1 Book, 1 Chicagoland

An Essay Contest Both You And Chicagoland Can Win

What? Why? Have your say 3 ways.

What? 1 Book, 1 Chicagoland is modeled after Chicago’s annual program in which all residents are invited to read and talk about one book as a community. Last year’s book was The Plan of Chicago to coincide with the Centennial of Burnham’s plan of the same name.

With an important new regional plan to be unveiled for discussion in June 2010, we now apply Chicago’s program to the region. We ask all staff and citizens to read one book and discuss how the region should work together as a community so it grows best.

Why? So Past Tense is past. If we are to produce a Plan that will serve us as well in the 21st Century as Burnham’s Plan did for the 20th Century, we must understand the last 60 years of regional planning in Chicagoland. The saying attributed to the philosopher Santayana applies to us: “Those that do not learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.”

We selected Beyond Burnham book because it is the best and most current explanation of today’s juncture in history.

Have your say 3 ways.

  1. Read Beyond Burnham.

  2. Grade Essays. Read a few essays. Then give some grades. It’s as simple as ABCDF.

  3. Write your essay. In as little as 50 words, say what you think is the most important topic
    in this book that The 2040 Plan should resolve. Everyone can participate and all citizens should. Only essays from public officials and their planning staff are kept anonymous to encourage a frank discussion from this key group.

    Click here to read the Guidelines.

1: Read Beyond Burnham

Why We Selected This Book For The Essay Contest

Beyond Burnham is readable, memorable, comprehensive and complete.

Readable. This is a well-written, well-edited book. Clear prose makes this book accessible to a wide range of people, from the concerned citizen wondering why the community’s quality-of-life is declining to the professional planner working to simplify the complexities of our region.

Memorable. This book uses photographs and maps particularly well. When combined with the book’s informative captions, the left-brain and right-brain functions seem to get synthesized better. The result is our region’s dilemmas are easier to remember than most history books.

Comprehensive. The topic spans 100 years, but the book focuses on the last 30 years. This helps sharpen our analysis of how today’s regional planning might evolve to its next stage.

Complete. Rarely is there a question of Chicagoland’s planning that this book does not answer. If there is such a question, write an essay about it now.

But don’t take our words for it. Listen to the review of John McCarron, The Tribune’s long-time urban affairs columnist. “Definitive, readable and provides answers to all who’ve wondered whatever happened to the spirit of Daniel Burnham in Chicago.”


Click here to see The Table Of Contents


Where To Get Beyond Burnham.

If you want to own a copy, you can buy it at Chicago Architecture Foundation shop at 310 S. Michigan, or you can order it through any local bookstore and probably have it delivered within two days.
Of course, internet vendors also carry the book.

2: Grade Some Essays

For this Contest the selection committee are citizens. After all… since we will pay to implement this new regional Plan, we are the judges. Here’s how to judge essays of your fellow citizens and public servants.

Take 6 easy steps in less than 7 minutes.

Step 1: Choose the Category of Authors for the essays you want to grade. Click on it after you read the 5th step and a screen with those essays will pop-up. Categories are:

1. Plan commissioners, elected officials, their staff and other local government employees;
2. Concerned citizens;
3. College and graduate students;
4. All others.

Step 2: To save space, every essay has its first 25 words listed on this screen. If it interests you, click on “More” and the full essay will appear. Read through it. If it helps, write down the number of the essay if you think you might want to grade it.

Step 3: When you have read enough, scroll back to the top and in the right-hand column, give letter grades. (A = excellent!; B= very good; C= not so good; D=not good enough; F= try again.) We ask that you act like a tough teacher and not practice grade inflation. (Remember,we have Edith the School Marm watching.) It is OK to go to another Category.

Step 4: Then return to the top of the Category’s page, select the essays you want to grade and click on the letter grades in the right column. If you try to give more than one grade to an essay, Edith will stop you. So, make sure the first grade you choose is the one you want.

Step 5: Now that you have the grading instructionsm, click on the one Category of Authors you want to start with.

1. Plan commissioners, elected officials, their staff and other local government employees;
2. Concerned citizens;
3. College and graduate students;
4. All others.

Step 6: When you’ve had your fill of grading, you have three options.

a) Get or read more of Beyond Burnham.
b) Write an essay (enter below after reading the Contest Rules).
c) Try another section or subscribe to updates.

3: Write Your Essay

This Essay Contest has a few Guidelines & Rules.

a) Essay question:
“Based on Beyond Burnham, I think the single most important issue for The 2040 Plan to resolve is.... ”

b) Essays must be signed (no cyber-pen names) and declare your town of residence at the end. Only public officials and their staff can submit essays and be granted anonymity.

c) Essays should be between 50 and 1,000 words. Long essays tend to be read less.

d) Essays and all votes/comments for the first contest will be received up until The 2040 Plan is approved. Based on the response, we may have a second contest; but with a slightly different question.

e) Essay content will be reviewed prior to posting by a member of our independent Editorial Committee.

f) Decide which of the 4 categories you want to enter. Write this at the end of your essay along with your name and town of residence. (If local officials and staff want anonymity, they should ask for it.) If you don’t tell us your Category, we will select one upon reviewing your essay and before posting it.

g) Essays appear in the order submitted. Those at the top of the Essay Review page will be those that were the first to be submitted. So to be near the front of the line, get your essay in now. Recognition and Prizes. In the last three categories, the three essays with the best grades get announced on the CCC website and by our media partners.

Your essay should be submitted to us in email format to our email address at: