State Rep LaShawn K. Ford with students in Austin, 2014
Who We Are: Chicago Civic Media (CCM) took shape in the mid-1990’s from two small entities, Chicago Education Dialogue and National Education Dialogue, the focus of whose work on Chicago School Reform since the late 1980’s expanded to include Chicago’s youth-victimizing gang violence. The creator of three entities was Steve Sewall, Ph.D., a transplant to Chicago from New Haven, CT. Sewall trained at Harvard, Yale and the University of California at Berkeley and was drawn to Chicago in 1974 serving as an Instructor of English at Northwestern University in Evanston. Here has worked ever sense as an educator, freelance writer and media entrepreneur. The “we” in Chicago Civic Media is the roughly two dozen partnerships CCM has developed over the years with community groups and members of Chicago’s media.
What We Do: Since 1995 CCM has created ways of putfting the miracle of modern interactive communications technologies to uses capable of improving civic and political communication among citizens and between citizens and government. These uses take the form of ongoing, citizen-participatory, problem-solving dialogues. CCM as designed media formats for virtually all kinds of media, print and electronic. These formats are scalable to function effectively in communities of all sizes: local, state and national. They work depolarize politics, to reconnect citizens and government and to restore functionality to government at all levels. They make possible a new way of doing politics.
How We Do It: These days we focus mainly on making dynamic CCM’s media formats available to members of Chicago’s media, especially the mainstream media that can put them to large-audience, citywide use. Most of our dialogic formats are placed in the public domain so all media can use them freely. This non-proprietary, public form of ownership is essential, we feel, to creating a healthy competition among media and to developing the civic media formats that do the best job both of listening to Chicagoans of ALL ages and backgrounds and of connecting them and their elected leaders to demonstrably strengthen Chicago’s neighborhoods and the city as a whole.