Privilege & Oppression Activity – “Who Makes The Rules” (+Facilitator Tips)

Video explanation here:

I created this activity to help groups of diverse backgrounds and experiences to have conversations and begin (continue) to act on societal norms that exclude members of our community.

It involves visual art, improvisation, verbal share back, and can be adjusted to suit your needs. Please feel free to take and use!

If you’d like to offer feedback or ask me to come facilitate please connect with me at wearemanyrivers[at]

Would love to hear your experience if you do facilitate this activity!

Many thanks to the people and organizations who have shared creative facilitation tips with me:

The Didi Society
Youth Program Quality Initiative
Power of Hope
Partners for Youth Empowerment
and thank you to the women, trans folks, non binary peeps who continue to make space and share their stories.


“Who Makes The Rules?” Activity

Timeline: (45min-1hr)

Group size: 8+ participants (works best in my experience)
Ages: 10+ (works best in my experience)
Facilitators: ideally 2, but can be done with 1.


  • Plenty of colourful markers/crayons/pastels/etc. for everyone (definitely red and green)
  • Paper slips (1/4 of a blank page) ~3x number of participants
  • 2 copies of a) one slip with a red square, and b) one slip with a green triangle


  • Everybody has unique aspects of themselves.
  • People make rules and some rules benefit some people while harming some people.
  • People who don’t “fit in” to the rules are often negatively impacted.


(5 min) Quick go around intros (name, pronoun, question to spark imagination, such as “if you were an animal other than a human today, which one would you be?”)

“We’re going to play an activity called ‘Who Makes The Rules’. Together, we are going to be in a community. You are all citizens and we are the Ministers of Education, Food, Water, and Shelter.”

[Note: One facilitator is ‘Minister of Edu. and Water’, and the other is ‘Minister of Food and Shelter’]

Part 1 (10 min):

  • If group >10, split into smaller groups.
  • Hand out 1 paper slip to each person and distribute colouring utensils.
  • (4 min) – Invite everybody (not just “guys”) to create their personal identification card by sketching a symbol that represents who they are and decorating as much/little as they want so that it expresses who they are.
  • (4 min) – Go around circle and invite each person to share 1 brief thing that’s unique about them/their ID card.

Part 2 (10 min):

“Welcome to Community 1. You are the citizens and we are the ministers. The Objective is for you to get all 4 of these basic needs/rights from us. We are here to help you. You are successful once you’ve obtained all 4.”

[Note: If anyone asks clarifying questions just reiterate that they can line up and ask the Ministers for help getting their 4 rights]

  • Ministers sit side by side at a desk at the front of room.
  • Citizens line up with their ID cards to get rights/needs.
  • Ministers greet the first people (their can be two lines, one for each minister) and ask how they can be of service. Citizens can ask for the appropriate rights/needs.
  • Ministers ask for ID card, thank the people, appreciate something on the card, flip it over and write the first letter of the rights/needs (e.g., E for education) and give a checkmark.
  • Process continues so that everyone has been accepted for who they are (even celebrated) and everyone has achieved success.
  • Once everyone is done ask if there is anyone who has yet to receive their rights/needs. Ask if everyone has been successful and acknowledge everyone for being successful.
  • Quickly shift to Community 2

Part 3 (10 min):

Welcome to Community 2. The roles are the same—You are the citizens and we are the ministers—but the rules have changed slightly. The Objective is the same—for you to get all 4 of these basic needs/rights from us. We are here to help you. You are successful once you’ve obtained all 4.”

  • Ministers sit side by side at a desk at the front of room and have their red squares and green triangles ready.
  • Citizens line up with their ID cards to get rights/needs (they’re probably feeling pretty successful from first round).
  • Ministers greet the first people (their can be two lines, one for each minister) and ask how they can be of service. Citizens can ask for the appropriate rights/needs.
  • Ministers ask for ID card. UNLESS their ID card exactly matches the plain green triangle or red square that you have you cannot give them their rights/needs. Make a remark about their ID about how it’s: “wrong”, “doesn’t fit with the system”, “broken”, “fun but not legal”, etc. and suggest they go get another one that looks like the two standards that you have using the resources in a room.
  • Once people have made a new matching ID card (and remember it can’t be of both, only one ID per card), you can enthusiastically thank them for “fitting in” and give them their rights. Here’s the hitch:
    1. Red square can get all rights.
    2. Green triangle can’t get education (period) and can ONLY get shelter if in a committed relationship with a red square.
  • Process continues until almost everyone has their rights/needs or time runes out. Either way, make a remark close to the end about “being on a budget, we’re just doing our jobs, we know rights/needs are important but we’re closing in 1 minute.” Then close and suggest “everyone come back in a month”.
  • Return to seats and make it very clear that the activity is over an we’re back in the space as ourselves. Inviting people to take a couple of breaths with you or shake off those feelings is encouraged.

