‘Old Place New Tricks’ Challenge Will Train, Reward Chicagoland Communities Improving Underused Public Spaces - Metropolitan Planning Council

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‘Old Place New Tricks’ Challenge Will Train, Reward Chicagoland Communities Improving Underused Public Spaces

Metropolitan Planning Council’s Annual Placemaking Challenge Gives Communities Chance to Win One of Three $1,000 Prizes, Sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois

(Chicago) … Who says you can’t teach an old place new tricks? That’s the (rhetorical) question the Metropolitan Planning Council is asking—and helping answer—this summer, with its 2014 Placemaking challenge, Old Place New Tricks,” sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and open to any individual or group in the Chicagoland area.

To help improve down-on-their-luck, frumpy, less-than-exciting lots, spots, corners and corridors in communities across the region, MPC is offering a free training to individuals and organizations that want to make a place better for themselves and their neighbors. Trainees who opt to take the Placemaking challenge will transform an “old place” in their neighborhood with “new tricks” the weekend of Aug. 15 to 17, and vie with Placemakers around the region for one of three $1,000, generously sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, to do more neighborhood Placemaking in the future.    

“Whether it’s an overgrown lot strewn with plastic bags and broken bottles or a ho-hum strip of retail that’s lacking allure, we all know of places in our communities that could use a little love,” said Kara Riggio, manager of MPC’s Placemaking initiative. “At MPC, many communities tell us they have dreams of Placemaking but don’t know where to start. We designed this challenge to help people through the process, beginning with the free training, because we believe people have the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time.”

MPC’s training on July 8 will teach participants how to conduct a Placemaking audit, a grassroots group planning effort that will give each community its own unique roadmap for transforming their space. Participants must register for the training by July 7 at oldplacenewtricks.com.

After taking the training, selecting a space and conducting the audit, participants will create their plan for a day or even a full weekend of activities taking place August 15 to 17. For a chance to win one of three $1,000 prizes, generously sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, entrants must plan for both physical and cultural programming, and all activities must be free and open to the public.

"Since 1936, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, has committed to making the communities it serves better places to live for everyone," said Karen Atwood, president of Blue Cross Illinois.  "This Placemaking contest is a terrific example of focusing on the basic health of our neighborhoods and environment, and we're glad to lend our support."

Thanks to a partnership with EveryBlock, each participant will have a web page to promote their activity. The site also will allow the public to vote for their favorite Placemaking interventions. A panel of Placemaking judges will pick the winners, who will be announced at a fun and inspiring event in September.

"Comcast is part of the fabric of Chicago and because of that is proud to support the challenge.  We believe Placemaking is ongoing, and through EveryBlock, provide Chicagoans a unique platform to share information and ideas about how to strengthen their communities," said Matthew Summy, Comcast's regional vice president of external and government relations.  "We thank the MPC for having the foresight to create the challenge and for serving as a catalyst for improvements in communities across the city."

To learn more, visit oldplacenewtricks.com. Media inquiries can be directed to MPC Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org; or MPC Communications Assistant Ariel Ranieri at 312-863-6020 or aranieri@metroplanning.org.

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