Scaling a Brazilian transformation game south-south to mobilize low-income communities to create community-driven, planet-conscious projects

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What if we have all the solutions to our problems already here? What if we do not have to wait for someone to come and help us? What if we already have all the resources and materials to co-create the spaces we dream to live in? What if creating transformation can be fun instead of a drag?

Our objective is to increase resilience in low-income and more isolated shanty-towns in the global South by setting up community-driven, co-designed projects, co-constructed (re-)using local resources. The ecologically-sound solutions are developed in a short time after mobilizing its citizens by implementing the Brazilian Oasis Game, which with this project we aim to scale-across strongly.

* Elos and the Oasis Game

Instituto Elos has developed and applied over the last 10 years a game of transformation that mobilized communities to co-design, co-create and celebrate projects on community-level that are build using their own local resources, using their own talents, based on the power of collective dreaming.

This game of transformation is called the Oasis Game and is a playful intervention of about 7 days, that creates serious results. The game involves 20 to 30 players and communities, bringing together people from many different areas of society such as NGOs, local government, nearby businesses and the community itself. It was created to be applied at no cost and in a fully cooperative way so that, together, all participants can accomplish a common goal. The design of the Oasis Game strives to allow all players to be winners, without exception.

The game is developed based on experience of working in participatory ways in the Brazilian favelas of Santos and has been applied in various socially challenging conditions where people have lost hope for better living conditions. The Oasis Game has been applied over 300 times in Brazil and in over 30 other countries, inviting the players and involved community members to materialize their dream-project within two days, resulting in parks, playgrounds, community-centres and much more, all using local materials. For examples check our various videos on

This game therefore not only transforms abandoned spaces into lively Oases, but also;

- uses the power of play and game to invite community members to join in peaceful action based on collective values

- strengthens self-confidence of people and community by giving people to power to decide, design and to realize projects together in a direct and fast way

- changes the development paradigm of waiting for government and/or money to come and save people, to opening people’s eyes for their own strength and local opportunities

- stimulates the re-use and upcycling of existing resources and local materials, which directly contributes to lowering impact on the planet. 

The Oasis Game has a social effect (empowerment, stronger sense of community) and a physical result (dream is materialized during the process) and is realized in a very short time, which gives confidence to take on bigger challenges together afterwards.  

* The power of the facilitator network

The Oasis Game is an excellent invitation for young leaders in communities in the global south to build ecologically sound community-driven solutions as a golden rule of the game is that no money is available for achieving the result, we have to do it what we already have! The game is downloadable for free on our games platform, yet has a higher guarantee of impact if facilitators have had a training.

Over the last 15 years Elos has trained 450 facilitators through our GSA-program. The Guerreiros sem armas (GSA) -program is an experiential international leadership and social entrepreneurship training program offered to youth to provide the tools needed to transform realities anywhere in the world. It is a 290 hour-long program in three different communities in Baixada Santista, with an experienced staff of facilitators and consultants. Participants go in 32 days through the 7 steps philosophy by working in and directly impacting 3 communities in Santos, applying the Oasis Game. GSA is open for 60 participants each course, yet still over 500 community-members, representatives of governments, local businesses, universities, schools and others get engaged in the program. In the last stretch of this training the participants get the challenge to bring this experience home, by applying the gamified version of this facilitated process the Oasis Game. Find more at

* Scaling across in the global south;

A large part of the participants come from countries in the southern hemisphere and themselves work and live in deprived communities. They take the experience of applying the 7 steps and the game back home to their countries, which include experience and facilitators present in Latin American (Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia), African (South-Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Guinae Buisau, Lybia) and Asian (Pakistan, India) countries.

With them and with the IDEO challenge we want to focus on applying Oasis in low-income and more isolated shanty-towns, by:

- training new groups of facilitators from Latin America, Africa and Asia in the GSA-program

- setting up regional Oasis trainings in 5 countries to broaden the network of replicators of the Oasis Game and transformative community actions

- in the network over a year set up 15 local Oasis Game over 1,5 year, transforming the lives of thousands of people.  

