Talk on Uptown Housing & History at the Latin School

Earlier this week, for the second year, I gave a presentation to some very attentive and curious Latin School third graders about the past and present of Uptown. The talk focused on Uptown’s waves of immigration and how its diverse housing stock helped foster its diverse demographics – all without shying away from how gentrification is changing its character. Adorably, the students soaked it all up and had way more questions than I had time to answer.

To me, it’s critical to expose young people to these subjects as early as possible – especially those living in urban areas like Chicago. Most adults can go their entire lives never questioning or being curious about the built environment, just taking it for granted. This becomes a problem anytime change is proposed – be it bike lanes, housing, or green space. I am certain that, if only young people are taught about urban planning topics early, planning professionals can avoid many of the headaches that plague them.

It was also gratifying to see diversity in many students’ response sheets. Being explicit about the benefits of diversity and not shying away from discussions of race helps raise more tolerant, race-aware adults less likely to tolerate ignorance or pass it onto their children!

Overall, it was a productive and uplifting day and a needed reminder not to underestimate our children.