For developing communication skills, noticing how we communicate.

"This sucks, this is my heart..."

This activity is a variation on "This is Not a Pipe" and Se Murio Chicho.

Standing/sitting in a circle.

The joker starts the game by pretending to pick up and hold in his/her hands an imaginary object. S/he considers the object, then declares, "This stinks!" and wrinkles his/her nose.

Sample Power Line -- Coalition of University Employees

[img_assist|nid=154|title=CUE power and democracy line 2001|desc=|link=popup|align=left|width=450|height=318]
This is a chart recording the results of a democracy and power line Mike Orrfelt and I did with members and officers of the Coalition of University Employees in 2001. (See also the Mosh Pit activity in Chapter 5.)

My People -- poetry activity

Not a new idea, but a particular use of it that has worked very well. The activity revolves around a close reading of a poem by Langston Hughes, using an eraser…

In this activity participants memorize/study the following short poem by Langston Hughes.

My People

The night is beautiful.

So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful.

So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.


  • write the poem on a blackboard
  • ask everyone to read it silently


I learned this from working with the Coalition of University Employees, and the mediator, ------, they brought in to help with their internal communications and group dynamics.

It matters because it names disagreements openly. It identifies them as problems or issue to be addressed. It recognizes their importance and their "hotness" and keeps them on the table, without obstructing other work.