"No Small Plans" Graphic Novel Receives Accolades

The American Planning Association has supported the creation of No Small Plans, a new graphic novel from the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

The graphic novel is part of CAF's "Meet Your City" initiative, designed to help young adults understand the important role planning makes in the development of their neighborhoods and also encourage 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.”

No Small Plans author Gabrielle H. Lyon, PhD, wrote in the June Planning magazine Viewpoint that "... there has not been a system-wide commitment to help young people understand their role as city stewards. ... Guiding young people to observe the conditions around them and ask critical questions is transformative."

The new graphic novel has received numerous accolades since its debut in July:

  • Blair Kamin, architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune wrote "No Small Plans delivers an important message for adults as well as the sixth- through 10th-grade students who are its chief intended audience: Be sure to take note of, and participate in, the design decisions that affect your life. Even seemingly minor things, like the layout of a park or the lighting of a street — can affect you."
  • Salon contributor Mark Peters called the graphic novel "... a gorgeous and thought-provoking call to action."
  • Next City ran an excerpt of the novel about a lead character's first-hand experience with evictions.

APA has also contributed to the reader's toolkit to help enhance understanding about planning with additional background information. APA President Cynthia Bowen, AICP, contributed an essay called "What Is Planning?" that provides an overview of the planning profession to the intended youth audience.

Earlier this summer, APA's Board and Commission got a sneak preview of No Small Plans during the Board Summer Retreat. The leadership also had an opportunity to meet with team members from the Chicago Architecture Foundation.


August 15, 2017