The Cities That Work Series: Growing tri-state economy goes hand-in-hand with protecting nature
- By Judith Stockdale, Executive Director, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
- July 19, 2012
It seems improbable that major cities in three separate states should consider themselves part of the same place. It seems that way, and yet here we are: Chicago, Milwaukee, and Gary – all nestled along the southwest crescent of Lake Michigan, in what is unquestionably our region. We share the same lake, the same character-building climate, the same roadways and waterways. As our populations grow, we share the same challenges and opportunities, and it behooves us, therefore, to share the same plans for our future.
Each of the three major metropolitan areas in our region has its own regional planning commission with its own regional plan. Addressing Milwaukee’s needs is Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission’s 2035 Regional Land Use Plan. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning has GO TO 2040. And in Gary, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission offers the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan. While each of these plans is distinct, they share major commonalities around sustainable development, land use planning, and transportation innovation, to name a few. They underscore the fact that we do function as a region, and we need to work together in order to realize the vision we share for our future.
The Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision seeks to tie together common threads among the three regional plans. By aligning strategies for land-use planning with those of SEWRPC, CMAP, and NIRPC, the Green Infrastructure Vision helps ensure meaningful implementation of these plans, individually and in concert with one another. We support the Green Infrastructure Vision and hope for even greater cooperation among these planning organizations moving forward.
Our region is set to experience significant population growth, and the only way we’re going to grow successfully is by growing smarter. This means trying new things: transportation through greenways and blueways, support of local food, sustainable development practices. The conventional disconnect between growing an economy and protecting our natural areas is disappearing. Balancing the two is where we find our best quality of life. Our region not only can do both – it must.
Judith Stockdale is the Executive Director of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. The foundation was established in 1952, devoted to land conservation and artistic vitality in the Chicago region and the South Carolina Lowcountry, and has evolved as a strategic funder.
On Wednesday, July 25, MPC hosted our 2012 Annual Luncheon: The Cities That Work, featuring an insightful dialogue between the mayors of Gary and Milwaukee, about opportunities to strengthen the tri-state region. Leading up to the event, we featured a series of posts from guest authors and members of our staff on issues that unite the tri-state region. Read the whole series at www.metroplanning.org/citiesthatworkseries.