News Release: Graphic Novel Educates Young Adults About Community Planning

CHICAGO — With support from the American Planning Association, a new Chicago-wide, civic education initiative by the Chicago Architecture Foundation intends to help teens and young adults understand what makes a good neighborhood. At the centerpiece of this “Meet Your City” initiative is a newly published graphic novel, No Small Plans, which will be distributed to 30,000 Chicago teens over the next three years through CAF’s partnership with Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Public Libraries.

The novel and the initiative will help young adults understand the important role planning makes in the development of their neighborhoods, but also encourages youths to participate more fully in the community planning process.

“Strong, vibrant communities are created with active resident participation. Community planning is a civic responsibility and No Small Plans provides a great primer on why and how young adults should and can become engaged,” said Jim Drinan, JD, CEO of the American Planning Association. “I hope No Small Plans might also inspire the next generation of planners.”

Illustration from Chapter 2 of the graphic novel No Small Plans.

Inspired by the classic 1911 textbook, Wacker’s Manual, which was created to teach Chicago’s youth about Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, No Small Plans follows the adventures of several young adults in Chicago’s past, present and future as they grapple with changes affecting their neighborhoods.

The 140-page book was created with input by urban planners, architects, community members and educators from more than 30 organizations. The illustrated story line helps present complex subject matter into a more accessible format for students in grades 6 through 10.

As part of the "Meet Your City" initiative, CAF created an online reader's toolkit and will be launching educator professional development trainings this fall. APA also assisted with materials for the online toolkit, which provides a deeper exploration into community planning.

APA also has a number of resources available to aid parents and teachers in engaging youths in community planning activities. Check out the Kids & Community section of APA’s website for information or read how APA Ambassadors are expanding the knowledge about planning through their activities.

APA’s Board of Directors previewed the book during their summer leadership retreat earlier this month. Members of leadership also spent time strengthening the developing partnership between APA and CAF during the retreat.

Copies of No Small Plans are available online at Every copy sold enables CAF to give a copy away for free to a Chicago teen. Join the conversation: #NoSmallPlans.

About the American Planning Association

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago with almost 37,000 members worldwide. For more information, visit

About the Chicago Architecture Foundation

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring people to discover why design matters. As an education leader in architecture and design, CAF offers tours, programs, exhibitions, field trips, curricula and online tools that are part of a dynamic learning journey for all ages. Proceeds from CAF’s tours and store, as well as grants, sponsorships and donations, support this educational mission. For more information, visit



Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

July 25, 2017