Monthly Archives: August 2009

CHICAGO WRKS poll: What’s Chicago’s #1 Unsolved Problem?

August 10. We’re working to create Chicago WRKS, an online network of problem-solvers in Chicago.  Begining early next year, we plan to start holding online voter-driven reality TV-style contests where small teams compete and co-operate with other to win cash prizes by developing best solutions to key Chicago problems. Details, with ways to get involved, are below.

But first: how will Chicago WRKS select Chicago’s #1 unsolved problem?


If you vote for “Other Problem,” please identify your unsolved problem at the link for “comments” at the very end of this post (our poll should have included Public Schools, for instance. So far a third of all votes have been for “other problem”, but none have identified that problem!) Last weekend we gave this poll to some 30 visitors at the Fiesta del Sol in Pilsen Village (look for results at the Aug. 2 post just below this one).

Now for some details about Chicago WRKS. After much thought about the future of civic media, we decided to follow up on CCMP advisor Arturo Castro’s wise suggestion and launch an online prototype of our civic media reality TV contests here in Chicago, hopefully in early 2010. The site name, Chicago WRKS, echoes Chicago’s “City That Works” motto. We’ll start small, initially reaching out to high school and college students and other active computer users, but working to eventually create online problem-solving contests that target and engage the “Market of the Whole” of all 2.5 million Chicagoans. The flyer we handed out August 1 at Fiesta del Sol describes it:

WRKS logo 1

Here’s a new idea. Really new! Chicago WRKS brings Chicago politics and government into the 21st century. How? Its online forums give all Chicagoans an informed voice in the decisions that affect their lives.

So how does it work? You’ve seen American Idol and Survivor and Big Brother and Dancing with the Stars.  You’ve seen Reality TV.  Now imagine a three-month reality TV contest right here in Chicago with $25,000 in prizes. Imagine dozens of Chicago teams (2/4 members) competing and co-operating with each other in a series of online (eventually televised) contests to find the BEST SOLUTION to a crucial Chicago problem. And, competing also to be the BEST PROBLEM SOLVER. Each team has its own website with videos and research materials.  So who chooses the problems to be solved?

Thanks – and here’s how to get involved in Chicago WRKS:

□    Volunteer or work as a paid staff member.   Right now, we need sharp IT people and also strong networkers to expanding our problem-solving ties to businesses, community groups and community & mainstream media.

□    Compete! Form your own WRKS team: IT, video, researcher, presenter (contact us NOW, let us know what problem you want to solve and we’ll let you know when to start competing).

□    Support your favorite team online (via research) and in your community – contact us NOW and we will connect you with prospective teams that are looking for your support.

□    Check out the teams and their solutions online when the first contest begins next year and VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

To reach us, email Steve Sewall at sewall2020[at]

YOU are Chicago. WE are Chicago Civic Media Project.


Fiesta del Sol Poll Results

August 1 + 9. Fiesta del Sol was great this year! Weather was perfect and we were warmly welcomed last Saturday by FIESTA DEL SOLvolunteer Catea Merchan afiesta-del-sol-I-1nd Festival Co-ordinator Claudia Marchan, who was so laid back and helpful you’d never guess that she and a staff of only 5 plus 200 volunteers could organize  a four-day event attracting 1,200,000 visitors!  At the Fiesta, the Chicago Civic Media team of Gary, Steve and Tim did some taping for a video we’ll be uploading here and did a little survey of some 30 people for input on Chicago’s most important problem to be addressed in the first-ever online Chicago WRKS contest tentatively set for early next year.  The responses surprised us with their strong concern with only two problems: job creation and gangs and drugs.

□         Parking Meters                     –  1

□         Chicago’s Olympics Bid         –  0

□         Casino Gambling                  –   0

□         Gangs and Drugs                – 12

□         Job Creation                       – 20

□         Other problem                      – 0

Does this small sample reflect the concerns of the Hispanic community as a whole? Important question.  And how will other Chicago communities respond to the same poll? We’re working to get better information for you.  Meanwhile, Thanks Catea and Claudia for welcoming us to a great event.