People, Places, and Power: Cook County Edition

Join us for a conversation about how political power and public resources are distributed among neighborhoods, communities, and wards. We’ll consider historical factors, including factors that have contributed to segregation, and discuss how recent developments, such as the 2020 census, might affect the allocation of power and resources within Chicago.

Cook County is both the most populous and the most densely populated county, by far, in Illinois, as well as the second most populous county in the United States. Consequently, we can scarcely begin, in one evening, to untangle the complex webs of power and resource distribution that span the county and connect it to other regions of our state, but we’ll try to examine some of the most important strands.

People, Places, and Power: Cook County Edition will include…

An overview of the historical geography of Chicago by cartographer Dennis McClendon, illuminating factors that have contributed to the distribution of power within the city and between the city and other places in Illinois;
An exploration of the Folded Map Project, which addresses racial segregation and inequities through art and dialogue, featuring artist Tonika Johnson, sociologist Maria Krysan, and animator KolorEverywhere;
A discussion of urban-suburban-rural dynamics within Illinois’s 2nd Congressional District, which extends from Chicago’s southeasternmost neighborhoods through the south suburbs of Cook and Will counties to the small towns and farmland of southwestern Kankakee County, featuring the district’s United States Representative, Robin Kelly; Cook County 6th District Commissioner Donna Miller; Manteno Mayor Timothy Nugent, who is also president of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County; and Chicago 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza, moderated by journalist Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC 7.
A discussion of current issues involving power and resource distribution within Cook County and between Cook County and other Illinois communities, featuring journalists Michael Romain of the Austin Weekly News on Chicago’s West Side and the Village Free Press in Proviso Township, Jackie Serrato of the South Side Weekly in Chicago, and Hannah Meisel of NPR Illinois in Springfield.
Three interconnected cultural interludes featuring artists from southern Illinois whose career paths led them to Cook County: musicians A.C. Reed and Big Twist & the Mellow Fellows and poet James Ballowe.
This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support has been provided by the Grand Victoria Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

People, Places, and Power: Cook County Edition is the third of three programs in our series, The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State?, examining the relationship between population distribution and the allocation of political power and public resources from the vantage points of places in Illinois where that relationship is especially significant. Watch other programs in “People, Places, and Power” series featuring Gallatin County and Fulton County.


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