Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces Year 2 Program Launch

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Sweet Water Foundation is excited to launch Year 2 of the Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces Program, an innovative, connected learning program that engages youth in community-driven, design+build projects using DiscoverDesign.org, an online platform where students, teachers, and mentors come together to design solutions for real-world challenges. Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces is a collaboration with the Chicago Architecture Foundation that emerged from Mozilla Foundation’s Hive Chicago Network and is funded with the generous support of the Chicago Community Trust’s Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning.

Last year, youth from Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (CAF) Teen Fellows Program and Sweet Water Foundation’s (SWF) Apprenticeship and Outreach Program engaged in a 6-week project that took participants through a full design+build program that resulted in youth and community-inspired renderings for a full pocket park in Washington Park. Custom, community benches inspired by the students’ designs were constructed to provide a pocket park experience at SWF’s Perry Ave Commons.

This year, Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces will expose more students to the power of youth-inspired, community-driven design through a combination of field trips and workshops that will prepare students to tackle design challenges using DiscoverDesign.org.

This year’s program launched in May when students from Village Leadership Academy (VLA) toured Sweet Water Foundation’s (SWF) Aquaponics Center and Perry Ave Commons to learn about SWF’s practice of Regenerative Placemaking and get inspired to tackle design challenges in their school community. At the Aquaponics Center, VLA students were introduced to concept of aquaponics, learning how intricate relationships between fish, plants, and recirculating water create a sustainable system that produces leafy greens and tilapia in a formerly vacant shoe warehouse. Students, then, visited the Perry Ave Commons, where they had the opportunity to see how vacant land and a foreclosed home has been transformed into an urban oasis that produces fresh food, community and a new economy for the neighborhood. VLA students also heard from SWF Apprentices, Maurice Hursey and Michael McClain, who participated in Year 1 of the Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces program. Maurice and Michael shared their process for tackling the pocket park challenge and showcased their designs.

To culminate the day's learning, students had the chance to harvest kale, collard greens and mint from the raised beds gardens. When they return to school in the fall, VLA students will explore how to grow food in their school and engage in a design + build project inspired by Re[CREATE]Ed Spaces.