About this project
Exciting news! A very generous backer has come forward with a fantastic end-of-campaign challenge: If we reach our stretch goal of $50,000, our backer will donate an additional $10,000! Please help us reach our goal. AND this summer we will host a No Small Plans launch party for backers to pick up rewards and meet the novel's creators!
Two years ago the Chicago Architecture Foundation started to use a 1911 textbook called Wacker's Manual to teach urban planning in our Teen Academy. Wacker's Manual is more than just a kids' introduction to the 1909 Plan of Chicago. The manual was intended to "make the child feel that in him rests the responsibility of assisting Chicago to attain her future greatness." It was required reading for all 8th graders in Chicago Public Schools for nearly three decades.
Our teens were riveted by the story of Chicago's city plan and the profound responsibility the manual expected. They asked, "Why isn’t there anything like this for students to read today?" We wondered the same thing.
We spent 2015 asking dozens of teachers, planners, community organizations and, of course, teens, "What is most worth knowing and experiencing in urban planning and civic education in the 21st century?" We created a detailed design brief with everyone's ideas. In February 2016, we announced a design competition for Midwestern artists. We asked them to submit ideas for a new graphic novel that would depict Chicago's past, present and future; architecture as a character; youth as change agents; and illustrate Chicago's grit and shine. Last April, we selected our winners: Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin and Deon Reed, a collective known as Eyes of the Cat Illustration.
One year later we have the result: No Small Plans is a 144-page color graphic novel that 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.
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. Giving students the opportunity to consider questions like the ones the characters in No Small Plans struggle with can make a difference. No Small Plans supports Illinois civic education requirements and is ideal for students in grades 6-10.
We're ready to get No Small Plans into the hands of Chicago’s teens—thousands of them—and we need your help.
No Small Plans is organized into three chapters with exquisite artwork illustrating Chicago in 1928, 2017 and 2211. In between each chapter, an "interlude" brings Daniel Burnham, Wacker's Manual and the art and science of urban planning to life. Each chapter concludes with a neighborhood map showing where the action takes place.
Who is the city for? In 1928 Chicago, at the height of the construction boom following the 1909 Plan, Reggie, Elisa and Bernard travel from their neighborhoods of Bronzeville, Maxwell Street and Austin to defy social codes and spend an afternoon together downtown. They run headlong into the contradictions of racial and class discrimination and must decide to stand and fight or protest another day, another way.
Development or displacement? Jesse, David and Christina realize classroom discussions about zoning, fair housing, gentrification and displacement are real, urgent issues when they discover their friend Natalie is being evicted from her home in Logan Square. Their backgrounds give each of them a unique point of view about neighborhood change. As they try to figure out how to support Natalie they become involved with Chicago's history of development and resistance in Pilsen and Englewood and begin to understand that making change takes a community.
Who decides—and how? The year is 2211. Chicago is geographically factionalized and virtual reality bridges the communication gap. Octavius, Tsang, Codex, Gabriela and Rafael are assigned to the City Planning Council for their year of civic service. They struggle to find a way to come together to make decisions that will affect Uptown, a neighborhood none of them live in.
Chicago has a history of engaging young people as planners. Wacker's Manual was sponsored by the Chicago Plan Commission to promote the 1909 Burnham and Bennett Plan for Chicago. Written by Walter D. Moody as a textbook for 8th graders, the guide was adopted by Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Ella Flagg Young as part of the standard curriculum and taught for nearly three decades. It included 135 illustrations, many from the 1909 Plan by painter Jules Guerin.
Chicago continues to be a city of plans—Onto 2050, City of Chicago Technology Plan, Chicago Cultural Plan, the Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs, to name a few—but since the 1911 Wacker's Manual, there has not been a city-wide document specifically intended to help young people understand their role as stewards for Chicago.
Chicago teens inspired this project and have shaped it every step of the way. You can hear them talk about it in this video from last year when we announced the project.
You can also listen to this radio interview with WBEZ’s Morning Shift:
We have a terrific advisory team and an experienced partner in PrintNinja to help ensure No Small Plans is a high-quality print job delivered on time and within budget.
In addition, No Small Plans is at the heart of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's ambitious three-year initiative called "Meet Your City," designed to address the civic education gap that exists amongst Chicago's young people. We are working in close partnership with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Public Library to distribute the novel and facilitate workshops with students and teachers to explore the question, "What makes a good neighborhood?" Chicago teachers can already request free copies of No Small Plans for their classrooms. We believe No Small Plans will catalyze civic education and stewardship conversations around the city.
- April - Kickstarter campaign begins.
- May - Print-ready files go off to our partners at PrintNinja. If we reach our goal we will print 2,000 copies; if we exceed our goal we'll be able to print more and give away more! Our aspiration is to give away 5,000 copies this year.
- July - We start to give copies away and fulfill our rewards to Kickstarter backers!
- August - We will run a two-day institute for teachers who want to use No Small Plans in their classrooms.
- September - December - We continue to work with teachers, schools and libraries to give away copies and catalyze conversations with teens about what makes a good neighborhood.
This Kickstarter campaign will enable us to print the first 2,000 copies of No Small Plans and distribute them for free to Chicago teens. If we raise more than our goal, we'll print more novels and give more away!
We have some great rewards for our Kickstarter backers, including signed posters and unique architectural experiences, and every backer will get their name printed in the novel. We're most excited about the fact that the best reward—the novel itself—will be shared with thousands of teens.
