9 Principles

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8: Constellations

Charismatic leaders are ineffective without teams. Both are strengthened by the presence of the other. Their complementary skills and practices can initiate exchange across specialty and advance the quality of the work. Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8 argues that projects benefit from a variety of roles among team members—visionaries, believers, implementers, collaborators, and evaluators—each exchanging unique expertise, forming a network or “constellation.”

A project taps into a particular kind of power when it refuses to be singular, when it takes up space and assembles believers from disparate corners. A vibrant constellation or a rich ecosystem is responsive to the pairings and groupings that suddenly emerge throughout the work process. Some webs of connectivity mature more slowly, gradually revealing formerly unforeseen affinities. Successful ecosystems cultivate organic exchange and foster collaboration throughout the work process.


Hive Learning Network Chicago utilizes a constellations-based approach to expand youth-learning opportunities that leverage youth agency to develop digital and internet literacy skills. Hive Chicago forms an ecosystem of 85 youth-development focused member organizations, from museums and libraries to advocacy groups and tech start-ups. These organizations work together to make space for the Internet as a tool for learning within and beyond the classroom. See the Hive Chicago introduction video to learn more. 

“Connected learning is when someone is pursuing a personal interest with the support of peers, mentors and caring adults, and in ways that open up opportunities for them.” -Connected Learning Alliance 

Hive Chicago member organizations motivate and inspire youth within an environment guided by the design values of connected learning. They provide close mentorship and offer hands-on making opportunities that act as platforms for learners from which to base and explore their ideas.

In addition to their work with youth, Hive Chicago mentors form a network designed to cultivate exchange across specialty. According to their website, they share expertise on how to maximize the “unique assets of their community, integrated digitally and face-to-face, to provide a learning ecology in which youth can discover their agency, pursue their passions, and learn.” The unique backgrounds and skill sets of mentors advance the quality of the work and form connections to resources beyond the constellation.

Over the last five years, the Hive Fund for Connected Learning has supported youth-curiosity-inspired projects such as the Community Telescope Ambassadors, Safe Passages for Teen Skaters and Bikers, ChiTeen Lit Fest, and Minecraft + Design Process + Civic Issues in the Built Environment. (See full list of projects.) The success of these programs is due in part to methods outlined in Ethical Redevelopment Principle #8, Constellations—to foster exchange among team members. Hive Chicago maximizes its connections between learners, mentors, and their respective networks to create a peer-learning community for innovation in education.

Have you participated in a constellation that advanced the work on a project? What unforeseen benefits emerged? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #7: Stack, Leverage + Access

Successful interventions, whether a single project, location, or gesture, have impact and reverberation. Ethical Redevelopment Principle #7: Stack, Leverage + Access, asserts that excitement can lead to investment and that resource streams can come from diverse sources.


An investment in yourself, in your ideas and projects, sends a signal to those watching your work that you value place and people over profits. It is critical to have skin in the game, to have something at stake, even if the investment is sweat equity. 

Ethical projects require belief and motivation, sometimes more than they require funding. Early, small successes demonstrate feasibility and can spur the next success or even the next project. Whether you work on a series of projects or just one, leverage the attention garnered by your idea to amplify it. Let the work attract more believers.

Have a vision. Be demanding.
— Colin Powell, 65th U.S. Secretary of State


Over time, a project from your initial days of engagement and experimentation can mature. Something that you passionately believed in, but had little external backing for, can grow in scale and scope to become a sophisticated version that many stakeholders support and believe in. Demonstrating this type of capacity permits access to greater resources.

Establishing relationships with funders, gaining access to multiple spheres of influence, and incorporating expertise are crucial to the enduring success of your project. You may not have access to sufficient funding from one distinct source. However, you can stack and bundle resource streams from diverse sources to meet the price tags of your projects. 


The Chicago Arts + Industry Commons (CAIC) is a collaboration between the City of Chicago, artist Theaster Gates’s Rebuild Foundation, and the University of Chicago’s Place Lab. The concept excited people with a new model for artist-led, neighborhood-based development for mindful city-building. It proposed using arts and culture as tools to revitalize. It attracted believers. 

The project leveraged this interest to garner financial support. CAIC acquired $10.25 million from four major foundations: JPB Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation, as well as individual donors and philanthropic organizations. 

