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Cards Against Urbanity: Richmond Gets Its Own Rude Party Game 

click to enlarge Tyler King, Giles Harnsberger and Ryan Rinn check out cards from the Cards Against Urbanity RVA edition, which humorously take on the city’s dysfunctions.

Scott Elmquist

Tyler King, Giles Harnsberger and Ryan Rinn check out cards from the Cards Against Urbanity RVA edition, which humorously take on the city’s dysfunctions.

The Monument Avenue Easter Parade features a flamboyantly gay _______. Chef Jason Alley is experimenting with _______ as the next frontier of Southern cuisine. The survey for Main Street Station revealed that it should be filled with _______.

If you think these sentences sound like a Richmond-themed offshoot of the rude drinking game Cards Against Humanity, you’d be correct.

And you’ll have a chance to take your turn at Triple Crossing Brewery on Thursday, when the Storefront for Community Design will hold “Cards Against Urbanity, RVA Edition.” The event is a fundraiser for Storefront, a nonprofit that provides access to planning and design resources for Richmond communities.

Cards Against Urbanity got its start one evening as a group of disgruntled urban planners shared cocktails.

“A couple of team members and I were having a really crappy summer last year,” says Lisa Nisenson, one of the game’s co-creators and founder of Arlington-based urban planning platform GreaterPlaces.

Playing off of the risqué, fill-in-the-blank game Cards Against Humanity, itself an R-rated offshoot of the family friendly Apples to Apples, they came up with Cards Against Urbanity as a way for planning wonks to let off a little steam.

With the blessing of the Humanity creators, they raised more than $28,000 on Kickstarter to print Urbanity, which was snapped up by the planning community at large. For urban planners, the game was a cathartic way to relieve the pressure of constantly bumping against bureaucracy — or simply hearing the term “vibrant” too often.

“Sometimes you get caught up in little things, or these key words and buzzwords that pop up get overused a million times throughout a year,” says Ryan Rinn, executive director of Storefront. “They finally become maddening when you hear them.”

Then the real surprise happened: Urban planners began using the cards to teach concepts and jargon to laypeople. For instance, wonky terms such as “NIMBY” — which refers to “not in my backyard” — can be unpacked.

“We were kind of horrified, because the cards are really rude,” Nisenson says of her game’s newfound use with average citizens. “But all of the sudden we were reaching people in ways that professionally we never could.”

Inspired, Storefront created a Richmond specific expansion pack, and mixed them in with the original Urbanity pack for a game last year. About 30 people attended that first game and the Richmond pack was added to the collection of the Valentine museum. But Storefront will expand the scope of the event and the number of local cards Thursday.

Nisenson came down for Storefront’s event last year, and was surprised at how informative she found the Richmond insider jokes.

“Through humor, I think there’s a more full understanding of a place,” says Tyler King, Storefront’s program director.

King says he hopes the game stimulates conversation about what’s going on in the city, and Rinn says that Storefront will sell the RVA expansion pack soon as part of the fundraiser. Taking a more optimistic approach, Nisenson is working to create Cards for Urbanity, which will be a nicer way to engage people about urban planning.

Nisenson asks, “If you can describe a city’s dysfunction with a set of cards, can you use them to describe its function?” S

“Cards Against Urbanity, RVA Edition,” is Thursday, Nov. 5, from 5:30-9 p.m. at Triple Crossing Brewery, 113 S. Foushee St. storefrontrichmond.org.

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