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ChiArts Educators & Alum Recast Chicago’s Urban Story

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Apr 04, 2017

In 2015, the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) began using Wacker’s Manual, a 1911 guide to Chicago’s urban planning, to teach young people how they might be more civically engaged in the urban planning process. Recognizing the need for an updated text, CAF selected a team of illustrators and educators (all of which are educators or alumni at Chicago High School for the Arts) to develop a graphic novel that imagines the past, present, and future of Chicago’s urban development.

The work resulted in No Small Plans, a 144-page graphic novel that, according to CAF, “follows the neighborhood adventures of teens in Chicago's past, present and future as they wrestle with what it will take to design the city they want, need and deserve.” The publication is currently raising money through Kickstarter with the goal of being distributed to educators around the country.

“Research shows that low-income youth, students of color and English language learners have fewer civic education opportunities than their more affluent peers. This civic education gap results in underrepresentation in the political process and less participation in civic activities like voting and volunteering. No Small Plans illustrates what it looks like when young people get involved with their city,” CAF notes on their Kickstarter page.

Four of the authors—Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin, and Deon Reed—are either currently teaching at ChiArts or are alumni of the program.

You can learn more about the project and donate here.

About Chicago High School for the Arts

The Chicago High School for the Arts develops the next generation of artistically promising, diverse scholar-artists through intensive pre-professional training in the arts, combined with a comprehensive college preparatory curriculum.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.