Experts discuss the history of Chicago development and its impact

Trying to emphasize the importance of the GOTO 2040 plan, the Illinois Humanities Council yesterday invited experts to discuss the history of Chicago's development and how those decisions have impacted residents' daily lives.

The discussion mainly focused on water policy choices. The conversation addressed the way Chicagoans' view the surrounding environment and how those views reflect development.

Speaker Donald E. Worster, a history professor at the University of Kansas, says instead of changing behavior, Chicagoans have gone as far as changing the natural world to cater to their needs, referencing the reversal of the flow of the Chicago River.

Worster says American culture as a whole thinks, "There will always be more of whatever we need," when it comes nature and, "[We] over estimate the capacities of nature."

Speaker Carl Smith, a professor at Northwestern University, feels the same way and says the real issue has yet to be addressed.

"Instead of looking at the real issue and changing it within ourselves, we tried to change natural resources," says Smith.

As the deadline for the GOTO 2040 plan approaches, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning executive director Randy Blankenhorn says it's vitally important that Chicagoans talk about these issues now.

CMAP asked audience members a few questions, which they could respond to through a remote control device. When polled about how the region should invest in public transportation, 89 percent said they would like to see a significant increase in funding.

CMAP can make the most informed decisions about the next 30 years of development with the help of public input, says Blankenhorn.

"When we look back 30 years from now, will people say we made the right decisions?" says Blaneknhorn.