Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Housing Microfinance: So Little Changes So Much

Housing in the developing world is a process. Families may replace a dirt floor with a clean, hard surface. They might reinforce the walls or the roof to prevent water from seeping through the cracks when it rains. They may build an additional room after welcoming a new child into the world or build a new home by starting with one or two rooms and adding on as they take out new loans. This method of building and improving housing one step at the time is called incremental or progressive building and accounts for up to 90 percent of residential construction in the developing world. Families build their homes bit by bit as needs change and resources become available. With 1 billion people living in slums and that number on the rise, the task of significantly impacting the problem of substandard housing is not easy; but by facilitating incremental housing efforts, we help create more safe and secure dwellings, reducing the financial burden on governments that subsidize housing. Formalizing the incremental process helps to create better planned communities rather than ad hoc solutions.

Written by Rooflines

November 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm

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Public pushing for bike/walk/transit improvements in Cook County transportation plan

For decades transportation planning in Cook County has focused largely on moving cars as quickly as possible through our streets, but it looks like that approach may be changing at last.

The county is currently in the second year of a three-year process to develop a Long Range Transportation Plan. This plan will guide the design and implementation of transportation projects in the region.

During Phase I of the planning process earlier this year, more than 1,600 county residents responded to a public survey and highlighted the need to invest in alternative transportation options.

According to a county summary of responses, respondents indicated they “want to move beyond planning primarily for the automobile and explore opportunities to reduce congestion and enhance public transportation and cycling.”

The county recently released its Phase II survey, which allows us another opportunity to make the case for sustainable transportation.

Please fill out the online survey to provide feedback on county priorities and support improvements to CTA rail and bus service, bikeway facilities, Metra commuter rail service, and Pace bus service in the suburbs.

The county is also hosting four open houses in December where you can weigh in on the plan. Here are the details:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 2, 4-7 p.m. – Franklin Park Police Station Community Room (9451 W. Belmont, Franklin Park, IL 60131)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 3, 4-7 p.m. – Northbrook Village Hall Board Room (1225 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062)
  • Thursday, Dec. 4, 4-7 p.m. – Chaddick Institute, DePaul University (14 E. Jackson, Dublin Room, 16th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 9, 4-7 p.m. – Orland Park Civic Center (14750 Ravinia Avenue, Orland Park, IL 60462)

The planning process concludes next year, with a final report expected by the end of September.

Written by kwhitehead

November 17th, 2014 at 10:39 pm

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An Artful Rebirth in Columbus

In two excellent articles and a video, The Atlantic magazine profiles the good work the community development field is doing in Columbus, Ohio. As part of a larger series on reinvention and resilience in communities throughout the country, the magazine takes a close look at the Franklinton neighborhood and the Franklinton Development Association (FDA). Like so many other communities in America, Franklinton has seen its share of abandonment—fully 25 percent of the buildings were vacant, giving the FDA lots of room to work.

Written by Rooflines

November 17th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

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LISC Chicago Business District Leadership Program

LISC Chicago’s Business District Leadership (BDL) program is bringing together nonprofit and public sector leaders to support training, education and capacity building for organizations offering services to business districts throughout the City of Chicago.

Inspired by the award-winning Coro New York Neighborhood Leadership program, BDL is designed to address the professional development and networking needs of the growing field of commercial district practitioners.

Commercial district professionals are charged with leading change in their neighborhoods with limited resources, high expectations from the community and the agencies that fund them and competing priorities of multiple stakeholders. Through the Business District Leadership Program, participating organizations will benefit from enhanced leadership skills, exposure to strategies, resources and networks – including federal, city and county departments – that are critical to cultivating a vibrant commercial corridor.  

Candidate Requirements

Approximately 20 nonprofit management professionals whose work is focused on commercial revitalization will be selected for the inaugural Business District Leadership cohort. Selected participants will reflect the demographics of Chicago with representation from across the city. The requirements:

  • Work in Chicago as a full-time employee for a nonprofit organization whose work is focused on commercial revitalization
  • Minimum of five years of work experience in the field
  • Letter of support of supervisor to participate fully in program
  • Passion and curiosity about developing new leadership skills germane to problem solving in Chicago
  • Interest in joining the BDL network

The application deadline is December 12, 2014


Why Join?

The Business District Leadership program offers a number of benefits to participants and their organization:

Building Your Network. The program is rooted in network and relationship building – both among participants and with key leaders in the field who are dedicated to supporting one another and to improving the city in which we live and work. The ability to reach out to a strong peer network for feedback and guidance at critical junctures will be a critical benefit for program participants.

