Saturday, January 23, 2016

Normal: Applying Human Ecology Locally

Thriving Cities uses the human ecology framework to view cities as a “web” of interconnections. They divided this web into six dimensions called endowments. It is then possible to examine a city, or in this case, the town of Normal, in terms of each endowment:

Normal has great educational institutions, including the public school district, private schools, and support for lifelong learning. There are also opportunities for direct involvement in local education by serving on school boards.

Normal offers many volunteer opportunities and a chance to serve on the Human Relations Commission.

There is fantastic support for local artists at the University Galleries at Uptown Station, and the Joe McCauley Gallery. The Sugar Creek Arts Festival is an annual event bringing artists and visitors from across the country and the Sweet Corn Blues Festival also gives everyone the chance to enjoy the arts along with tasty sweet corn. The Harmon Arts Grants support local efforts in the arts and Make Music Normal is an annual festival bringing people together to enjoy music. Normal has also invested a great deal of resources in careful planning for the attractiveness of Uptown Normal, and public parks and green spaces are kept in very good condition by the Parks and Recreation staff.

Normal has a very stable economy, with good support for local/small businesses. The town is always welcoming of new businesses.

The Normal Town Council provides easy access to all government information on the town’s web site (agendas, minutes, and live coverage or recordings of meetings) and residents can view the complete budget on the town’s web site. The American Democracy Project at Illinois State University motivates students to be active, involved citizens. There are also strong neighborhood associations throughout Normal.

There has been a significant effort in Normal to build with environmental stewardship in mind. Also, wind energy is being utilized and there is tremendous involvement in recycling locally. The Ecology Action Center is the local resource for information about environmental efforts.

Normal also encourages physical health through maintenance of its portion  the Constitution Trail as well as through other Parks and Recreation programs and facilities. And to keep the local college population healthy, Normal participates in Bloomington/Normal Community Campus Committee’s efforts to encourage responsible alcohol consumption.

These are just a few examples of how Normal addresses each of these dimensions.

Monday, May 25, 2015