Thank you for making our office a ghost town some days - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Thank you for making our office a ghost town some days

‘Tis the season to thank our partners as we make our region better together

Flickr user Jonathan (CC)

It’s the time of year when we at MPC reflect on what has been accomplished and show our appreciation. This Thanksgiving, we’re especially thankful for our amazing community partners.

Sometimes, I come into the office and find it half empty, and it’s not because everyone’s sipping on pumpkin spice lattes! Rather, MPCers spend a lot of time out in the world, meeting directly with community members working on collaborative solutions to our region’s most pressing issues. MPC’s staff members approach our partners with an eye towards collaboration. We meet people where they’re at—whether that’s Antioch, Brighton Park, Pullman or Zion.

And in return, our community partners stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us as we make our region a better place to live, work and play. From the impact of catalytic developments, to the path forward for industrial riverfronts, to tailor-made housing policies, we literally couldn’t do this work just sitting in our office, without the generosity of others.

That generosity should be commended. During this season of thanks, we stand, humbled by the assistance of so many organizations across so many corners of northeastern Illinois. We’re building a better region together. Here’s how:

  • Brighton Park, McKinley Park, Pilsen, and other riverfront communities. Associate Chloe Gurin-Sands recognizes that community-based organizations are on the front lines of riverfront activation and planning across Chicago. MPC is providing technical assistance to 14 community-led riverfront projects through The Chicago Community Trust’s Our Great Rivers initiative. Along the South Branch of the Chicago River, MPC provided funding to three community partners to do outreach and get community members to participate in surveys, walk audits, and events to set priorities for river access and the possibility of a riverfront trail. Benito Juarez Community Academy, Burroughs Elementary School (via Brighton Park Neighborhood Council), and McKinley Park Development Council collectively held or participated in over 10 riverfront activation events over Summer 2018, including paddling trips, a fly fishing event, an event about the history and future of Bubbly Creek and visioning workshops. As part of the same project, MPC worked directly with the South Branch Park Advisory council who created a framework plan for the South Branch Parks.
  • Will County, and anywhere municipal leaders make important choices about their communities’ water supply. Manager Danielle Gallet knows that water issues are regional. Being out there, working with communities and helping them to coordinate across boundaries is critical to ensuring safe and sustainable water resources and infrastructure systems, now and into the future. That’s why we released the Drinking Water 1-2-3 guide to help municipal officials make informed decisions about their community’s water. Danielle is working with communities throughout the Will County to help them implement recommendations in the guide, and, in 2019, we will begin a municipal academy to assist officials and staff throughout the region.
  • Antioch, and nine other communities. Senior Advisor Nancy Firfer understands that shifts in the housing market mean some communities need help to address the housing needs of their current and future residents. MPC has partnered with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus on the Homes for a Changing Region program. In total, the team will be working with ten communities throughout the region to develop housing policy plans based on successful practices in similar submarkets identified in previous research. After Thanksgiving, they will begin working with Antioch, a community in Lake County.
  • East Garfield Park. Manager Kendra Freeman appreciates the work of preexisting groups already operating within a community. On a City of Chicago-led “eco orchard” project in East Garfield Park, Kendra was able to build off the work of the Garfield Park Community Council (GPCC) and the residents of East Garfield Park. Their growing network and advocacy for community driven development builds social and community cohesion and elevates the physical assets and human capital that are plentiful on the west side of Chicago. When it came time to host community workshops, the GPCC was a logical partner and helped promote the events with endless enthusiasm and passion to ensure their community has a seat at the table.
  • Niles, Palos Hills, the Calumet region. Manager Sarah Cardona knows that not all problems can be solved over the phone. As the MPC Stormwater team pursues establishing a stormwater credit trading market in Cook County, her team have partnered with municipal staff in suburban communities such as the Village of Niles and the City of Palos Hills to explore how stormwater credit trading might benefit their communities, potentially solving urban flooding problems while spurring economic development. Through a series of in-person meetings, including a half-day brainstorming workshop together, MPC has shaped the thinking about this innovative approach to stormwater management thanks to the vital time and insights from municipal staff in Niles and Palos Hills as well as the stormwater engineers they regularly work with. She also appreciates the government agencies, municipal staff, land owners, nonprofits, conservation groups, planners, engineers and community groups which regularly convene at the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative to improve stormwater management in the Calumet.
  • Community Impact Assessment Tool partnerships. Manager, Lynnette McRae, and King W. Harris Fellow, Ruben Bautista, hear a range of concerns from community-based stakeholders about how a catalytic neighborhood investment or development could potentially lead to residential and small business displacement. As a response to this, MPC will be embarking on a new partnership with DePaul’s Institute for Housing Studies (IHS) in early 2019, to develop a community impact assessment toolkit, comprised of data and proven policy solutions help community stakeholders proactively plan for neighborhood change in a way that achieves more equitable outcomes and limits the potential displacement of residents and businesses. We are grateful to partner with IHS, which brings considerable expertise around neighborhood-driven data analysis, and look forward to partnering with communities across Chicago as we rollout the toolkit in the coming months.

Most of all, MPC is thankful to work with these (and many, many other) wonderful people who join us in our mission of shaping a region that is equitable, sustainable, prosperous and engaged and responsible.

This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for you!

Keywords

Placemaking

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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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