CAIC’s self-sustaining, cultural reinvestment model appealed to funders.  The project description explains, “CAIC employs an evolving cultural reinvestment model that uses the revitalization of sleepy assets as part of an engine that spurs new development and new capital, a portion of which is used to support the civic commons.” Funders are more likely to support a project when their contributions will catalyze ongoing economic change.
The project stacked and bundled resource streams from diverse sources to meet its initial price tag. This provided access to a level of funding that would be otherwise unavailable, resulting in a more impactful project. Finally, the inclusion of multiple funders offered more people access points to involve themselves with the project. A larger community could take ownership over the work and have a stake in its ongoing success.

Have you worked on a project that cultivated investment from excitement? Did you stack, leverage, or access resources? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #6: Place Over Time

“Rome was not built in a day." Great things take time to create. Ethical Redevelopment Principle #6, Place Over Time, asserts that place is a function of time—a sense of place grows and matures the more time people spend engaging in and within a space. 


Place is not just a geographical location. As geographer Yi-Fu Tuan illuminates in Space and Place, a space only achieves definition when it is given meaning—positive or negative—by people. Meaning emerges from the feeling or perception held by people about the place, and not from aspects inherent to the place itself. By living/working/doing things in a place, participants form attachments and relationships, and a sense of belonging is created—an identity coalesces.

Making a place cannot happen quickly. The element of time is crucial. Time permits intentions to be realized, and visions to become realities. With the participation of myriad neighbors, partners, stakeholders, and curious participants, a place becomes imbued with culture, soul, life, identity. This is an organic process. The identity of a place is not fixed; as needs of the people change, the place must adapt. The evolution of place can take years, and is entirely dependent on the affinities of people. Approach with patience the notion of place, or there may never be a there there.

Creating great places isn’t a linear activity. Sustaining them is even trickier.
— Daniel Gilmartin, Executive Director and CEO Michigan Municipal League in The Economics of Place

Place Over Time in Action

Hope Works is a Community Development Corporation (CDC) that “seeks to empower our neighbors to become active participants in and catalysts of a flourishing Woodlawn and South Side of Chicago community.” The CDC came out of a long, faith-based process, initiated by the opening of a satellite location in 2003 by the Portage Park-based Bethel Christian Church. The church, located at and in partnership with the University of Chicago, and lead by a white pastor from Tennessee, initially attracted mostly University students. Over time, Bethel attracted a more diverse congregation and in 2010 became the Living Hope Church. With a newly acquired building in Woodlawn sorely in need of renovation, Living Hope welcomed volunteers, offering food and shelter to anyone who lent a helping hand. After four years of hard work and direct community involvement, the Living Hope Church became a part of the fabric of its neighborhood.

In 2010, Hope Works CDC was established to facilitate and drive the growth of economic opportunities for Woodlawn families. The organization provides employment assistance, programs aimed at economic and cultural engagement, and works on issues of housing development. Hope Works recognizes that many systemic and personal barriers are faced by those who are under- or unemployed, and address these barriers through work on housing, transportation, and health care. From the website: “Ultimately, people are able to not only get jobs but keep them.” Over time, the church found its place and became a place itself, a resource for participants to increase their contribution to the larger Woodlawn community and find structure and self-sufficiency in their lives and those of their family members.


Have you been a part of a place, organization, or vision that you’ve seen grow, change, and become transformed by participation? Tell us about it in the comments section.

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #5: Design

Design impacts a city as much as policy and governance do. Design dictates everything from the way your subway fare card looks and works to the layout of a city, which is designed by urban planners, often to the advantage of some and the disadvantage of others. Good design and beauty are basic services that can be available to all neighborhoods, even the most disinvested and neglected. By valuing what others discard, creative people—including invested residents—can resurrect fallow spaces with poetic moments that make a place desireable. Design and aesthetics attract attention because they convey the care and pride present in a neighborhood, as well as the identity and character of the people who live there. Deciding the layout of a community garden plot, where and what a mural artist paints, and what your frontyard or apartment window looks like contribute to the design and aesthetics of a neighborhood.

