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How a board game will revitalize Michigan city


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Quality of Life (Courtesy city of Grand Rapids)

Ever sat down with your family for a quiet, relaxing evening of city planning?

Unless you're all fans of classic game Sim City, we're guessing the answer is "of course not." But residents of one Michigan metropolis are doing just that after officials found a novel method to address urban planning issues: they've made their own board game, reports MLive.

Named "Quality of Life," the game takes place on a board depicting a couple of miles of Michigan Street, in the heart of Grand Rapids' congested downtown. Players adopt different roles as the game progresses -- a bicyclist, a senior citizen, and a student, for example -- and add stickers and other notes to the board suggesting how the city's facilities and layout could better serve those citizens.

In other words, it's pretty much Risk: Legacy, but with grandmas instead of soldiers, and a lot less shooting. Unless Grand Rapids has really gone downhill.

Once completed, the annotated boards go back to the city's planning commission where the suggestions will be collated and used in the creation of a plan for new housing, transportation, and community infrastructure.

And the innovative effort is going down pretty well with residents, at least according to Michigan Street user and local community engagement specialist, Chelsea LaForge.

"Without this game I would not have become involved in the planning to improve the Michigan Street Corridor," LaForge writes in The Rapidian. "It's not that I don't care or don't pay attention, it's just that hearing about a Grand Rapids board game is a bit more exciting to me than attending a meeting where I feel like my voice is too small to matter. It was a great experience."

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