11 Teenage Ladies With Power Tools Change Their Community + Win An Award.

Posted on December 12th, 2012 at 7:51 pm by in News

11 Teenage Ladies With Power Tools Change Their Community + Win An Award.

Our Work With Demoiselle 2 Femme And Eleven Incredible Teenage Ladies Wins The Metropolitan Planning Council’s Placemaking Award (Grand Prize!).

‘I can’t believe that Roseland used to be known as the ‘Community of Hope’ but is now known as the ‘Community of No Hope’……….and our eleven young ladies are changing this attitude.’

In any community in this country, rich or poor, one would be hard pressed to find teenage ladies working with their neighbors to not only identify but also design and build neighborhood improvements. And yet, in late July and early August, there I was working 18 hour days with T-awannda Piper and Katherine Darnstadt, watching with amazement as eleven teenage women with power tools had an electrifying impact on the area surrounding one street corner in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. Through the Building Hero! Workshop (very similar to our Tiny WPA format) that I designed and lead for Demoiselle 2 Femme, these teenage ladies were tasked with crowdsourcing the highest use for a vacant lot given to us by the adjacent church and designing and building a solution in two weeks(!). Honestly, we didn’t expect to end up building something as substantial as a playground but as you can see from my daily reflection or T-awannda’s or the ladies’, none of us fully realized the community’s response to these young ladies with their power tools design-building improvements to a vacant lot on this particularly rough corner of the South Side.

Suffice it to say, this was one of my most moving projects of the past couple of years. And while I can’t wait to go back and do it again next summer, I am so pleased that the ladies are continuing to get some incredible, well earned recognition for their work. Most recently they received the Grand Prize in the Space In Between Placemaking Contest run by Chicago’s Metropolitan Planning Council. This was not a ‘small potatoes’ contest, in fact, their work beat out 44 other projects with some pretty significant organizations behind them to win the competition. We are so proud of the ladies and grateful to have the opportunity to work with Demoiselle 2 Femme and Latent Design–two of the best clients and collaborators that we’ve worked with in a long time.

Want to read a little bit more about the project and why I think that teenage women with power tools are our most powerful instigators of community engagement and civic innovation? Click here.

Check out the nightly news video on ABC’s Chicago affiliate about the project.

And in case you missed the other media coverage about the project, here are links to articles in the Chicago Tribune and the Sun Times.