497-307: Using Conservation to Foster Social Cohesion & Community Development: Focus on Imani Village in Chicago

Meeting Days/Time
Mondays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Imani Village (Trinity 95th and Cottage Grove Planned Community Development LLC)
Robert Pontarelli (ID) (rpontare@iit.edu)
Appropriate Disciplines
Social Innovation

Most urban populations are unaware of the opportunity that conservation in cities may offer, in spite of the great dependency of cities on nature for their very survival. In other words, although cities are deeply dependent upon the natural world, the populations of most cities are largely unaware of the depth of this dependency. Until recently, the whole concept of conservation in cities was largely limited to existing natural areas surrounding those cities and fewer regions in natural areas within them.

To-date, the opportunity for urban populations to interact with nature, within most urban environments and particularly in Chicago, may be limited to park systems, the lakefront or their backyard. The recent emergence of urban agriculture as a real estate development typology, provides a unique opportunity to both educate and employ the tools and techniques of sound conservation.

The objective of this IPRO project is to make conservation and conservation practices real and palpable by producing measurable results in terms of direct benefits for urban populations at a specific location. This IPRO project will give particular attention to the development prototype currently underway at Imani Village in Chicago.

In Imani Village 1, the first semester of IPRO 307 in fall 2015, we explored a range of possible actions, from urban planning to farming, to resiliency and self-reliance, even to the point of drastically altering the existing development program and profile. In Imani Village 2, the second semester of IPRO 307 in spring 2016, we applied what we learned from Imani 1 to a relatively undisturbed existing urban plan, seeking to integrate farming, food production and education into every possible location opportunity.

For Imani Village 3, planned for fall 2016, we will conservation principles to foster social cohesion and community development through an understanding of contemporary conservation practices and strategies, implementing them and then demonstrating how these strategies can be measured to validate their impact on a particular population. Through a brief survey approach, the IPRO team will research the history, philosophy and practice of conservation in the US up to the present emphasis on cities. This will span efforts that encompass the National Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, and numerous regional and local entities engaging in conservation practices.

In order to provide an appropriate context for the project, IPRO team members will be given copies of Conservation for Cities: How to Plan & Build Natural Infrastructure by Robert I. McDonald, a senior scientist at The Nature Conservancy. The IPRO team will interpret the content of the required text and develop implementation strategies for Imani Village using compiled research data, with the intention that these strategies be immediately employed. We will also develop educational outreach programs that include tools for measuring the results that such conservation practices generate.

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