Attendees joined the City for a full day of programming from 9:30am-4:30pm.

  • The Epiphany Series featured panel discussions that spotlight civic engagement projects in action, from transportation and journalism to historic preservation and the public realm.
  • "How-To" Workshops offered a forum to discuss how Chicagoans can get involved hosted by City officials and civic leaders. Learn how to produce a neighborhood event, start a community network, improve the Chicago river, and more!

At the end of the day, gathered in Epiphany Hall for our keynote panel.

During lunch, attendees joined artist William Estrada and the Mobile Street Art Cart Project to try their hands at screenprinting.

Explore the detailed schedule below.

Morning Kickoff

Welcome and Opening Performance

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Epiphany Hall at 10 AM

Ald. Bill Conway (34) welcomed attendees to the first City Civics Day followed by a performance from local group Son Monarcas.

Sara Mathers, First Deputy of Community Engagement, Office of the Mayor, served as emcee for all sessions in Epiphany Hall.

11:00 AM Sessions

Converting Old Rails to Community Trails

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Epiphany Hall at 11 AM

Representatives from Grow Greater Englewood, the Major Taylor Trail Keepers, and the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail discussed how they organized to transform former railroad lines for public benefits.  


  • Dr. Brenda Dixon, Major Taylor Trail Keepers
  • Ben Helphand, Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail
  • L. Anton Seals Jr., Grow Greater Englewood

Moderated by Caroline O’Boyle, Trust for Public Land.

How to Organize a Community Garden

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Second Floor at 11 AM

Representatives from NeighborSpace presented how they cultivated community through the design of a pergola in the South Merrill Community Garden.

  • Yaritza Guillen, NeighborSpace
  • Natalie Perkins, NeighborSpace


How to Think Like a City Planner

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Lower Level at 11 AM

The Chicago Department of Planning and Development (DPD) took attendees through exercises that demonstrate how City staff interact with various planning-related scenarios.

  • Staff from the Department of Planning and Development
12:15 PM Sessions

Why Local Media Matters

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Epiphany Hall at 12:15 PM

Journalists from Block Club Chicago, City Bureau, and City Cast explored the key role media plays in informed civic engagement.


  • Bettina Chang, City Bureau
  • Jacoby Cochran, City Cast Podcast
  • Jen Sabella, Block Club Chicago

Moderated by Deborah Douglas, Midwest Solutions Journalism Hub, Northwestern University

How to Produce a Neighborhood Event

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Second Floor at 12:15 PM

A skilled community event producer shared how she has worked with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE) to produce both neighborhood-level and large-scale experiences.

  • Yescenia Mota, Director of Permitting, DCASE
  • Juan Teague, Juan and Only Events

How to Create Active, Safe, Sustainable Streets

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Lower Level at 12:15 PM

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and representatives from Northwest Center discussed how people can get involved in Chicago's Streets for Cycling strategy, the Divvy expansion, and various engagement opportunities that go beyond the pavement.

  • Romina Castillo, Director of Outreach and Engagement, CDOT
  • Jeremy Cuebas, Youth Organizer, Northwest Center
  • David Velez, Transit Ambassador, Community Leader and Volunteer, Northwest Center
1:30 PM Sessions

Connecting with Chicago’s Cultural Histories

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Epiphany Hall at 1:30 PM

Panelists from The Legacy Project, Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago History Museum spotlit their approaches to preserving the stories of diverse communities. 


  • Rebekah Coffman, Chicago History Museum
  • Raquel Flores-Clemons, Chicago Public Library
  • Victor Salvo, The Legacy Project

Moderated by Bonnie McDonald, Landmarks Illinois

How to Start a Community Network

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Second Floor at 1:30 PM

In collaboration with Chicago's Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC), two exemplary organizers shared how they've helped build resident networks in their  neighborhoods.

  • Val Free, Neighborhood Network Alliance
  • Greg Martinez, Community Safety Coordination Center
  • Dr. Angelique Orr, Westside Rising

How to Improve Chicago's Rivers

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Lower Level at 1:30 PM

Friends of the Chicago River staff shared how the Chicago-Calumet River system is central to the City’s past, present and future, and how Chicago residents can improve and protect the city’s iconic waterways for future generations.

  • Annette Anderson, Volunteer, Events and Canoe Program Manger, Friends of the Chicago River
  • Becky Lyons, Director of Equity and Engagement, Friends of the Chicago River
Afternoon Keynote & Performance

Community Connections and Public Place

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Epiphany Hall at 2:40 PM

In City Civics Day’s keynote panel, a visual artist, a skate park meetup founder, an urban planner and an architectural designer shared how they activate the public realm to bring people together. 


  • Justine Ingram, Humboldt Park Skate Meetup
  • Aylen Pacheco, Human Scale
  • Hac Tran, HAIBAYÔ/Argyle Street
  • Amanda Williams, AW Art

Moderated by Sasha-Ann Simons, WBEZ's "Reset"

ASL interpretation, English open captioning and Spanish open captioning will be provided.

Closing Performance

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Attendees enjoyed a performance by local group Kuumba Lynx.