What if Chicago leveraged its proximity to and stewardship of the Great Lakes Waterway system to build a thriving water-based economy, rich with innovation, technology, and scientific research? This future is possible...but only if we can recognize and confront significant challenges that face our region. Rainfall and storms continue to increase, causing damage through localized flooding, contamination, higher lake levels and erosion, and increased stress on our aging infrastructure. Safe, affordable drinking water may soon be a luxury in many Chicagoland communities. The city’s lakefront, which “by right belongs to the people,” is not (nor has ever been) accessible to many city residents.
“The Blue City” will explore the latest thinking about water innovation, technology, architecture, and urban design to imagine how our region’s connection to fresh water can attract residents and businesses through water, and retain them through an equitable quality of life.
Panelists and Resources:
- It's a challenge, but Chicago has opportunities to add parkland
- Human Resources to Environmental Change in the Lower Mekong Basin of Cambodia
- TedX UChicago: Should you get paid to protect the environment?
- These Cities Tried to Tackle Disinvestment. Here Are Lessons From What Happened
- Millions of Homeowners Who Need Flood Insurance Don’t Know It — Thanks to FEMA
- Lake Michigan has swallowed up 2 Chicago beaches this summer. Experts say the worst could still be on the way
- 22 million pounds of plastics enter the Great Lakes each year. Most of the pollution pours into Lake Michigan
- Asian carp have never breached a body of freshwater the size of Lake Michigan. Here’s the bizarre way they could survive and thrive in the world’s fifth largest lake.
- Securing our shared water future amidst climate disruption”
- Water is… The Indispensability of Water in Society and Life
- UrbanLab: Free Water District, Growing Water, Filter Island
- Dunn and Felsen: Bowling: Water, Architecture, Urbanism
- "Build Back Bluer: Water innovation can drive inclusive recovery"
- “New Resources to Propel our Blue Economy”
- “Meet the entrepreneurs solving our most pressing water challenges”
Dr. Sabina Shaikh is Director of the Program on Global Environment and a Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Urban Studies in the College, Committee on Geographical Sciences in the Social Sciences Division, and at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She is the faculty director of Chicago Studies and co-leads the Environmental Frontiers Initiative at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation. Her research focuses on the relationship of humans to environmental change, related to health, livelihoods and migration. Her collaborative research on water sustainability in the Mekong Basin of Cambodia has been funded by the National Science Foundation and recently by through the Center for International Social Science Research, Social Science Research Center and the Neubauer Collegium at the University of Chicago.
Tony Briscoe is a reporter for ProPublica Illinois. He previously worked at The Chicago Tribune as an environmental reporter, writing extensively about issues facing the Great Lakes and the impacts of climate change in the Midwest. His reporting on the Illinois EPA’s environmental justice program revealed lapses in state outreach efforts to low-income and minority communities, leading to reform in community engagement practices. Briscoe placed second in the environmental writing category at the 86th National Headliner Awards for his series exploring how global warming is jeopardizing the Great Lakes. He was awarded the 2019 Peter Lisagor Award for best science and environmental reporting in Chicago. A graduate of Michigan State.
Seth B. Darling is the Director of the Center for Molecular Engineering and a Senior Scientist in the Chemical Sciences & Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory. He also serves as the Director of the Advanced Materials for Energy-Water Systems (AMEWS) Energy Frontier Research Center. He received his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago. His group’s research centers around molecular engineering with a current emphasis on advanced materials for cleaning water, having made previous contributions in fields ranging from self-assembly to advanced lithography to solar energy. He has published over 125 scientific articles, holds a dozen patents, is a co-author of popular books on water and on debunking climate skeptic myths, and lectures widely on topics related to energy, water, and climate.
Martin Felsen is the director of UrbanLab, an architecture and urban design firm based in Chicago and is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. UrbanLab is involved in projects at all scales, ranging from large, urban infrastructural plans to residential, commercial, and recreational projects. Felsen’s professional work blends design and research to produce uniquely progressive, site-specific projects, resulting in a new aesthetic for environmentally resilient architecture, landscapes, and public space. His recent book, titled Bowling, speculates on ways to realign architecture and infrastructure with dwindling natural resources. He was awarded the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows Latrobe Prize, the History Channel’s “City of the Future” competition, and many design awards from the American Institute of Architects. Felsen’s work has been published and exhibited widely, including in the 2010 and the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale and the 2015 and 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Alaina leads Current’s work to build collaborations that advance innovative solutions to water challenges. She most recently served as managing director for the economic development firm RW Ventures, where she developed inclusive growth strategies for cities and metropolitan regions. Prior, she held a research fellowship in urban governance at the Brookings Institution, led urban development strategy for the John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and staffed civic collaboratives at the Chicago Community Trust. Alaina is a nonresident fellow in the Global Cities program at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and has published research and commentary for Brookings, Crain’s Chicago, CityLab, and the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank. She holds a B.A. in political science and art history from the University of Rochester, and Masters degrees in Public Policy and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago.