2013 On the Chicago Tribune's New Plan of Chicago

Where It All Began:

[Under construction] It's ironic that not many Chicagoans have heard of, let alone participated in, the ambitious New Plan of Chicago that Chicago Tribune launched in its editorial pages in October, 2013. The idea was to create a vision for Chicago's future modeled on the grand "Make no little plans" scale Daniel Burnham's formative 1909 Plan of Chicago, but this time with citywide citizen participation.

The editorial announcing the New Plan is full of spirit and vision; it's a splendid piece of writing advancing a noble idea. Despite the subsequent lackluster fortunes of the New Plan's attempt to create a vision for Chicago's future Daniel Burnham's 1909 Plan of Chicago, this project is far and away the most ambitious effort to involve Chicagoans in the shaping the best future of their neighborhoods and city that the City of Chicago has seen in the past 100 years. 

Central to the Tribune's New Plan is the concept of citizen participation. And on this front, the Tribune's invitation to its readers to submit their own ideas and proposals has generated submissions running into the thousands. Once received, Tribune editors vet submissions and promote them in future editions of the paper. It's a great idea.

But idea's execution is flawed. The New Plan has never extended beyond the editorial pages of the paper.  Speaking with a couple dozen Tribune subscribers, I was astonished to find that few of them even read the paper's editorial pages.  

The timeline, with links, in the right column does two things. It traces the major developments of the Tribune's New Plan of Chicago, launched in October 2013, gives our running commentary on those developments. 

To access the New Plan and participate in it, you have to be a subscriber or reader of the Chicago Tribune.  

How It All Began:
The Chicago Tribune Editorial Page for Oct 6, 2013

This editorial opened as follows:

A century ago civic architect Daniel Burnham mapped a physical future for this city. He had intended to design social remedies as well but didn't deliver. Today, with education failures, joblessness, crime and other intertwined challenges confronting Chicago with the fourth great crisis of its 176 years, the Tribune invites readers and organizations to finish Burnham's work — to address the imperiled livability, uneven prosperity and desperate public finances that have driven residents to leave by the hundreds of thousands. In coming months, you, and we, will explore how this metropolis can better survive and thrive. Together, our mission echoes Burnham's: Make no little plans.
  • Sep 18 Tribune Editorial reaffirming the paper's commitment to its New Plan and to the the idea that "The endurance of disadvantage in America's cities defies the most basic promise of the civil rights movement and the national conviction that this land offers opportunity, unbridled and absolute, for those who seize it."

This April 6 2016 Tribune Editorial called for volunteers (credit: Tutor/Mentor Institute)
  • Feb 24  "Bottom Up, Top Down, and In Between:Thoughts on the Chicago Tribune’s “New Plan of Chicago”, a 4,000 word article arguing that youth violence in Chicago has always, and equally, been a public safety (police) problem, a public health (medical) problem and a public communications (media) problem.