Game of Floods

Community Development Agency
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NEW! "Game of Floods" Public Involvement Tool Wins Planning Award

Game of Floods

The "Game of Floods" was developed by the County of Marin as a public education activity on sea level rise adaptation, including traditional flood protection measures such as levees and seawalls; green infrastructure approaches including horizontal levees, wetland restorations, and beach nourishment; and policy/zoning changes. The Game of Floods is a small group activity, with 4-6 participants tasked with developing a vision for ‘Marin Island 2050,’ a hypothetical landscape that highlights the conditions that will be experienced in Marin in coming years with sea level rise and increased storm impacts causing the loss or deterioration of homes, community facilities, roads, agricultural land, beaches, wetlands, lagoons, and other resources. 

Host an adaptation planning party of your own! Email us to request a kit or download the complete Game of Floods materials

game of flood board 

To start the game, participants are given a lesson with an adaptation strategy reference sheet, including the effectiveness, environmental impacts/benefits, and cost estimates. Integral to the activity is the introduction and consideration of green infrastructure as an alternative to traditional levees and sea walls, with habitat and water quality benefits of such concepts articulated. Seated around the game board, participants take turns championing assets they value and proposing strategies to protect these sites from sea level rise and storm impacts. The game creates a lively interaction between participants, heightening awareness of the challenges of planning for sea level rise. The game concludes with group discussion to obtain consensus for a vision which protects critical assets, while maximizing ecosystems benefits through wetland restoration and other living shoreline approaches. 

The Game of Floods has been launched at public workshops, high schools, and community group meetings. Participants enthusiastically praise the game’s effectiveness at fostering collaborative dialogue and deeper understanding of the environmental, economic and social choices that communities will face in preparing for sea level rise.  Because the game was designed to be general enough to represent any Bay Area community, CDA staff can provide the board and materials to any local jurisdiction, non-profit, or other group interested in hosting an event, or game night. 

CDA staff launched the Game of Floods early in the sea level rise planning process because an educated citizenry is critical to successful planning and implementation. What citizens learn and understand will shape crucial community decisions about sea level rise adaptation that will be made in years to come in Marin and other Bay Area jurisdictions.  With some 90% of the Bay Area’s historic wetlands having been lost to non-wetland uses, green infrastructure solutions such as horizontal levees may be a means to restore essential habitat while simultaneously providing flood protection from rising waters.  Many innovative green measures are new and unfamiliar and the Game of Floods is an effective, engaging tool to introduce and teach citizens and decision-makers in support of implementing emerging environmental approaches to sea level rise that promote a healthy, renewed and resilient Bay. 

For more information, contact marinslr@marincounty.org