Making Our Own Space (MOOS) is a program focused on engaging and empowering middle and high school students with the skills to transform their neighborhood public spaces.

MOOS uses hands-on, on-site workshops to build physical and social infrastructure in collaboration with the surrounding community. Project ideas are initiated, designed, and constructed by the students through a series of high-touch, high-visibility outdoor work sessions. Students are trained to use power tools to fabricate temporary and permanent improvements for local parks and vacant spaces. Past projects include benches, swings, snow forts, observation towers, and one-of-a-kind playscapes. The program helps students understand the actions and connections required to make real changes in their neighborhood, specifically by exposing them to public engagement processes and a range of design careers. 

Started in 2015 by Kent State University’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), the program supports the CUDC's Design Diversity initiative by raising awareness in African American and Latino communities about the range of design careers available to youth. MOOS workshops expose students to design thinking and making, employing interdisciplinary approaches from architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, planning, and graphic design.

In addition to CUDC staff and graduate students in KSU's College of Architecture & Environmental Design, a diverse team of design professionals and local residents lead the workshops. Collaborating closely with youth team members, MOOS workshop leaders include the following local and nationally renowned designers:  

  • Malcolm Burton, founder of My Brother My Sister, a mentor leadership process for youth using popular media and design.
  • David Jurca, is an urban designer and Associate Director at Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.
  • Alex Gilliam, founder of Public Workshop in Philadelphia, has extensive experience in youth build projects around the country.
  • D'Angelo Knuckles, Buckeye neighborhood community leader and founder of weekly live Internet show, "Real Talk with Mr. Knuckles"
  • RDL Architects, a multi-disciplinary design practice based in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
  • Erick Rodriguez is an architect currently working in Cleveland as an Enterprise Rose Fellow. Erick founded CITY ART PLAY, a youth learning program in Los Angeles that brought art and design to everyday neighborhood spaces. 
  • Arlene Watson, principal of Möbius Grey, a local graphic design and communications firm specializing in neighborhood identity and graphics.
  • Kristen Zeiber, project manager and urban designer at Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

The youth placemaking program’s first series of workshops focused on Britt Oval in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood. Based on positive feedback from MOOS @ Buckeye's inaugural year, the model has expanded to additional communities in Northeast Ohio. In 2015, MOOS continued work in Buckeye and launched a new location in Shaker Heights' Moreland Neighborhood. Supported by the City of Shaker Heights, MOOS @ Shaker is part of Moreland Rising, a neighborhood-led collaboration with arts, business, and development partners to create a hub of innovation.   

For more information on MOOS or request to launch the program in your neighborhood, please feel free to Contact Us