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Place Lab digest • Issue #35 • Friday, March 10, 2017
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The Place Lab digest is a weekly round-up of pertinent news, opinion, investigations, and explorations of the arts, architecture, and city-building in Chicago and beyond.

Happenings @ Place Lab

‘On some level, I’m just looking for good problems to solve’

Jonathan Griffin, Apollo Magazine

‘I’m never selfless. I’m super clear about these couple of things that I think I was put on earth to do, and sometimes those things have to do with projects outside of myself.’ Theaster Gates summarizes: ‘On some level, I’m just looking for good problems to solve. And I don’t have to look far.’

Gates is best known for the regeneration project he initiated in the South Side of Chicago. Such social engagement is crucial to his work, which encompasses everything from abstract painting to musical improvisation.

In early March he will open a new body of work, ‘The Minor Arts’, in the recently renovated Tower Gallery of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The following month, in Helsinki, he will headline the IHME Contemporary Art Festival, where he will perform with his improvisational music ensemble, The Black Monks of Mississippi, part of a larger project for IHME that Gates is calling The Black Charismatic. In June, he unveils a new permanent installation for the sculpture garden of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

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Better together.

Join the Facebook group for Ethical Redevelopment.
Ethical Redevelopment makes the case for mindful city-building. By utilizing cross-city networks and cross-sector innovation, Ethical Redevelopment encapsulates a philosophy by which to shift the value system from conventional, profit-driven development practices to conscientious interventions in the urban context. The Facebook group is a free, curated, open area for discussion about Ethical Redevelopment, the evolving 9 Principles, community, policy, and other topics related to mindful-city building.

What Place Lab is digesting

Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago 2017
Philip Berger, Nick Cecchi, Gregory Maher, Andrew Vesselinovitch & Michael Workman, Newcity Design

This year, we celebrate the curators, organizers, educators, critics and thinkers who lead Chicago’s design scene, who provide the outlets and channels for practitioners to create and be acknowledged, who ensure there’s still space for substance to weigh the airless culture down, who keep those frames in place, those windows clean, and the vision for a better designed tomorrow clear.
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Stay up-to-date on Place Lab projects, events, news, and happenings with our dedicated blog, SITE.
Rauner Memo: Use TIF Funds to Save Chicago Public Schools
Chris Lentino, Illinois Policy

Gov. Bruce Rauner has suggested funding CPS with tax increment financing, or TIF, funds; this would temporarily bail out the district, but more needs to be done to address serious concerns about Chicago’s TIF program.

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What Cities Looked Like Before the EPA
Andrew Small, CityLab

Whatever happens to the EPA, this might be a good time to reflect on its legacy, especially in urban spaces. Though environmentalism conjures “America the Beautiful” images of purple mountains and unspoiled wilderness, much of the EPA’s heaviest lifting in rescuing this nation from its own filth happened in cities.
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Why Falling Home Prices Could Be a Good Thing
Conor Dougherty, The New York Times

The point of this thought experiment isn’t to embrace it full-on, but to open our eyes to the negatives of the national obsession of owning a home, expecting its value to rise, and using the levers of local government to keep neighborhoods as they are.

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Chicago Architecture Biennial announces participants for 2017 edition
Chicago Architecture Biennial

This year's Chicago Architecture Biennial will showcase the diversity of work from around the world to examine the underpinnings of this resurgence of historical interest. Titled “Make New History,” this second edition of the Biennial will focus on the efforts—across registers of building and discursive production—of contemporary architects to align their work with versions of history.

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Miss last Friday's edition of the digest? Read it in the archives here.
Jim Crow home-buying scheme comes back to haunt
Sun-Times Editorial Board, Chicago Sun Times

Contract sales are making a comeback in largely minority Chicago neighborhoods, according to an investigative report in the Chicago Reader, and they look as questionable as ever. This is a financial arrangement that requires significant additional regulation to protect buyers, though we know this would run counter to the Trump administration’s general campaign to deregulate business.
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The Pinch-Back: Chicago women architects talk mentorship and firm culture
Anjulie Rao, Curbed

There’s still quite a bit amiss when it comes to gender representation in the architecture profession. In the spirit of International Women’s Day, Anjulie Rao spoke with a handful of Chicago’s women architects about how they’ve navigated their own career pinches. PlaceLab's Nootan Bharani, AIA, discusses job opportunities for architects.

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Our Political Economy Is Designed to Create Poverty and Inequality
Dennis Kucinich, Nation

Poverty is not an abstraction. People wear it on their faces, carry it on their backs as a constant companion—and it is heavy.
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Black People More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted of Murder, Study Shows
Niraj Chokshi, The New York Times

Black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be later found innocent of the crimes, according to a review of nearly 2,000 exonerations nationwide over almost three decades.
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Demographic Shifts: Planning for a diverse region
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Report, On to 2050 Snapshot

Metropolitan Chicago is home to 8.5 million residents whose backgrounds and needs are diverse and whose contributions are essential to the region’s overall success. This snapshot report looks closely at data on population and the changing characteristics of the region’s residents. 
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Metro Monitor 2017 Dashboard

The Metro Monitor provides leaders across metropolitan America with a set of objective metrics to guide their efforts in shaping advanced regional economies that work for all. It tracks the economic performance of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas along three dimensions: growth, prosperity, and inclusion.

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Chance The Rapper Tells Rauner To 'Do Your Job,' Donates $1M To Chicago Public Schools
Stephen Gossett, Chicagoist

Chance the Rapper on Monday announced that he will donate $1 million to Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago-native rapper also issued a challenge for local and national corporations to give money to Chicago's underfunded school district until Rauner and legislators pass a funding solution.
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From our bookshelf:

Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined by Steve McDonald​

Purchase it here
For Kerry James Marshall, the mission is clear: Bring portraits of black life into very white art museums
Barbara Isenberg, Los Angeles Times

For much of his adult life, the artist Kerry James Marshall has been on a mission to redress a big omission: “When you go to an art museum,” Marshall says, “the thing you’re least likely to encounter is a picture of a black person. Marshall has spent 35 years working to rectify that absence, creating powerful paintings of black figures in everyday life.
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Dying shopping malls are wreaking havoc on suburban America
Hayley Peterson, Business Insider

Shopping malls across the country are dying, and, in some cases, leaving jobless communities and rotting buildings that are hotbeds for crime in their wake. Dozens of malls have closed in the last 10 years, and many more are at risk of shutting down as retailers like Macy's, JCPenney, and Sears — also known as anchor stores — shutter hundreds of stores to staunch the bleeding from falling sales. 
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What smart planners are reading right now

Check out what publications planners all over the globe are following to stay in the loop on redeveloping, building, and maintaining better cities.
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What are you thinking?

Is there something you'd like to see more of in our digest? Topics, interest areas, or subject matter that we're missing? Just havea  couple of notes?

Let us know
Place Lab is a team of professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies.  A partnership between Arts + Public Life, an initiative of UChicago Arts, and the Harris School of Public Policy, Place Lab is a catalyst for mindful urban transformation and creative redevelopment. Led by renowned artist and University of Chicago faculty member Theaster Gates, this joint enterprise merges Chicago Harris’ Cultural Policy Center’s commitment to cultural policy and evidence-based analysis with Place Lab’s work at Arts + Public Life on arts- and culture-led neighborhood transformation.
Copyright © 2017 Place Lab, All rights reserved.

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