- Through the program come up with 30 new concrete outcomes of community-designed constructions using local resources that are a reference for future projects.

Explain your idea

The Oasis Game is played by active community members and stakeholders. A group of 20 to 30 people are supported, hosted and facilitated by a team of 2 or 3 facilitators. This group goes out into the community to mobilize the people to find, design and realize the dream of their community. This starts after a 1,5 month preparation and the actual Oasis Game with this group is played in 6 to 7 days, at times spread over two weekends. This is generally afterwards followed up for several months or even years to continue realizing projects based on this transformative experience. The game is freely downloadable on our gamesplatform ( The core-group that decides to start a process in a community will download a guide, and all the materials to play, these include cards with tasks and tips, a base for a board-game that supports going through the 7 basic steps, the elements of giving players and community members roles and supporting elements of using maquetes during the moment of designing the project to be created. Each game the group goes through 7 steps based on the Elos Philosophy, which comprises seven disciplines: Gaze, Affection, Dream, Care, Miracle, Celebration, and Re-evolution. Check how it works here; Through the tasks given in each of the 7 steps, the group goes out into the community: · Gaze; look for qualities, beauties and resources the community already has · Affection; enter into a relationship of collaboration with the community, looking for the person behind the beauty and gathering local talents. · Dream; based on this positive relationship we enter into conversations about dreams and look for the collective visions present in the community. · Care; We gather the community in a gathering to translate this dream into a concrete project that can be realized in the public space, which during the gathering will be designed in scale-models. · Miracle; Gathering all energy and talents we work for two days creating the dreamed outcomes, using local resources we gather and build spectacular and surprising results with the power of the community. · Celebration; Celebration is a constant practice, but will be especially done at the end to recognize each contribution to the collective achievement. · Re-evolution; After this realization we bring people together to plan and project bigger dream project. Over the course of the program between 200 to 500 people directly get involved and the game is effective as it constantly works on community-building in the group and community, it stimulates deep relationship building through dialogue exercises, it rewards participation and cooperation by direct influence on results, it uses the power of roles that are handed out to community-members to give recognition and uses a variety of social techniques to make transformation a positive thing to be part of.

Who Benefits?

With the support of openIDEO we especially want to focus on scaling the Oasis Game across in at minimum 5 countries in the global South. From the previously mentioned countries we aim to support existing and upcoming facilitators to host Oasis Games in their own or neighbouring countries in low-income and more isolated shanty-towns which they have access to. The beneficiaries would be community-members in these communities. We see all benefit, but the ones most actively involved are generally children, youngsters (16 – 30) and women. We want them to benefit through; - Infrastructure: directly improving their living environment by realizing a co-constructed project in the public space - Empowerment: an increased empowerment to take action yourself and breakthrough the cycle of dependency on aid - Learning: having an experience of resilience through collective action and understanding how local resources can be used, they can replicateby using the Oasis Game afterwards again

How is your idea unique?

Our project has a unique advantage because; - there’s many community development programs, but few that use gaming in such a strong, tested&proven and impacting way; - there’s few networks who have facilitators across such a vast network of countries that can implement a methodology successfully. - the underlying philosophy is a strong driver for shifting perspectives of what is possible. The game creates the movement, the underlying philosophy behind every step creates deeper transformation by heightened ownership. - experience level; with the many projects already developed, we have a database of good practices of how to use local resources for creating spectacular, eco-friendly and sustainable results as a reference for local solutions. - results; concrete results with collective hands on practice that lead to short term direct results and confidence to together work on longer term results. - it uses the power of collective dreams as a force to tackle problem on the way.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

