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2019 Achievement Award Publication: Placemaking with Children and Youth
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2019 Achievement Award Publication: Placemaking with Children and Youth

Authors: Victoria Derr, Louise Chawla, Mara Mintzer
Review by: Robert Nichols, M.Arch, EDRA Board of Directors (2018-2020) 


Photo: Robert Nichols and Louise Chawla, arthor, at the EDRA50 Banquet Cruise in New York

The 2019 Achievement Award publication, “Placemaking with Children and Youth”, containing 12 chapters, is a well-organized training and teaching guidance for youth and adults to live and work together throughout the primary, middle and high schools in the mainland and around the world. This publication provides an instrument of arts, design, playful, workshop, meeting, and travel to make a new strategy in the future of the community design services with the professionals, agencies, and organizations.  An instruction by participatory practices, an example of guidance, is very useful for beginners and advanced professionals and researchers to advise youth people a great deal to organize by them in groups.

A growing together throughout the schools and activities after school, mostly students shared their excitement about exchanging information and ideas with professional designers who give basically the scope of project.  One of exciting students made a conclusion on the project, saying “Doing this was heaven! I want to keep doing this all in my life!” Most of students who live in the country and rest of the world learn by training and workshop how to improve their skills, living in settlements in a range between wealth and poor in the demographical climatic areas. They learn how to draw what they like new ideas for the project and want to share stories about their homes and daily routines. Some of other students who lives in an uninhabited camp in the third world country like city of Johannesburg in South Africa didn’t want to put their names on a label of their working projects, because they are fearing that people in the city would discover their marginal status.  The elected representatives from the city office of mayor encouraged nonprofit organizations and agencies to bring the students’ presentation to be displayed around their rooms. Even though, the group of agencies starts the workshop to unfold their exhibited presentation to the public. Finally, a student feels confidential by saying ”I felt so proud for all of us”. This instruction in the publication provides many lessons on how growing together the programs and methods are offering young people to participate well in their cultural community.  

Many youth people are living and growing up in a local place, although they have received an interested project in an engagement of how to state about their owned lived experiences.  Their own lived experiences affect their lives and learning, and most of the young people have an opportunity to shape up their communities where they are coming from. 

Students, teachers, professional designers and staff are more likely to share their information with each other about their communities, especially their ethical and human relationship.  The quality of relationships between them is involved, and the other people from the highest levels of city and organizational leadership are working directly with young people in their different aging groups in ranging between 8 years old kids and high school graduates.  They provide more information about places with a safety for the groups, perhaps they are gathering and sharing about their communities. The chapter, informing the ethical relationships between adults and young people during the practice of participation, is useful to give an instruction how to start the research project.  

Another chapter in the publication is a practical tool for professionals as teacher, designer or volunteer to assist a local children and youth to become an engagement in communities.  Professionals may want to share these materials with young people to deepen understanding of the site. The method of a group research includes mapping, interviews and photo documentation of the communities where they are belonging and living in a place as well.   
Another topic is about cultural life and the arts that help groups and members of a participatory project understand how and what is an essential ingredient to an individual need in the community. The art-based methods are functional for a group of a participatory project, providing creative means of summarizing discoveries during a participatory project. They can help a community express its history and identity and come together around a shared vision. They learn by a tool of art methods as well as drawings, murals, collage, photography, etc.  

The method of Interviews and surveys with people is where professionals and youth people are having a one-on-one meeting or group. These methods are provided by professional researchers to gather information from a community where youth people are coming from for interviews and surveys to understand what they tell about an issue or how they act. The interviews and surveys are conducted by a researcher who can enable children and youth people to impart the information with their level of mobility and activity. They would tell the information to adults to understand how their city works and contribute their ideas to the professional researchers and designers.    

Getting young people into the city to analyze the places is the method of what the other urban professionals are seeking to understand how they perceive several ideas to improve the community in the city.  The method needs to be approached with an open mind, because of their living and exploring new ideas of the community while they grow up throughout local schools. 

Most of the young people have an opportunity to participate in the workshops, presentations, and community events.  They have a chance to meet new people to learn many ideas of what an environmental space will be under professional’s advice. When they have achieved their goals through the workshop and community events, they can enjoy the satisfaction of success at the end of the group.   

Another chapter of the publication is about a share in a range of methods to organize, analyze, and report ideas of participatory processes. An outcome of this methods is including posters and flyers, websites, or reports generated by young people or adults.  Another two terms are Reflection and Evaluation with two divided types: formative and summative. They are happening during the everyday implementation of projects; scheduled times for review and discussion among program leaders, project facilitators, partners, and young people. Another part of the chapter is about the way of evaluation and reflection that occurs at every step as a project unfolds and then they can be built into participatory processes for the young people to participate in assessment. 

In the last chapter, multiple methods together within partnerships are committed to take action. It presents brief profiles of projects that focus on specific goals to improve urban environments for young people. These profiles cross the world from Canada to the continental United States, The Netherlands, South Africa, India, Australia, and Puerto Rico.  Adult leaders and facilitators listened authentically to the young participants and treated them as valued guides to create more child-friendly places.  

In my conclusion, an interesting award publication provide a very helpful guidance for teachers, professionals, researchers, local agencies and politicians a comprehensive approach authentic contribution, supplying precise tools, methods, and instructions that get used to different types of the project. I recommend professionals and teachers at any institutes to purchase the book “Placemaking with Children and Youth” for class and workshop.  


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