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The C3 Editorial Committee And Its Personalities

To understand the Editorial Committee’s composition, understand the skills required for this task: this website experiments with different motivations so the taxpayers of Chicagoland will fund and make the daily changes required to carry out the forthcoming regional Plan.

Why is this necessary? Well, briefly… Illinois’ finances have been so grossly mismanaged that we face this sad realization: our leaders have failed us at the worst possible time; during an economic and fiscal crisis that, while stabilized, will stymie our best efforts for at least a decade. Not only do Illinois’ and local governments face their third consecutive annual budget crunch, but Illinois is stuck in a borderline bankruptcy until such time as we resolve our pension overdrafts.

Without a fiscally functioning state, the forthcoming 2040 Plan faces the fate of its many predecessors over the last five decades: to gather dust on a shelf.

Working our way out of today’s stagnation requires three ingredients.

1) Talking straight with citizens and listening closely to their response.
2) Teaching taxpayers about the discipline of long-term investment.
3) Developing new state and local leadership to make sustainable growth.

This asks a lot from a fledgling website. To find inspiration, we link each of the above ingredients to a fictional Editorial Committee member. You can meet them and their skills below

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First, there is ST for Straight-Talker.

ST is a Studs Terkel-like personality. Yet Studs was most famous for his ability to listen to the un-common activities of common people because he recognized that, together, we are capable of uncommon acts that can define an era. This is captured best in his Pulitzer-Prize winning “The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two.” This skill propelled two other best sellers: “Working” and “Hard Times: An Oral History of The Great Depression”, two themes still relevant today.

Also inspiring to us, Studs was a world-class curmudgeon who talked straight and to the point. This is important -- and refreshing -- when trying to motivate citizens with this abstract, long-term stuff called regional planning.

Making this regional stuff motivational is fundamental to progress for the next couple of decades. Taxpayers will have to sacrifice to fund progress. But in listening to their complaints, clearly too many do not like the deal they currently get for their taxes. It is apparent to listeners and Straight-Talkers alike that Chicagoland’s progress involves giving citizens a new deal.

Studs Terkel’s ceaseless spirit inspires this website throughout. However, our ST composite character “writes” CCC’s personal advice column "What’s Your Beef?"

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The second fictitious Editorial Committee member is Edith the School Marm.

Disciplined and patient, she enforces the standard for grading essays submitted for "1 Book, 1 Chicagoland." (If you try to inflate grades, Edith will pop-up.) Doing double duty, she also oversees the quiz for the Citizen of Chicagoland Honor Roll, its Honor System and its future curriculum development. Edith also watches the Planning Commissioners Check-in and helps these key citizens with their continuing education.

On the surface, Edith is a scold. But deep down, she is kindly; encouraging students and teaching that study today will pay off later. Since CCC’s Managing Editor does not have enough patience for both long-term planning and taxpayer education, Edith provides an essential balance.

So, Edith helps us teach taxpayers to believe their tax dollars can be invested productively to serve both their individual households and the public good. Developing that message -- that education program -- of personal changes in daily actions is a key goal of CCC.

Developing this education program serves CCC’s immediate audience: public officials and their planning staff. Because today’s economic and fiscal crises have combined with public cynicism toward government, teaching is a big part of restoring faith and leading citizens into this new century of frequent change.

The CCC publication strategy combines listening and Straight-Talk (ST’s job) with educating taxpayers and citizens (Edith’s job.) As a prototype to prepare for larger civic campaigns, CCC seeks to develop this process: listen to their Beefs, give straight answers, propose how to convince enough citizens to do the right things (like take transit) and show taxpayers how they are getting more bang for their bucks.

Together, these sequences of skills will help launch the many civic campaigns needed to redevelop a more sustainable prosperity for Chicagoland.

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This brings us to our third ingredient: new leadership to create sustainability. This is represented on our Editorial Committee by Sustainable Susan.

Please note that her image derives from the iconic Rosie The Riveter, who stepped into traditional male jobs in producing the weapons that won World War Two. Her symbolic selection coincides with how women have entered non-traditional jobs over the past five decades of relative peace and prosperity. Beyond this coincidence, some analysts think that women entering higher management levels have helped keep the U.S. economy competitive.

But as we continue discovering how the consumer economy and car culture have left us broke and stuck in traffic, a 21st Century Rosie will emerge as we find our way in this competitive, sustainable economy and adapt public policies to it.

In today’s transformation of Chicagoland, women are playing a major role. Consider this interesting factoid: almost half the staff are women at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. This is particularly surprising when you consider that CMAP is, essentially, a transportation planning agency. Roads and rails have been totally male-dominated. But hindsight now tells us that building them should have been done better and, specifically, with far many more people nearby; thus making our infrastructure far cheaper to maintain per capita. Bottom-line: Men…. if you can’t use your toys correctly, help is on the way.

Also, Rosie is from the industrial era; when Chicagoland was guided by the Burnham Plan of 1909. And we still acknowledge our debt to this document by honoring select citizen groups with the Burnham Award for Planning Excellence given by the Metropolitan Planning Council. The CCC activity "We Can Do It!" reviews the progress of past awardees and their lessons for us moving forward. Sustainable Susan inspires and oversees this activity.

Today’s challenges require very different solutions and plans to get us back to a long-term prosperity. The process of finding a sustainable balance for the environment and budgets (government and households) requires a vision that is less grand than Burnham’s and is a whole lot more subtle. Many of these subtleties are emerging from organizations run by women. Their work will be reviewed in this website’s "The Citizens Guide To A Sustainable Chicagoland" due late summer.

Implementing a vision of sustainability requires a bevy of practical skills that will change every business and public policy and household. Women tend to favor all those little required innovations. That’s why Sustainable Susan sits on our Committee. She may look like Rosie, but note that Susan’s blouse is green.

So, who really writes CCC?

To be honest, it almost doesn’t matter because CCC should become several authors writing about the millions of little things that will add up so Chicagoland becoming a global leader again. The region is still finding its new ways. But this much can be assumed: the Editors are not running the region… but would sure like someone to get things in order.

As of today, all of CCC is written by its Managing Editor, Robert Munson.
A major part of the Managing Editor’s job is to organize others to contribute. Most simply that starts with
"1 Book, 1 Chicagoland" in which everyone is encouraged to write a short essay.

Others citizens will contribute to our dialog via select, reprinted commentary on the 2040 Plan in this section:
"What I Believe Will Work For Chicagoland." This starts on Independence Day.

Plus, every activity (and there will be a total of nine as 2010 ends) asks for your comments. Our goal is to explore mutual solutions that bring city and suburbs into sync for the new century, some think the Sustainable Century. To help achieve these goals, contact us at: EditorialBoard@ccc-chicagolandcitizenscentral.org.

And as we progress, the hope is the fictional Editorial Members will be replaced by real ones. And while the gratification is boundless, please know also that the work never ends and pay does not exist.

Until this website has finished its work, thanks for participating as much as you can. And your neighbors in Chicagoland thank you, too.

CCC has a web designer BK Studios. Because we are such a difficult client (we are always changing things), we cannot give BK enough credit or compensation for their high level of tolerance for innovation. BK is responsible for the graphic nuances and humors needed to turn tedious long-term planning into something resembling fun… or at least memorable enough to engage the public.