Sunday, January 8, 2017

Toward A Portrait of Resilience - The Build A Better Neighborhood Board Game

By Jon Dunnemann


The future home to the Obama Library in Chicago

Play is the act of participating emergence. 
~ Evonne (Evo) Heyning ~

Monopoly is a well known commercial board game that originated in the United States and promotes the acquisition of things and money. If and when you have a bad run at it while playing the game you can even end up in jail. My vision, is to introduce a board game designed to create an educational experience that facilitates the themes of critical mindedness, active engagement, flexibility, and dynamic and diverse community.  The target age group is youth between the age of 9 and 14 years old.  The primary game objective is to promote youth gaining familiarity with the optimal personal and collective development skills that are needed in order for them to more likely be placed “at promise” as opposed to “at risk” (Boykin, 2000) in their personal, family, school, church, and community life. This will improve their chance of emerging as ideal agents for meaningful, purposeful, organised, and sustainable positive change within a participatory democratic framework where they will be better able to thrive and flourish well into their emerging adult lives.

In my view, a board game design incorporating mechanics that function to increase youth knowledge, understanding, and competencies in the following nine domains for development as an adaptive or protective process will provide a powerful means for the enhancement of self-control, self-determination, self-efficacy, self-regulation, and  self-community and psychology:

  • Identity development
  • Emotional development (EQ)
  • Social development
  • Cognitive development (IQ)
  • Physical health and development
  • Budget development and financial planning
  • Spiritual and faith development (SQ)
  • Diverse and revitalizing community development
  • Mutual trust and urban sustainable development


My interests are in learning how to draw upon what is currently being done in Southeast Chicago, San Diego, Boston, New York, and other urban settings to create the ultimate board game decision scenarios that will help youth in the mediating of 7 Key Questions: Who, What, Why, When, Where, How, and How Much? Who do you think should be consulted for assistance, what are you seeking to accomplish, why do you want to try and avoid certain consequences, where should you productively spend your time, how can you make the best possible use of all of your available resources and vital touch points, and last but not least how much effort will be required, are you willing to make a personal commitment to meet the challenge, and are you prepared to stay the course?

Think about the space that you want to occupy and begin to live as if you are already in it.
~ Jon Dunnemann ~ 

In my own life as a poor African American urban youth there were numerous individuals, organizations, and local safe places which all led me to dream, hope, and see beyond my temporarily limited circumstances. They also helped me to effectively weigh the difference between right and wrong and recognize that there are consequences to one’s actions and for inaction. I desire to ‘pay it forward’ by creating a challenging and fun board game and instructional tool that can be made available on a large enough scale to meet the vast educational needs of disadvantaged, racially and ethnically diverse youth aged 9 to 14 years old all across America.

Experimentation in everyday play teaches adaptation and resiliency, essential for thrivable development. Active players learn to negotiate, solve problems, and strategize complex situations with friends. Cooperative play can encourage connection, bonding, and relationships that evolve with the world crafted in the game space.
~ Evonne (Evo) Heyning ~ 



Our greatest need today is more ingenious solutions to poverty.