In an effort to heal the invisible wounds from violence and break the cycle of violence, faith leaders and medical professionals are creating a unique partnership across Chicago. Led by the University of Chicago Medicine and Northwestern Medicine, faith leaders are being enlisted as trusted counsellors and collaborators after Doctors treat the immediate wounds from violence.
Watch a short video profiling the effort from WGNtv: WGNtv Coverage
Vancouver Harbor, Vancouver, BC
I spent a couple of days in Vancouver last spring listening to local officials, developers, and financiers discuss public private partnerships (P3) in Canada. The Canadian model for P3 is largely based on models developed in the United Kingdom and Australia. According officials from the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, P3 in Canada arose out of needs that will be familiar to most cities facing major public infrastructure challenges: lack of capital for project financing, ineffective project delivery systems, government’s struggle with maintenance, and the absence of competition to drive down pricing for design, construction, and facility management. P3 projects in Canada typically address civil works (roads, bridges), social projects (hospital, schools), and even airports. It’s a tool used mostly by provincial governments (e.g. British Columbia, Ontario, et al.) and the federal government on occasion. Notably, the mechanism sees much less use by individual municipalities — a key difference from usage in the United States where cities like Chicago and New York routinely enter into a U.S. version of P3 ventures.
An important characteristic of the Canadian model concerns intent. Most P3 projects in the U.S. focus on financing major capital projects and privatizing the management of assets with revenue potential. The Skyway deal in Chicago privatized the management of the toll road and transferred the infrastructure needs plus ongoing maintenance to a private operator. The Canadians would call this a “volume” model of P3, meaning that the private partner revenue depends on the volume of cars that pay the toll on the Skyway. There’s less certainty for the private operator given that revenue depends on how many cars use the tollway and pay the toll. Canadian P3s tend to prioritize an “availability” model. That is, the private entity doesn’t get paid for capital investment until asset is delivered and made “available” for public use. Management fees are paid from the public sector to the private operator after the asset has been built and over a 20-30 year term. This structure is meant to produce public works that are high quality (low maintenance costs for private operator), delivered on time (no public payments until delivered), on-budget (private picks up cost of construction overruns), and guaranteed “available” (private must meet performance-based service requirements or pay penalties). There are a few US cities working on Canadian-style P3 projects, such as Indianapolis and Los Angeles. Indianapolis’s “Consolidated Justice Facility
” P3 will select a developer team by the end of this year
. Los Angeles Metro and the California Department of Transportation began work on a P3 for regional transportation improvements (ARTI)
but this past April pulled the plug
on the project. There may be a bit of hair-splitting here between models north and south of the border, but it’s worth checking out PPP Canada
if you’re interested in learning more.
Every time I travel to another city and talk about NeighborSpace, I swear that people rush the podium afterward and say “what IS this NeighborSpace THING you mentioned? WHO can we talk to? How did you make this?” If you don’t know NeighborSpace (NBSP), you should. It’s one of the most innovative models I’ve seen for citizen engagement and collaboration around open space in cities. Born out of civic planning efforts in the 1990s to establish acreage goals for open space and find it in under-served neighborhoods, NBSP was a strategy that has become a critical part of open space management in Chicago. It’s a nonprofit urban land trust in Chicago that preserves and sustains gardens and open spaces on behalf of dedicated community groups and in collaboration with the City, Park District, and Forest Preserve.
NeighborSpace takes on the responsibilities of property ownership — such as insurance, water access, and links to support networks – so that community groups can focus on gardening. The land trust works to protect local sites by: providing permanent protection against potential development; establishing local partnerships that ensure community management and control; covering basic liability insurance for gardeners and volunteers; developing resources and opportunities through grants; providing stewardship support and technical assistance. NeighborSpace is one of those best practices that works well in Chicago and may or may not be replicable elsewhere. What can be replicated are the good principles behind it that include authentic civic engagement, strengthening community-based networks, and building trust between institutions and the people they serve.
Playgrounds matter in cities. If you want to make your city a place that not only attracts but keeps families in it, invest in playgrounds. They are a fundamental “unit” of park that makes neighborhoods feel livable and vibrant. Chicago has more than 500 park playgrounds scattered across the city, whether in large regional parks or standing alone on small lots nested in the fabric of residential neighborhoods. There is a playground touch-point in every community in Chicago. And so the Chicago Park District recently launched “Chicago Plays” to invest in neighborhood livability and vitality.
