When looking at the brick and mortar of a city, it is easy to forget the web of people that build and rebuild it. On one hand, it can feel as immovable as a mountain that long precedes us and will long outlive us, indifferent to our existence. On the other hand, it can feel as swift and uncontrollable as a river, as new towers rise up, seemingly overnight.
This feeling that the city has a life beyond us and without us is perhaps most familiar to young people, whom adults so often place on the sidelines of city life. When they are children, adults curate their experience of the city to protect them from danger; as adolescents, adults chastise them for “misusing” public space—loitering, skateboarding, and so on. In very few instances do adults give young people the opportunity to shape their surroundings.
With this in mind, the eight educational initiatives in this exhibition show young people a new way of seeing the city.
Some teach youth how to closely observe their neighborhoods and articulate their findings; some teach the value of design-thinking and the creative process; some demonstrate how developers, decision-makers, and designers come together to shape the city; and some even directly engage youth in the machinery of city-building on equal footing with professionals.
Perhaps most importantly, all of these initiatives teach their participants that the city is an ever-evolving collection of decisions and designs—a process, not a product—and that as citizens who use the city every day, young people have both the right and the ability to take part in that process.
Harbourfront Centre (Toronto, ON)
For Ages 8-12 | Established in 2008
Community. Design. Initiative.
East Scarborough Storefront, archiTEXT (Toronto, ON)
For Ages 9-21 | Established in 2008
archiTEXT, Greenwood College School (Toronto, ON)
For Grades 6-8 | Established in 2011
Imagining My Sustainable City
No.9 Contemporary Art & the Environment, TDSB (Toronto, ON)
For Grade 7 | Established in 2011
Jane’s Walk School Edition
Jane’s Walk (Toronto, ON)
For Grades 8-11 | Established in 2008
University of Toronto Schools (Toronto, ON)
For Grades 8-11 | Established in 2011
The National Building Museum (Washington, DC)
For Grades 6-9 | Established in 1993
The Centre for Cities & Schools, UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
For Grades 9-12 | Established in 1999