The Graphic Lab for teens is a project that supports community building, teen empowerment and self-directed learning. It centres on the development of a Graphic Lab for the Youth Centre of the Gibsons YMCA in Gibsons, BC, through the initiative of the Youth Centre Coordinator and RA Sam Talbot. A broad goal of the project is to provide a space that can empower teens while demystifying and democratizing publication and design tools.
The COMD lab at Emily Carr houses a diverse range of printing, bookbinding and finishing equipment including tools and supplies; it has emerged as a community hub and a catalyst for self-directed learning on campus. It can be compared to the popular makerspaces and FabLabs that focus on physical products or electronics. Since Emily Carr moved to its new campus, Communication Design has been working to build up the COMD Lab, a print and design centre primarily for COMD students but open to the whole community. The project will employ user-centred and service design methods to help develop the YMCA Graphic Lab using ECU’s COMD Lab as a blueprint, and in collaboration and consultation with community stakeholders.
Challenging the traditional notion of a youth centre, the aim is to develop plans for a resource that is an anti-oppressive, accessible space to promote the use of real print, publishing and communication tools. Plans will include design of the space itself, the choice of equipment and supplies, and systems for training and access of the equipment. A user-centred approach will be key to developing proposals for a resource that is not hierarchical and supports the broader goals of the YMCA. There is a tremendous potential to affect the experience of teens who live in and around Gibsons, as well as providing insights on possibilities for the COMD lab at Emily Carr as a blueprint for use within alternative spheres, for other audiences, moving us closer to developing best practices for a sharable format for the Graphic Lab as tool for social innovation and empowerment through communication design.