9th Annual Urban Innovation Symposium

APA Illinois Chapter


Friday, January 25, 2019, 11:15 a.m.
Friday, January 25, 2019, 9:30 p.m. CST

Chicago, IL, United States


The 2019 Urban Innovation Symposium will bring together panelists that have significant influence on creating and administering policies that relate to urban issues and planning. Many of these speakers will be reviewing and critiquing policies live in front of the audience. Others will be putting their expertise on display with a deep dive lecture. Not only will the audience learn from their experiences in leadership and advocacy, but the hope is that the speakers will also learn from each other. By bringing together speakers who may not normally interact, we hope to open dialogues that can influence more innovative policymaking. The symposium also inspires leadership and involvement among its participants, who are largely students and professionals in urban planning and related fields. 

Afternoon Session

1. Keynote Speaker – Amara Enyia

2. Zoning Policy – Cities are gradually becoming centers for wealth accumulation, which is greatly exacerbating attempts at creating sustainable affordable housing. Even cities like Chicago, which are considered to be more economical, are suffering from an affordable housing shortage. Land is a finite resource and housing is inextricably linked to it, so competition for it often manifests itself as increasing rents and taxes. As a form of land use control, zoning plays an integral role in how affordable housing is created and maintained in the urban environment. With this panel we hope to explore how zoning and other forms of land use regulation can create better policies for sustainable affordable housing options. As such, our panelists represent different perspectives in the policy-making process. 

3. Neighborhoods & Sustainable Design (Deep Dive) – In a world of division, climate change, and population growth, we must focus on how to change faster than ever be¬fore. This talk posits that society can overcome our major challenges around decarbonization in four generations: the lifetime of a child born today. Neighborhoods are the messy yet sustainable structure to cities; learn how a variety of strategies at the neighborhood scale are the keys to inspiring trust and unlocking sustainable solutions.

4. Claiming Spaces – The Role of Public Art as Place-maker Public art has often been considered an initiator of revitalization and beautification of urban communities; however as we have experienced throughout Chicago, such revitalization can come at a cost . This panel will explore the complex relationship between art and gentrification and examine how artists and art organizations can be a restorative force for local residents and communities in order to encourage reinvestment without displacement.  We will also consider how public art can be used in place-making to enhance community's culture without isolating its residents that bring life and culture to these communities.

5. Transportation Equity (Deep Dive) – Access to transportation plays a critical role in connecting people to basic needs such as employment, education, affordable housing, and so much more. These amenities are imperative to creating and maintaining sustainable communities and, ultimately, cities. This session will identify some of the pressing transportation equity issues in Chicago as well as address innovative approaches to closing this gap in access. Additionally, we will discuss transportation planning strategies in order to encourage more inclusive active transit initiatives in the future. The goal is to develop sustainable communities that can offer equal opportunity, and provide greater citywide mobility, health, and economic activity. This will ultimately allow all Chicagoans to thrive.

Evening Session

6. The Future of Co-ops – How Cooperatives can Contribute to Community Economic Development in Chicago - Cooperatives are value-driven business enterprises that are collectively owned and democratically controlled by their members. While there are thousands of (non-housing) cooperatives in cities across the country, there are relatively few in Chicago but their numbers are steadily increasing. Even more promising is the fact that Cook County recently passed a resolution supporting the development of worker cooperatives. We will explore how different types of cooperatives are playing a role in community economic development and the potential for expanding cooperative enterprises in Chicago, especially in marginalized neighborhoods.

7. The Language of Environmental Justice – As movements emerge across the country to address issues such as environmental degradation, resiliency, sustainability, and public health, it is imperative to understand how these issues intersect with environmental and social justice on a local level. Well-intentioned environmental policies are often unevenly distributed along racial and economic lines, where poorer communities are disproportionately affected. With this panel we hope to explore how different communities experience environmental injustice, and the differences in the language used to confront environmental degradation around Chicago.  We have selected our panelists as representatives of the different voices in the city who are mobilizing their communities to address these kinds environmental issues.

8. Closing Keynote - Dark Mountain, Dark City – Perhaps the most fundamental question we might ask concerning urban innovation is whether or not cities are—in general, and even under the best of circumstances —capable of being morally sound institutions.  This is a grand philosophical question, to be sure, but also one with pressing and immediate implications for us today. The history of ethical theory from the Enlightenment on has not been helpful when it comes to providing a foundation for living in a truly just and environmentally sound way together.  But philosophy, especially in conversation with art, might yet point us toward the questions we should be asking and some possible answers to those questions. In a lecture combined with live dance performance, we will thus try to think together beyond the discourse of “sustainability”; asking if cities are necessarily tied to colonialism (and thus racism and exploitation); investigating the problems of scale and size; raising our expectations beyond neoliberal capitalist-democracy’s “quick-fix” schemes; and confronting what it might mean if we accept that our current trajectory is morally and politically doomed, needing something far more radical than a gentle course correction. 


Resource URL

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Contact Info

Brandon Nolin, cms@ilapa.org


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