Instituto Elos Brazil has been working the last 20 years building experiences and sharing their knowledge, especially with young leaders, to work in communities and propel a movement to make the world we dream of a reality, NOW. Elos is based in Santos (SP) and since it’s start has been building experiences and sharing their knowledge, to work in communities and propel a movement of action. Working with learning-by-doing training programs, people across the globe have come to Brazil to experience this philosophy and methodology first hand, to take it home afterwards. In the 9 editions of our flagship program Guerreiros sem armas 458 participants have returned enriched, empowered and equipped to their countries, communities and work to apply this experience to realize collective dreams and transform the places they are connected to. The ‘warriors without weapons’ as they are called brought this work to 43 countries, impacting over 300 communities in and outside Brazil. In the wave of social actions we’ve counted 30.000 people worldwide have participated in an Elos inspired program. With many social actions developed under the GSA-program the methodology and actions used nowadays are being applied in various other contexts. This has been facilitated through the gamification of the 7-step process in the Oasis Game. In this project with IDEO Elos will have the lead, but will collaborate strongly with current and future facilitators of the game who are trained in the GSA program and are strong entrepreneurial community leaders who will spread it in their country and region.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Niels!

Thank you for sharing the great work you are doing. How would you select and train the facilitators?

Would you tell me your expansion plans over the next 1,2 and 3 years?

Would you include a summary of your project idea in your post e.g.

'This idea is a_________________ [campaign/app/service/program/online platform/toolkit/social enterprise/etc.].

It tackles the problem of _____________[short problem statement].

It addresses the problem by :__________[what your idea looks like in practice]. It intersects XYZ topics (peace, prosperity, or planet).’?

Photo of Niels

Hi Kate,

Thanks for responding to our project. So the facilitators are trained during the Guerreiros sem armas program in Brazil which now runs for the 10th time. 60 participants come to this program who are selected out of 900 sign ups. We select them through a game that’s called ‘the yes path’, which runs a couple of times before the training. In this yes-path during 18 days participants from all over the world, including the global south get several tasks to do on- and especially offline, where they are asked to already do things in their local communities that already have social impact and contribute to reducing impact on the environment. They upload results on the platform which gives us insight into who we select based on what they DO to change the world and at the same time it’s a personal and community-development trajectory that even if you’re not selected has learning and transformational impact. And if you do get selected you get on a journey of learning and development to use our methodologies. You can find the selection game here;, I can send you some profiles of people if you wish.

‘Would you tell me your expansion plans over the next 1,2 and 3 years?’

Well, through that program we’ve developed a worldwide network with great entrepreneurial community leaders and facilitators, especially in the global south. The spreading of our work has accelerated through the use and impact of the gamified version of the 7-steps.

This idea is a game of transformation for communities that provokes a process of moving from a vision of scarcity to opening up to the abundance of possibilities, resources, solutions and talents present in a place, that form the basis for a renewed cooperative culture in a given place.

It tackles the problem of paralysation and disbelief that life can get better, the belief that you have to move (migrate) to have a better life, by improving living standards in a concrete, collective and direct way, demonstrating that a prosperous live is possible if you make use of the power of community and resources available.

It addresses the problem by a dynamic group-process that makes ‘players of the game’ invite a community to co-decide, co-design and realize hands-on projects in the urban space that are a result of finding the common vision during the game and are explicitly constructed (re-)using local resources, diminishing waste and the need to buy new things. In a short time hundreds of people get engaged in building projects of their own choice and design such community-gardens, playgrounds with re-used materials, community-centres or kindergartens.

This project intersects peace and planet, although it has proven on the long run to lead to prosperity, where people have started community bakeries that generate income.

We have applied it, tested it, improved it in over 200 communities in more than 20 countries and now it’s available in its best (freely downloadable) format. So pilot phase is over and now it’s time to take it to the next level. For the next 3 years we aim to create a wave of transformative action through the Oasis Game in low-income and more isolated townships/favelas in the global south, by:
- training new groups of facilitators from Latin America, Africa and Asia in the GSA-program, running annually.
- setting up regional Oasis trainings in 5 countries to broaden the network of replicators of the Oasis Game and transformative community actions.
- in the network set up 15 local Oasis Game over 1,5 year, transforming the lives of thousands of people.
- After 1,5 year through the program come up with 30 new concrete outcomes of community-designed constructions using local resources that are a reference for future projects.

With that initial period we will build up a reference that allow the impact in quantity and quality to triple until the end of the 3 year scope, increasing the amount of people impacted and reducing the amount of waste and consumption, increasing the culture of re-use and natural solutions.

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