You can help by spreading the word about No Small Plans on social media too, using the hashtag #nosmallplans. For updates and more information, visit architecture.org/nosmallplans, follow @chiarchitecture on Twitter and Instagram and like us on Facebook. If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to support the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s No Small Plans initiative, please contact Beth Bentley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No Small Plans is more than just a handbook to civic engagement. It's a call to action. It's one graphic novel created for all of Chicago's kids. In a city famous for big plans, No Small Plans illustrates there's no such thing as a small plan.
The novel was created by me, Gabrielle Lyon, in partnership with Eyes of the Cat Illustration, (aka Devin Mawdsley, Kayce Bayer, Chris Lin and Deon Reed).
I served as creative director, writer and editor for this project and I'll be leading the effort to get the copies into the hands of teens. I'm an education activist committed to exploring and designing new ways to increase access and equity in education. In my role as Vice President of Education & Experience at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, I'm responsible for leading the organization's thinking on how to engage youth, educator, mentor and family communities to explore the built environment and design thinking through in-person and online experiences.
Devin worked on the pencil & ink illustrations for Chapters 1, 2 and 3. He maintains a diverse studio practice with works that includes graphic novels and abstract painting and he recently completed an ACRE studio residency. For the past five years, Devin has developed the fundamental drawing component of the Chicago High School of the Arts pre-professional Visual Arts conservatory as well as an 8th grade Social Studies course, Photography and the New Civil Rights.
Kayce executed color in Chapters 1, 2, 3 and the Burnham Interludes 1, 2, 3. She also worked on writing and research. She’s an interdisciplinary artist and educator who received her MFA from the Memphis College of Art in Tennessee and currently teaches at the Chicago High School for the Arts. A recent project, “The Great Fire: A Traveling Truck Show,” toured Chicago neighborhoods with a moving truck as a pop-up stage, engaging audiences with local history, visual storytelling and music.
Chris did pencil & ink for Burnham Interludes 1, 2, 3; and color in Chapters 1, 2, 3. He graduated from of the School of the Art Institute and has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and Canada, including group exhibitions in Contemporary Art Workshop, Southside Hub of Production, Chicago Art Department, Eel Space, and The Franklin in Chicago, Verge Art Fair in New York, Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL, and Fifty Fifty Arts Collective, Deluge Contemporary, and The Ministry of Casual Living in Victoria, BC, Canada. He currently teaches Sequential Art and Visual Communications at The Chicago High School for the Arts.
Deon worked on Maps 1, 2, 3; and the color for Chapters 1, 2, 3. Deon, a native Chicagoan, grew up in Englewood, participated in out of school arts programs including Marwen and Pallet & Chisel, and graduated from ChiArts. Since graduation, he has collaborated with artists in a variety of media including sculptors Jeremiah Spofford and Josh Garber. Deon is in the process of starting a screen printing business and developing his illustration practice.
- CAF Teen Fellows, Class of 2016
- Shawn Healy, McCormick Foundation
- Ben Leitschuh, American Planning Association
- Jeff McCarter, Free Spirit Media
- Jessica Marshall, Chicago Public Schools
- Nathan Mason, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Events
- Shelley Stern-Grach, Microsoft
- Angel Ysaguierre, Illinois Humanities
For media inquiries, contact Director of Communications and Public Affairs Dan O’Connell at email@example.com.
Risks and challenges
RISK: Can you pull this project off?
RESPONSE: CAF has a long tradition of printing and distributing textbooks, including our award-winning "School Yards to Skylines" and "Architecture Handbook" textbooks. We are keeping a disciplined timeline and are on track to publish in April 2017. We are in the process of inking the novel, taking print bids and fundraising. We have worked hard to create a compelling story populated by characters that feel real and the artwork is first class. "No Small Plans" has been read and reviewed by teens and city planners alike during all stages of development. Both groups love it. "It's dope!" is the primary response we're receiving from our target audience: middle and high school students.
The Chicago Public Schools' need for civic engagement resources suitable for middle school students help shaped the project from the outset and the district will be a key partner moving forward. We have strong partnerships with the Chicago Public Library and a diverse network of community-based, youth-serving organizations that will aid in the launch of the book as well.
RISK: How are you going to raise enough money to give the novel away for free?
RESPONSE: Firstly, we're launching the Kickstarter campaign. If the Kickstarter is successful we'll be able to distribute 2,000 copies and launch our first group of pilot teachers. This is a critical step before pursuing our ambitious plan to distribute the book to 30,000 young people in Chicago over the next three years. Secondly, we are working hard to raise funding from local and national foundations and corporations to support our ability to print and distribute the novel, train teachers to use it and run student workshops. Lastly, we plan to sell copies of the novel in our shop and online. Proceeds from book sales will help subsidize our ability to give copies away.
RISK: How will giving a novel away have a real impact on civic education?
RESPONSE: We are developing an overarching strategy to support the novel. We're developing an educator companion guide with input from teachers to help equip educators to use the novel to have meaningful conversations and develop relevant projects with students that get them outside of the classroom. We are also going to offer regular professional development trainings to teachers and workshops for students. We believe this triumvirate approach of novel+resources+ workshops for teachers and students will make a powerful impact.
RISK: What if we're overwhelmed with requests for the novel?
RESPONSE: We would love to have this problem!!! It will mean that we've created something that people want and value. But saying "no" is a drag. We have already created a sign-up list for students and teachers to request copies of the novel and we'll give priority to requests from Chicago Public School teachers who request sets for their classrooms and educators who participate in our summer 2017 trainings. Teachers who receive sets will be asked to share information about how they use the novel.
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