The Republic of Kunbábony is a group roleplay exercise which explores strategic ways to get involved in the political process.
Republic of Kunbábony – Political Action Edition
This training module, developed by Steve Hughes and Iustina Neagu, is constructed inside a simulated country, the Republic of Kunbábony. It is designed to help organizers unpack the challenging questions of if and how to get involved in the political process.
Participants are asked in small groups to evaluate a series of potential political interventions they could make, and then to pick two of them that best align with their values and strategy. They are then asked to engage in a basic campaign planning around their chosen interventions. The discussions stimulated by this exercise contribute to the development of an organizers’ power and systems analysis.
How does this tool support leaderful movements?
The field of politics is very often associated with images of leaders and leadership – and for many organizers these images are far from positive. For years organizers talked about “influencing the system from the outside” but the limits of this strategy have been increasingly felt as reactionary forces have taken – or are threatening to take – leading roles in government. Therefore, organizers need ways to reframe their thinking on engaging in the political process. This exercise sets up a group conversation about finding the kind of political intervention that feels most aligned with one’s notion of what political leadership should look like, and one’s strategy to get there.
This exercise touches upon several leaderful organizing competence areas. It supports those who take part to develop their strategy muscle, while it also challenges participants to balance impact with taking actions that embody values. Furthermore, the exercise invites you to do this in ways that build power (which is essential to the organizing competence).
Over the years, the Republic of Kunbábony has served as a fictional location for a series of simulated organizing exercises used as part of the curriculum of the Citizen Participation University. Each year the simulation has taken a different form to allow for an in-depth exploration of a particular question that organizers are wrestling with. This version from 2018 consists of a brief overall scenario and then a worksheet with potential election interventions.
It was designed to encourage and facilitate a growing conversation among organizers about how they might engage in the political process in a way that made sense for their community organizing goals.
After reading the overall scenario, participants are broken into small groups and given the worksheet. They are asked to pick two political interventions, and then do some basic campaign planning on their chosen interventions, including allocating their volunteer hours budget and planning their fundraising efforts. They are also asked to think creatively about the organizing process by identifying the kinds of community leaders they need to recruit to support their chosen interventions. The debriefing conversation at the end of the exercise should draw out which interventions people chose and why, with the goal of having all participants compare and contrast the different options.