MORPC Works with Students on Summer Tactical Urbanism Projects

September 2, 2016

Summer is a time for students to take a break and relax, yet it’s also an opportunity to learn and give back to your community.

The Partners Achieving Community Transformation (PACT) Summer Youth Employment Program is an 8 week program that runs from June through August that offers young people the chance to attain new skills and learn what professions spark their interest.

PACT’s vision is to create a healthy, financially, and environmentally sustainable community where residents have access to safe and affordable housing, quality healthcare, education, and employment opportunities on the Near East Side of Columbus. The program is coordinated by St. Stephens Community House and focuses on empowering youth, from ages 14 to 16, through the development of professional skills and community engagement.

MORPC staff in partnership with the Richard C. and Nanciann Kaufman Ninde Fund of the Columbus Foundation, which helped fund the project, worked with over 90 students on eight tactical urbanism projects. Tactical urbanism is a low-cost temporary way to enhance a neighborhood’s identity, with the goal of improving the community in the long term.

"Students learned that it takes team work, in order to get things accomplished and the importance of the public process,” said William Murdock, MORPC executive director. “Unexpected challenges occur, like the rain on the day of the tactical urbanism project, but that didn’t deter them in producing successful projects.”

The results of tactical urbanism projects by each of the teams were great examples to MORPC staff, its members, and partners on how short-term and inexpensive changes to the built environment can have significant impacts on neighborhoods.

“The implementation portion of this work would not have been possible without the generous support of the Columbus Foundation,” Murdock said.  “While the students could have still gone through a visioning process, actually building and displaying their ideas allowed them to realize what kind of affect they can have on the community.”

Students were able to envision a plan and implement projects that illustrated the potential of a vacant or abandoned lot in the Near East Side.

“At the end of the day, this project was meant to show students that they have the power to influence both the design of their neighborhoods and the conversation surrounding them,” said Jordan Whisler, a senior planner at MORPC

Partners of the tactical urbanism projects included PACT, St. Stephen’s Community House, the OSU Knowlton School of Architecture, and MORPC.