Oct. 04

Time: 10:00 AM


Fri, Oct 4, 2019 11:30 AM CST
Parks as Democracy? 3rd Annual Luncheon and Conference
DePaul University – Loop Campus, Chicago


Register now for the
2019 Parks as Democracy? Luncheon and Conference:
Climate for Change
October 4 – 5, 2019


The theme of our 3 rd annual Parks as Democracy? Conference is Climate for Change , a phrase meant to connect our planet’s climate crisis and our city’s equity crisis to new opportunities for policy change and reform. Our awareness of the global climate crisis grows day by day. Here in Chicago, near-record high Lake Michigan levels threaten our beaches and other lakefront amenities. Some of the hardest-hit areas, such as Juneway Beach in Rogers Park, are disconnected from the lakefront parks system. Our “Last Four Miles” initiative – launched in 2009, in conjunction with the Burnham Plan centennial – is timelier than ever: Let’s complete our lakefront park system so that it extends all the way from Evanston to the Indiana border, preventing costly erosion damage while enhancing lakefront access.

Meanwhile, we continue to shine a light on the racial inequity in the allocation of Chicago Park District’s facilities, programs and investments. We focused last year’s conference on equity issues and documented them in the State of the Parks report we published in December 2018. Since then, we have elected a new governor, a new mayor and a new City Council. And there’s growing support for public parks over the “privately-owned public spaces” proposed in several megadevelopments around town.

Across the country, some public officials and grass-roots leaders are improvising to the beat of an exciting concept – a “Green New Deal.” Around the world, young people are taking the lead in addressing climate change. Can Chicagoans help to shape a Green New Deal? Are we now better positioned to win policy changes that advance equity in Chicago’s park system? In other words, is there a climate for change in Chicago? We think so – but that change will come only if we seize the opportunities in front of us.

Registration can be completed by clicking the “Tickets” button above or visiting http://bit.ly/fotp2019lunchconf

Here’s a preview of our program:


10:45 – 11:30 AM
[VIP reception with R. J. Nelson – stay tuned for details]

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Annual Awards Luncheon
Keynote: R. J. Nelson, author, Dirty Waters: Confessions of Chicago’s Last Harbor Boss

2:00 – 3:30 PM
High Water 101: A panel discussion on Chicago’s high lake levels, the climate crisis, policy change and FOTP’s signature projects.

3:45 – 5:15 PM
High Water 201: Concurrent discussions on realizing the Last Four Miles of Chicago’s lakefront park system; park protection ordinances & policies; parks in mega-developments like Lincoln Yards; and environmental leadership in communities of color.

5:30 – 7:00 PM
Annual Membership Meeting & Reception
Join us on the DePaul Center roof deck for refreshments and a brief program. Meet more Friends of the Parks! Free for members.


8:30 – 9:00 AM
Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 10 AM
Volunteers in the Parks (VIP) Awards Celebration

10:15 – 11:15 AM
Growing Together 101: Refresh your knowledge and share your insights on racial inequities in Chicago park facilities, programs, priorities and investments.

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
Growing Together 201: A panel discussion featuring newly elected Alderman Daniel LaSpata (1 st ), the primary investigator and author of our 2018 State of the Parks report, which detailed an ongoing lack of equity, transparency and good governance at the Chicago Park District. In her transition report, Mayor Lori Lightfoot identified five key values for her administration: transparency, diversity and inclusion, equity, accountability and transformation. We’ll discuss specific policies and strategies to make our park system reflect those values.

12:15 PM – 1:30 PM

1:45 – 3:15 PM
Growing Together 301: A panel discussion on reclaiming community councils: Park Advisory Councils, community policing beat organizations and Local School Councils grew out of grassroots struggles for equity and reform. (PACs are rooted in the Chicago Park District’s 1983-89 Consent Decree with the federal government.) After decades of top-down decision-making, can we reclaim the founding spirit of these community councils?

3:30 – 4:45 PM
Growing Together 401: A participatory workshop on building the power and effectiveness of our local community councils: What models are already emerging locally? What types of citywide support – and policy change – are needed?

4:45 – 5:15 PM
Closing Reception
Upcoming events & ways to take action


For questions about the 2019 Parks as Democracy? Luncheon and Conference, please contact Friends of the Parks at 312-857-2757 Ext. 3 or email info@fotp.org.