497-309: Urban Activators: Engagement (Cancelled)

Meeting Day(s)/Time
Tuesdays from 1:50 to 4:30 pm
Monica Chadha (ARCH) (mchadha1@iit.edu)
Appropriate Majors
Social Innovation

Building on the success of past Urban Activator IPROs, the fall 2017 team will work with local community organizations and stakeholders to develop, design and build a system that engages the local community in the process of recording and celebrating their stories and shared history. Many of the south side communities surrounding Illinois Tech are under-resourced, underserved, and underrepresented. This IPRO project offers students a chance to address these inequities through engagement with stakeholders in these neighborhoods.

Working with the concept of ‘pop-up’ or temporary activation, the team will develop a portable infrastructure that can be used to document and share between residents, community organizations and possibly local officials. The current thinking is for a tem to develop and build a low-cost prototype that can be used to test the team’s various ideas for capturing the stories and history of a community through its current and previous residents.

The team will research existing precedents, engage with the community to identify needs, and then design and develop a prototype that fosters storytelling activity in these neighborhoods. Initial research, stakeholder interviews and engagement will provide the team with the specifics of the issues to be addressed. Through continued community feedback and interaction, the team will refine its concepts and present back to the community. It is expected that students will spend time in the neighborhoods and host participatory meetings for local stakeholders. The IPRO team will present a working prototype to stakeholders at a 70 percent completion level for review. This will be followed by completion of a final, full-scale prototype and documentation to replicate it as final deliverables, as well as community usability testing and analysis of findings and recommendations.


Students will create/develop a portable prototype for documenting and sharing stories — visual, oral, or otherwise — from the neighborhoods. This model will be priced and designed as a replicable system. Students will work with the technical, marketing and physical aspects of the project. The prototype will be an easily deployable, affordable, interconnected and replicable system that provides a sense of place that is being conceived in tandem with existing relationships in several south side neighborhoods. The process will include input from the community in its development and will offer a scaled approach to holding onto and sharing the legacies of the south side through the act of storytelling. The resulting system should be sustainable, replicable and readily supportable by the community – the IPRO solution should not end with the IPRO project but achieve on-going, permanent impact.

Project partners may include the Greater Englewood Community Development Corporation, The Bronzeville Retail Initiative, Chatham Development Corporation, The Invisible Institute, Illinois Tech’s Office of Community Affairs and the Metropolitan Planning Council. StoryCorps’ work would serve as a model for the project.

Through this IPRO project, students will:

  • Expand their abilities to work together as an interdisciplinary team, developing roles for each member, sharing leadership and working cohesively;
  • The nature of the project gives students the opportunity to develop and apply their creative and critical thinking skills to solve the problem of stimulating economic development in Chicago’s neighborhoods;
  • The IPRO team will learn and expand the communication skills of its members by conveying ideas, plans and results through both public presentation and review;
  • The team will design and deliver a small-scale intervention activity before the end of the semester, planning and managing the tasks and the schedule for accomplishing this; and
  • The team’s efforts are expected to be innovative and have an impact on the communities that the project is intended to serve.
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