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February 2011 Blog posts

Chicago nonprofits announce clean air design challenge

This season, design is in the air – literally. The nonprofit, volunteer-run initiative Design Makes Change and the nonprofit organization Unit 2 Collective have launched The Air We Breathe: The Chicago Clean Air Design Challenge. Students and professionals in the fields of industrial, graphic and public space design and architecture are invited to submit their solutions to the local air quality concerns caused by two coal-powered plants – the Fisk and Crawford plants – in Little Village and Pilsen. One of the main objectives of the The Air We Breathe is to encourage community partnership in the design process — a goal MPC can get behind, as we fully support community-driven planning solutions through programs such as our Community Building Initiative, Corridor…

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Creating a culture of innovation

From L to R: Cassandra Francis, Clayco; Nancy Fishman, Grand Victoria Foundation; Gloria Castillo, Chicago United; and Randy Blankenhorn, CMAP.

If you’re a planner, you’ve probably heard the saying that you can’t be a “suburb of nowhere.” It’s also true that you can’t be a world-class, economically competitive city in the middle of nowhere. Without a symbiotic relationship with a thriving region, cities can’t prosper. Building and nurturing that kind of synergy between Chicago and its region was the topic at MPC’s Feb. 25 roundtable co-hosted with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). The first in a three-part series on CMAP’s GO TO 2040 plan, the event featured first-hand accounts of the importance of region-building. Throughout this series, we will single out a goal or two from CMAP’s comprehensive plan and drill down a bit to how it can actually…

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Old problems, new solutions

Emily Tapia Lopez

A new decade, a new Mayor-Elect, and a new host of possibilities for the Chicago region. Rahm Emanuel has promised that his administration will tackle mounting regional challenges that include a budget shortfall, crumbling infrastructure, and industry sectors still reeling from the worst recession in recent memory, all while re-positioning Chicago in the global economy. On his campaign website, Mayor-Elect Emanuel stresses the importance of a multi-modal transportation network, suggesting the use of nontraditional revenue sources: Rahm will task the incoming transportation leadership team to think creatively about funding opportunities to get [Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)] stations built and service expanded. He will work with the CTA to use more effective strategies like ground…

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Separation anxiety, Part 2

Last Wednesday, on a pretty standard cold and windy February day in Chicago, I attended the second advisory committee meeting for Envisioning a Chicago Waterway System for the 21st Century, a cooperative effort of the Great Lakes Commission and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative to investigate the costs and benefits of separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River (see some reflections on the first meeting here). In addition to receiving some high praise about our short film, A Fork in the River, I was very pleased with the presentation by the consultant team selected for the study. The presentation focused primarily on the study process, but there was also a substantial portion (see slides 14-22) dedicated to the potential for growth in both rail and barge…

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Defining Gary’s soul

Photo provided by The Times Media Co.

Much attention has been paid over the last week to the new 2010 U.S. Census data showing a 22 percent population decline in Gary over the last decade. The painful reality is that the City of Gary is hemorrhaging and has been for several decades. And, while conversation is raging about the factors that are causing people to leave, it is also important to think about what is keeping people in Gary and how we can build upon the factors that tie residents to the community. The John S. and James S. Knight Foundation is exploring that very question with Soul of a Community, a three-year research effort in partnership with Gallup to identify what attaches people to their communities, with Gary being one of 26 communities being explored. The study shows common factors that fostered attachment…

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