July 12-15, 2021 

What does my community care about?

How will we create the change we want?

These questions are at the heart of the 2021 Project Design Lab.

The Project Design Lab brings educators, young people and community members together to reflect, listen to each other, and leverage their collective creativity to envision and act on building a better, more just future.


Educators earn professional development and graduate school credits; young people attend as part of their school team and earn proficiencies; and community members and organizations join at select times as key partners-in-change. 

All sessions are online or asynchronous with your team. 


"This has been the best professional development in my 27-year teaching career."

The 2021 Project Design Lab offers two projects to choose from, which can be customized to fit your school and community:

Photo: Juniper Creative Arts

Photo: Ember Photography

Scroll Down To Learn More
Or contact Community Engagement Lab Partnerships Manager Claire Tebbs with questions: (802) 377-5384.

Quick Link

School Team Project Design Lab Registration Form

  What To Expect  
The Project Design Lab is an experience in collaborative and creative planning and learning.

Take Action on Social and Environmental Justice

  • Projects are designed to inspire young people, educators, and community members to reflect, listen to each other, and leverage their collective creativity to envision and act on building a better, more just future.

Project-Based Learning

  • Expand your best practices in project design, backward design, multidisciplinary curriculum design, authentic reflection, and scaffolding skills with national leaders in the fields of project- and inquiry-based learning.

Receive a Seven-Day Teaching Artist Residency

  • Partner with a CEL teaching artist to develop authentic ways to model creative teaching and learning tools in all classrooms, plus support for implementing your project in your school and community.


Strengthen Your School's Fall Start-up Plan

  • Use the Mural Project to begin the school year with joyful and creative engagement that strengthens bonds and builds community.

Teaching & Assessing Transferable Skills

  • Strengthen your understanding of the skills inside the creative process and techniques for teaching and assessing your students’ transferable skills.

Creative Capacity Guide COVER.jpg
The Creative Capacity Guide will be a key resource at the Design Lab. View/Download
How Does It Work?
The Project Design Lab brings educators, young people and community members together in common creative purpose.

1.  Build Your Project Team: FEB-APR

Project teams must include at least three teachers, staff, or administrators. Students and community members are encouraged to join for select co-planning days.


2.  Plan at the Project Design Lab: JUL 12-15

At the four-day Project Design Lab, your school team will work with a teaching artist and national leaders in project-based learning and creative community engagement to customize your project to fit the needs and goals of teachers, students and your community. 


3.   Implement Your Project

Your teaching artist will support implementing your project with a seven-day residency in the first two weeks of school.

  • Vermont Mural Project teams implement their projects in the first two weeks of school.

  • Watershed Projects teams implement their projects in the spring (2022). 

4.  Celebrate Your Project

Your project's culminating event will be a public celebration of the creative work and learning developed in the project. 

  • Vermont Mural Project teams celebrate their projects at the One World Festival of Arts & Imagination, September 24-26, in Montpelier. 

  • Watershed Projects are celebrated at local events in the spring. 

5.  Reflect On Your Project

All teams will convene to reflect on the next steps for activating your project's successes and opportunities. Next steps could include student-centered opportunities identified during your project, such as youth participatory action research, activating community-based learning opportunities, or empowering young people as solution-makers in partnership with community organizations dedicated to social and environmental justice. 

  • Vermont Mural Project teams reflect at a day-long session on October 8 in Montpelier.  

  • Watershed Projects teams reflect at a day-long session to be scheduled in the spring. 


“This is a game changer."

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Co-Director Animating Democracy

Barbara is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts that inspires, informs, promotes, and connects arts and culture as potent contributors to community, civic, and social change.  Barbara has written, edited, and contributed to many publications including Civic Dialogue, Arts & Culture: Findings from Animating Democracy; Case Studies from Animating Democracy; Animating Democracy: The Artistic Imagination as a Force for Civic Dialogue. She has delivered presentations and workshops nationally and internationally in Canada, Australia, and England. She is president of the Arts Extension Institute, Inc., and has served for 14 years on the Belchertown, MA school committee.  She was recently appointed by the Governor Deval Patrick to serve as a member of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. More about Barbara.

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Community Engagement Lab Engagement Director

Eric is widely referred to as one of the nation’s best teachers of creativity, and the father of the teaching artist profession. In 2015 he was awarded the nation's highest honor for an arts educator (the Arts Education Leadership Award by Americans For The Arts), and was named one of the 25 most important people in the U.S. arts. In arts learning, he has taught at Juilliard (13 years), Stanford University, NYU, Tanglewood and Lincoln Center Institute (35 years), and The Kennedy Center (12 years). He is the founder and co-designer of the International Teaching Artist Conferences, the recipient of the first honorary doctorate in teaching artistry (New England Conservatory), and was the keynote speaker at UNESCO's first world arts education conference. More about Eric.

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Muralists and Community Organizers

Along with their daughter, photographer and visual artist Alexa Herrera Condry, Jennifer and Kasso are the team behind Juniper Creative Arts. Jennifer and Kasso have 40 years combined experience as facilitators, creatives, curators, visionaries, educators, and community organizers. They facilitate community mural projects with K-12 schools, colleges/universities, and community-based organizations. Their work and vibe is inspired by their cultural and spiritual lineages, urban art, Hip-Hop culture, the mystical and the natural worlds. They use art and murals to lift up the voices, images, and people that are too often left in the margins. Their collective work demonstrates the power of community and what happens when we pause to witness one another and listen across lines of power and difference. More about Will and Jennifer.



Community Engagement Lab Executive Director

Paul brings 30 years experience as an arts administrator and educator to his work with the Lab. His innovative community-engaged projects have been GRAMMY nominated and featured as models of best practice at national conventions, and he has founded and led three non-profit arts organizations which have attracted regional and national funding and programming awards. Before relocating with his family to Vermont in 2009, he was founder and music director of the Nashville Chamber Orchestra for 20 years, and music director of the Nashville Ballet for six years.


$1,700 per participant (35 professional development hours).

$350 additional for three graduate credits from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

All sessions are online or asynchronous with your team.

Includes: ​​

  • Seven-day teaching artist residency in your school/community for project implementation;

  • Co-planning with a teaching artist and national leaders in project-based and community-engaged learning at the four-day online Project Design Lab, July 12-15. All sessions are online or asynchronous with your team, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm.

  • Post-project reflection and planning for the Mural Project on October 8. A determination of the in-person or online status for this session will be made in the fall.  

  • Community partner development support from CEL staff;

  • Culminating event production and publicity support. For the Mural Project, this will include attendance at the One World Festival, September 24-26. Watershed Project culminating events are to be determined at a later date. 


Contact Community Engagement Lab Partnerships Manager

email: Claire Tebbs

(802) 377-5384


Or visit the FAQ page for answers to questions about fees, choosing your project and how your teaching artist will work with you and your students and community.

We invite you to let us know about specific accommodations you may need to participate in the Project Design Lab. We will make every effort to honor your request. 


Contact: claire@communityengagementlab.org or 802) 377-5384

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Montpelier, VT 05601



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