Leadership Development. LISC Chicago’s BDL program will provide an immersive experience in building individual and collaborative capacity for practicing leadership and bringing about change in the communities. BDL will present participants with an array of leadership development tools and challenges to push them to explore all aspects of an issue and to work more collaboratively in a group. The “Adaptive Leadership” framework specifically will help participants develop and practice the “soft” leadership skills and tools needed to implement change at the neighborhood level.

Experiential Learning. This field-based training will engage program participants directly with content relevant to their work. BDL will use the City of Chicago as a lab to explore, test and build effective commercial revitalization strategies to adapt and thrive in challenging environments.

Neighborhood Change Project. Participants will use the training to execute a project of their choosing to apply what they’ve learned in real time in the neighborhoods where they work. The program will offer active opportunities for participants to request feedback from the cohort as they advance their Neighborhood Change projects.

How It Works

The program will run from February 26– July 8, 2015. There will be a three-day opening retreat to provide participants an opportunity to build the relationships that are critical for peer-to-peer feedback, then all day every third Wednesday and all day every first Saturday for six months. Download the BDL calendar

Leadership Days. Participants will gather monthly for four-full day workshops (one Saturday a month for a total of four days). These session focus on leadership skills that serve as the foundation for the BDL program, including: purpose, vision, partnership, inquiry, personal ecology and goal setting.

Strategy days. Participants will gather monthly for strategy days (one weekday a month for a total of four days). These sessions focus on exposing participants to Chicago-based practitioners on key revitalization strategies, including; administrative management, retail sales, small business support, redevelopment, tenant mix and performance accountability.

The full value of the Business District Leadership program is $12,000 per participant. However, through support of Polk Bros. Foundation. LISC Chicago is able to offer the program at a cost of $1,000 per participant.

Upon successful completion of the program LISC Chicago will provide a $1,000 grant to the participant’s organization to advance the Neighborhood Change project. 

Download a PDF of the Business District Leadership brochure 

Written by LISC Chicago

November 17th, 2014 at 6:00 pm

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#OMG: Is the #NPO Sector Tech Averse?

I was speaking with a friend of mine who works at a very large nonprofit organization (very large as in over $100 million in annual revenues). They serve thousands of clients every year with job development, alcohol and other drug abuse treatment, affordable housing, psychological counseling and a variety of other supports. As a result of the many contracts and grants they have to do this work, they operate in excess of 15 databases to track operations, case management, fiscal operations, etc. They have a full-time IT staff, desktop and laptop computers, and handheld devices out the yingyang. I asked what they are doing with all that data. “Actually,” my friend said, “we don't do anything with the data.”  #OMG.

Written by Rooflines

November 17th, 2014 at 2:15 pm

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City Halls Help Plant Seeds for Community Co-ops

What do Austin, New York City and Denver have in common? All three cities voted to support the development of cooperatives for the first time this year. The amounts are modest, but the trend is clear—mayors and economic development leaders are beginning to add cooperatives and community wealth building to the economic development toolbox. In Denver, the city’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has taken the lead. In September, the city closed on a $1.2 million loan to Re:Vision to support the development of a food cooperative (and related projects) in the city’s Westwood neighborhood. Although set up as a loan, according to OED, the community development block grant funding is “essentially a grant, so long as a community benefit of food access is provided to residents for at least 20 years.” The city council had approved the financing a month earlier in August. Re:Vision Executive Director Eric Kornacki describes the likely uses of the funding: “We’re envisioning a neighborhood-scale co-op grocery store, combined with a small cafe, a commissary kitchen, and a food aggregation and processing facility. We also aim to build a 10,000 sq. ft. greenhouse on-site to provide year-round produce—in addition to the thousands of pounds of food that we produce in the community.” The impetus here is the city’s community economic development focus on Westwood and the Morrison Road corridor, one of Denver’s five Neighborhood Marketplace Initiative sites. As OED explains, “In 2014, with the support of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Re:Vision launched the Westwood Food Cooperative (WFC) to help low-income families sell their surplus food. The WFC will be the first food cooperative in the country that vertically integrates low-income, urban food producers with value-added food processing and a retail food outlet. This community wealth building approach is truly unique as it creates a for-profit business, owned by the people growing the food, and then shares profits with the community it serves.”

Written by Rooflines

November 14th, 2014 at 2:15 pm

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Cyclists and motorists: Let’s roll together, with a wave

If motorists and bicyclists are going to be safe on the roads they need to share space instead of fighting for it. 

This summer, the Active Transportation Alliance teamed up with national bike advocacy group PeopleforBikes and AAA, the nation’s largest motor organization, on a campaign to encourage bicyclists and motorists to respectfully share the road.

