"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.

Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)

"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"

Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster


Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.

I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Location: Washington, D.C.

Website: www.nbm.org/families-kids/teens-young-adults/cityvision.html

Now in its seventeenth year, CityVision is an award-winning outreach program that uses design as a framework to teach District of Columbia public school students how to become active participants in shaping their communities. Through extensive fieldwork and careful mentoring at the National Building Museum, students identify needs and propose solutions designed to help local neighborhoods.

In CityVision, participants:

- Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills,

- Learn technical skills, including sketching and architectural drawing, photography, scale, and model building,

- Practice negotiation and collaboration while working as a team,

- Sharpen public speaking and communication skills, and

- Explore careers in architecture, engineering, construction and design.

CityVision takes place during the fall and spring of the academic year, and is made possible by a close collaboration between the National Building Museum and D.C. Public Schools and Public Charter Schools.

Each year, junior high and middle schools integrate CityVision as part of their curriculum and offer participating students with academic credit. For the spring 2010 semester, the Museum partnered with John Burroughs Education Campus and Stuart-Hobson Middle School.

Up to 12 students are selected from each school to attend the CityVision program during the fall or spring semester. Participants meet for a full school day, once per week for 12 weeks, to work with Museum staff, educators, and design professionals, on fun, challenging, hands-on activities.

Early CityVision sessions are devoted to teaching participants about the basic elements of the design process. Next, participants work in teams to explore selected neighborhoods where they observe and collect information about the community’s most urgent needs.

Each team then develops a creative solution that addresses those needs, creating architectural drawings and models of their design. The program culminates in a final public presentation, in which team members defend their work to a panel of professionals.

If you are a design professional or student in the fields of architecture, urban planning, or education who would be interested in helping inner-city youth learn about design and the built environment, consider volunteering at the Museum. Volunteers must be able to commit to a minimum of two Thursdays per month, but are strongly encouraged to attend each session. Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.

Students or recent graduates who are interested in a greater commitment to CityVision are invited to apply for an intern position in the Outreach Department. Interns act as volunteer instructors and assist with the administration of the program. Learn more about internships at the Museum.

If your school is interested in becoming a partner, please contact the Outreach Programs Coordinator. Your school must be a part of the D.C. Public Schools system or D.C. Charter Schools System, and must also recruit a staff member to accompany the students to the program each week.

Spring 2010:

CityVision participants explored three sites along both sides of the Anacostia River on the Southeast Waterfront. Students from John Burroughs Education Campus and Stuart-Hobson Middle School worked with professionals from the National Capital Planning Commission, and other local organizations, to design plans for this emerging area.

Highlights from the three plans include: an underwater library in the Anacostia River near the Florida Rock site, an arts and recreation center surrounded by gardens on Poplar Point, and a large entertainment complex, boardwalk and ferris wheel on the Navy Yards site. All of the plans included wetlands to help improve the Anacostia River.

Fall 2009:

During the fall 2009 CityVision, the Museum partnered with the National Capital Planning Commission to work with local youth on designing a new White House Visitor Center. Students from Browne Education Campus and Columbia Heights Education Campus were challenged to explore three sites around the White House, interview tourists and government officials, and think creatively about design. For their final public presentation, students developed proposals for improving the quality of the experience for people who visit, live, or work in or near the White House.

Fall 2008 and Spring 2009:

Partnering for the 2008-2009 CityVision program, the National Building Museum and the District of Columbia Office of Planning challenged CityVision students to examine and deck over a section of Interstate 395 between E Street & Massachussetts Avenue. The Interstate 395 project reconnected the neighborhoods of Penn Quarter and Union Station. Students were asked to identify what type of development meets the needs of both communities and then presented their final projects to the public. This experience enriched their education and gave them the foundation to express their ideas and opinions about their city and its development.

2006 - 2007

The National Building Museum and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) partnered for the CityVision programs which focused on the design of museum and monument designs for sites identified by the National Capital Planning Commission’s Memorials and Museums Master Plan.

Spring 2006:

LeDroit Park CityVision participants explored the neighborhood’s physical surroundings and examined the area’s historic relationship with Howard University. Students also documented the distinct architectural features of LeDroit Park through photographs and free-hand sketching. As participants met with residents and identified the existing land use in the neighborhood, they noted a lack of support services for the community.

The team’s design proposes to rehabilitate a vacant building into a community center. The proposed 3-story u-shaped building contains spaces for recreation, a library and computer room, child care center, grocery store, and a health clinic.

Students thought deeply about the relationships of these varying services, grouping similar functions such as the health clinic and child care center next to each other. Students also addressed the building’s exterior by creating an elevated pedestrian bridge between the two building wings, and proposing new plantings in the interior courtyard.

Fall 2005:

All eyes are on the Navy Yard neighborhood, these days. An area rich in history, it is currently the site of dramatic development and construction. Students on the Navy Yard team observed that, while promising economic growth for the community, the transformation has forced many residents to move, leaving behind scores of vacant homes and lots.

The team’s design for "Canal Yards," a mixed-use project, responds to the need for more convenient and quality housing for the residents that remain, and those that hope to eventually return. The building includes seven stories of mixed-income apartments, and restaurants, shops and other businesses at the street level.

CityVision is generously supported by The William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts; and MARPAT Foundation, Inc.. Additional support for teen outreach programs is provided by Bloomberg, Clark Charitable Foundation, McGraw-Hill, Prince Charitable Trusts, The Tower Companies, and an anonymous donor. Geppetto Catering, Inc. is the official Meal Provider for Teen Outreach Programs at the National Building Museum.

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