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September 26, 2017

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Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017
Community forum entry by: Sunny Fischer

Tonight, the Members of the Evanston Housing, Homeless and Human Relations Commission came to the right decision in recommending the Housing Opportunities for Women application for funding. HOW's project will bring 16 units of housing to their clients along with necessary services to help low-income women and children succeed.
Some residents of the neighborhood around Dempster and Pitner, where the recommended housing will be built, voiced concerns, and in keeping with the values of Evanston objected not to affordable housing in and of itself, but to the placement in their community.
After listening to Britt Shawver, HOW's executive director, and Mike Newman, the Shed Studio architect in charge of the design, I believe those neighbors will someday be proud of having the development in their community, as will all of Evanston.
That this much needed housing program is brilliant in its conception is clear. But Mr. Newman went on to describe the proposed building itself, one that reflects the care and consideration of future residents and their neighbors. Its elegant design is much smaller than the zoning allowed for, uses green, sustainable materials, will be built from attractive, sturdy brick, will probably reduce the flooding that plagues the street, provides parking for every unit on site, and has place for gardens and appealing landscaping. The building has large, pleasingly shaped windows on its facade giving it an unusual openness it is anything but an institutional square box. As someone who has served on architectural juries, I am impressed with its contours and its setbacks from the street. It more than rivals some of the newer architecture in downtown Evanston.
HOW's excellent reputation for being good neighbors in the many communities where its clients live, and Ms. Shawver's willingness to talk with and engage all who wish to, promises to create even more benefits to the neighborhood. There's talk of planting a community garden in designated space on the property, including residents in community watch programs, and other programs that the new building will allow.The architecture will only enhance the street, and along with the fact that affordable housing raises-- not lowers--property values these should put to rest any concerns that people's homes will be worth less.
John Ruskin wrote: "We require from buildings two kinds of goodness. First, doing their practical duty well then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it." The HOW homes will be practical, graceful, pleasing, and reflect the goodness in providing affordable housing.



































John Ruskin wrote: "We require from buildings two kinds of goodness. First, doing their practical duty well then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it."



Posted: Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Community forum entry by: Clif Brown

Bad news in Illinois, and yet to be expected in 2017 America.
Daniel Biss, who I have been promoting for the Illinois governorship, had selected Carlos Roza as his running mate. Today I have received an email from Biss saying that because he, Biss, is against the BDS movement that seeks to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel because of the terrible occupation and Roza is for it, the two have parted ways. What, I ask, does taking a position on a foreign country have to do with the welfare of the people of Illinois? What of freedom of speech which we claim allows everyone to speak their mind? Biss pledges his support above all for Israel.
Releasing our country from the stranglehold that Israel and its supporters have on our foreign policy should be a top priority. Our hypocrisy over Israel destroys our credibility worldwide.
What am I to do? All of the candidates for Illinois governor are now united in support for Israel and the Illinois legislature has, along with over 20 other states, passed legislation that bans our state from doing business with any company that refuses to do business with Israel. Congress routinely does the bidding of Israel supporters. When Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, a war criminal, spoke in Congress he received 29 standing ovations. Presidents don't get that kind of reception.
I want my government, at all levels, back! As a citizen in what is supposed to be a democracy, I cannot actively work to elect yet another person who places support for a foreign country ahead of local, state and national interests, to the point of rejecting a good person on the ticket for the sake of his position on Israel. It is quite evident from Biss' statement, that even with progressives, allegiance to a tiny state on the other side of the world must be professed before one can be elected, nay even get on the ballot, to serve Americans
I am emailing Biss to tell him that my support has ended and I am emailing Roza with my appreciation for his stand even though it has brought the break with Biss. Whoever will be the next governor of Illinois, he will not be there due to my vote. This news of the day is depressing yet frighteningly routine. When will YOU, fellow American, say that enough is enough?



Posted: Saturday, September 2, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jimmie McRaith

Curtail the Building Craze
Some years ago, the government of Evanston decided to butcher the City’s building codes so that unsightly high-rise housing units could be erected across town.
By cramming more and more people into the City, the government could feed its insatiable appetite for more tax money.
But more people in a limited area means more problems: more cars, more pollution, more congestion, more garbage, more crime.
More people also increase the need for expanded services: greater police and fire protection, greater sanitation and water requirements, and higher expenses for educating children.
City government refuses to curtail this building craze and has now clawed more territory into the “downtown area” so expansion upward can continue, with another multi-story building at 831 Emerson St. And now another monstrosity is proposed for Sherman Avenue.
We need to put an end to this unholy alliance between developers and Evanston government before they completely destroy the character of our town.
Our government’s sole concern must be the quality of life for the people who live here – not catering to and attracting people who don’t.



