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THE ADAPTATION GAME

Lead Designer

With Ellis Calvin • Lucretia Montemeyor

Finalist for Prized Solutions: Reimagining NYC Award • Featured in the RPA Lab

 
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How will we live with six feet of sea-level rise?

I created the Adaptation Game for regional planners as a tool to learn from community conversations about the local impacts of climate change.

Designed in partnership with the  Regional Plan Association, the Adaptation Game positions residents as municipal planners, with limited time and money to adapt to sea-level rise.

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The RPA depends on constituent input to shape its proposals, yet many communities are facing rising planning fatigue. The game breaks out of traditional top-down community engagement practices and focuses on residents’ interactions with each other.

Gameplay decisions prompt a deeper discussion of trade-offs.

The Adaptation Game revolves around trade-offs. As players make decisions, they are forced to justify the winners and losers of their future plans. This conversation reveals important values to regional planners.

The game allows people to break out of their conventional thinking...and consider futures they may not have already.
— Rob Freudenberg, Regional Plan Association

The RPA used insights we gathered from the Adaptation Game to create local adaptation plans. We took those plans back to community partners for further testing.

First-person stories challenge top-down assumptions.

At these workshops, I wrote postcards from the future worlds the plans illustrated, then asked residents to do the same. Their stories offered an intimate perspective of the possible lived experience of these proposals.

Internal applications emerge.

The game has surprisingly served as a tremendously helpful internal tool for RPA to discuss possible programs and infrastructure, constraints and trade-offs. The RPA is also packaging the Adaptation Game and its facilitation materials to be used in other coastal communities debating long-term adaptation plans.