Having Fun with Community Planning

Wicker Park Bucktown (WPB) is a community group here in Chicago that deals with two trendy, gentrifying neighborhoods (Wicker Park and Bucktown, natch). As part of their master planning process, WPB is holding a series of open houses about which I have received several emails over the past couple of days. Looks like there will be some pretty creative activities going on at these open houses. So, seeing as I've still not had time to write a full post, here's a look at some innovative community planning ideas from WPB's press release. They certainly sound like fun, which is the first step to getting people involved...

>> A photo exhibit titled Inside is Outside, curated by WPB resident Jessica Cochran. The photo exhibit will include work by neighborhood photographers, including Ron Seymour and Carlos Flores.

>> A storytelling booth, run by BulletProof Film. In the storytelling booth, you will be asked a series of questions about the neighborhood, and then you can tell a personal story about the neighborhood. Your answers and story will be video and audio recorded as an archive of the neighborhood. We also hope to use the audio in the future to punctuate mp3 walking tours, adding some local flavor.

>> A mapping exercise, on a really really big map of the neighborhood. This is a pretty standard master plan element. You’ll be asked to indicate where you live, where you favorite place is in Wicker Park and Bucktown, and what area you think needs the most attention.

>> Postcards from the Future. Pretend it’s the year 2028, and you just visited Wicker Park and Bucktown. What did you do? What was the neighborhood like? This is your opportunity to describe how you see the neighborhood in 20 years.

>> Photo suggestion box. What’s your big idea for the neighborhood? In the other activities, we’ve asked you to answer questions and write about your vision for the future, but what are we missing? Write it down on our thought-bubble chalkboard, and we’ll take a picture of you with your big idea.

>> DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Budget. WPB has to submit a budget to the City of Chicago each year for approval. How would you spend the money? We’ll give you fake money to deposit into 8 different piggy banks, representing the 8 categories of WPB’s budget.

>> Panel discussions. At 1pm on each Saturday there will be a panel discussion. The first panel discussion, March 29, will feature three local business owners whose businesses have grown over the years. The panel will include: Noam Frankel, Greener Cleaner; Sue Daly, Renegade Craft Fair; and Bill Jacobs, Piece Brewery and Pizzeria. The panel will be moderated by Suzanne Keers, Co-founder of Local First Chicago. The details of the other two panel discussions will be posted soon, so check back for details.

For more information about the open houses, which will be held on Saturdays March 29, April 5, April 12 from 10am - 4pm at 1275 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, check out the link below.

(Photo from Flickr user -- and friend of Where -- Chris Brunn. The original full-color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)

WPB Master Plan Open Houses

West North (Thanks to Payton for the heads up).

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