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MPC’s 80th year in photos and video

One of the most rewarding aspects of our work at the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is helping people make informed decisions that improve their communities. From building their visions from the ground up to transforming vacant, unloved public spaces into neighborhood gathering places, 2014 has been a great year for MPC's hands-on community partnerships. What makes MPC unique is that we bring elected officials and other government leaders to the table with residents and business owners to develop solutions that work for the whole community. 2014 marks our 80th anniversary. We were born in a dilapidated-shack-turned-quaint-cottage at Chicago's 1933-4 Century of Progress World's Fair, and we’ve grown from an affordable housing organization into one that tackles our…

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Talking Transit—on TV

Photo courtesy of WYCC PBS Chicago

I had a great time talking with Chris Bury (right) at WYCC about MPC's congestion work.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Chris Bury on WYCC’s In the Loop weekly public policy show. The show featured an in-depth look at Chicagoland commutes and congestion, featuring the story of a woman who commutes two hours each way. Bury interviewed me to get some perspective and context on the statistics and stories he presents. In the show, at around the 5:40 mark, I discuss the Metropolitan Planning Council’s work on transportation policy, specifically highlighting: How Congestion Pricing can reduce delays for drivers by providing a route priced to avoid congestion and putting those revenues toward public transportation investments. How the decline in gas prices will expand drivers’ pocketbooks, but probably increase traffic…

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How to escape government inefficiency one cynic at a time

Metropolitan Planning Council

Panelists including Ill. Sen. Daniel Biss, Glenview Village Manager Todd Hileman and Michigan Municipal Services Authority CEO Robert Bruner shared lessons learned and successes at MPC's Dec. 9 government efficiency roundtable.

Where do you start when faced with a massive issue like Illinois’ government inefficiency? As former Mayor of Glenview, I believe the answer is tailor-made community-level innovation. Municipal governments aren’t partisan, they are pragmatic. They are close to the people they serve and are therefore highly responsive. The all-too-common pessimism and ensuing apathy in the face of Illinois’ oversized bureaucracy is anything but constructive. Even Winston Churchill recognized this notion, saying, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” However, innovative opportunities are being discovered by creative communities across the region. These local actors are looking to collaborate and learn…

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H2Oktoberfest: Four reasons water use is falling in Northeastern Illinois

Ill. Dept. of Natural Resources

Good news: Rates of Lake Michigan water use are dropping.

This October (and in September, much like real Oktoberfest) the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Josh Ellis spoke at four conferences about different aspects of MPC’s water resources management work. At the same time, the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread recently culminated six years of its Charting New Waters program, releasing a vision and set of guiding principles requiring “collaborative leadership across sectors and scales.” As Josh explores throughout this series, MPC and its partners are realizing that vision here in northeastern Illinois, with lessons that can be brought to bear well beyond the banks of the Fox River and the shores of Lake Michigan. Water consumption is dropping throughout northeastern Illinois, which may come as a bit of surprise to a lot…

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What does “government efficiency” mean, anyway?

Flickr user Jepcke (cc)

Techy improvements such as this “Green Screen Studio” in Deer Creek Middle School’s Library were funded in part by Lake Forest’s special service areas.

We often think of government as a feedback loop: Resident concerns, needs and tax dollars go in, government policies and services come out. If government efficiency were a mode of transportation on this loop, it would be a sleek passenger train, providing mass service quickly, effectively and without interruption. By contrast, Illinois’ collection of 6,963 units of government can best be described as a gas-guzzling semi-truck inching along in rush hour traffic. This staggering number of often overlapping governments is just plain bureaucrazy. However, to automatically equate the consolidation or elimination of government units with better, more efficient delivery of services is flawed thinking. For instance, findings from the Illinois Local Government Consolidation Task Force…

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Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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