Part 4 (15 min):


  • Invite everyone to take an individual silent 30 seconds to reflect on:
    1. One thing from the activity that stood out, and,
    2. How they felt/feel.
  • Group share back. Thank people for sharing and acknowledge patterns of feelings.
  • How does this activity connect to our world?
    1. This activity can be geared towards any/all forms of discrimination. We’ve had people share their stories of immigration, sports team segregation, bathroom gender binaries, race issues, transgender and gender non conforming issues and a bunch more.
    2. One of our main learning outcomes is the title of this activity, “Who Makes The Rules”. Getting this across is super important.
      1. “Who made the rules in this activity?”
      2. “How does that compare to our lives?” –> every time the history of white mostly men in prime minister position comes up.
  • “Why do they make these rules?”
  • “Who is excluded and what are the consequences?”
  • Actions (small, specific, achievable) that we can take in our life to change the rules?
    1. Invite 30 seconds for silent personal thought.
    2. Pass around the Red square ID as a talking piece and invite people to share and make a tear in the rules that exclude. Passing is okay, but strongly encourage a rip by everyone.
    3. Thank everyone for participating and offer resources if any body needs to chat to someone about things that may have come up during the activity.

Good luck!



I’m going to do it now because I came here with hopes of *doing* permaculture

In September 2015, I came to Victoria BC (Indigenous Lekwungen Territory) with huge hopes and aspirations of doing (practicing, sharing, learning about, facilitating) permaculture. I received a position working with youngin’s , which allowed me plenty of opportunity to practice it within the context of the centre, and I’ve had some really sweet volunteer opportunities and personal adventures that have helped me to continue learning and sharing.

In 2017–now–I’m going to begin facilitating & teaching workshops on permaculture.

A big focus of the permaculture workshops I’ll be offering is ‘Creative Communities’–finding ways to meet our needs as a community using practices that  care for each other, care for the land, and limit our use while sharing surpluses.

In short, I have easy interactive activities that help us to share our experiences, reflect on them, plan the steps we want to take, and take action. The activities help us to look at and plan our lives in creative ways. Specific details are in that link above or on the “What I Do” tab, as well as past projects tab.

The first workshops will be in Feb and March 2017 on ‘How-To: community organizing session’ and a series of “Intro to practical community permaculture skills.”

Stay tuned on Facebook or email me at wearemanyrivers@
I want to do this work because permaculture has been the best tool for me to create a life where I can supportively act in a world that has so many heavy issues. When I hear that people want to help with such big issues but they don’t know where to start, I know I can help make that transition. Whether it’s helping to start a food garden, eat more veggies, reduce conflict in relationships, or support calls to action by marginalized communities, I can help.

Feel free to explore the site and connect with me if you’d like to set up a workshop, session, tutoring, or consult. If you like what you see and think of someone who might enjoy it, please share this with them.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being you and for doing the things you do.


ps. I’ve got those nervous-excited feelings. ❤

Here are some words from past participants:
– “It was a great tool for future projects, as well as for this food bank project. It was very informative and inspiring in the sense that it increased my love for nature even more! Yay, sunflowers :)”

-“I’ve learned the many difficulties that one may face when preparing and actually attempting to garden organically but also the value in it. It’s good to know that there really is a lot of planning that is required and it’s not just a throw-oneself-into-it project. But through it all, it is a feasible project that can be done with enough good ideas and organization.”
“I like the framing of first just blankly looking at your space and not making assumptions. I think it is a key consideration to make.”
“As simple as it seems, I didn’t think to go out and experience the space before starting a project like a garden. If it was my garden, I would have just went outside once, generally looked around for about five minutes, but that’s it. Through this workshop, I realized how important it was to really spend time in the space before starting any kind of planning process. I also really enjoyed learning how big my stride is and how really, really helpful it is to have that as a tool on the tool-belt of life.”

“How to designate land to garden design- taking into account factors such as slope, traffic, wind, sun, etc.”

