Wednesday, May 6, 2020 – Live to Blog from a Battle Zone
Today is the day it always happens. My loving, caring, pacifist spouse turns into the commander of a fleet of battleships. She takes no prisoners in a fiercely contested battle that rages over Zoom.
The Saga of Battleship Wednesday
As the dawn breaks Admiral Clemencia Vargas stands on the deck looking up into a foreboding sky. She shrugs, turns away, and steels herself for the calamity that lies ahead. In only a few hours she will launch her Zoom meeting controls, take command of a novice but dedicated crew, and lead them into the fray. Who will emerge victorious? What will be the toll on ships… and language?
Yes, it’s Battleship Wednesday in our house! Each Wednesday, at 4:00 PM Eastern, Clemencia gathers a group of her students to play Batalla Naval (Battleship) in Spanish via Zoom. You know how it’s played, right?
Well, if you don’t know, it doesn’t matter. It all started because Clemencia was using occasional Batalla Naval exercises to teach her students vocabulary. However, there were several students who had never played Battleship. They just couldn’t seem to grasp the concept – even when the classes were still meeting in person way, way back in February. When the classes moved to Zoom, Clemencia wanted to still find a way to use Batalla Naval activities. She decided to have a Battleship tutorial.
She found one student, let’s call him Pirate Juan, who knew the game and was willing to participate in an hour long tutorial. Clemencia and Pirate Juan would play, the others would observe, and then give it try. That was weeks ago now.
Batalla Naval has turned into its own thing. Each week Clemencia produces a battleship grid on paper and distributes it to the students. As the Zoom meeting begins, the students take sides with her against Pirate Juan. (This week, though, for the first time, Pirate Juan had two students who defected to his team.) As the battle begins, so does the noise. I’m two rooms away and still I know when Clemencia’s fleet takes a hit and when they have a successful strike. There are roars of laughter, groans of dismay, and incesssant chatter with and among the students. Last week there were 14 who played. Even veterans of Batalla Naval are showing up now and re-enlisting to play.
The grids Clemencia creates have Spanish terms on the left side and across the top. (See two of her recent game grids in the images.) First, the students and Pirate Juan place (draw) their ships on the top part of the grid (Mi ropa or Mis verbos). Each team, in turn, gets to “bomb” the others ships. They do this by indicating, in Spanish, where their bombs are being dropped on their opponents grid by calling out an item and a color (e.g, “La camisa es azul” – the shirt is blue). Where those two items intersect on the grid is where their bomb lands. Teams keep track of where their opponent’s bombs hit on their grid (top) and where they are dropping bombs on the other’s grid (bottom).
While the game etiquette does not suppress the noise of war, it does require opponents to truthfully report out to the other the result of their bombing – agua (water), tocado (hit), or, finally, hundido (sink).
In addition, Pirate Juan has to agree not to look at the other team’s collaborative Batalla Naval grid on Zoom. At first he didn’t have to. He was cleaning up each week. Recently, though, the tide has turned and now Pirate Juan has been getting thrashed. Perhaps this is why he has lured away a couple of others to be his crew. Dastardly Pirate Juan! You will pay for this treachery!
Batalla Naval Wednesday has taken on a life of its own now. It is the 7th Spanish class of the week for Clemencia. It is so popular I can only imagine – and fear – it will grow into other days and times of the week. So be it! I’ll just steer clear. Bert Left, Ernie Right, Winthrop Dijkstra-Baum and I will enjoy it from afar. Beto and Enrique prefer to be near the action.
Nonprofits in Crisis: A Wide Angle View
Madeleine McGee is the President of TogetherSC, South Carolina’s association for nonprofit organizations which is 800 members strong. Madeleine and TogetherSC inspired Forrest Alton, Cayci Banks, Charles Weathers, Patrick Jinks, and me to collaborate to produce the Leading Through Crisis blog and video series. In this video, Madeleine, while addressing some specific issues in South Carolina, also takes a wide-angle lens to the challenge of leading through crisis.
Getting to Transformational Change
My friend Elayne Greeley, whom I met through our common affiliation with Tamarack Institute, has a very unique gift. She is able to translate high level concepts into easy to understand, sensemaking graphics and images. Here is one of her pieces that breaks down challenges often facing community partnership efforts. It reminds us that transformational change is not something we can do all at once. When it is broken down into smaller manageable pieces, we get there faster than we could have ever imagined possible. Thanks Elayne for your good thinking, your good work, and for allowing me to share some of it here!
The View from Jeff
The Adventures of Chickenman
Now that he has exited the Chicken Cave, Chickenman (Benton Harbor) finds himself locked in the dark, official looking halls of Midland City City Hall. How is he to get out?
Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, keep wearing you mask, and keep using your imagination for good!