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Comprehensive development -- 'How you approach everything'

The New Communities Program, which started 15 years ago in Chicago, pioneered a comprehensive, engagement-oriented approach to neighborhood revitalization.  And it has been the model for similar Sustainable Communities initiatives in cities across the nation — from Providence, Rhode Island, to San Diego, California.

Now, a new video of just under seven minutes details the history of the program and the principles that have led to its success.

"Comprehensive development doesn't mean building a building and putting all sorts of services into [that] building," says Andrew Mooney in the video.

"It is a mindset.  It is how you approach everything, and understand how everything relates to everything else."

Mooney, the former executive director of LISC/Chicago and the moving force behind the New Communities Program, was tapped late last year by outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley as interim head of the City’s new Department of Housing and Economic Development.  Daley's replacement, Rahm Emmanuel, has said he will retain Mooney in that post.

Neighborhood planning on behalf of the city

The program's links to the city are close and productive, as the video details.  Indeed, Jack Markowski, Chicago's former Housing Commissioner, notes, "The city of Chicago has effectively out-sourced its function of community development planning, of neighborhood planning, to the New Communities Program.  At no cost to the city of Chicago, by the way."

The narrator of the video, produced by Chicago-based Tu Multimedia, points out that "building up some of our city's most vulnerable neighborhoods is no small task."

One community leader says the New Communities Program "is really a bottom-up development."   Another participant says, "We work with local leaders to grow their great ideas by connecting them to the resources they need to get things done."

Joel Bookman, director of programs for LISC/Chicago, explains that the program grew out of the 1996 Futures Forum at which a young state legislator spoke by the name of Barack Obama.

'Bringing everyone together to work as one'

"Out of the Futures Forum," the narrator notes, "came the concept of healthy communities  an idea that community development is more than just building homes.  It's building safe communities where families can live, work and play."

Bernita Johnson-Gabriel, executive director of Quad Communities Development Corporation, put it more succinctly:

"This platform allows you to bring everybody together to work as one."


Note:  In addition to this video, Tu Multimedia also produced a second video which looks in-depth at a handful of community leaders participating in the New Communities Program.


Posted in Chicago

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