We are Chicagoland’s solutions… or rather, that is the premise of this activity.

But first, let us reintroduce Sustainable Susan as our 21st Century update of Rosie The Riveter. Susan inspires the Editorial Committee. She also oversees this activity’s historical reviews of citizen groups who have received awards as regional and sub- regional advocates.

But the true impact of these advocates is how their work is a spark-plug for the millions of small daily changes that add up to the solutions that, in the final analysis, are needed to re-make Chicagoland into an economic powerhouse in the global economy.

Susan also symbolizes how little daily changes everywhere add up to millions in our large region. For example… if we use cars less, then households save more while government can reduce road maintenance costs and transit subsidies; and the savings can all be invested to make future savings. Conceptually, it’s all good. Reality defines our challenges and these citizen groups give insight to our task.

How Change Really Works Around Here. Behavior changes -- as simple as using autos less -- often start as the ideas of citizen groups. Then, they test their ideas and improve on the results and others adopt the change. Then if the machinery of democracy works well, the new behavior gets some help from public officials who fashion a public program and/or make an ordinance… or clear away old ones that are obstacles to progress.

If you want to review our systematic projection of how change evolves, please go to "The Citizens Guide To A Sustainable Chicagoland."

“We Can Do It!” will review the stories of public-minded citizens who banded together, analyzed a problem and helped implement a solution. Our review will reinforce the lessons learned so the entrepreneurial energy of other citizens in multiple communities will have a better chance of repeating the original success.

We will start with those groups already acknowledged for their success by having been awarded the prestigious Burnham Award from the Metropolitan Planning Council. Our reviews will start with the four awardees whose work is chiefly regional in scope. After that we will look at the eight awardees whose focus was sub-regional.

For background on this award, please go to: http://www.metroplanning.org/about/Burnham-Award-for-Excellence-

Because these recipients are our metropolis’ great innovators, we will learn a lot from them. With the benefit of hindsight, we will analyze what they did right and the obstacles they were up against; and perhaps still are. We will try to analyze one recipient a month; backing up our research with interviews and synthesizing a short essay of lessons- learned. We will send all this to you as an update, so be sure to sign up now.

Our region’s history books tell many stories of great achievements from citizens. Most are made against great odds. But no story will be as great as the ones we will have to write over the next two or three decades… if Chicagoland is to become a global leader in the emerging economy.

Until a 21st Century Burnham-like figure emerges, Sustainable Susan will serve us well.



Here is the likely order of our retrospective lessons learned from Burnham awardees.

Generally, we start with those Plans that received their award longest ago.

A second criteria is to start with those groups whose work has had a regional impact (an entire county or larger). Then, we will review those awardees and evaluate their sub-regional impact.

Regional impacts
1990: The RTA Strategic Plan
1997: Kane County 2020 Land Resource Plan
2001: Chicago River Corridor Development Plan (includes the Lake County Stormwater Plan)
2002: Will County Land Management Plan
2009: Chicago Metropolis 2020

Sub-regional impacts
1992: Canal Corridor Assn for its I&M Heritage Plan
1995: Mid-South Strategic Plan
1998: Chicago Park District & Cook County Preserve Plan
2004: Chicago's Calumet Area Land Plan

In keeping with our regional focus, we do not anticipate reviewing Burnham awardees whose
work helped one suburb or neighborhood.

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