Tom Tresser

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I'm educator and activist in Chicago. I teach classes on public policy, creativity, leadership and civic engagement. I've been organizing to promote grassroots democracy, reform, social justice and fighting privatization for 40 years. I call myself a Public Defender. I've started or led 12 nonprofit enterprises and in July of 2013 launched my 13th, The CivicLab - The CivicLab is America's only volunteer run co-working space dedicated to collaboration, education and innovation for social justice and civic engagement. We offer low priced open-enrollment workshops in the evenings on all things civic -

Full Bio: 

Tom Tresser is an educator, organizer, creativity champion, public defender and fighter of privatization. He has doing civic engagement and grassroots democracy efforts for over 40 years. His first voter registration campaign was in 1972.

Tom has acted in some 40 shows and produced over 100 plays, special events, festivals and community programs. He was director of cultural development at Peoples Housing, in north Rogers Park, Chicago, where he created a community arts program that blended the arts, education and micro-enterprise. Tom was elected to the Abraham Lincoln Elementary School’s Local School Council and served from 2004 to 2006.

He was a co-founder of Protect Our Parks, a neighborhood effort to stop the privatization of public space in Chicago. He was a lead organizer for No Games Chicago, an all-volunteer grassroots effort that opposed Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid. He has taught workshops on “The Politics of Creativity – A Call To Service”for arts service organizations in six states. He teaches a number of classes on art, creativity and civic engagement for Loyola University, School of the Art Institute, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and DePaul University. Tom has published a web-based project, “America Needs You!” – about the need for artists to get involved in politics.

Tom was the Green Party candidate for the position of President of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County in November 2010 election. Tom is extremely proud to announce the launch of a new civic project, The CivicLab, a space where activists, educators, coders and designers meet to collaborate, teach, and build tools for civic engagement. The space is located in Chicago’s West Loop at 114 N. Aberdeen.

He is the lead organizer for the TIF Illumination Project that is investigating and explaining the impacts of Tax Increment Financing districts on a ward-by-ward basis. Tom and the TIF Illumination Project are profiled in the cover story of the July 22, 2013 issue of The Nation entitled “Chicago Rising!”

Tom consulted with the Rockford Housing Authority on a local economic development program that combines the arts and creative enterprise.

Recent Content

Co-Work @ The CivicLab!

Co-Work @ The CivicLab!

If you're in Chicago consider co-working at the CivicLab - America's only volunteer run co-working space dedicated to collaboration, education and innovation for social justice and civic engagement. We opened in the West Loop on July 1, 2013. Here is a summary of our first six months . CivicLab is...
114 N. Aberdeen StreetFirst Floor
Chicago, IL 60607
United States
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