Chapter 22: "Real change takes time": building multi-dimensional youth community power in a participatory design collective
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The Nashville Youth Design Team (NYDT) is a youth-led participatory design collective working to make Nashville’s neighborhoods better for youth. In this study, we use a community power framework to analyze semi-structured interviews with members of the NYDT. Interview data illuminate how youth activists address community issues through collective action. Findings reveal variation in the dimensions of community power that youth have exercised through their activism. Specifically, NYDT members describe how they built situational power to address equity issues in Nashville’s built environment through design, how they access institutional power within settings that have historically precluded youth participation, and how they hope their work will support systemic youth power through disrupting dominant narratives that justify youths’ exclusion from decision-making. The chapter concludes with a discussion of barriers to multi-dimensional youth community power and ways that NYDT’s participatory design collective model may offer a framework for supporting and sustaining youth power-building.

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