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"Cards Against Urbanity" is exactly as hilarious as you'd expect

A prototype round of "Cards Against Urbanity"

Lisa Nisenson, founder of GreaterPlaces.com, says Cards Against Urbanity takes city planning and "makes it more approachable and fun"

The card game, designed by a bunch of DC planners and architects, pokes fun at new urbanists but also aims to teach a serious lesson.
The only thing surprising about Cards Against Urbanity, a cities- and city-planner-focused parody of Cards Against Humanity, is that nobody thought of it sooner.

Seriously. The tropes of city planning and neighborhood revitalization--dog parks! bike lanes! Millennials with beards!--have become so commonplace that they're the butt of jokes.

So starting today you can formalize those jokes with Cards Against Urbanity. It's a project from D.C.-based GreaterPlaces.com and DoTank DC, a tactical urbanism group. They're launching a Kickstarter for the game and a kickoff party this evening in Arlington.

Not familiar with Cards Against Humanity? That game, itself a spin on an older card game, Apples To Apples, involves one player playing a card with a question or fill-in-the-blank sentence on it. All other players must play a card with a noun or phrase that they think best fits the question. The first player judges the answers and awards a point to the player who had the best or funniest answer. Mostly, it's an excuse to make up ridiculously offensive jokes.

Cards Against Urbanity replaces all the cards in a CAH deck with jokes by and about urbanists. They're less offensive than CAH, but definitely irreverent. Players can create sentences like "Architects should really pay more attention to _______", filling in the blank with "a blue-haired amateur historian," "Mr. Monorail," or "Peak beard."

At the launch party tonight, where you can play a prototype of the game, there will also be plenty of blank cards to write your own urbanist jokes, says Lisa Nisenson, head of GreaterPlaces.com.

"I think there's two kinds of audiences," says Abbey Oklak, a member of DoTank DC. "There's the audience that is the Greater Greater Washington reader, who may be a planner, may not be, but is kind of interested and can poke fun at themselves. And there's also the city dweller who would get" the jokes.

But it's not all jokes.

"Behind this game is a serious mission," says Nisenson. "Bringing liveable cities to the people."

It's not immediately clear how a card game can help with this, and Oklak admits it's still a work in progress. But one idea they're tossing around is including a manual with the game--not a manual to teach you how to play the game, but a manual that teaches people the basics of city planning and civic engagement. "There are so many people who don't know how to say, 'We need a bus stop on this corner.' People don't know how to represent their voices at the city council. This is one way to get the conversation started."

If all goes well, cards will be in backers' hands by Christmas.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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