2020 All-America City Finalist – Highland Park, IL

Civic engagement is an invaluable and crucial component of the decision-making process in the City of Highland Park, and residents have a variety of opportunities to get involved and shape the future of the community. To participate in an official capacity, residents can volunteer to serve on one of the city’s 18 commissions, boards, and advisory groups to provide recommendations to the city council. The city also facilitates communication and initiates community discussions about important issues on a regular basis and as new initiatives or concerns arise. Finally, the city cultivates a vibrant community culture and fosters bonds between neighbors through outreach programs and events that encourage investment in the city’s future.

Caring for Seniors: Becoming a Dementia Friendly Community
In October of 2019, Highland Park city representatives began preparing to become a Dementia-Friendly Community, using the resources and guidance of Dementia Friendly America- an organization that fosters local community transformation using tools, resources and technical assistance designed to equip communities to better support people living with dementia and their care partners.

A Dementia-Friendly Advisory Committee—consisting of healthcare professionals, community members, and advocates for senior health and wellness—was established and plans to raise awareness, provide education, and encourage community engagement in the efforts to be named a dementia friendly community.

To begin the process for recognition, communities pledge to incorporate five factors into their efforts to create a dementia friendly culture and community:

  1. Connecting Across Sectors
  2. Inclusion and Leadership of People Living with Dementia
  3. Adoption and Communication of Dementia Friendly Practices and Goals for Change
  4. Champion Organization and Coordination Capacity
  5. Progress Tracking and Sharing

The Dementia Friendly Community recognition consists of four phases: Convene, Engage, Analyze, and Act. Highland Park is currently progressing through phase one of the recognition process, bringing together key community leaders and members to understand dementia and its implications for the community.

While Highland Park already has programs and practices that consider the needs of seniors and individuals with dementia, in the coming months the Dementia-Friendly Advisory Committee will engage the community at large, develop an action plan, and implement the best practices and strategies that will help the community become even more respectful, safe, and informed.

MoveHP: Active Transportation for a Healthy and Sustainable Community
In 2012, the City of Highland Park adopted Bike-WalkHP 2030, the city’s complete streets and comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plan. In the eight years since the adoption of Bike-WalkHP 2030, the city has made significant strides to improve its non-motorized transportation infrastructure.

The city has completed multiple pedestrian and cycling-focused projects, including adding 18 miles of shared-used lanes, constructing 2.5 miles of sidewalk, and adding or improving connections between shared-use trails.

Seeking to build off this momentum, the city created MoveHP to provide a non-motorized transportation plan that represents the community’s current needs and desires. Community engagement was a priority for the MoveHP plan and included:

  • The MoveHP Steering Committee—comprised of community stakeholders including the Park District of Highland Park, residents, bike-enthusiasts, and every-day walkers—ensured the plan met the needs of the Highland Park community.
  • The Online Survey was focused on the respondents’ reasons and frequency for walking and cycling, major reasons that prevent them from doing so more often, and areas of Highland Park they would want to see pedestrian or cycling infrastructure improvements.
  • A Public Workshop was attended by two dozen residents who provided input through a group mapping exercise, individual worksheets, and talking with staff about their concerns and aspirations for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in Highland Park.

The new MoveHP plan refocuses strategy and capitalizes on the accomplishments and successes of Bike-WalkHP 2030. Guided by stakeholders and residents, MoveHP will contribute to the wellbeing and sustainability of the community for generations to come.

HP150: Celebrating History, Culture, and Community
Highland Park celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2019 with a wide variety of programming, including special events, community projects, and commemorative initiatives. The community-wide celebration was curated by the HP150 Task Force, subcommittees, and city staff.

The HP150 Steering Committee consisted of government officials, community leaders, residents, and businesses owners. Nine subcommittees were formed and based on feedback from these subcommittees and public “idea summits,” a Master Work Plan was drafted.

Projects included:

  • Outdoor Public Art Sculpture
    A sculpture entitled ‘Ingress’ was installed, honoring the first 150 years of Highland Park, and symbolizing a gateway to the future.
  • Sesquicentennial Commemorative Quilt
    Seasoned quilters created the Sesquicentennial Quilt, featuring landmarks including the train station, high school, library, Ravinia Festival, and Stupey Cabin.
  • Historic Highland Park
    The HP150 Architecture Committee offered several historic architecture programs, including bus, bike, and walking tours.
  • 150 Acts of Service
    The HP150 Service Committee set a goal to achieve 150 service projects. Various organizations participated in a wide range of projects including assistance programs, sustainability initiatives, and community partnerships.
  • Centennial and Bicentennial Time Capsule
    The time capsule sealed in 1969 during the city’s centennial anniversary was opened and the city then invited community members to submit suggestions for items to be put into the Bicentennial Time Capsule.
  • Light Up the Night
    The final event of the year featured carriage rides, visits with Santa, live reindeer, and holiday entertainment from local youth performance groups.

After a year of special events, community service projects, and commemorative initiatives, the city steps into the future guided by the passion and heart of the community.

Some Related Posts

View All

Thank You to Our Key Partners