reverse scavenger hunts15 Dec 2016
earlier in 2016, i had dinner with my good friend, erin, and he told me about a project he started a few years bad that really resonated with and inspired me. it’s called a reverse scavenger hunt and i think about weekly. not only is it an interesting idea on its own, i think it also has some broader implications for ways people can positively engage with their surroundings.
the general idea, just like a standard scavenger hunt, is that he would create a list of tasks that teams of people had to complete. the more things you do/get on the list, the more points you end up with. the team with the most point at the end of the game wins. the flip is that instead of taking things, the tasks encourage positive actions with people and places nearby. so instead of buying or stealing an item, like might be on a normal scavenger hunt list, a task might be buying flowers and giving them to someone on the street.
i really appreciate the idea that groups of people can run around the city doing little acts of kindness or funny stuff in a way that randomly but positively impacts the people and place where they live. from a systems perspective, maybe ideas like this could be critiqued as being too small or not having enough impact. but the way i see it, how people feel in public is a big deal and has serious implications on culture. if things like reverse scavenger hunts were more common, maybe people would come to associate random sidewalk encounters with more positive experiences than negative ones. and then maybe the safer people feel in public, the more likely they are to engage in positive social change work or be more empathic.
a new friend, nick, just told me that he heard or read something that indicated that empathy might behave just like cognitive budgets. you can use up your empathetic capacities over the course of a day just like you can use up your cognitive ones. if that’s the case, maybe reverse scavenger hunts could be a way to replenish and even grow people’s empathetic capacities… that’d be cool.
update: resources from nick
spell-check, link-finding, & formatting: 4:48