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Placemaking Chicago

Helping people improve communities, one place at a time

2014 Challenge: Old Place New Tricks

We all have spots like this in our neighborhood: It’s a spot that’s been through a lot (no pun intended). It’s down on its luck. Doesn’t have many friends. Plastic bags, overgrown lawn, dirt patches … or maybe it’s a frumpy strip of retail without much allure.

Either way, it could use a little love. And, this summer, Chicago stood up and did something about it!


The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) challenged Chicago-area individuals and community groups to teach an Old Place New Tricks by activating a public space for one day in August. If you are among the 15 awesome groups that took our free “Placemaking 101″ training and decided to take the plunge, congrats! If you live in one of these awesome neighborhoods, or anywhere in Chicagoland, plan to come out Aug. 15, 16 and 17 to support these awesome Placemakers!

Why Placemaking?

Because we believe people have the power to transform their neighborhoods, one space at a time.

Win Prizes!

For a chance to win one of three $1,000 prizes, generously sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, or the $1,000 Groupon Love Local award, all you have to do is tell us your Placemaking story—and we’ll make that easy for you, too: Thanks to our partner EveryBlock, you have your own web page on to promote your Placemaking activity leading up to Aug. 15. EveryBlock and MPC will help share your awesome Placemaking story far and wide to help with turnout and to promote the great work you’re doing in your neighborhood. The public will vote, and our esteemed Placemaking judges will pick the two winners. We’ll all celebrate at a fun and inspiring event on Sept. 25!

Check out this year's challenge video, which catered to groups interested in sprucing up their spaces during the first leg of the challenge:


We’re extremely grateful to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) for their generous sponsorship, without which the Placemaking challenge would not be possible. BCBSIL’s emphasis on healthier living spans many initiatives, including the company’s recent five-year support of the Divvy bike share program. Thanks to BCBSIL, for their commitment to promoting public health across Illinois.

This contest would have looked very different (and not nearly as pretty) without the generous help of our friends at EveryBlock. We owe them a tremendous amount of thanks for partnering with us to create this website and for their commitment to each participant to get the word out to their communities.

We’d also like to thank Groupon Grassroots for providing participants with a crowd-funding training and sponsoring the Groupon Love Local award. Groupon loves local and so does MPC!

Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
Suite 1400
Chicago, Ill. 60603
P 312 922 5616 F 312 922 5619
Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For 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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