Debrief on 4/14/09 Meeting
A project team meeting was held on April 14 at Justin Borevitz's lab at the University of Chicago, and we discussed next steps in terms of (i) site selection and planning for what will happen there in Year One, (ii) defining a set of educational, training, and other types of programs to launch in collaboration with partners, and (iii) forming working groups that will take responsiblity for concentrating on specific pieces of CCUE during this organizational development phase.
1. With regard to site selection, we discussed the range of possibilities that have emerged at different points in our discussions: having NeighborSpace acquire a site on behalf of CCUE (the draft application focuses on three lots on Ellis between 62nd and 63rd), working with an existing organization such as a school or church on land they own, or securing an arrangement with a private landowner for use of their site on loan. There are pros and cons to each of these approaches, and ultimately our main goal is simply to get something started this summer--a site focused on sustainable land use practices and ecosystems research, staffed by University of Chicago students, students or affiliates of Archeworks, and people from existing community organizations and the neighborhood itself--see the updated version of the case statement posted today.
2. With regard to defining a set of educational, training, and other types of programs, this component of CCUE has been important from the beginning because of the presence on our project team of both large educational organizations (such as the University of Chicago) and small ones (such as Purple Asparagus), as well as our collective realization that CCUE will have perhaps its greatest impact if it produces, on an ongoing basis, a citizenry that is more engaged in public discussions about sustainability and more capable of participating in those discussions and in the green economy as a whole. The educational and training component has become even more important now that there are active discussions among teachers, principals, public officials, and others about developing new curricula for Woodlawn schools, particularly in the area of sustainability. We are in the process of reaching out to numerous potential partners (schools, etc.) to identify specific opportunities, and some members of the project team have begun working on curricular materials for all ages.
3. With regard to working groups, we would like to form four groups of a half-dozen or so people each to work on specific sets of issues relevant to CCUE. The groups we anticipate forming are (i) infrastructure, focusing on the details of site arrangements, staffing, equipment needs, etc. to be dealt with in Year One; (ii) community relations, coordinating communication and partnering efforts with other organizations and planning the public face that CCUE will project; (iii) research, focusing on developing the list of experiments, data-gathering, and other kinds of "study" activities that will be conducted on CCUE sites; and (iv) education and training, focusing on the development of school curricula as described above and also workforce development programs aimed at the green economy.
The work plans for each of these four working groups will be posted shortly, and it is likely that we will be reconfiguring this website to establish sections of the site where each of these working groups (and probably others) can converse, share information, and work on group projects with the website as a support tool.
At this point, it is probably helpful to contact David Thompson directly at email@example.com to discuss joining one of these working groups or taking on specific tasks from among the many we are pursuing as we develop the organization. Particularly helpful would be people volunteering to chair one of these working groups, including managing communications among working group members and with the rest of the CCUE team.
Thanks for your interest, and please keep checking this space!