CNT in the News

Climate Change Could Cause More Sewage Backups

Yale Climate Connections | November 20, 2018

Like many other cities, Chicago has a combined sewer system that moves rainwater and wastewater in the same pipes. So heavy rains can overwhelm the system, flooding residents’ basements with untreated sewage.  

Burns: “It’s just horrifying.”

Lori Burns is a lifelong resident of the city’s South Side.

Burns: “There’s a drain in the shower and water would be bubbling up from there, and then when the storms are really bad, the toilet would back up. So instead of the water going down and out of your house, it’s coming back through the toilet.”

As the climate changes and the Midwest gets more heavy rains, improving city infrastructure will be critical. But homeowners can also take action.

The nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology helped Burns plant a rain garden in her yard.

Burns: “We planted native species that have very, very deep roots so they are able to take up all of that rainwater that’s coming off the roof, and then you’ve got a beautiful garden that you and other critters of nature can enjoy.”

She also installed a backwater valve between her sewer line and the city’s. When the sewers are full of water during a storm, the valve shuts.

Burns: “It’s kept my basement dry ever since.”

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Flood Control Work Underway in Midlothian, Oak Forest

Daily Southtown | November 20, 2018

For many south and southwest suburban residents, particularly those with basements, the date of April 18, 2013, brings back a flood of bad memories. With some communities seeing 4 or 5 inches of rain that day and extensive flooding, it was to be a watershed moment in the life of Helen Lekavich and a group of Midlothian residents, who formed the “Floodlothian Five” in the storm’s wake. Their efforts battling for flood relief in their community have paid off, with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District getting underway with a $7.6 million project on flood-prone Natalie Creek in Midlothian and neighboring Oak Forest. 

Thanks to the group’s efforts and working with the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Midlothian, in 2016, became the country’s first RainReady community. CNT has since worked with other south suburbs to develop plans to become “more resilient to too much rain” by employing cost-effective solutions, such a permeable surfaces for parking lots and designing soccer fields to do double duty as stormwater detention basins. Lower-cost ways of handling heavy rainfall events are needed as the frequency of such storms increases due to climate change. 

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Fight for affordable housing near transit lines takes on new urgency

Chicago Tribune | November 5, 2018

Ashley Galvan Ramos grew up in Logan Square, where she and her parents and sister often walked or used public transit to get around.

But after they lost their apartment to redevelopment, high rents in the gentrifying area forced the family first into homelessness and then to a house on the city’s western edge.

Though they still use transit, they now depend more on a car to get to jobs and school and to go shopping.

“It’s a little less convenient,” said Galvan Ramos, 20.

Galvan Ramos was one of more than 300 people at a recent march to protest high rents and support a proposed 100-unit affordable housing project on Emmett Street near the Logan Square Blue Line station. Children held signs in Spanish and English saying “Rent Control Now.”

The march and the proposed development are signs of growing urgency in the fight for affordable housing in the city, particularly near transit lines, community advocates say. Losing walkable neighborhoods and easy access to transit is especially hard on low- and middle-income families since owning and maintaining one or more cars is more expensive than taking the train.

“We’re trying to keep the issue front and center with developers, with the city, with the CTA, so they understand the importance,” said Jacky Grimshaw, a former CTA board member and vice president of government affairs at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit focused on sustainable development.

Advocates are calling on the city to do more to create affordable housing near transit, including in so-called transit-oriented development projects.

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City of Boise Taking CNT Recommendations for Locating Housing

Idaho Press | September 21, 2018

Traditionally, housing is considered affordable if rent is only 30 percent of a resident’s income, but the city of Boise has said they are relying on recommendations from the Center for Neighborhood Technology that housing and transportation combined should cost a resident 45 percent of their income. City officials say a new development's location to the downtown core and proximity to a bus line means residents will spend less on transportation, making the complex an affordable option.

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Jacky Grimshaw Discusses Her Career In Planning & Politics

Streetsblog Chicago | September 21, 2018

Few players in Chicago’s transportation planning and advocacy scene have as impressive a resume and as deep an institutional memory as Jacky Grimshaw, the Center for Neighborhood Technology’s vice president for government affairs. She’s been with CNT since 1992, including creating and leading the nonprofit’s transportation and air quality programs for over a decade, and spearheading its Transit Future campaign for a new revenue stream for regional transit at the Cook County level.

Grimshaw has also served on the boards of the Chicago Transit Authority and the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board’senvironmental justice and public involvement committees. She recently completed terms on the women’s issues in transportation committee.

Before joining CNT, Grimshaw was a researcher in hematology and gastroenterology. She has also worked in both state and federal government, for the Chicago Public School district, and as a political advisor to Harold Washington, Chicago’s first Black mayor.

I recently sat down with Grimshaw at her home in Hyde Park to discuss her unorthodox career path, what she learned from working for Washington, her efforts to promote equitable transit-oriented development, why the Transit Future campaign is currently stalled, what she’d like to see from the next Chicago mayor, and more.

James Porter: You formerly worked as a researcher studying matters related to blood and disorders of the stomach and intestines. What made you switch careers and become involved in transportation planning and advocacy?

Jacky Grimshaw: Serendipity. I left hematology research because the guy I was working for and I had a disagreement because my great-grandmother died while my husband and I were on vacation, and there was an airline disruption. We couldn’t get back from Miami Beach on time. We had to do a variety of transportation modes to get back from Miami Beach. So I was late getting back from my vacation, and [the guy I was working for] thought I was disrupting his research schedule. I was very stressed from my grandmother dying and the trouble getting back, so I said “Don’t need your job” and I walked out. [Laughs.] I think I left in the early seventies, I don’t remember exactly…

JP: That seems like an abrupt switch…

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Lancaster city starts work on its climate action plan

LancasterOnline | September 17, 2018

Earlier this year, Lancaster became the first city in the northeast U.S. and one of the first 10 in the world to earn LEED Gold certification for sustainability.

But that was just the beginning, setting a “baseline” for a process that will stretch over generations, Mayor Danene Sorace said Thursday at an event commemorating the designation awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Moments later, she announced the next step: The development of a climate action plan.

It will incorporate strategies for reducing emissions from city operations, which could include options such as retrofitting buildings and purchasing more green energy. It will also offer guidelines for improving the city’s resilience to flooding and other repercussions of global warming.

Lancaster hopes to finish the plan by Earth Day, April 22, said Douglas Smith, senior planner. The city will work with Chicago-based consultants Elevate Energy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Communities can no longer wait before taking action on climate change, Sorace said: “The time is clearly now.”

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