Place Lab’s Isis Ferguson recently wrote in a FastCo article that more people need to be part of the design of cities and neighborhoods:

Asking the typically untapped people — artists, misfits, outsiders, elders, immigrants, people of color, and women — what the most joyous, liberatory, and authentic spaces are for them is a good start at imagining more for public life and for creating places of greater possibility for all in the public realm.
— Isis Ferguson, Associate Director of City and Community Strategy at Place Lab

With inclusive practices and thinking, design can offer multiple uses for public space, adapt to needs, and promote social equity in urban spaces.


American alleys are distinct from small thoroughfares in other parts of the world. While Europeans use them as pedestrian passageways and Japanese cities build small retail shops, the uses of alleys in the US are for behind-the-scenes activities like garbage collection, car storage, and loading docks. Alleys can take up a large amount of a city’s real estate—Chicago’s 13,000 alleys amass 3500 acres, among the largest in the country. The Atlantic's City Lab recently reported on re-imaginings and re-designs of alleyways in cities around the US—surprising and creative ways that benefit the city’s environmental ecosystem, the social and cultural lives of residents, and entrepreneurs and small businesses.

The Chicago Green Alley program covered the city’s alleys with permeable surfaces “that redirect storm water into the ground and away from Chicago’s ‘overtaxed’ sewer system.” In Seattle, the International Sustainability Institute (ISI) took advantage of the city’s restructured trash collection, which removed dumpsters from alleys and now rely on trash bags. ISI has since programmed alleys with “projecting World Cup games from the back of a U-Haul truck, to cat adoptions, to revolving art installations.” In Los Angeles, the East Cahuenga Alley went from being known as “Heroin Alley” to a pedestrian walkway with outdoor dining and a Sunday artists’ market, and idea that has spread to other cities.

The success of these projects shows how it’s possible to take a space that was once a liability, and turn it into a resource.
— Daniel Freedman, Los Angeles Sustainability Collaborative, in FastCo


What design ideas do you have for your community? Share them in the comments below, and continue the conversation in the Ethical Redevelopment public forum.

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #3 - Pedagogical Moments

Knowledge transfer and skill sharing happen in casual and formal manners.

In working with others towards a shared mission in your neighborhood, consider how to structure relationships so that the skills of one resident are utilized and others can learn from working with them. How do you create a community workshop? Who will benefit? Who will lend their skills? What types of skills will be shared? 

Learning is not a product of school but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.
— Albert Einstein

Ethical Redevelopment looks for pedagogical moments that occur when setting up a food stand, offering art instruction in unusual places, sorting through a collection of books so that a community can access it, and making an art center more functional. When budgets tighten, arts and cultural activities have long been cut out of public institutions, programs, and infrastructure. In disinvested communities, children and adults often lack opportunities for creative exploration. Local museums and centers close, performance spaces and bookstores go out of business, and public gathering spaces fall into disrepair. The contributions of artists and cultural makers are set aside as a neighborhood’s economic stability is threatened. As such, the artistic path is devalued and left unexplored.

I think for so long, especially for African Americans, those that work in the arts or work as artists probably didn’t get a lot of encouragement 20 years ago from family about pursuing that path. So the more we can educate people that you can make a living, you can make a worthwhile contribution, that this is a road for you to travel. Yeah, it helps.
— Michelle Boone, Commissioner, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events


With a philosophy very much aligned with work being done by Theaster Gates on Chicago’s South Side, The Laundromat Project in New York City sees art as a hands-on, local agent of change in neighborhoods. Using everyday spaces like laundromats, artists set up community-based projects that directly engage with the residents in the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Harlem, and Hunts Point. From their website: “the skills and strategies for igniting creativity are made broadly available to everyday people and purposefully applied as tools for visioning a new and better world.” They measure success by the increase of residents’ involvement in the civic and cultural life of the neighborhood owing to a sense of belonging and investment. Recent projects include exploratory stop-animation workshops with project screenings during the Harlem Barbeque Summit, and a ice cream cart in the Latino Bronx community equipped with a pollution monitor that offers free ice cream in exchange for residents’ stories about the impact of climate change locally or their home country. These moments of exchange, sharing, and creation are vital actions in expanding the imagination of the possible and utilizing existing talent to skillshare for mutual benefit.



Reflect on this past week: what’s an everyday Pedagogical Moment you’ve been a part of? Describe an opportunity you’ve had to share your knowledge base with a friend, family member, or neighbor. Tell us about it in the comments below.

