Chicago Ideas Puts Innovation On the Table

How can Chicago revive its most challenged communities?  That was the question on the table Tuesday, May 12 at a Chicago Ideas-hosted dinner as a part of the Chicago Community Trust’s (CCT) On the Table initiative.  Chicago Ideas Founder and Chairman Brad Keywell and Executive Director Jessica Malkin hosted a small group of Chicago leaders in business, non-profit and creative endeavors at GT Fish & Oyster on 531 North Wells. 
“[You] represent so many different neighborhoods, so many different backgrounds,” Malkin said to the group as she kicked off the evening.  “Tonight is about putting any idea on the table.”

CIW Co-op member LZ Granderson and Chicago Ideas Founder Brad Keywell
discuss their visions for the future at an On the Table dinner May 12.

The mealtime conversations touched on the diversity of Chicago’s neighborhoods, the media’s portrayal of Chicago and the importance of re-thinking the educational system.  Education, in particular, was seen as a key component to making Chicago a safer, more inter-connected city.
“We need common metrics to measure how much we’re moving the needle,” Chicago’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Education Elizabeth Swanson said in regards to the public school system.  “We need a system that helps kids from cradle to career.”
Chicago Ideas Co-op Member Ivy Tzur suggested that the formation of  a “Metropolitan Co-op”—a group consisting of leaders from each of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods—would also go a long way to unifying the city, as members learned from one another about the strengths and challenges each neighborhood faces.
“What feels so productive about Chicago Ideas and On the Table…is that there are people from all different backgrounds and they connect our communities in some way,” Tzur said.
BucketFeet co-Founder Raaja Nemani agreed, stressing the potential value of “idea exchange” among Chicago’s communities.

The Chicago Ideas dinner was one of over 1,000 On the Table dinners hosted May 12 in celebration of CCT’s 99th anniversary.  Three to five individuals with the most electrifying, game-changing ideas will be chosen to take the stage at CIW October 13–19, 2014.  CCT collected innovative ideas generated at these mealtime conversations at the On the Table website. 

Erin Robertson is managing editor at Chicago Ideas.

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