Our PACs Made It Happen!
Park Advisory Council Conference • February 10th, 2018 • Malcolm X College
LAST SATURDAY, 200+ participants representing 70 Chicago Park Advisory Councils braved the winter weather for a day full of workshops, networking, and celebration at our annual Park Advisory Council Conference (PACC). Hosted at Malcolm X College in partnership with the Chicago Park District and MB Financial Bank, this event is a unique opportunity for PACs from every corner of the city to gather together and exchange ideas on how to "make it happen" for our parks!
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WHAT'S A PAC?
Park Advisory Councils (PACs) are voluntary groups of individuals who meet regularly to support the effective functioning of their local parks. PACs promote ways for their community to better utilize park programs and facilities. They raise awareness of park projects, help find alternate funding sources for park enhancement, and host community events and activities. The Chicago Parks Foundation is proud to serve as the fiscal agent to 65 PACs from every region - learn more about our program here.
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MAKING IT HAPPEN
Kicking off the PACC on Saturday morning, Janet Austin delivered a welcoming keynote address to the full group of attendees. Austin is on the board of Chicago Sculpture International, the collaborating organization that brings public art to the Chicago Park District. Austin emphasized the value of accessible artwork in our city, and spoke of the connection it creates between our parks and nature, especially for youth who will become "future stewards."
After the opening address, PACs attended their choice of two 45-minute educational sessions delivered by Chicago Park District staff, fellow PAC Leaders, and outside organizations. (Get access to the presentations from all six sessions here!) Across the board, common takeaways were the importance of making the most of existing community resources and building rapport over a shared love of the parks.
In "Jump On Board," Cameron Croft of the organization All A-Board Alliance encouraged PACs to "inspire others with how you got involved in the parks in the first place" when making new contacts. And during the "How It Happens" session, Park District staff affirmed PACs' confidence in their special community roles as stakeholders and advocates.
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EXPERTS, RESOURCES & NETWORKING
PACs wrapped the day with a two-hour networking lunch session in the largest conference room, and refueled with fresh, healthy lunches from Corner Bakery Cafe. Many eagerly grabbed seats at the twenty "topic tables" arranged in the center of the room for "Lunch with the Experts," a conference favorite featuring one Park District pro at each table to facilitate discussion and answer participant questions on a variety of park topics like Gardening, Permits, and Stewardship.
PACs also freely mingled among the Resource Fair lining the perimeter of the room, which exhibited local organizations interested in collaborating. Resource partners included Pinot's Palette of Logan Square, University of Chicago at Illinois Chicago Plays! Program, Openlands TreeKeepers, and many more.
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The Chicago Parks Foundation presented one PAC from each of the three Park District regions with the Connecting Communities Award, which provides a $500 grant to support innovative community events.
Clarendon PAC (North Region)
The Garfield Clarendon Model Railroad Club, which has been housed at Clarendon Park Community Center since 1974, will celebrate having reached its 70th year with the development of a 5-week educational youth engagement program.
Kells PAC (Central Region)
Kells Park will organize a youth event in collaboration with local grammar schools and daycare centers as a special kickoff to the 2018 year.
Midway Plaisance PAC (South Region)
MPAC will present "An Historic Day on the Midway: Stories & Histories, Work & Play." The event will combine a storytelling performance with a park cleanup, recreational soccer, and an historical walking tour in honor of the 125th anniversary of the Columbian Exposition and the world's first Ferris Wheel, which was on the Midway Plaisance.
CPF was also proud to honor MB Financial Bank with our Community Leadership Award in recognition of their excellent support to the PAC community via our fiscal sponsorship program.
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POWER TO THE PACS!
During the awards ceremony, CPD Central Area Region Manager Marilyn Morales declared, "We have people power and people passion!" That message certainly rang true at this year's conference, just as it does 365 days a year at each of our 600+ Chicago parks. We at CPF are so proud of all of the PACs' vital efforts. Thank you to this year's attendees, partners, and organizers for another powerful PACC!
Special thanks to our 2018 PACC Planning Committee:
Karen Burnett, Lake Shore PAC
Brandon Cunningham, Kelly PAC
Leta Dally, Indian Boundary PAC
Tony Fitzgerald, Chicago Park District
Keith Kelley, Garfield PAC
Walt Kindred, South Shore Cultural Center AC
Sharon Lewis, Bessemer PAC
Sharon Louis, South Shore Cultural Center AC
Deborah Maddox, Chicago Park District
Derrick Martin, Chicago Park District
Leonard McGee, Dunbar PAC
Peter Normand, Pottawattomie PAC
Sean Ortiz, Chicago Park District
Dan Puente, Chicago Park District
Danielle Richards, Bessemer PAC
Alisa Starks, Don Nash Community Center AC
Sandra Streeter, Ogden PAC
And to our Resource Fair Partners:
Barrel of Monkeys
Chicago Department of Public Health
Chicago Park District Marketing
Chicago Park District Culture, Arts & Nature
Chicago Parks Foundation
Friends of the Parks
Illinois Action for Children
International Music Foundation
MB Financial Bank
Metropolitan Planning Council
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Strengthening Chicago's Youth
Super Soccer Stars
The Wurst Hotdog Truck
University of Illinois at Chicago - Chicago Plays!