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2021 Newsletter #9 | Using Minecraft to Engage Youth + Ways to Work with Karp Strategies

Civic participation in urban planning can bring together people with different ideas, improve outcomes by creating a sense of ownership and commitment, promote mutual learning, and increase support for implementation. In recent years, there is a growing recognition that children and youth can be powerful contributors to this participatory decision-making process and source for positive social change. Adopting ways to include them into these processes not only orients the planning outcomes toward their needs and interests but also fosters civic-minded future leaders by giving them a broader platform to practice democracy. Now that there is awareness of the importance of the “what” and “why” of youth participation in the design and development of our cities, more innovation is needed to address the “how”.

Analyst Gopinath Gnanakumar Malathi partnered with Penn Praxis at the University of Pennsylvania to facilitate a workshop that brought together a group of 30 young adults to design and visualize the vision for a local playground. The group was introduced to a methodology that centers video games as barrier-free civic engagement tools for collaborative design and decision-making.

Minecraft, a 3D build-and-play video game that allows players a large amount of freedom by setting no specific goals, can be considered an effective youth engagement strategy for the following reasons:

  • Intelligible and comprehensible: In Minecraft, players interact with an easy to understand the virtual world by placing various types of colored blocks – similar to a ‘digital Lego’ – in a three-dimensional environment with the purpose of building creative structures, such as buildings and cities using an inventory of hundreds of real-life materials.

  • Collaborative and democratic by nature: Apart from having the potential to easily create buildings similar to those produced by complex 3D modeling software, it is specifically developed as a platform for players to collaborate through a multiplayer setting. As a result, the building process is more similar to real-life construction projects with multiple workers carrying out different roles simultaneously, than traditional digital 3D model-making tools with only one designer.

  • Ability to engross youth: As one of the world’s most popular computer games with over 100 million players worldwide, Minecraft appeals to the interest and attention of youth and children.

A few communities have begun experimenting with using Minecraft in their planning processes. We look forward to seeing whether this tool becomes more widely adopted in community planning processes.


Join us in congratulating Max Gottlieb for his promotion to full time Analyst and Proposal Manager. Max began at Karp Strategies as a Graduate Analyst in August 2019, and was later promoted to Analyst in September 2020. Prior to joining Karp Strategies, Max supported stakeholder engagement strategy on a Brownfield Opportunity Area study for the South Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. During his time at Karp Strategies, Max has provided research and analysis toward the firm's Long Island City Mixed-Use District Study, support for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) EIS Engagement, and research for projects with Empire State Development.

In his full time role, Max supports client projects and business development efforts. On the client side, he is currently working on an engagement and resiliency project in NYC’s Financial District. With respect to business development, Max is supporting efforts across the firm, including teaming efforts and proposals for projects at a variety of scales. Max graduated with a Masters in City and Regional Planning at Pratt Institute in 2020. Congratulations, Max!


As Karp Strategies continues to grow, we seek passionate and community-driven professionals to join our dynamic team! Check out our open positions here, and apply now!

The following positions are open:


Join the Karp Strategies team for the Center for Urban Pedagogy’s (CUP) annual benefit! CUP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement. The benefit will be held in-person outdoors this year at Rooftop Reds in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on October 14th at 6PM. Individual tickets are available here!


Rebecca Karp and Andel Koester will be attending the American Clean Power Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition from October 13-15, 2021 at the Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport in Boston, Massachusetts. Check out the agenda here and register here!

Join the ABNY team for the Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk on Sunday, September 26 from 9:30AM - 2PM. The Tunnel to Towers 5K Run & Walk in New York is held each year on the last Sunday of September. The event symbolizes Stephen Siller’s final footsteps from the foot of the Battery Tunnel to the Twin Towers and pays homage to the 343 FDNY firefighters, 71 law enforcement officers, and thousands of civilians who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.Proceeds from the event support the Foundation’s programs, including those benefitting first responders and catastrophically injured service members. If you are interested, please sign up here by Friday, September 17. Space is limited.


Want to continue the conversation? We’d love to hear from you. As always, we welcome the opportunity to connect with your network of partners and clients or to work with you. Reach out to us at


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