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Technical Report

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As the Chicago metropolitan area continues to grow, a number of plans have been authored by a variety of regional civic organizations. “Regional equity” and “smart growth” have been suggested as organizing principles in some, while economic growth and public revenues have been the focus of others. However, the ongoing role of local community voices in past, present, and future plans is a critical matter. The extent to which future direction of our city and suburbs is informed by local needs partially hinges on the integration of local communities in regional policy debates on both comprehensive plans and specific policy initiatives. Often it is at the neighborhood level that new social and economic challenges first become apparent. It is also at this level that innovative solutions are first developed. How well are we integrating this front-line knowledge and creativity into our regional planning processes?

This report focuses on the role that community-level organizations have had, currently have, and could have in setting regional agendas. This project grew out of discussions with community-based organization leaders, foundation representatives, and regional organization staff members. Our examination of community-regional connections contains lessons not only for our metropolitan area, but for most large urban areas in the United States. It speaks to the preservation of democratic planning processes at a time when “regional,” “national,” and “global” overviews seem to have more credibility in policy-making circles than local needs. The report serves as a reminder that the basic building blocks of regions, nations, and the world are still local communities. It is a needed documentation of how local organizations have maintained a voice in some cases and where better connections to policy making at regional levels and beyond are needed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.