'Resilient Chicago' strategy aims to strengthen neighborhoods, engage communities
- Chicago has released its new resilience strategy, Resilient Chicago, devised through a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities.
- The plan contains 12 goals and 50 actions the city can take to improve its resilience under three pillars — strong neighborhoods, robust infrastructure and prepared communities — and addresses four pressing challenges:
- Reducing disparities between Chicago's neighborhoods
- Addressing the root causes of crime and violence
- Ensuring the provision of critical infrastructure
- Promoting engaged, prepared and cohesive communities
- The city's first action through the strategy is to participate in the Sierra Club's "Ready for 100" campaign, in which it committed to the goal of transitioning to 100% renewable energy in buildings across the city by 2035, in addition to an all-electric bus fleet by 2040. Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to bring a resolution before the Chicago City Council in March to formally adopt the "Ready for 100" goals.
Resilience refers to a city's ability to recovery quickly from difficulties. Chicago's resilience strategy focuses on "not just the acute shocks, but also the chronic stresses that weaken the city’s fabric on a day-to-day basis," 100 Resilient Cities president Michael Berkowitz said in a statement.
The city spent two-and-a-half years collaborating with its partners and residents to develop the strategy, which provides recommended actions to achieve long-term growth and prosperity as well as overall resilience.
One of the chronic stresses Chicago faces is its racial inequity. The resilience plan acknowledges that "Chicago’s communities remain largely divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. The city consistently ranks among the top five most segregated cities in America." It explains that in 2016, the city's top three racial population demographics were nearly evenly split in thirds: 32.3% white, 30.6% African American and 29.1% Hispanic.
Yet opportunities are not equally accessible to all populations, with the city's African American and Hispanic communities disproportionately experiencing economic hardships, including unemployment and unequal access to services. The strategy notes the divide creates health disparities.
Chicago's crime and violence also threaten residents' health, the strategy notes. Even though Chicago experienced one of the country's most significant crime reductions last year, "committing or falling victim to a crime, still affects far too many Chicagoans," the document states. That realization contributed to the city making it one of the top four priority areas to address the root causes of crime and violence.
Recent studies have cited these kinds of racial and socioeconomic disparities as dangerous destabilizing factors. As light is shed on the trouble associated with inequality, more cities and their partners are implementing initiatives to tackle the problem for greater long-term stability.
The strategy includes goals not just to create better equity with services, but also to get residents from all walks of life connected and engaged in their communities. The document cites areas of opportunity where the city can improve on this, such as through better coordination between city departments. It also points to creative city initiatives to support neighborhood development, such as its three new co-located library and public housing facilities.
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