The Future of Brownfields is an ongoing partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design (IIT ID) and Calumet Collaborative that challenges us to find innovative ways to approach Brownfield redevelopment.
When the collaboration started in 2018, Masters and PhD students identified five strategies to redevelop the Calumet’s Brownfields: involve residents, leverage assets, integrate infrastructure, empower science, and strengthen the local economy. Four concepts emerged from these strategies:
Act Calumet and Flag Calumet have been further developed in 2019, with some exciting developments including working prototypes, marketplace design, and new concepts.
During the Spring 2019 IIT ID Act Calumet Workshop taught by Dr. Carlos Teixeira and Ph.D. Candidate Andre Nogueira, students explored how new technologies, infrastructures, and emerging financial services can provide alternative pathways to empower local residents towards reactivating abandoned properties and vacant lots in the Calumet region.
After research, workshops, panel discussions, and collaborating with community organizations, students designed a system of solutions that addressed five actions: Investing, Training, Managing, Activating, and Tracking. Prototypes were developed that connected those actions with the following scenarios:
“Through the lens of systems design, we worked at the intersection of environmental justice, digital technologies, and new market places to reframe issues of abandoned properties in the Calumet Region,” says Andre Nogueira, as he summarizes the work of the class. Andre also explained how this work could live beyond the classroom. “By incorporating considerations of financial stagnancy, centralization of power, short-term profitability, and segregation, this work opens new doors that are worth exploring for transforming properties that are currently being considered as bereft of value and benefit into assets for equitable local economic development."
Read more about the Act Calumet workshop and prototypes in two recently released reports: the Act Calumet Critical Report and Act Calumet Design Brief.
Flag Calumet has been able to live beyond the classroom by leveraging Kresge funds to further refine the concept and prototype. Flag Calumet assists in Brownfield redevelopment by measuring the surrounding environment and its restoration efforts, and incorporates creative placemaking with a hands-on experience that uses art to customize the installation.
IIT ID has partnered with Field Museum, Wildlife Habitat Council, Boxville, and The Student Conservation Association to understand how Flag Calumet could be activated in a way that answers the following questions:
The insight gained from these collaborations have propelled Flag Calumet to an exciting next step: building a marketplace. To build a marketplace, the Flag Calumet team will enhance the platform’s design which will connect supply and demand for ecosystem services, create a service blueprint that can enable transactions between stakeholders, and partner on workforce development by restoring habitats through service.
If you would like to be involved in testing and scaling Flag Calumet, please reach out to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Creating an identity for a region with such a rich history, diverse setting, and vibrant future challenged our team to think creatively about messaging and design that reflects the authenticity of this place,” says Marisa Schulz, Vice President at The Lakota Group. “So many committed people were involved in the shaping of this brand and will continue to be important ambassadors in its implementation.”
Understanding what the Calumet means to those that live and work in the region and hold the Calumet close to their hearts was key to creating an identity and brand for the Heritage Area. From a stakeholder list of over 300, more than 165 people participated in over 20 meetings, focus groups, individual interviews and online surveys during the course of this eight-month project. The messaging, aesthetic, and final design of the Calumet Heritage Area brand was shaped by the residents, business owners, municipalities, community organizations, local tourism bureaus, and historical societies who participated from across the region.
“The process for developing a brand for the Calumet Heritage Area has been incredibly rewarding,” explains Rachael Smith, Community Branding Manager at The Lakota Group. “At every stage, the passionate group of volunteers guiding the process brought our team’s ideas to life. We’re so pleased with the final brand and how it speaks to folks who know and love this region.”
Next steps are to convene partners around implementation of the brand, which includes education on the Calumet Heritage Area itself, as well as making sure everyone that will use this brand knows about the tools and resources available to them. If you are interested in participating, please reach out to Ashley at email@example.com.
The Calumet Heritage Area is a place of nationally significant natural, industrial, labor, and cultural heritage assets, that are preserved and interpreted to advance economic opportunity, and enrich the lives of its residents and visitors from across the nation. Calumet Collaborative and Calumet Heritage Partnership, with the help of Field Museum, are leading an initiative to create and manage the Calumet Heritage Area, and to receive national designation from Congress to become the Calumet National Heritage Area. The Calumet Heritage Area brand has been designed so it can easily adapt when national designation occurs. For more information on the Calumet Heritage Area, visit www.calumetheritagearea.org