Executive Director Juan Carlos Linares reflects, post-EcoDistricts Incubator

EcoDistricts works to create just, resilient and sustainable cities, from the neighborhood up. What stood to you about their work and in what ways does that relate to our SPARCC Initiative?

JCL – “I think this work fits in perfectly with our SPARCC Initiative, in that our work has really been focused on racial equity, health outcomes, and climate resilience as it relates to transit-oriented development. As we laid out our half-mile radius from the Logan Square Station going on down south, we’re presented with so many opportunities to advance this work. It’s not just with the built environment, but also with the people we serve at the community level and with the policy thinkers who try to conceive of larger system solutions. One of the cool things about EcoDistricts is that it shows that we’re not alone; there’s a group of thinkers and practitioners that have already thought about this with us, or for us, and have together a framework for us to follow.”

With that in mind, what are some of the things you learned in seminars or from partners, or even by being in the physical space within Portland that you think we can transplant here to the city of Chicago?

JCL – “Though Portland itself is not perfect, I think they do a brilliant job of incorporating the natural environment with the built environment and we can do such a better job of that here…. I was also just amazed at some of the other groups at the table. Metro Health out of Cleveland is a Health System that is on a quest to partner with community groups to do their form of EcoDistricts. There was knowledge sharing between organizations doing “EcoDistricts-like” work to find solutions all over the country.”

What are you looking forward to as you jump back into work here in Chicago?

JCL – “….Chicagoans are everywhere. We find Chicagoans working at EcoDistricts, living in Portland and Seattle and all over the Pacific Northwest. The question is: why are they there and not here? One of the issues we see here is we don’t always make a space for everyone who wants to do well here. EcoDistricts is a way to use the energies of people who want to do good here, and put it into practice.

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