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Engaging community through conversation

Engaging community through conversation

Bickerdike welcomed 11 guests for dinner and discussion as part of an On The Table event on May 17, 2017. Held each year in May, On The Table is a special initiative of the Chicago Community Trust (CCT); it is designed to promote community building and the sharing of ideas among diverse groups as they enjoy a meal together. According to CCT, nearly 100,000 people participated this year all across the Chicago region; that is almost double last year’s attendance.

At Bickerdike’s event, attendees included a mix of some residents of Bickerdike housing, representatives from nearby community organizations, interested neighbors, and staff; most of the guests called Humboldt Park home. Bickerdike staff used a survey designed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) to guide the discussion about the most urgent issues facing our community.  CMAP’s survey  is part of an extensive community engagement process to gather data to complete a plan for the region. The plan will be titled On To 2050 and it will be used to advise policy makers on where resources and attention should be focused over the next 30-40 years.

The survey measures the public’s concerns on five topics that will affect everyone’s future: climate change, more walkable communities, innovations/changes in transportation, a decrease in public resources, and the effects of a transformed economy/work force.  Those who attended Bickerdike’s On The Table event expressed the most concern about how dwindling state and federal resources will negatively affect their communities; they worried it would result in even less available affordable housing and less funding for the schools.  The way technology is changing the region’s workforce was another area that caused anxiety for the group; they hoped that the region’s education system would shift to accommodate those changes so young people could have a better chance at acquiring the skills they need to be able to compete for the new, higher paying jobs.   All in all the group enjoyed thinking about and openly discussing the issues raised over the course of the meal.  Many guests exchanged contact information with their new acquaintances so they could meet later to collaborate on community projects.

Find out more about Bickerdike on their website.