I decided to take a semester off of school during the spring semester of my junior year at college. This choice was mainly because of the pandemic and its impact on the quality of my schooling experience. When I found the Living City Project, through a family member who recommended it to me, I was beside myself with interest and excitement. It seemed like the perfect program for me to do during my time off that would be both academic and rigorous while also being exploratory and fun!
And I must say, the program exceeded my expectations of what I would gain from a semester away from school.
The Living City Project is an incredible opportunity for young people to expand and grow themselves as students, communicators, collaborators, and individuals. I spent the spring of 2021 in the CityGap program. This program is especially unique because of its placement in New York City and its individualization to each student’s interests.CityGAP utilizes the city as its “classroom” in every capacity possible. Although we completed this program during a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to spend almost every day outside in the world, safely, interacting with contacts, peers, and the city.
As students, we decided what specific relevant issues and movements in NYC we wanted to explore. Our group decided to study Food Justice and Sustainability in the NYC food system and Art and Social Change in NYC in the 70s and today. For each of these focuses, Andy and Tanya guided us through finding research, resources, and people to study the roots of these focuses. Additionally, for each focus we completed a group project of our own design that was the summation of our experiences.
For the first project cycle, Food Justice and Sustainability, we wrote and designed a Food Justice cookbook - called “A Bite into the Big (affordable, local, just, and sustainable) apple.” For the second project cycle, we created a public art project called the Scroll Project that explored issues of public spaces all over the city during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these projects exceeded my expectations of what is attainable to make during a semester and what is possible to create as students. Thought the creation of these projects, Andy and Tanya guided and pushed us to combine our skills, research, resources in ways I did not imagine possible.
I cannot recommend this program highly enough. But more than that, I cannot recommend Andy and Tanya highly enough. They are truly outstanding educators, mentors, and people. (Not to mention that they are incredibly funny and engaging!)