CAB’s Youth Council engages youth voices in shaping both our organization and the larger cultural and architecture and design landscapes of the city while providing personal and professional mentorship to teens.
For CAB 5, partnership with Mobile Makers, CAB’s Official Education Partner, and through the generous support of The Zell Family Foundation, the youth-centric programs and curriculum resources will build on CAB’s Learning Initiatives program to prioritize active engagement toward a deeper understanding of the built environment through ‘rehearsal.’ Mobile Makers, led by director Maya Bird-Murphy, is a nonprofit organization that makes design education accessible to all people.
Under the guidance of the Mobile Makers team, the CAB Youth Council, participated in a three-month program, during which Youth Council members learned about CAB themes, public space and designed an installation, which is now on view at the Chicago Cultural Center throughout the Biennial.
Titled One Bench, One Love, the installation is located in the Chicago Cultural Center in the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Learning Lab, a free public space that makes learning visible. The installation responds to the lack of youth-specific third spaces and policing of teens across Chicago. Youth Council members collaboratively designed an ongoing “bench” that promotes various programmed activities, including hanging out, learning, and performing. Their design includes flexibility to present visitors with the opportunity to create unique experiences within the space. The group’s social interactions outside of school and home served as an inspiration for One Bench, One Love, and as a result, the project serves as a safe third space for those interactions to continue and to be cultivated.
The program comprised a diverse group of eleven students from nine different high schools—from Archer Heights to Irving Park—aged between. Each participant received a stipend for their participation.
The inaugural session of our Youth Council ran between October and December 2021 with a group of 9th-12th grade students from across Chicago.