Now an Austin, Texas-based campaign is advocating for that same camaraderie by asking motorists and bicyclists to "roll nice" and share a wave

The idea was born on a daily bike commute to the Austin-based branding firm The Butler Bros, which created the project. 

“If WAVE sounds overly simple, that’s the point,” project co-creator Adam Butler said in a news release. “Ninety percent of cyclists are also motorists. We’re all people trying to get somewhere. The infrastructure improvements needed to ease tension between cars and bikes can’t happen overnight, but you can wave at someone today.”

Watch the WAVE introductory video here: 

It's a simple but effective reminder that we all share the road and that we're all just people, not bikes or cars. Acknowledging each other's presence shows we respect one another, and aren't simply jockeying for position. Learn more about the WAVE project.

Written by Michael Sewall

November 13th, 2014 at 10:55 pm

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A Win for the CLT And Inclusionary Housing Community

The NHI family is very pleased to share the news that our op-ed, "Faith in land trusts: Time to consider the middle ground of housing," appears in The Boston Globe today. Publication of the article by National Housing Institute executive director Harold Simon, with Lincoln Institute of Land Policy president and CEO George McCarthy, is a big win for the community development world—and for community land trust and inclusionary housing groups, in particular. Rooflines and Shelterforce will run the piece in its entirety in an upcoming issue, but you can read the op-ed online now here. (Photo credit: Flickr user Alan Cleaver, CC BY 2.0)

Written by Rooflines

November 13th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

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A Win for the CLT Community

The NHI family is very pleased to share the news that the op-ed, "Faith in land trusts: Time to consider the middle ground of housing," was published in The Boston Globe today. Publication of the piece, written by NHI executive director Harold Simon and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy president and CEO George McCarthy, is a big win for the community development world and the community land trust community, especially. Rooflines and Shelterforce will run the piece in its entirety in an upcoming issue, but you can read the op-ed online now here. (Photo credit: Flickr user Alan Cleaver, CC BY 2.0)

Written by Rooflines

November 13th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

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When you see an anti-bike rant, set the record straight

Whenever you encounter anti-bike sentiment in opinion columns, a level-headed response is necessary to help set the record straight.

That’s what we saw recently in suburban Niles after The Bugle newspaper guest columnist Morgan Dubiel claimed that infrastructure improvements like bike lanes are, among other things, dangerous and discouraging for motorists.

The column came on the heels of the forward-thinking Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan put forth by the Village of Niles, which shows a commitment to active transportation.

This plan speaks volumes to debunk the many false claims made in the column, but sometimes the best response to a resident comes from another resident.

Active Trans member and Niles resident Brian Lee wrote a response to the column and The Bugle published it. We've shared his letter below. And here's a link to the PDF, which reveals that Lee was not the only person who thought the column needed a quick and thoughtful response. 

When you hear someone making inaccurate claims about cycling, set the record straight with a sober response like Lee’s. And if you're looking for fact-based fodder for your response, People for Bikes offers a lot of great resources.

Here’s Lee’s response to the newspaper column:

Morgan Dubiel’s guest column in the Oct. 23 issue about bike safety is short-sighted, predicated on the premise: “If the goal is simply bicycle safety...” The goal is much broader than simply bicycle safety.

The Village of Niles has been visionary and judicious to “make no little plans” toward making Niles a great place to live or open a business. The Village’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan and Environmental Action Plan correctly identify that improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility within the Village will impact the sustainability of the Village, the economic health of its commercial corridors, the physical health of residents, and will increase the attractiveness of Niles as a place for young families to raise children.

I wholeheartedly agree with Morgan’s sentiment that “mobility allows you to live as you wish.” There is a significant percentage of folks in our community who don’t drive however: Where is their mobility? Where is their freedom? Wouldn’t it be better to enable senior citizens to age in place and delay (or avoid) having to move into assisted living by building a more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly community?

Bike lanes are considered mainstream in many parts of our country, and close to home. The Village of Niles is 100 percent in step with peer communities like Schaumburg (a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community), Mt. Prospect, Evanston, Wheeling and dozens of others in embracing bicycling as a clean, healthy, equitable form of transportation for its residents.

Recent research has shown that the Millennial generation is driving less, buying/owning fewer cars, and include walkability/bikeability/transit access among their top considerations when deciding where to live. The Village of Niles is to be applauded, not criticized, for understanding that, in order to remain competitive and attractive to the next generation, bikeability and walkability are crucial elements.

Photo of Bike Niles event courtesy of Tom Robb and the Niles Journal.

Written by Michael Sewall

November 12th, 2014 at 9:44 pm

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