Philly gamifies urban planning with recreation center reconstruction

How to gamify planning

Epstein’s team tapped experiences and memories from the story sessions for critical insights, which they incorporated into the board game. Players reviewed playing cards written with concepts such as education, art, fitness, professional development, personal financial budgeting, cooking, and billiards (billiards).

Then they moved other cards indicating who would benefit from these activities: young adults, parents and abuelos (grandparents).

“This neighborhood is largely Hispanic,” Tapia said. “There is a big push regarding Latin cuisine. How can we integrate this into the activities of older people? »

Participants tried to help each other understand the object of the game. The bustling acoustics of the room quickly filled it with chaotic sound, making it difficult for anyone of any language to understand what was going on. was saying.

“I see other people around me getting a little frustrated,” said Luz Crespo, a bilingual player. “I was helping a hard of hearing person and the other one was too sensitive to sound.”

Getting participants to talk and listen to each other is an essential part of the game.

What sets this playful approach to community feedback apart from a simpler survey questionnaire is that participants must work together to both understand the rules of the game and move ideas forward until they make sense on the board.

“It’s a board game, so there aren’t many barriers we have when we write,” said Juliana Ortiz-González, the new CEO of nearby cultural center Taller Puertorriqueño, who also came to play. “It’s a very dynamic and very normal thing to do. We all had our game, even if it was cards, in our house, so it’s a good way to listen very openly.

Community members gather at HACE’s Casa Indiana to play a board game that will explain how the Rivera Recreation Center will be rebuilt. (Emma Lee/WHY)

HACE Community Advisory Committee Director Stasia Monteiro said residents of this predominantly Latino neighborhood often feel left out of the planning process. Many don’t have a lot of money or don’t speak English.

“It’s about changing that dynamic where people offer their feedback and it just goes into a vacuum and then they don’t know what happened,” Monteiro said. “Whereas here it’s like, ‘Okay, you pick this up right away and it’s built into this game, which ultimately builds our programming plan.'”

One of the objectives of the renovated leisure center will be to promote intergenerational exchanges. Previously, the Mann Center for Older Adults and the Rivera Recreation Center shared a structure, but operated as two separate spaces with their own entrances on either side of the building. The two voters would never meet inside the center.

The new space will have a common entrance, where younger and older users can mix.

“Usually seniors say, ‘Oh, the kids are bouncing the ball or making noise. We don’t want them in our space,'” Tapia said. “But it’s a great way to use design to bring everyone together and really enjoy the center together.”

Another “data jam” gaming session is scheduled for December 11 at the Visitation Church Community Center on Kensington Avenue. After the sessions, Epstein’s team takes a picture of each game board to document where all the pieces ended up.

The final act of the process will be to translate all the information on the game boards into a report, reflecting what the community expects from their new recreation center. This report, expected in the spring, will be presented to the community for review and made available to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, as well as any future partners involved in the operation of the center.

Broken in PhiladelphiaWHYY is one of more than 20 news outlets producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project about solutions to poverty and the city’s efforts toward economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.