Washington, By and By – A Graphic Novel About Community Planning in Washington Available Now!

By the Youth in Planning Taskforce

The Youth in Planning Taskforce is pleased to announce Washington, By and By, an educational graphic novel about community planning, is now available for your reading (and downloading) pleasure. You can view it online or download it for printing. The novel illustrates how empowered teens can engage and shape the future of their state. The full-color, 48-page story follows the adventures of four diverse Washington teens as they grapple with the complex issues of development, equity, displacement, and preservation in their communities. The novel encourages readers to examine some critical questions about planning and growth management: How does planning happen? Why does it matter? And what is the role and responsibility of youth in shaping where they live – now and in the future?

How Washington, By and By Was Created

The Youth in Planning Task Force commissioned Gabrielle Lyon, PHD, Devin Mawdsley, and Kayce Bayer for the project, the same team behind No Small Plans, the planning graphic novel created by the Chicago Architecture Center. Washington, By and By was funded by the APA Washington Chapter and numerous Kickstarter backers.

The story, settings, and characters were informed by interviews, an interactive workshop, and an online survey conducted in spring 2019. Participants – including planners, architects, educators, policy makers, youth commissioners, and community members – identified critical issues facing their communities: housing affordability, livability, transportation, and historic preservation. Another priority that shaped the graphic novel was the desire to ensure that young people from across the state would be able to recognize themselves and their communities in the graphic novel.

“The planning profession suffers from a lack of professionals from diverse backgrounds, as well as a dearth of input from youth,” says Gabrielle Lyon, senior researcher at the Great Cities Institute. “Our team is thrilled to partner with the state of Washington Chapter to create a novel that allows young people to see themselves represented and make the profession more accessible and inviting.”

You can read more about the novel’s characters and themes, and how they were developed, in the Reader’s Toolkit for Washington, By and By.

Help Us Get the Word Out

We need your help! A major focus of the Youth in Planning Taskforce’s is to connect teachers and community leaders with planners to engage youth in the planning of their local communities. To that end, we are asking that you:

  • Share the novel with your friends, professional colleagues, and community members.
  • Reach out to teachers whom you know, tell them about the Washington By & By graphic novel, and encourage them to incorporate it into their classroom teaching.
  • Think about ways that you could incorporate youth into your current/future planning processes and then implement your ideas.

The Reader's Toolkit includes resources for educators, planners, and others who work with young people and want to help them explore issues in the novel further. The Youth in Planning Task Force has a goal of getting the novel into every high school classroom across the state to inspire young people to engage in planning initiatives going on in their local communities. Comprehensive Plan updates are just around the corner. Wouldn’t it be swell if each town had young people engaged in dialogues about how to make their communities thriving places for all to live, work, learn and play now, and in the future? Timing couldn’t be better as Washington State has a new graduation requirement for civics education.

The Youth in Planning Task Force would like to send a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this novel possible. We could not have done it without you! Now, let's use it to engage young people across our state.

 Return to the September/October issue of the Washington Planner