My name is Blake Eggleston. I’m from Illinois. I go to Eastern Illinois University where I am an MA candidate in Political Science.
What sustainability, energy, and community issues are important to you?
Anything that revolves around sustainability, energy, and a strong community is important to me in some way, shape, or form. Although, one of the biggest interests that I have in this regard is the way that cities are designed and how the housing, streets, and community spaces can change the culture of a city. I really enjoy learning the different ways to transform streets, where cars have taken over, into beautiful streets with outdoor seating, smaller roads, and actual people walking them. I also am interested in Robert Putnam’s ideas on social capital, and how that can affect many community issues. Also, housing is a great interest to me. Community housing, apartment buildings with community spaces, and suburbs and their respective differences all interest me.
What exciting projects/research are you working on now?
I am currently working with Mattoon in Motion to help plan an innovation center/ business incubator for entrepreneurs and young professionals. With Mattoon in Motion I am also starting to work on the planning and creation of a Python curriculum for introducing middle school and high school students to programming. In my studies I have researched gentrification in Chicago. Looking at the median incomes, police stations, abandonment, education levels, public policies and more I have built a little leaflet to see the census tracts in Chicago and how they compare to one another. It is incredibly interesting how one census tract can have a median household income of $19,000 and a couple blocks east have a census tract with a median household income of $100,000. Gentrification is a major issue that takes an entire, local community to conquer and the research being done on the topic is interesting. I am also working on a paper for measuring the legacy effects of immigration in counties in the 1800s-1900s and how that relates to ICE sentiment and policies those counties adopt today.
What are your plans for the next five years?
To be honest I am not 100% sure. For a job I would like to pursue city management. Although, I also would like to help work on city planning in developing countries, so that pulls me another way. In part, I am hoping that this experience can help me gain the wisdom from my peer’s experiences to help guide me into a decision.
What made you want to apply to SISE?
My girlfriend was wanting to do the program this summer but due to scheduling conflicts she was unable to. She knew that I am really interested in the same topics of sustainability and told me about the opportunity. After learning about what this program does, its mission, and how it could help me increase my experience in this topic area I knew I had to apply!
What are you most looking forward to doing in Chicago?
In Chicago I am really interested in learning more about the differences between “Chicago” and the communities that make up the metropolitan area (their culture, architecture, and history). Also, I have rarely visited large cities, and only once visited Chicago for a Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference, so seeing areas that have populations greater than 20,000 will be a great learning experience!
Do you like Cats? If not, are you willing to learn to like cats?
It depends on the cat for me. In general, I am slightly allergic, and think they are evil, but I have also been around some of my friend’s cats that were nice. Open to the experience.