Reawakening civic life

It is fundamentally important to building a prosperous future for our entire community that we begin making decisions together, with mutual respect and broad inclusion. Everyone in our ward is an expert. We each know our block and our neighbors in ways others don’t. And the longer we live here, the deeper our knowledge is. 

I have advocated for development councils both in Woodlawn through local organizing and for the entire lakefront in my writing about development in Jackson Park. I have seen a council at work first hand in North Kenwood and Oakland, where the North Kenwood-Oakland Conservation Community Council meets regularly to oversee development in their historic conservation area.  

What I am proposing

  • Local development councils
  • An issue committee structure for agenda and policy setting
  • Reinstatement and expansion of participatory budgeting issue

... and here are more details

Development councils are popularly elected bodies of ordinary citizens who have binding control over development. Other neighborhoods have used similar groups and other cities have had success managing change with these deliberative groups.

Issue committees: Each major area of concern would have an issue committee which any citizen could join. The individual task forces would focus on which areas should be a priority to the ward and would also make policy recommendations. The recommendations would be reviewed in bi-annual or quarterly state-of-the-ward meetings. Congressman Danny Davis (D-7) has successfully used this approach for decades to ensure community participation in decision making.

Participatory budgeting should involve employing technology to make participation easier, as well as a funded education and outreach component. It should also include local perspectives on how the city should be spending its money, development of a participatory budgeting ordinance, and recommendations for projects for which the alderman should identify additional funds.