#6 City as Lab

Inheriting the Grid #6

By Daniel Tucker — Cities are the products of history. In this issue of AREA Chicago we have attempted to look at Chicago as a policy laboratory in which experimental public policy in the areas of housing, labor and education are tested on the residents of Chicago. These localized experiments, if they are proven to be effective – are […]

City as Policy Lab

By AREA Staff — One of the paradoxical developments in this era of globalization is that local spaces are now increasingly being viewed as crucial institutional arenas for a wide range of policy experiments and political strategies. Ironically, much of the contemporary political appeal to “the local” actually rests on arguments regarding allegedly uncontrollable supralocal transformations such as the […]

General Bibliography

By AREA — general bibliography Understanding Neoliberalism The Shock Doctine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey Spaces of Neoliberalism by Neil Brenner and Nik Theodore Contesting Neoliberalism: Urban Frontiers (Paperback) by Helga Leitner, Jamie Peck, Eric S. Sheppard The Neoliberal City: Governance, Ideology, and Development in American Urbanism […]

Linking the policy experiments of Ren2010 and the Plan for Transformation

By Pauline Lipman — Introduction Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver and a number of other cities in the USA are purposefully creating mixed-income schools. In Chicago and other cities, this policy is linked with federal initiatives to dismantle public housing for very low-income people and replace it with privately owned or managed mixed-income developments. Advocates claim that these policies will reduce […]

Snuggle up to the Commercial Club of Chicago

By Beth G — Cozy relationships between business and government are pervasive. In Chicago’s machine politics, it’s often unclear whose motives are being represented in new initiatives — the City of Chicago is not well-known for its commitment to meaningful public participation in decision-making processes. Given Mayor Daley‘s penchant for unilateral moves, it’s difficult to think of many significant […]

Schooling in Disaster Capitalism

By Kenneth J Saltman — Introduction Around the world, disaster is providing the means for business to accumulate profit. From the Asian tsunami of 2005 that allowed corporations to seize coveted shoreline properties for resort development to the multi-billion dollar no-bid reconstruction contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the privatization of public schooling following Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast […]

Foreclosures in Chicago

By Michael Van Zalingen — This transcript is based on a talk given by Michael Van Zalingen at a panel called “The Mortgage Lending Crisis: Implications for our Communities.” The panel was sponsored by the University of Illinois’ Great Cities Institute. For more information, visit www.uic.edu/cuppa/gci/. Van Zalingen is the Director of Home-ownership Services at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago […]

From Perception to Policy

By Brian Holmes — As far back as the 1920s the Chicago School of Urban Sociology used the city as a laboratory, an open-air experiment from which they tried to derive general principles and laws. The idea was to observe what actually happened, then use those observations to predict the future. But how does subjective perception become scientific reality? […]

The Horner Model

By William Wilen — Perhaps no public policy initiative has changed both the geography of poverty in Chicago and the city’s physical landscape as much as the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation. Under the Plan, CHA has demolished thousands of public housing units with the promise of building mixed-income communities—most with far fewer units for public housing residents […]

The City That Doesn’t Work

By Aaron Sarver — How did post-war Chicago, a city with powerful unions and considerable wage-equity, become a city that accepts ‘any job is a good job’ as an excuse for not guaranteeing its residents a living wage? How did Chicago become a city in which Wal-mart and other big-box retailers have become low-income residents’ main employment option? Chicago’s […]

Growth Machine Gone Global

By Nick Kreitman — For decades, those involved in Chicago community organizing have toiled against what has been coined the Growth Machine; a coalescence of interests around promoting the “development” of the loop and downtown. Generations of organizers have advanced an alternative agenda of development for Chicago, a neighborhood based agenda that emphasized using city resources to target development […]

Back to Basics

By Ryan Hollon — What is a union and how do they differ from other forms of social justice organization? At its most basic, a union is an organization through which workers take action and represent themselves collectively. Currently the key difference between unions is whether they see themselves as a social movement or as a social service. Unions […]

The Economic Life Sentence: Introduction to the Low-Wage Labor Market

By Ryan Hollon — For a huge percentage of African-American men in Chicago, past felony convictions are like gashing scars across one’s employment history. These scars are common for men in high-incarceration neighborhoods like North Lawndale and Englewood, forcing them into the low-wage labor market with little or no hope of upward social mobility. People with a felony record […]

Learning from LA

By Aaron Sarver — In July 2006, by a vote of 35-14 the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that required big-box retailers to pay a “living wage.” The big-box living-wage ordinance mandated that companies with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet pay wages of at least $10 an hour, […]

Odelay Yonquero

By Nic Halverson — *names have been changed   Hildo Bosquez is gunning his truck down one of Chicago’s back alleys, in reverse. Squirming in the passenger seat, trying to remain casual, I cast a sharp glance to the dashboard to confirm our speed, but the speedometer is broken and buried at zero. We must be pushing at least […]

Introducing: precarity : chicago

By Tim Sarrantonio — The old ways of radical organizing are dead. We can no longer rally around the banners of Marxism, anarchism, socialism, or the hundreds of off-shoots that have splintered because of petty disputes or personal differences. We live in a society that has become fractured and assaults us with images of war, poverty, and disease while […]

An Introduction to CPS

By Therese Quinn — The area that became Chicago established its first public schools in the early 1830s; the first public school teacher is generally said to have been Eliza Chappell, and she taught classes of up to 100 students in a makeshift school housed in a building that had been a store. The City of Chicago was chartered […]

Notes on the Political Economy of Chicago Charter Schools

By Eric Triantafillou — The exploitation of teachers appears to be a national priority. A quick glance at the history of chronically under-funded public education and its over-worked labor force—teachers, administrators and staff—seems to prove this. Because it is generally recognized that high degrees of teacher professionalism, commensurate compensation and a sane work schedule mean better-educated kids, increased funding […]

Redoing the City of Neighborhoods

By Jesse Mumm — My children will never see the Chicago where I grew up, the only redheaded Irish American kid in a sea of brown faces. My class pictures from Darwin School include a few other white kids, mostly Polish, a few black kids, one or two Assyrians, among a majority of Latinos. The abandoned buildings on Kedzie […]

Boiler Room Pedagogy

By Kenzo Shibata — The ailing Chicago Public Schools have a vestige of hope in its efforts to close the achievement gap and raise test scores across-the-board. It’s the data-driven model of assessing schools and is powered by a software system called COMPSTAT. It’s a portmanteau of the words “compare” and “statistics” and those two words dominate the process. […]

Military in CPS

By Erica Meiners — At recent forum on educational policy that we organized in November 2007, former and current Chicago Public School (CPS) employees that advocate public military schools appeared to backpedal from the raw ugliness of the image, and the reality, of Chicago’s youth of color being disciplined in public military-run schools. With folksy, generous voices, and attempts […]

A Citywide Interview

By Amelia Ramos — Every so often, AREA Chicago develops a “city wide interview” where we distribute a question that we would like to have a wide range of folks respond to. The question is usually quite broad and it can get interpreted many different ways. It is designed to complement the content in the rest of the magazine […]

Speculative Landscape: Signs of the Times

By Jason Reblando

Special Insert: Notes for a People’s History of Chicago

By AREA — Design: Dave Pabellon; Research: Lauren Cumbia, Euan Hague, Micah Maidenberg, Aaron sarver, Daniel Tucker, Jerome Grand, Beth Gutelius Download pdf

Illustrations by Neil Brideau

By Neil Brideau