Diving into community projects can often feel like navigating uncharted waters. With the Elements Card Deck, you have a helpful tool to steer your initiatives towards success and map out the different components necessary.

Below are 4 hands-on activities that leverage the Elements Card Deck to provide clarity and strategic direction for your projects. Feel free to use these activities in your own work or use them as inspiration to design your own activity.



View the Elements Card Deck


Activity #1: Chart Your Path (75 mins)

Framing (15 minutes):

  • Begin by emphasizing the importance of high-level planning before deep diving into project execution. Share a personal story to recount an experience where having a clear plan was crucial to success. This sets the stage for understanding the value of strategic foresight in project management.

Logistics (40 minutes):

  • Each participant takes a large sheet of paper and draws a grid with one axis labeled “Clear / Unclear” and the other “Important / Unimportant.”
  • Next, have everyone pair up with a partner around the room. Each pairing should have a stack of post-it notes and a couple cards from the Elements Deck. Partners take turns flipping Elements cards, discussing and deciding where each card’s element fits on their grid based on its clarity and importance to their project. They use sticky notes to label and place each card on their grid.
  • Every 5 minutes, rotate partners to ensure diverse interactions and perspectives.

Debrief (20 minutes):

  • Gather everyone into a circle to share insights and new clarities discovered through the exercise. Facilitate a discussion to see if there are any themes of where people placed the different Elements card.


Watch a quick video overview the Chart Your Path activity.

Activity #2: Collective Story Harvest (90 mins)

Framing (15 minutes):

  • Start by selecting a few individuals who will share their stories about recent work or initiatives they’ve been involved in. These storytellers can be from outside your organization or from within your own community.
  • Arrange the room so that each storyteller has a separate space, allowing participants to choose whose story they want to engage with.
  • Each participant will focus on specific elements of the story, which will help uncover deeper insights. Before the stories begin, discuss as a group which elements of the stories will be the focus.
  • Lay the Elements card out on a table and have the group collectively decide which ones are most important. Once you have narrowed the list down to a handful of core elements, each participant chooses one element to concentrate on during the storytelling. This element will guide their listening and note-taking.

Logistics (55 minutes):

  • Divide the participants among the storytellers they are most interested in. Storytellers share their experiences while the listeners take notes on aspects related to their chosen element.
  • After the storyteller has finished, invite the listeners to reflect back what they heard as it relates to the element they were listening for.
  • Finally, participants gather in groups based on the elements they were listening for. For example, everyone who was listening for “Methods & Processes” would get together. Together, they discuss and document the key themes and insights they gathered on flip-chart paper.

Debrief (20 minutes):

  • Close the time by inviting participants to do a gallery walk to view and discuss the collected themes from each element group. Bring everyone together in a circle and facilitate a discussion on how these themes relate to the group’s current challenges or projects. This helps integrate the harvested insights into practical strategies.
  • Encourage participants to reflect on what they learned and how it can be applied to enhance their work. This reflection turns the activity from a passive listening session into an active learning experience.

Activity #3: Debate that Role (45 mins)

Framing (5 minutes):

  • This activity encourages participants to think critically about the Elements cards by debating their importance and application from different perspectives. Explain the concept of role-playing and how looking at issues from different perspectives can lead to deeper insights and innovative solutions.

Logistics (30 minutes):

  • Participants draw cards from the Elements Deck and are assigned roles based on the card. For example, someone with a “Visualize a Prototype” card might take on the role of a product designer, while someone with an “Articulate Your Story” card might be a communications director.
  • Next, set up a debate where each role defends the importance of their element in the context of a challenge you are working on with your team’s project (or perhaps a hypothetical problem). Participants use arguments and examples to explain why their assigned element is crucial, considering both short-term and long-term project impacts.
  • Halfway through, participants switch cards and roles, arguing for a different element than they initially defended.

Debrief (10 minutes):

  • Discuss what insights were gained from defending and then opposing different elements. Explore how this exercise might affect their real-world approach to community projects, emphasizing the value of multiple perspectives in planning and implementation.

Activity #4: Deep Dive (75 mins)

Framing (5 minutes):

  • This interactive workshop encourages participants to engage deeply with each element of the Elements Card Deck by generating questions and ideas.

Logistics (50 minutes):

  • Lay out all the cards from the Elements Card Deck on a large table or several smaller tables, organizing them by category if desired. In round 1, participants walk around the table(s) and write down one burning question they have about each element on sticky notes. These questions should be what they feel needs answering to utilize the element effectively in their projects.
  • After a brief group discussion and sharing of the questions, go for a second round where participants now add sticky notes with ideas or suggestions on how each element could be implemented or enhanced in their projects.
  • Once all participants have had the chance to contribute questions and ideas for each card, invite them to form small groups based on the card that intrigued them the most or where they feel they could contribute the most to a project. In their groups, participants discuss the questions and ideas noted on their chosen card. Each group works to expand on the ideas, possibly developing a mini-proposal or strategy that incorporates the element into your projects.

Debrief (20 minutes):

  • Each group presents their card’s expanded ideas and answers to the questions raised. This allows for cross-pollination of ideas and insights among different groups.
  • Conclude with a reflective discussion on how this exercise helped participants think differently about each element and the potential impacts on their projects.

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