About Us

New_TIF-1 The TIF Illumination Project is a project of The CivicLab, an enterprise devoted to innovation in civic engagement and distributed democracy. Tom Tresser is the Chief Tool Maker and has been cooking up innovation in community organizing, civic engagement and strategic planning for over 30 years.

The project will produce reports and teaching materials and will be a citizen-powered enterprise. We are recruiting and training a team of TIF Ninjas – citizen journalists who have already spent years doing hyper-local reporting, investigative muckraking, citizen activism and good government research. We can no longer rely on the commercial media to do this reporting. We can not rely on our elected officials to serve as champions for the taxpayers and our over-worked civic organizations show no inclination to do this on-the-ground, community-by-community reporting. If we truly want to know how our tax money is being used and abuse, we are going to have to find out for ourselves. It is our hope that, in time, every ward in the city of Chicago and every community in suburban Cook County will have a TIF Reporter on assignment to cover the uses and abuses of TIF funds in their area.

We are starting our ward-by-ward review of TIFs with the 27th Ward. We want to review and visit all 50 wards.

Click here to learn about the TIF Illumination Project editorial team. CivicLab co-founder Tom Tresser has been researching TIFs and related civic issues since 2008. Here is a flier from a February 2008 seminar at DePaul University Feb_2008_GLPDFA_TIF_flerthat featured Chicago Reader reporter Ben Joravsky.

Review the presentation below to learn about the CivicLab and the space we want to create in Chicago for civic innovation.

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