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Focus Austin on the West Side - "The Best Side"

Chicago Civic Media is active at local and citywide levels. Our citywide work, in the context of the Chicago Tribune's New Plan of Chicago, has centered this year on the question of what roles media will play in shaping Chicago's future. will be highlighted in a forthcoming post. Locally, we're working in Austin, Chicago's largest neighborhood, with a 2010 population of 98,512. Austin today is a community in flux. Since the 1960's it's been on the receiving end of some of Chicago's most short-sighted and even negligent planning decisions: decisions relating to schools, economic development, law enforcement and (it must be said) racial segregation. The demographic chart below, taken from the U. S. Decennial census, illustrates the outcomes of this poor planning. In the ten years from 2000 to 2010, Austin lost an amazing 16.2% of its residents:
Source: U.S. Decennial census; Wikipedia
Don't get me wrong: Austin remains a community full of resources But its robbery and homicide rates have long been at or near Chicago's highest. The same holds true for school dropout rates, unemployment rates and poverty rates. That's the downside. The upside? It's to be found in the untapped talents and energies of the vast majority of Austin's 98,000 residents. You can see it in Austinites' dismay with things as they stand now and in their eagerness to connect with each other and to rebuild Austin. For this to happen, Austinites need to see credible, concentrated efforts to unify the community.   

Last June CCM convened a meeting at the offices of CCM's long term partner, THE AUSTIN VOICE, to discuss The Austin Compact, a long range (five year, renewable to ten) development plan for Austin whose successes are celebrated in this imagined future history of Austin's transformation written in 2025. An overriding goal of The Austin Compact plan is to reverse the population exodus from  This reversal will entail transformation: a complete reinvention by Austin residents of Austin as a safe, happy, healthy and productive place for people to live, visit and work.

An impossible goal? Not as the Parents Political University sees it. We have ten years to reach this goal. And we plan to show the rest of Chicago that Austinites have untapped resources, energies and abilities to achieve this lofty goal. Plus, we have some game-changing ideas up our sleeve that Chicago hasn't seen before.   

Where to begin? First we created the Parents Political University, an action-oriented grassroots group whose website chronicles its five meets held since June 25. Next we set September 6 as the date for a half-day conference in Austin:

Courtesy THE AUSTIN VOICE

Here are members of the group that met in Austin on August 20:

Courtesy THE AUSTIN VOICE

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