Chicago Plays has a simple premise: fix all the playgrounds that need it and do it as quickly as possible.
This means fixing two-thirds of Chicago’s 500+ park playgrounds in less than 5 years. Most of the playgrounds in need were built 20 years ago and hadn’t seen a new piece of equipment in ages. But not for lack of attention to the problem. In fact, the District had spent millions of dollars on a decade-long playground construction program that became defined by well-intended design choices that made the average cost of a new playground around $500,000. Balanced against other capital needs, this meant that — even with community fundraising and grants — addressing more than a dozen or so playgrounds each year was cost prohibitive. This was largely due to the expense of underground infrastructure and poured-in-place rubber surfacing. So the District changed its model and focused on above-ground development like great play equipment, stuck with fibar surfacing which park nerds know is engineered wood chips common in public playgrounds, hired in-house design expertise, partnered with the local park advocacy group to facilitate community engagement, and cut the costs by 60 percent. And now a whole generation of children in Chicago will grow up playing on new playgrounds instead waiting for a 20-year replacement cycle to get to around to fixing theirs.
A big congrats to NeighborSpace and the Chicago Park District for their wins last night at the Urban Land Institute Chicago’s Vision Awards! The Park District won for their “Chicago Plays” program: re-building 300 playgrounds across the City. NeighborSpace won for doing what they do so well: fostering community-based management of public open spaces at nearly 100 sites across Chicago. Oh yeah…accepting the awards also meant sliding down a slide attached to a podium that towered around 30 feet above the audience. Considering that Red Moon Theater hosted the event, I suppose it was to be expected…
Jaden Tap Tap | Photo Copyright CNN
We’re pleased to share this article
from the Guardian featuring the inspiring work of our friend Daniel Tillias in Haiti.
“Making a garden is about more than cultivating plants, it’s about cultivating people” – Daniel Tillias
Daniel and two of his friends created Jaden Tap Tap, a vibrant and growing community garden in Cite Soleil, where they grew up together. This community garden is taking root in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Haiti and contributing substantial social and material benefits to the neighborhood. We hope you will learn more about this inspiring project at https://www.facebook.com/RasinLavil
“There’s a lot of emphasis on the interconnectedness of things,” says Zondo. “People want prosperity, but they want accessibility most – for the city to be walkable, for example, and for government to be available. If a city is open, it’s more vibrant and people interact. It is safer. People surprise us. They don’t always ask for more police or CCTV cameras, they ask how they can make their neighborhoods more neighborly.”
Next City highlighted an innovative civic engagement strategy used in Durban, South Africa that was designed by our friend Bliss Browne. Bliss is the founder of Imagine Chicago, an organization dedicated to helping communities understand, imagine and create the future.
A new prize for architecture was announced Monday by the Illinois Institute of Technology. The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) will recognize excellence in architecture — broadly defined — in North and South America. Not just a ribbon for a cool building, this prize seeks to support a “rethinking of the metropolis” by encouraging work that recognizes human ecology and the interdisciplinary nature of design and built works in cities.
“This new prize will not be bestowed to an individual or organization based solely off inventive form, however clever its design, or based solely off a submitted image, no matter how captivating. The prize’s jury will instead be holistic in their approach to selecting exceptional works. Architecture, as a discipline, will continue its pursuit of technology, so that it can further advance. And architecture is for people; it is strengthened by their presence.” – Dean Wiel Arets, IIT
Great to see a prize that will reward thinking beyond the four walls of a building and toward the intersection of projects, context, and people. Nominated works will be shortlisted this summer with winners announced this coming fall.
Civic Design Lab is supportive of the new community arts initiatives led by the residents of the Old Town neighborhood in Chicago. We’re always impressed with community-driven social initiatives where the residents themselves are the ones leading the design and leveraging their community’s assets.
Art on Sedgwick has launched a kick-off fundraising event based on their belief that “everyone in our neighborhood matters and our diversity is an asset”.
“Faces of Hope” will help create opportunities for neighbors to celebrate and leverage our diversity through a shared public art show featuring the “faces” of our community as drawn by students.
In this project, young artists in grades 4-8 from our four neighborhood schools will be invited to submit portraits of community residents. The submitted artworks will then be displayed at a public event at the space for the forthcoming “Art on Sedgwick” community arts center to be housed in the Marshall Fields Gardens public housing center. This event will create an opportunity for neighbors to appreciate the talent of our young artists, meet each other and celebrate the diversity of our community through creative expression.