The Tribune Editorial Board recently offered "12 ways to heal a city" — the best ideas among more than 1,000 suggestions from readers on how to craft "A new Plan of Chicago." These proposals are available at chicagotribune.com/plan. Please tell us which ideas you would champion. We invite you to offer additional ideas for dealing with Chicago's challenges.Neighborhood Development
The Tribune Editorial Board's process to generate ideas was a great one, similar to the online forum my administration launched for each budget process. That portal has now been turned into a permanent idea generator at chideas.org. Of the ideas generated by the Tribune Editorial Board, several stood out. For example, I agree with the merit of the proposal to better connect youth to corporate temporary jobs to help them get exposed to the private sector and learn soft skills. One Summer Chicago, which we have grown from 14,000 kids to 24,000 annually despite significant federal and state cuts, does this now. In my second term I have set the goal of serving 26,000 children annually and investing additional funds to provide more youth with year-round support. The City in a Garden proposal is one that I care deeply about, and the same concern about transitioning empty lots to productive use led to our creation of the Large Lots program, launched earlier this year. To date, more than one hundred lots in Englewood and East Garfield have been sold for $1. We will be expanding this to more neighborhoods, starting with Austin, and expect at least another one hundred lots sold by the end of winter. My administration is currently studying the Editorial Board's "Oasis in the Jobs Desert" idea, which builds on the concept of enterprise zones. We are looking at how this could work in Chicago, where most taxes are not applied at the City-level, and which industries could be most ripe for this type of incentive.
As an urban planning graduate, and someone who has held elective office in 3 different legislative bodies, I have learned the best ideas for improving communities generally come from the people who live there. I'm not surprised Tribune readers came up with some great ways to reshape our city. As Mayor, I will work to engage all Chicagoans in building a better future. My favorite suggestions from Tribune readers were those that truly engaged communities in helping their neighbors achieve success – the proposal for Sister Neighborhoods and the suggestion we turn the 50 schools Mayor Emanuel closed into neighborhood community centers. I also agree with the suggestion we should be doing more to protect at-risk children and to help more adults earn an education. I would champion these ideas and others created by people to improve their own lives. As I've crossed the City talking to Chicagoans about the future of our City, I've been struck by how many truly transformative ideas people have for their neighborhoods. I was particularly moved by the parents and community leaders around Dyett High School in Bronzeville. Dyett is the last remaining open enrollment, neighborhood-based high school in Bronzeville, but the Mayor's handpicked Board of Education decided it should close. They gave up on the kids at Dyett, just as this Administration has given up on so many parts of the city. But, the parents and the children at Dyett did not give up. They went to work creating a plan to revitalize their school. Working on their own time, afterschool and after work, these parents joined with national education experts to come up with a plan to turn their school into a Global Leadership and Green Technology high school. I was proud to stand with them and support their ideas. The current Administration does not support neighborhood initiatives like Dyett School, but as Mayor, these types of groundbreaking projects will be central to everything we do.
The ideas and suggestions which I found to be most attractive are closely akin to to the policies which I have consistently proposed. These include: Sister Neighborhood program, modeled after the successful Sister Cities program. Businesses, Chambers of Commerce, and other business development groups in blighted areas can improve their business outlook through the adoption and implementation of proven policies, practices, and procedures. We want to establish mirror business districts. Expand SAFE Children, a Chicago initiative that teaches parents how to get more involved in their children's schools, how to develop consistent discipline and monitoring practices, and how to use other parents and families for information and support. Our goal is to expand the safe passage program and allow parents to serve as hall monitors during class period changes. Those parents would then attend classes which would provide instruction on basic education and other various subjects. Innovation Houses. The Big Idea here mimics the Hull House model of the 19th century: Convert vacant homes in impoverished neighborhoods into community residences for young people — starting with college grads returning to childhood neighborhoods. Award TIF money, or eliminate property taxes, for small businesses that locate or expand in struggling neighborhoods. Create extra tax incentives for those business owners who hire local workers or mentor other local businesses. For greater detail, please see my answer to question number 7, herein. Create a "social investment fund" to bring businesses, light manufacturing plants, incubators and services into jobs-starved neighborhoods. For greater detail, please see my answer to question number 7, herein.
I would champion the following ideas: Schools as tools eBay Chicago Innovation Houses City in a Garden Oases in the jobs desert Kids and careers Exploiting Chicago's greatest resource GED Chicago
The ideas I would champion are as follows: 1) How Chicago can Revive its troubled Neighborhoods- 2) Your best ideas to improve the lives of disadvantaged Chicagoans 3) Fixing Schools to fix Chicago 4) Faith Hopes and charity 5) A new plan for Chicago