Michael Workman wrote…
“Among all the different types of maker spaces throughout the city, there’s really not another quite like the CivicLab in the city’s West Loop neighborhood. Operated by Tom Tresser and Benjamin Sugar, the space is a gathering place and laboratory for what Tresser describes as “civic science,” the enthusiasm in his voice rising as he seizes on a topic he is clearly passionate about, “we make Democracy here.” As a longtime public defender in the city, he is perhaps most well known for heading up the No Games Chicago initiative that opposed former Mayor Daley’s efforts to bring the Olympics to the city. On the day I visit, almost directly inside the door, I see familiar faces from my late-nineties activist days when I was living in the Dog Patch, including the engaging writer, social theorist and activist, Peter Zelchenko, still at it after all these years. Their Aberdeen office is an impressive split-level workspace with divided cubicle walls in the front and a conference room with large wipeboards on the second level. A row of interns from the U of C and the Peoples’ Institute for Housing Justice are lined up at a table along one wall, tapping away diligently on laptops.” Read the full profile…
I’m Evie Turner, an Intern at The CivicLab and a fellow Millennial. I’ve read current research (2001-2015) on how Millennials consume news, how Millennials are voting, or rather how they’re not, and what to do about it.
- Millennials reported that a major news source for them is Facebook (NeimanLab). Many companies have taken note of this and have moved to social media structured platforms (RedCut).
- Many people would say that we don’t pay attention to the news but 85% of Millennials reported that the news is at least minimally important to them (NeimanLab).
- Of the people who are voting, the group that votes least are Millennials (ETS).
- Among the Millennials, the ones that vote are more likely to be college educated than the ones that do not (C.I.R.C.L.E.). In the US only 14% of people aged 18-24 and 43% of people aged 25-34 have either an associates, bachelors, or advanced degree. (Demos)
- Young people choose not to vote due to the lack of confidence in their government; they feel even if they vote they cannot make important change (ETS).
- Millennials in the US reported feeling that their civic engagement would not be welcomed due to their lack of expertise and money. (C.I.R.C.L.E.).
So, this means there needs to be some changes made. Schools need to put a greater emphasis on civic engagement at a young age and provide examples of ways that voting has positively changed society. In order for us to gain confidence in our government, our elected need to do more to make us feel like were being heard. A small gesture will go a long way in increasing civic engagement. In regards to consuming the news, many sources already have Facebook pages that are regularly updated. I think this is the best way for mainstream news outlets to reach me and my fellow Millennials.
Tom has an article in this new collection, Art Against the Law, part of a series of publications from the Chicago Social Practice History Project at the School of the Art Institute.
We are in very distinguished creative and civic company!
Now you can own the data that has been driving the TIF Illumination Project all over the city for the past 18 months! Download your very own “TIF Atlas of Chicago Wards” at the TIF Data Store.
We’re using the new ward maps and you’ll see the shapes and names of all the TIF districts as well as the projects funded by TIFs IN EACH WARD. The projects are numbered and all you have to do is look to the appendix in the back of the Atlas to see the name, address, developer and amount of TIF dollars that went to that project. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! We also plot on each ward map all the schools that were CLOSED or cut in 2013. In the back we list the closed schools and list all the cuts that we know of for each public school. More info: [email protected].
Tom Tresser has an article in Art Against the Law from the School of the Art Institute (edited by Rebecca Zorach), “The TIF Illumination Project and Civic Imagination.” Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/ArtxLaw.
Do you want EVERYONE to get Illuminated? If you do, will you please make an investment in our first crowdfunding campaign? The TIF Illumination Project is seeking to raise $15,000 to produce five twenty minute videos on all aspects of the TIF Program in Chicago. Even if you live outside of Chicago you can pitch in because the basic truths and abuses we document here are applicable across the USA as 47 states have Tax Increment Financing Programs. Learn more and invest here.
We will use these funds to pay the videographers and to support the ongoing operations of the CivicLab. We’ll be posting updates and script outlines on the TIF Reports web site on this page.
We’ve got candidates and campaign workers in the room for The CivicLab Campaign School featuring Kurth Lampe! All attendees received a USB drive with a campaign manual, a sample budget, a sample media advisory, a great communication strategy tool and spreadsheets with the ward-by-ward results of the 2011 Mayoral and Aldermanic elections. Email us at [email protected] to find out how you can get one for yourself!
CivicLab co-founder Tom Tresser was interviewed for the master designer series of podcasts produced by the American Design and Master-Craft Initiative. The podcst is 47 minutes long. What does Tom have to do with design? Well might you ask. You’ll just have hunker down and listen. Hint – Tom used to be an actor, theater producer and arts activist.
We upload all the TIF presentations to http://www.slideshare.net/tomtee. These presentations have been viewed over 44,000 times!
The champ is the two presentations on the 27th ward which were viewed a total 4,292 times.Thar works out to something like 10 views every day since they were uploaded.
So – if you are one of the people whose viewed these presentations and found them valuable – PLEASE support our work by (1) signing our email list at http://tinyurl.com/SignUp-CivicLab, (2) consider renting a desk with us (we’re in Chicago’s West Loop), and (3) making a deducible contribution via our fiscal agent, the Investigative News Network – http://tinyurl.com/SupportTheLab-INN. Contact Tom Tresser at [email protected].
Thanks to tireless TIF reporter Ben Joravsky of The Chicago Reader for this wonderful piece. He connects the dots from the supposed state of Chicago’s finances to the plight of our public schools and the tens of millions, nay, hundreds of millions of property tax dollars, we shower on major corporations.
None of this work would’ve been possible without the hundreds of hours contributed by our all volunteer team of coders, map makers, graphic designers, researchers and community organizers who – collectively – have now Illuminated 127 TIFs across 29 wards. The full record of these forums are here. If you want YOUR ward Illuminated, contact us at [email protected]
When we Illuminate a ward we tell you: (1) overview of how TIFs work in Chicago, (2) how many TIFs in the ward, (3) best estimate of how much $ those TIFs took from your ward, (4) how much money left in TIF accounts FROM your ward, (5) who got paid from TIFs in your ward. We even provide a nifty graphic map that lays all this out in a super clear manner. No one else can tell you all this!