Spring 2018 – 497-315: Urban Activators: Engagement

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

Building on the success of past Urban Activator IPROs, students will work with local community organizations and stakeholders to develop, design and build a system that engages the local community in the act of recording and celebrating their stories and shared history. Many of the south side communities surrounding IIT are under-resourced, underserved, and underrepresented. This class 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 IPRO team will develop a portable infrastructure that can be used to document and share between residents, community organizations and possibly local officials. The temporary idea is to allow for a low-cost prototype to be developed by the team that can be used to test the team’s ideas.

The IPRO team will research existing precedents, engage with the community to identify needs and then design and develop a prototype that fosters activity in these neighborhoods. Initial research, stakeholder interviews and engagement will provide the students with the specifics of the issues to be addressed. Through continued community feedback and interaction, students will refine their concepts and present back to the community. Before the end of the semester students will have developed a full-scale prototype and have tested its usability at a community event. Our community partners serve as the interconnective tissue.

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.

Project partners may include the 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. Research and prototype will also be shared with the Exhibit and Interpretive Team for the Obama Presidential Center.

The IPRO team 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. The team will work with the technical, marketing and physical aspects of the project. The team will also have the opportunity to participate in a community revitalization project, collaborate with organizations outside of school and create a visual and physical example that is a reflection of the community.

Students do not often have the opportunity to engage with communities outside the school and develop partnerships. The class seeks to create a model for projects that are based on the needs identified locally by community organizations and residents. The resulting projects should be able to be supported by the community; the project should not end or cease to exist once the students step away.

It is expected that students will spend time in the neighborhoods and host participatory meetings for local stakeholders. Students will present a working prototype to the stakeholders at a 70% review and will complete a final, full scale prototype for their final deliverable.

Through this IPRO project, students will:

— Enhance their abilities to work together as an interprofessional team. The team will develop roles for each member, share in leadership and work cohesively together.

— The nature of the project will allow students to apply both creative and critical thinking to solve the problem of stimulating economic development in the areas.

— The team will learn and expand on their abilities to communicate their ideas. Through both public presentation and review, the team will refine their communication skills.

— The team will be responsible for producing a small-scale intervention before the end of the semester. As a team they will plan and manage the timing and the tasks of the project to do this.

— The team pursuit is expected to be innovative and have impact on the communities in which the projects lie.

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