Civic Work

My current work includes publishing a book, “Chicago Is Not Broke. Funding the City We Deserve” which lays out ways to save and generate major sustainable, progressive revenues for Chicago. So that our city can work for EVERYONE,

Next up is a new book, “More Public! A Love Letter and A Call To Action,” out Summer of 2017. We make the case for defending and extending the Public at

Most recent civic work…

CL-TIP logo bannerMy 13th nonprofit social venture, The CivicLab was a store front co-working space for educators and activists to meet, do research, teach and collaborate to build programs and tools for civic engagement and social justice. We were at 114 N. Aberdeen in the West Loop for two years and closed on June 30 of 2015.  At the Lab we created the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Illumination Project which uses data mining, investigatory reporting, graphic design and community organizing to explore and explain the impact of Chicago’s half-billion dollar TIF program on a ward-by-wCivicLab main roomard basis. We’ve had over 80 stories done on our work!114 Aberdeen-cropped

Take a look at this eight-minute video (excuse the shaky camera work) of a tour of the Bucketworks in Milwaukee to get a sense of the possibilities of a creative co-working space.

Chicago is America’s Ground Zero for privatization scams that enrich the few at the expense of the many.Mayor Emanuel wants to privatize our infrastructure. He’s not using that word, of course. The new term is Public Private Partnerships (P3). Here is the ordinance. Don’t be fooled. It’s the parking meter scam on steroids. Read this article and you’ll see why.

In 2009 I was an organizer for the No Games Chicago campaign to derail Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics. We won that fight!

No Games web screenIn 2008 I was a co-founder of Protect Our Parks which organized and then sued to stop the privatization of Lincoln Park by the Latin School Land Grab. We won that fight!

POP screen

You can download the text of the inside story of our No Games Chicago work for free here…

Dear Members of the International Olympic Committee – Emails from the No Games Chicago Campaign

I’ve been involved in a quite a few civic organizing efforts…

When I learned of this terrible news I tried to stop it. I could not gin up any interest and   Hull House, founded by social justice pioneer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Jane Addams, went out of business. You can still sign the online petition to SAVE HULL HOUSE, though.

Illinois Citizens for Public Banking was a coalition that was working to establish a public bank for Illinois like the 90-year old Bank of North Dakota. Let’s make our money work FOR us!

I helped to launch CForward which is dedicated to getting nonprofit leaders, workers and constituents active in political life. It will help elect people to office who will defend America’s nonprofits and pursue what I call a Human Agenda. Here’s a 10 minute talk I gave on November 8, 2011 at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute forum on the Future of Nonprofits – calling on our colleagues to get political!
Download the text of the remarks as PDF.

Watch this video on the need for CForward – “There is no profit without nonprofits.”

I’m always interested in working with citizen activists to fight privatization and to defend the commons. Here is my assessment of the looming privatization push in Illinois. Watch a brief video explaining what is at stake…

As part of this effort, we are advocating the creation of a public bank for Illinois along the lines of the Bank of North Dakota. More information on public banking here.

I organized The Creative America Project in 2004 to inspire and elect artists, cultural workers and creative professionals to run for public office. I did training sessions in seven states. Read a summary of the speaking gigs I did and the training sessions and what participants said about them. I wrote a slim manifesto describing this work which lays out the argument for creativity as a fundamental American value and explains why I think artists and creative professionals would make excellent leaders in public life. “America Needs You!” is available as a free download here. I am now working on a documentary to extend this work and document ten creatives who have been elected to local office across America. Here is a sample with five short profiles of such creative public servants.

Listen to this eight minute interview from 2005 where I explain what the Creative America Project is all about.

In 2010 I was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. Download a PDF document with my statement of candidacy and my platform. I was even endorsed by The Southtown Star. Here is my appearance on ABC News Chicago’s NewsViews Program:

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