Posted: Saturday, September 2, 2017
Community forum entry by: Sigrid Pilgrim

I have been following the reports about the achievement gaps of District 65 and 202 students and am finally compelled to comment.
My daughter has a Masters in early childhood education and reported that “there are kindergartners that can spell and sound out words and others that do not even recognize the letter O. I have kids in my class who don’t even own a book”.
Could it possibly be that the home environment these children experience prior to being in the “educational school environment” has something to do with the achievement gap?
Please refer to the New York Times article, published 6-22-2016 reporting on the book by Paul Tough “Helping Children Succeed: What Works, and Why” – below a brief excerpt from an interview with the author.
Paul Tough: “It’s true. With parenting, we’re always looking for the quick and easy answer. A lot of this research suggests that what kids, especially in early childhood, need most is a lot of what psychologists are calling “serve and return” interactions – those back-and-forth, face-to-face exchanges between babies and parents, that to parents can seem kind of pointless and not particularly productive. But to the babies, these are incredible learning moments where they are gathering all kinds of information about what the world is going to be like, what their relationship with their parents is, who they are in the world, in entirely pre-verbal ways. Neuroscientists are now understanding that those moments are so important in laying the groundwork for the development of skills that matter so much in school and beyond.”
Please cease to put the so much of the reasons for the achievement gap on the great teachers we have in District 65 and 202 that enabled my two children to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics/Professor at I.U., and Master’s in Early Childhood Education – and focus on to “Helping Kids Thrive, Coach their Parents”.



Posted: Monday, August 28, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jean-Marie Freise

Being the parent of a twelve year old is complex. I know, I’ve done it twice now and will be doing it again. It’s an interesting time of pre-adolescence whereby kids and their parents are starting to experiment with independence from one another. It can be tricky. A trip to the beach with friends and no adult supervision? How about a movie if you drop them off and pick them up? Can they ride their bikes downtown Evanston with their friends and hang out? These are nagging questions that inevitably moms, dads and caregivers alike have to concede to at some point. When the time comes, we send our kids out into the world with a hope and a prayer that they’ll use the good judgement we are so sure they possess (wink, wink) and that they will come home safe and sound without incident.

In a perfect world that is. But if you’ve raised your own kids or know anything about kids at that age you know they are risk takers. We’ve all said it before, “I can’t believe I ever did that!” Kids haven’t had enough life experience to understand that they are not invincible. Does that mean we should lock them up until they are 25? No. That is impractical. What we should be able to expect though, is that our friends, our neighbors, our community members will step up to the plate in our absence. A simple “Hey kid, that’s not safe, cut it out” could be all that’s needed. In really difficult situations, perhaps a call to a parent or even a ride down to the police station so mom or dad can come retrieve said child.

An arrest though? Does riding as a passenger on a bike justify an arrest? What if the passenger were riding on the handle bars or on the back pegs? Certainly, that’s not all together safe. What if the driver of the bike, on top of having two passengers riding on both the handle bars and the back pegs of his bike, darts out into traffic because he clearly thinks he can beat the cars (not because he is suicidal or wishes to cause harm to anyone) but rather because he thinks he is invincible? Now imagine these people are twelve. Change anything for you? Or are you so outraged at the audacity of a 12 year old who committed no crime but exhibited bad judgement that your immediate reaction is to round them up and arrest these scoundrels?

This happened, right here in Evanston. The police in our town, deemed these kids (the bike passengers only, not the child controlling the bike) to have committed such an egregious offense that it was deemed worthy of arrest. Worthy of marking them for life. Rounded up and placed in the back of a police wagon, taken to the station and given “station adjustments”. Our police officers are paid to help keep everyone safe. This does not qualify as helping to keep any of us safer. In fact, they have caused irreparable harm to these children and likely emotionally scarred them. As a parent, I am outraged, discouraged and bewildered at the decision making that the officers involved displayed. I expect poor judgement from our kids, they are kids but I expect that the adults in this city (and especially our paid public servants) will demonstrate a willingness to step in and be the voice those kids needed in that moment. The voice of reason, the voice of a caring grownup.



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