My Block

A workshop for students in grades 7 to 11 (ages 12-17)

Narrative is a critical tool that shapes external perceptions of built spaces. Stories about neighbourhoods shared by mainstream media play a significant role in how certain spaces are viewed. Often on popular media low-income black and brown neighbourhoods are described as dense, crime-ridden, and unsanitary blemishes on the urban fabric. With the rise of gentrification within urban communities, misconceptions around rising criminal activities, infrastructure disintegration, and minimal resources are used to justify the rapid development in low-income urban communities. These false narratives are employed to push forward particular agendas. In turn, this dehumanizes the experiences of the people living in these neighbourhoods.

For communities, experience is what shapes their spatial environments. Experience is not only the foundation of building communities but also serves as a subconscious navigational system, using smells, sounds, and spatial awareness for conscious movement. Although this structure is well-established in diverse communities, this system might be misunderstood or even misinterpreted by those who aren’t equipped to understand it is a delicate yet essential part of these communities. “My Block” brings awareness to these important experiences in urban communities through the eyes of young people. This mapping exercise uses the noting of words and artistic expression to map out one’s community.

The purpose of this workshop is to eliminate these false narratives and bring forth a better understanding of misunderstood communities from the eyes of adolescents. It will authentically map experiences, emotions, actions, and, most importantly, community.

My Block is a 90-minute workshop available in English and French. We can accommodate up to 30 students per visit, and can host the workshop in your space upon request. To make a reservation or for more information, please contact us at or call +1 514 939 7002.

Vanessa Owusu-Piameng, Black Communities Programmer at CCA, is a Ghanian-Canadian master’s student at Carleton University, raised in Parc-Extension, specializing in digital art, design, cultural communication, popular music and Black Music and social Justice. She has worked as a Creative Director for the Inclusion and Diversity Committee, Department of Social Work at Carleton.

These workshops are part of CCA’s initiative started in spring 2022, to increase engagement and accessibility of architecture education to members of the BIPOC community through public programming. Please contact us to learn more about these Co-Created Community Workshops for Indigenous and Black Youth.

This workshop is made possible thanks to the support of Scotiabank.


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