What Makes a “Great” Neighborhood?

 |   Gabrielle Lyon, CAF; Kevin Wei, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow; Shelley Stern Grach

CAF (2 of 3)

One of the major positives about being a student in Chicago during the summer is the wide choice of One Summer Chicago programs throughout the city. We’d like to spotlight a really unique program, “Meet your City Workshop,” a One Summer Chicago Infrastructure Program, run by DFSS and hosted by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF). This program, which is focused on teens and ran from July-August 2016, is designed to do the following:

  • Help teens share ideas and think through what makes a “good” neighborhood
  • Focus on learning to observe details and “see” Chicago in a new way
  • Develop a collaborative list of the things a great neighborhood needs to have
  • Understand how neighborhoods link to the City infrastructure (viaducts, boulevards, water, green spaces, etc.)
  • Learn that the city is built on infrastructure systems (grid, rail, housing, quality of life, etc.)
  • Internalize that Chicago is a city of neighborhoods

CAF (3 of 3)The program also includes an historic neighborhood bus tour so the students get a real view into our city and neighborhoods. Each day is a complete agenda and each day brings in a new group of students to learn about what makes a great neighborhood. This amazing program touches ~600 students.

The big learnings and hot topics include:

  • Scale: The students are learning how big and diverse the city is –both geographically and culturally.
  • Safety: The notion that you can walk down a street safely is sadly a new experience for many of the students.

Please see some photos (below) of the collaboration and interactive workshop where the students designed their own neighborhood.

Our congratulations to Gabe Lyon and her team at CAF and to DFSS and One Summer Chicago for this innovative approach to civic engagement!

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