Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
A committed Global Parliament of Mayors could mean magic for cities and nations alike.
If Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti can summon Jay Z, does that make him the most powerful mayor in the deck? "Murder is a tough thing to digest, it's a slow process/ And I ain't got nothing but time," Jay Z raps on "Dead Presidents 2"—suggesting a strong direct-damage attack, plus some potential value in a control deck as a time lord. The auteur behind The Blueprint and The Black Album would be a blue/black creature, no question. Could Worcester Mayor Alan Amos or Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo even compete?
Thanks to The Guardian, we are finally getting down to the questions that matter. This week, in honor of the third planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors project in Amsterdam, The Guardian's Cities channel has helpfully mashed up some of the attendees with the customizable card game, Magic: The Gathering. The results are cards that depict the powers of various mayors worldwide in a M:TG format, to the delight of this blue/white deck owner. It's Mayors: The Gathering.
Mocked up by artist Sam Shelton and The Guardian's Anna Scott and Chris Michael, the mayoral profiles resemble the creature cards from the popular 1993 Wizards of the Coast card game, complete with signature quotes and special powers. No, these aren't for the Magic completist: For example, the cards don't specify how much mana a player must tap to cast a mayor. (That's easy enough to imagine. Two swamp mana plus two water mana gets you New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.)
For those of you whose nearest encounter with Magic: The Gathering comes in the occasional setpiece on The Big Bang Theory, perhaps it's helpful to think instead about the Global Parliament of Mayors—which is in many ways similar to the game. Some of the strongest players in the world get together to debate, share ideas, and size up one another's strategies for the tests they all face: climate change, unemployment, and public transportation among them (to say nothing of elections).
CityLab's own Richard Florida is bullish on this idea of a UN of Mayors. The Guardian's Adam Greenfield sounds less impressed: "[I]nviting the world’s mayors to collaborate on solving some of humanity’s most vexing problems might seem an exercise in frustration, even futility." Yet if a convention of mayors appears to be an exercise in futility, then some larger deliberative bodies—the UN Climate Summit, for example, or even just the U.S. Congress—appear to be demonstrations in pointlessness.
"What can a GPM do that national governments or international systems like the UN do not or cannot do?" is one of the first questions on the program that the Global Parliament of Mayors met today to address. The answer might be a lot. Not summon-5/5-flying-tokens a lot, perhaps, but still something. A UN of Mayors might strike some as a game, but with more than half the world's population characterized as urban and political gridlock for many federal bodies, merely meeting to share best practices is one way that mayors of very different power levels could influence the entire world.