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #2 - Engaged Participation

Deindustrialization, redlining, urban renewal policies, mass incarceration, sudden population shifts: it is no simple task to redress the effects that communities have suffered from decades of disinvestment. The ecology resulting from a decline in resources, such as abandoned properties, under-education, neighborhood violence, unemployment, is not a result of any single privation, and neither can the reversal of such disinvestment be accomplished by a single person or entity.

Real, sustainable community change requires the initiative and engagement of community members.
— Helene D. Gayle, CEO, McKinsey Social Initiative

Equitable transformation of a community is dependent on the agency of the members that live and work in that community. Affordable housing, living wage employment, quality education, recreation and retail, health and social services, transportation and infrastructure—all are made more powerful when a community is not merely a recipient, but an active participant in its development. Civic engagement brings both internal stakeholders and external stakeholders to a shared platform.

Ethical Redevelopment proposes developing an engagement framework that calls into question who does the work and with and for whom. As many organizations and institutions consider “engagement strategies” that may be more about informing a public—a one-way relationship—the willing investment of participants’ time, talents, and resources in a given place redefines the architectural, cultural, social, and economic landscape. By engaging with a multiplicity of people who share in the transparent negotiation and implementation of a vision, place-based work integrates a sense of social responsibility, neighborliness, and authenticity.

Engaged Participation is the development of authentic relationships with people who already believe in the place: locals embedded by proximity, those connected by a desire to contribute or commitment to a mission. The value of the relationship is in the intimacy, not in the duration. Engage for as long as it makes sense to engage. This intimacy sparks commitment to a vision, and the neighbors, staff, and visitors become participatory producers—more than “consumers”—by tapping into different access points to find themselves in the work. The work is for many, with many, and, ultimately, by many.


Providing multiple access points is key to authentic community participation, and such points are often developed as a the result of key partnerships between stakeholders. Boston Creates, a year-long cultural planning process, partnered with artist collective Department of Play to explore the ways in which Bostonians engaged with arts and culture. This partnership connected urban planning and the lived experiences of Boston's communities to inform the cultural plan for the city by "[infusing] creativity, imagination, artistry and fun into a citywide planning process."

Take a moment to think about your community and the opportunities that exist within it. How can you, operating as a resident and a citizen, champion Engaged Participation?

Ethical Redevelopment Principle #1 - Repurpose + Re-propose

In an era of disposability, it is common for materials that have outlived their original purpose to be deemed useless or dated and then discarded. It's considered expedient to tear down a dilapidated building rather than renovate. Often, expedient is synonymous with cheaper. What gets lost or missed with policies that only prioritize new or innovative? 

Preservation is a form of redevelopment and can be transformational for a community. The Principle of Repurpose + Re-propose asserts that not only can old resources be allocated to new endeavors, but that objects and projects do not have to be monetized to be useful. Artists are renowned for transforming objects into art, for transposing the common into the extraordinary. This is artistry, and artistry is alchemy—it allows one thing to become another.

Alchemy is a kind of philosophy: a kind of
thinking t
hat leads to a way of understanding. 
— Marcel Duchamp

With limited financial resources many artists, activities, stewards, and neighbors have acted as local alchemists. They've worked with what and who was available, and turned deficiencies into abundances.

Chakaia Booker is a sculptor whose work transforms discarded construction materials into art. Booker's extensive body of work encompasses performance art, photography, clothing, and textiles. Her work in transforming old tires into complex assemblages fuses the artist's explorations of ecology, racial and economic difference, globalization, and gender. Booker has stated that tires resonate with her "for their versatility and rich range of historical and cultural associations."

Cities like Detroit are grappling with myriad issues resulting from the collapse of once integral industries. Populations that developed skills to work in now contracting or obsolete industries are struggling to adapt to new economic realities—as are companies in need of an increased labor force. Companies like Shinola, a high-end wristwatch manufacturer in Detroit, are leveraging the manufacturing experience of the local population into employable skills. Shinola transforms these basic skills by flying in expert watchmakers from Thailand and Switzerland to train employees. For Shinola, the time and expense is ultimately worth it to ensure the company can prosper in its own city.

Take a moment to think about your community and the opportunities that exist within it. How can you, operating as an alchemist, Repurpose + Re-propose? Share your ideas in the comments below, and be prepared to share them at the Public Convening on Ethical Redevelopment on June 22.

RSVP for the Public Convening, a free and open public event.