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Street Level

Making it: Shaker kids' building and design program gets national spotlight

MOOS students carry lumber in Shaker Heights’ Hildana Park

(MOOS) kids at IngenuityFest making towering art sculptures out of interlocking would-be flower discs

Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) has received the 2017 Great Places Award in the Place Planning category from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). The designation is for the group's innovative work with the Making Our Own Space (MOOS) initiative, a youth program focused on engaging and empowering middle and high school students with the skills to transform their neighborhood public spaces.
 
Each year, the association honors work in four categories: place design, place planning, place research and book award. The 2017 Place Planning Award specifically recognizes the MOOS program, which is led by CUDC staff in close partnership with a team of local and nationally renowned designers.

Focused on outdoor spaces owned by Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the city of Shaker Heights, this initiative uses hands-on, on-site workshops to build physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Outdoor workshops organized by students address issues related to shared spaces, inclusive decision-making and helping to bring diversity to the design fields by involving youth from underrepresented groups.
 
In response to the project, the city of Shaker Heights created a committee of staff, residents and councilpersons to increase leadership opportunities for middle and high school youth. The Shaker Heights City School District is exploring how to incorporate the MOOS placemaking workshop into its curriculum.
 
“This is a great example of planning that involves youth in placemaking and community building,” said members of the EDRA Great Places Awards jury.
 
Started in 2015 by CUDC, the program supports the collaborative’s Design Diversity initiative by raising awareness in African-American and Latino communities about the range of design careers available to youth. MOOS workshops expose students to design thinking and making, employing interdisciplinary approaches from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning and graphic design.

Making Our Own Space is made possible through the generous support of Saint Luke’s Foundation, the city of Shaker Heights and the Cleveland Foundation’s Minority Arts and Education Fund.
 
Cleveland Neighborhood Progress and the City of Shaker Heights are both members of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 
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