2019 Urban Innovation Symposium - Afternoon Session

APA Illinois Chapter


Friday, January 25, 2019
11:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. CST

CM | 2.50

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The afternoon session will consist of a keynote and four discussion panels.

1. Keynote Speaker – Amara Enyia

2. Zoning Policy – Cities are gradually becoming centers for wealth accumulation, which is greatly exacerbating attempts at creating sustainable affordable housing. Even cities like Chicago, which are considered to be more economical, are suffering from an affordable housing shortage. Land is a finite resource and housing is inextricably linked to it, so competition for it often manifests itself as increasing rents and taxes. As a form of land use control, zoning plays an integral role in how affordable housing is created and maintained in the urban environment. With this panel we hope to explore how zoning and other forms of land use regulation can create better policies for sustainable affordable housing options. As such, our panelists represent different perspectives in the policy-making process. 

3. Neighborhoods & Sustainable Design (Deep Dive) – In a world of division, climate change, and population growth, we must focus on how to change faster than ever be¬fore. This talk posits that society can overcome our major challenges around decarbonization in four generations: the lifetime of a child born today. Neighborhoods are the messy yet sustainable structure to cities; learn how a variety of strategies at the neighborhood scale are the keys to inspiring trust and unlocking sustainable solutions.

4. Claiming Spaces – The Role of Public Art as Place-maker Public art has often been considered an initiator of revitalization and beautification of urban communities; however as we have experienced throughout Chicago, such revitalization can come at a cost . This panel will explore the complex relationship between art and gentrification and examine how artists and art organizations can be a restorative force for local residents and communities in order to encourage reinvestment without displacement.  We will also consider how public art can be used in place-making to enhance community's culture without isolating its residents that bring life and culture to these communities.

5. Transportation Equity (Deep Dive) – Access to transportation plays a critical role in connecting people to basic needs such as employment, education, affordable housing, and so much more. These amenities are imperative to creating and maintaining sustainable communities and, ultimately, cities. This session will identify some of the pressing transportation equity issues in Chicago as well as address innovative approaches to closing this gap in access. Additionally, we will discuss transportation planning strategies in order to encourage more inclusive active transit initiatives in the future. The goal is to develop sustainable communities that can offer equal opportunity, and provide greater citywide mobility, health, and economic activity. This will ultimately allow all Chicagoans to thrive. 


Amara Enyia

Amara Enyia is currently the Director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce in Chicago and Chief Executive Officer of ACE Municipal Partners, a municipal consulting firm. In addition to degrees in journalism and political science, she earned a Master’s degree in education, a law degree where she focused on ... Read More

Angela Larsen

Angela Larsen has been on the Alliance of the Great Lakes staff since 2010. Angela Larsen leads the Building Resilience team as Community Planning Director. Angela is a land use attorney and urban planner whose work is focused on implementation of policies, projects, and practices through community networks to enhance ... Read More

James Harris

James Harris is an urban planner with over 6 years of experience specializing in land use planning. In his current role as a land use planner with Cook County he is responsible for reviewing zoning applications and drafting amendments to the zoning ordinance. James is also heavily involved in the ... Read More

Jim Merrell

Jim Merrell works as Advocacy Director at Active Transportation Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates for better walking, biking and public transit across Chicagoland. In his current role, Jim leverages a decade of issue advocacy experience to engage thousands of Active Trans members and supporters in strategic advocacy campaigns designed ... Read More

Sydney VanKuren

Sydney VanKuren joined Farr Associates in 2015, focusing on sustainable urbanism projects and management of The Pattern Project, a Farr Associates initiative to accelerate change around decarbonization strategies. Sydney has professional experience in biology, research analysis, science communication, and environmental planning and policy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in ... Read More

Chris Devins

Chris Devins, MUPP (2012) is a Chicago, IL based Urban Planner/Artist known for large, outdoor murals of A. Philip Randolph and the Pullman Porters, Rashid Lynn (Common), Lorraine Hansberry, Chance the Rapper, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, the Bronzeville Mariano’s grocery store’s “Sunday Morning” wall and “Legends ... Read More

Contact Info

Brandon Nolin, cms@ilapa.org