CERG is committed to finding way to contribute to the development of more inclusive and participatory forms of democratic community governance. We have been particularly concerned with improving planning for children at the at neighbourhood or community scale by finding improved ways to involve residents, including children and youth themselves Much of our early work was concerned with open space planning for children in New York City but over the past twenty years this has expanded to a broader concern with the planning of the physical environment for children in cities of the Majority World.
We have assisted many communities in the conduct of participatory action research and planning projects but we wanted to find a way to enable entire communities to have a voice regarding conditions for children, including those hardest-to-reach families that are typically excluded from community-based decision-making. To this end, CERG developed the Child Friendly Cities and Communities Assessment and Monitoring Project with the Innocenti Research Center of UNICEF. It successfully enables parents and children as young as eight years of age, to be involved in assessing, and discussing the conditions of their own communities as a basis for action and advocacy. This highly accessible, pictorial, approach to community self-surveys has subsequently been expanded with workshop materials for local planning with resident adults and children. It has also been modified and extended for use in emergency situations and for assessing the conditions of schools (childfriendlyplaces.org).
CERG sometimes uses its research and that of others to formulate and address policy questions via conferences and mass media, and in collaboration with municipal, state and federal agencies. For example, the New York City Schoolyards Design Project initiated new programs in schoolyards through a combined effort of a conference for principals and teachers, an international schoolyard design competition, research on schoolyards and the design of a demonstration schoolyard. Many of our related publications are available through this website at no cost (link tour pdfs and a link to a special CERG sales page for the book Cities for Children explaining that it can be purchased from CERG for $40.00 (US) including postage).