Illustrated Urban Planning Manual, Summer 2017

Graphic novels are taking off everywhere! In it’s latest form, Gabriel Lyon of Chicago’s Architecture Foundation is running a successful Kickstarter campaign to provide graphic novels that teach Chicago Public School students about urban planning. The book is titled, No Small Plans, and highlights the lives of three youth individuals during three separate times periods in the City of Chicago.

Lyon has experience teaching about urban planning, as she uses Daniel Burnham’s, Wacker’s Manual circa 1911 to teach students about what works and what doesn’t within the city. The Wacker’s Manual was taught to Chicago’s students who took civics classes through the 1930s, but is no longer a required reading.

After working with students, Lyon recognized that young people’s creativity is sparked when asked to addresse some of the problems within their own neighborhoods.  She aims to revive that same civic spark to a new generation through a graphic novel.

“Burnham and other city planners of his time were mainly thinking about what to build and where,” says Lyon. “Our novel is about who decides to build, and how decisions get made.”

It is a true local collaboration as artists from the Chicago High School for the Arts contributed the artwork for the pages.

Each of the three volumes tackles separate urban issues ranging from racial discrimination, affordable housing, gentrification, zoning, and poverty.

Combining the visual arts with human geographic issues makes this a must read for those looking to encourage graphic novels in the classroom. If you are interested in contributing to the Kickstart Campaign, follow the link.


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