County of Marin - News Releases - Sea-Level Rise Board Game

For Immediate Release
July 19, 2016

County’s Sea-Level Rise Board Game Wins Award

State planning association recognizes creativity of ‘Game of Floods’

San Rafael, CA – A unique board game that challenges players to address the effects of sea-level rise has earned the County of Marin staff a statewide award for public outreach.

Marin residents sit around a table playing the board game called Game of Floods to learn about the effects of sea-level rise.Professionals at a statewide sea-level rise conference in San Francisco play the Game of Floods.
The Marin County Community Development Agency (CDA) and Department of Public Works (DPW) were the recipients of the American Planning Association California Chapter’s 2016 Public Outreach Award for Excellence for the Game of Floods, a board game created by the staff members from CDA’s Long-Range Community Planning team and DPW  flood control specialists. The game was inspired by a local mapping activity developed for Supervisor Kate Sears’ Southern Marin sea-level rise project by DPW engineer Roger Leventhal and CMG landscape architects.

“We’re thrilled about this,” said Jack Liebster, the CDA group’s manager. “We had fun with the creative challenge to get people involved with the tough issues of sea level in a way that is accessible, engaging and thought provoking.”

The Game of Floods was developed as a public education activity about sea-level rise vulnerability and adaptation. Staff introduced the game in May 2015, early in the planning process, because educating citizens is critical to successful planning and implementation of potential solutions.

The game has been played with enthusiasm by participants at community meetings, and has been featured at local, state and national conferences. It was especially well-received by the more than 300 students in local high schools who played it, something Liebster said is important to the County sea-level rise program because “the younger generation and the ones coming after theirs will be most affected by sea-level rise.”

The game was intended to be “open source” from the very outset, available for other communities to adapt and use. “We are very aware that sea-level rise presents a whole new set of problems for vulnerable areas all around the country,” Liebster said. “We will all need to share and learn from one another, and we hope the Game of Floods gives planners and officials a useful new tool.”

The game board, game pieces, instructions and other supporting materials as designed by CDA and DPW staff are available on the website. The total cost for printing Game of Floods boards and materials is typically less than $500, including lamination of game boards for multiple rounds of play.

County staff members credited by American Planning Association’s California Chapter were Liebster, Bridgit Van Belleghem, Alex Westhoff and Lauren Armstrong from CDA, and Leventhal and Chris Choo from Public Works.

Marin County ranks second among nine Bay Area counties for projected risk of impacts from sea level rise flooding and storms, with potential losses of $8.5 billion worth of buildings and contents on the bay shoreline. Flooding associated with high tides and storms already impacts infrastructure and disrupts people’s lives on a recurring basis. These impacts are expected to increase in frequency and severity as sea-level rise accelerates. Vulnerable communities in San Rafael and Marin City will be disproportionately impacted because flooding will increasingly cut off access to homes, jobs and daily essentials for many immigrants and low-income residents.

Many view sea-level rise as a far-off problem, and as an issue that only affects people living directly on the coast. However, even people living on high ground will be affected if roads to their communities are flooded, or if they can’t flush their toilets because a wastewater treatment plant is flooded.

The County of Marin is preparing for sea-level rise by identifying vulnerable assets, such as homes, schools, hospitals, roads, electrical stations, wastewater treatment facilities, beaches, and marshes. Through the C-SMART program in West Marin (along the Pacific coast) and BayWAVE in bayside Marin, the County is bringing city governments, asset managers and residents together in a shared understanding of the threat, and to develop a pathway forward.

County staff members have been invited to attend the American Planning Association’s state conference in Pasadena in October to receive the award.


Jack Liebster
Planning Manager
Community Development Agency

3501 Civic Center Drive
Suite 308
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-6278
Email: Jack Liebster
Community Development website