“inspired to start/finish my own projects want to do more! (on my own land as well as in the community-i see green grass everywhere, why aren’t we taking advantage of that for food security…)”





Ward 5 Heroes: Guelph Black Heritage Society

Guelph friends, join in on the celebrations of community strength with the Black Heritage Society this Saturday (tomorrow).

Ward 5 Guelph

The importance of Black Heritage in Guelph came to prominence in 2011 when the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church on Essex Street came up for sale. The Guelph Black Heritage Society (GBHS) was founded to preserve the historical BME Church and create a ‘cultural, historical and social centre within Guelph and Wellington County.’ The BME Church was built in 1880 by the many black people living in the Essex/Nottingham street neighbourhood. Since the purchase in 2012 , there have been many celebrations of Black Heritage in our community at what is now known as ‘Heritage Hall’. Thank you to the GBHS for creating such a wonderful ‘sense of place’ in our community to honour our collective past!

We can all celebrate Emancipation Day this weekend –

The Guelph Black Heritage Society and Silence Sounds invites friends and
families to celebrate Emancipation Day on Saturday August 6, 2016

1pm – 2pm…

View original post 49 more words

Permaculture: Intro and Practice Days (poster at bottom)

A chance for anyone and everyone to come and practice Permaculture on a level that is appropriate for them. Briefly put,Permaculture mimics patterns from nature to design regenerative human habitat. As a toolkit of ideas and skills, Permaculture can be applied to your thoughts and physical behaviours, and to your home, garden, and city.

Anyone (e.g., computer scientist, gardener, teacher, student, parent, etc.) is welcome to join.  If you’ve never heard of it before, we’d love for you to join and I promise you’ll leave with a whole new perspective on the world–one filled with abundance and creativity! If you’ve been practicing for years, we’d love for you to join to share your experiences and to keep learning/practicing with us. Check out the poster below for details.

I would love to see a group of people with mixed passions, professions, skills come together and practice living in a way that is regenerative for ourselves and our greater community. I would love it if multiple generations attended and people with cultures and stories from across the world came to share. That would be great. This series is meant to support resilience and reconciliation and I believe that diversity is a key ingredient for both of those things. So bring your friends and your strangers.

Youth are strongly encouraged to join and 18 years and under can attend all sessions for free. I request that anyone 13 and under be accompanied by a parent/guardian, please.

Each weekday for two weeks (March 14th – March 24th) from 12noon – 2pm we’ll explore some of the many principles and concepts from this awe-inspiring design practice. You’ll (be invited to) take home new ideas and body-worked skills to continue practicing.

Topics and Dates: in poster below

1330 Fairfield Rd, Victoria, Coast Salish Territories*
“Youth Space” in Fairfield Gonzales Community Association (space is physically accessible and has 3 gender-neutral bathrooms).

We live and work on unceded Coast Salish Territories*, specifically of the Lekwungen and W_SÁNEC peoples.
* The term Coast Salish is used to encompass a number of Indigenous peoples, including Esquimalt, Hul’qumi’num, Klahoose, Lekwungen (Songhees), MALAXEt, Musqueam, OStlq’emeylem, Pentlatch, Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Sliammon, Shishalh, Skxwú7mesh-ulh Úxwumixw, Stó:lo, Straits, Tsleil-Waututh, T’Sou-ke, W_SÁNEC (Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum), and Xwemalhkwu.
(Borrowed from Lifecycle’s Website).
We offer respect to those whom have stewarded this land in the past and to those who currently do. We recognize that we are uninvited. We appreciate every gift and work for restoration.

I am attempting to make Permaculture financially accessible while also distributing money (75% of total revenue) to other organizations doing amazing work (e.g., Indigenous Perspectives Society, The Headwaters Collective Youth Program and  The Community Tool Shed) annnnd paying myself a little bit (25% of total revenue). We are making the cost a Pay What You Want/Can with a suggested sliding scale based on income (e.g., If you’re not bringing in enough money to make ends meet, don’t pay a thing, but please still come! However, if you’re pulling in $20,000 – $100,000+ a year and you’re feeling comfy, please consider paying in the range of $10 – $45+ per session. More is always welcome!). “Please remember sliding scale offerings are a tool of social justice to increase accessibility, we know you will examine your socio-economic privilege fairly, which allows us to open the window of cost to multiple budgets”-Crazy Herbalist. Should you need further support in attending, please email  See the revenue breakdown below in the poster for a visual.

RSVPing helps me to plan 🙂 Please RSVP to

Thanks for reading! If this sounds like something of interest please share with your community/friends/ family/strangers.

Permaculture Practice Poster.jpg