A fast chime, then one other, and one other as extra members signal into the Zoom name. It’s one other week, and one other assembly of the native Chicago chapter of Strong Towns. Via weekly conferences, Strong Towns Chicago seeks to convey the Robust Cities ethos to Chicago.
Based in 2008 by former transportation engineer Chuck Marohn, the Robust Cities group is dedicated to a bottom-up revolution to make American cities extra walkable, livable, and financially resilient. By demonstrating the monetary price, questions of safety, and environmental air pollution of car-centric improvement, by tax worth per acre evaluation, crash map information, and critiques of sprawling improvement patterns, Robust Cities has labored to extend consciousness and repair the issues of Vehicle-focused road design. With over one million members, Robust Cities accomplishes this objective by offering on-line assets, instructional programs, and occasions to assist native communities make the change they wish to see round them.
As one of many many native chapters, Robust Cities Chicago brings collectively 30-plus members from all around the metropolis each Wednesday over Zoom to debate how Chicago can change into extra walkable and bikeable by small-scale modifications. This group of scholars, laptop scientists, development managers, city planners, and lots of others has bonded through the weekly conferences over a shared ardour for bettering our metropolis. At these conferences, not solely is group shaped, however members be taught extra about what makes a extra walkable, financially resilient place and initiatives are labored on to make these locations a actuality in Chicago.
For the tutorial part, conferences begin by watching and discussing free on-line Strong Towns Academy courses. From understanding why cities like Chicago face the issue of underfunded pensions to easy methods to have interaction successfully in native authorities, these classes assist clarify the problems Chicagoans expertise each day and train viewers easy methods to create change.
For instance, this week group members watched Marohn converse on the historical past of city improvement, and the distinction between progress versus productiveness. They realized the significance of getting a excessive tax worth per acre improvement with the intention to fund municipal bills, and the way dense city cores subsidize suburban sprawl. Members famous how this financial justification can persuade individuals to help pedestrian-friendly improvement who won’t be satisfied by the environmental or social advantages of walkable locations. Moreover, the teachings sparked dialogue of how Chicagoans can create worth in their very own neighborhoods. This led to the second a part of the Robust Cities Chicago assembly: engaged on initiatives.
At the moment, Robust Cities Chicago works on short-term (1-2 weeks) and long-term (1-2 months) initiatives. To find out an excellent venture, members apply the Robust Cities four-step course of for public funding. By specializing in fast change the method permits the group to “fail rapidly” and see what initiatives create probably the most profit to the group.
For instance, one brief time period venture the group plans to work on within the close to future includes shoveling and salting the sidewalk close to a CTA station by a member’s house. By evaluating the quantity of people that stroll on the sidewalk earlier than and after it’s cleared, Robust Cities Chicago hopes to display the financial and environmental advantages of plowing the sidewalks in Chicago and help the #PlowTheSidewalks movement began by Higher Streets Chicago.
As for long run initiatives, members are at the moment working to color a mural alongside forty third Road and Lake Road in Kenwood-Oakland, close to the place one of many members lives, to enhance the brand new pedestrian bridge connecting forty third road and the Lakefront Path. Via partaking neighborhood teams equivalent to Shiny Star Church, the MOJO Museum, and the Oakland Museum, Robust Cities Chicago plans on encouraging bike riders and pedestrians to not simply use the brand new bridge to entry the lakefront path, but additionally discover key organizations and areas in the neighborhood. By assembly with neighborhood organizations and getting their enter early on within the course of in addition to speaking with the alderperson’s workplace, Robust Cities Chicago creates bottom-up change beginning with the individuals who will likely be impacted probably the most.
Via the tutorial classes and initiatives Robust Cities Chicago offers its members with a possibility to assist the group, construct a community with organizations throughout the town.
Along with the work being carried out in our metropolis, Robust Cities Chicago helps the bigger Robust Cities group’s key initiatives. For instance, Robust Cities has created a crash analysis studio to spotlight how highway design contributes to automotive crashes. The studio sources traumatic accidents from throughout the nation and brings collectively a panel of technical and non-technical consultants to debate the a number of elements that triggered the crashes. This generates consciousness of the protection points related to car-centric design, equivalent to huge lanes and huge clear zones, in addition to growing a useful resource that on a regular basis residents, transportation engineers, and politicians can use to create a safer road. At the moment, the studio is taking nominations for crashes to research and Robust Cities Chicago has supported this initiative by suggesting collisions which have occurred in our neighborhoods. If you realize of a crash that seems to be the results of unsafe road design, you may nominate it here.
Via group, schooling, and activism Robust Cities Chicago strives to create an setting the place everybody from skilled city planners to on a regular basis residents can come collectively to find out about creating optimistic change in our metropolis. In case you are inquisitive about attending a gathering or studying extra about Robust Cities Chicago take a look at the Instagram account, be part of the email list, or be part of the subsequent Zoom assembly over zoom on November 30 at 6 p.m. Join on the e-mail record to obtain the assembly hyperlink.