Cards Against Urbanity: Because City Planning Isn’t Bullshit

September 19, 2014

1:30 pm

When people think about or discuss urban planning, I think they often fall into two camps: 1) people who are replete with new ideas for new ways we can improve the city (more grass; we need moarrr green spaces to frolic in!) or 2) they are cynics who are wary or dubious about new initiatives in city planning, knowing all too well that they could fail (great, more patchy grass where I can sit on dog shit…). Knowing all too well these perceptions of urban planning, one Washington, D.C.-based startup is capitalizing on this by launching a Kickstarter campaign for Cards Against Urbanity.

I'm sure, by now, that most people are familiar with Cards Against Humanity, the modern, fun take to the classic Apples to Apples card game that banks on the wildly inappropriate imaginings of the human id.  Cards Against Urbanity is kind of like that except, you know, focused on city planning stuff.

“The idea came from fellow urban planners who said I should use Kickstarter to create creative content for my [GreaterPlaces],” said Lisa Nisenson. “The idea for a card game came from the idea to gamify urban planning. How we got to Cards Against Urbanity is fuzzy – likely happened in a bar on the back of a napkin.”

Nisenson is the CEO and cofounder of GreaterPlaces, a company that aims to bring together urban planners, local governments, urban design businesses, and non-profit organizations, under one platform where they can share and team up on new ideas for city planning. In collaboration with DoTank DC – a think tank that's “creating urban interventions in Washington, D.C.” – the company launched a Kickstarter campaign to make Cards Against Urbanity a reality. “Our two organizations are a great fit: GreaterPlaces is a big scale, how-to manual for creating great places, [while] DoTankDC works at the local level to bring small, tactical improvements.”

launch party2

At a launch party for the Kickstarter, people got the chance to play with a prototype of Cards Against Urbanity.

Similar to Cards Against Humanity, Cards Against Urbanity contains blank statement-and-response cards that – when combined – form humorous and slightly offensive statements related to city planning. For example, one question cards reads “My city's economic plan includes __________.” Players can choose from a wide variety of response cards that they feel best completes the statement (or, rather, which will produce the most laughs). So, in this case, I would maybe go with the response card “middle aged men in lycra (MAMLs)”…because reasons.

It's a fun concept, especially when you consider the topic at hand. Launched just two days ago, the Kickstarter has already raised close to $7,000 of its $7,500 fundraising goal. But beyond this financial landmark, there are goals far greater for Cards Against Urbanity:

“[We want to] bring urban planning to new audiences. And, as a bootstrap startup, bring [venture capital] attention to the scope, value, and popularity of urban and community design,” said Nisenson. “There is an explosion with innovative goods and services for cities, but business-to-government at the local level hasn't been a focus.”

Cards Against Urbanity's Kickstarter campaign doesn't end until October 20th, so you can still pledge at the $30 level to get yourself a stack once they're produced. According to Nisenson, the campaign hasn't just received attention from DC; rather, the Kickstarter campaign has taken them national – receiving pledges from all across the country – and conveying that people from literally everywhere recognize the importance of talking about urban planning. The cards should be shipped in time for Christmas.

Check out Cards Against Urbanity on Kickstarter. GreaterPlaces most recently pitched at a Tech Cocktail DC Mixer & Startup Showcase this past summer. 

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.