The Calumet Collaborative held its second advisory council meeting on September 12. The goal of this meeting was to clarify and emphasize the roles of its board of directors, advisory council and working groups and to share how work is determined and organized to fulfill its mission of transformative sustainable development in the Calumet region.
The organization’s four working groups – explore and align bi-state brownfields redevelopment strategies; advance a bi-state wayfinding system; advance the Calumet National Heritage Area and advance comprehensive, bi-state conservation strategies reported out their progress and plans for the near and long-term.
There are nearly 450,000 brownfields throughout the United States and thousands in the Calumet region alone. A brownfield is a property in which, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
The Calumet Collaborative was recently awarded a grant from The Chicago Community Trust that will be used to collect bi-state brownfields data, identify the best practices used in the remediation of these sites and create a tool to assist in the redevelopment of brownfields in the Calumet region. The Calumet Collaborative Brownfields Working Group plans to examine the information collected to identify work already being done, to find gaps in the work and to prioritize and determine the highest and best use for these properties.
Calumet Collaborative’s Wayfinding Work Group is reviewing past successes and focusing their efforts on further engaging Indiana stakeholders. They will be revisiting past work that includes the narrative and concept development of the Calumet region.
This work aims to remedy the fact we live in a fragmented region that is difficult to navigate regardless of what mode of transportation you use. It aims to connect people to all significant assets of the area, including the many sites of Calumet heritage.
In line with the work group’s broader plan, conversations are in the works to consider how wayfinding and placemaking correlate with the bigger picture of regional identity and a cohesive regional brand that can be shared with the masses.
Calumet National Heritage Area
The Calumet Collaborative is focused on advancing the Calumet National Heritage Area (CNHA) through collaboration with the Calumet Heritage Partnership, The Field Museum and other stakeholders. A national heritage area is a National Parks Service program that recognizes areas of historical significance throughout the country. The CNHA is bookended by two national parks, Pullman National Monument and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The process of becoming a national heritage area has multiple steps. The CNHA has received positive feedback on the first draft of its feasibility study and is working with the NPS office in Washington D.C. to finalize their next draft.
While this process is underway, Calumet Collaborative’s CNHA Work Group will continue to focus on unique ways to shed light on the amazing stories of the Calumet region.
Natural areas in the Calumet region are in varied stages of management. Some have been well managed for years, others have had no land management at all. The Calumet Collaborative Conservation Work Group is working towards identifying gap areas in the region.
Progress is already underway to begin conservation action planning for three gap areas that include Oak Ridge/Hoosier Prairie, Moraine/Sunset Hill and Galena/Ambler Flatwoods. This planning will be completed through an Indiana Coastal Management non-competitive grant that will develop a strategic plan to collect data, prioritize parcels, convene stakeholders, fundraise for land acquisition and determine lead agencies for future work and management.
The conservation working group is also working on a long-term plan that will utilize the Chicago Wilderness Green Infrastructure Vision (GIV). They will use the extensive work of the GIV to identify and breakdown regional priorities into smaller, manageable and implementable projects.
“In a short period of time, Calumet Collaborative’s advisory council and work groups have created action-oriented plans that will catapult the good work already being done in the Calumet region to the next level,” Calumet Collaborative’s Acting Executive Director Sarah Coulter says. “We are eager to continue to convene to move the needle in the positive direction.”
If you, or an individual you know, has related, subject matter expertise and would like to be involved in Calumet Collaborative’s working groups or you have a project you feel is in alignment with our focus areas, please reach out to Acting Executive Director Sarah Coulter at firstname.lastname@example.org.