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March 25, 2018

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Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Rebecca Fanning

‘Until It Happens Again’ - March 14: Today I sat in a locked room, far from the window, held hostage by the threat of a gun. Today my entire body shook and thoughts jumbled as I fumbled for my phone, a cold sweat forming on my body. Today I looked both ways when I left a building, but not for fear of traffic, for fear of bullets. I jumped when a dish clattered to the ground in a coffee shop, on edge from the events of the afternoon.
Wednesday: I left my house at 1:30 p.m. running early for a counseling appointment and excited to walk slowly, to breathe in the warm air, to smile at the hint of spring. I placed my cell phone on airplane mode, then turned it off to preserve battery. I sat on a bench in the middle of campus, face tilted toward the sun and eyes closed. It was quiet all around me, I heard birds and the occasional biker pedal past. One hour later, as I sat in my counseling appointment, sharing school stressors and brainstorming career prospects, the phone started ringing off the hook.
“Should you get that?” I asked, concerned for my counselor’s family. Then his cell phone rang. “I really don’t mind if you check it. It could be important.”
He read the text aloud:
NU EMERGENCY: Person with gun on Evanston campus. If on campus, seek shelter in safe place and stay until further notice. Others keep away.
Where on campus? That was my first thought, my logical brain clawing to assess the immediate threat to me. Is this happening to me or happening somewhere else?
And until now, it has all happened somewhere else. I was 10 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher at what we now refer to as the Columbine massacre.
We all remember the big shootings, we can mark time with them. That vacation you took when you heard about the Pulse nightclub, the traffic you sat in when Newtown’s tragedy came across the radio. I learned about the Las Vegas shooting the moment I woke up one Monday morning, it was the first item I saw when I snoozed my alarm. A jarring start to my day.
And the articles all read the same. A list of those we lost the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons. It’s pictures of smiling faces hugging children or holding dogs, and stories of how they were loved. We study maps of the venues and parks and schools and ask ourselves how he did it. How a place full of life and energy became a prison, a slaughterhouse, a war zone. We want to hear the logistics, the details, the premeditation. We talk about mental health, and the shooter’s family history. Could anyone have known?
And then we talk about guns. We ask where he got the gun that did it. Where he bought the bullets. Whether he had a license.
After that cycle we hear from the survivors. People post hashtags and light candles. Politicians make speeches and people march. Or sit. Or protest.
When we go to big events, we look around just a little bit more. Loud noises startle us and eyes keep subconsciously scanning aware of the suspicious figure, the reaction of others in the crowd, the exits.
Then life goes on as normal. And we worry about our futures, our relationships, money, time, purpose. We lull ourselves into a superficial sense of what anxiety means, what danger feels like.
Until it happens again. Or it happens to someone we know. Or it happens to us. And then what?

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Kathryn Crifield

Bad Development Hurts Us All. The Trammell Crow 17-story, 169-unit development for 1727 Oak Ave. should not be supported by the community, recommended by the Planning Commission, or approved by the City Council. The developer is seeking numerous zoning variances, including (but not limited to) height, number of units, setback, and loading areas. This project is to be built on a lot approximately 0.8 acres in size. The negative ramifications of this development to the existing residents and community at large would be significant and lasting.
Nearly 20% of the units in the Sienna Court Condominiums across the street at 1720 and 1740 Oak Ave. are owned by adults with developmental and/or significant physical disabilities. In 2005, with the support and encouragement of the city, Roszak ADC (which since declared bankruptcy), was working in conjunction with the Center for Independent Futures (CIF) to market the development to these families. CIF is an organization created to help adults with developmental disabilities live independently with the support of an on-site community builder provided by the organization. The development was promoted as having easy access to downtown Evanston while being on a quieter, less congested side street.
Most of these residents require (sometimes multiple) daily visits from aides, parents, nurses, tutors, and other support staff. Street parking along Oak is already severely limited, and a different senior-living rental building with 163 units at 1815 Ridge Ave. (1/2 block north) is scheduled to begin construction shortly. The Oak Avenue plan includes 139 resident spaces for the anticipated building population of more than 200. Because both developments cater to adults over 55, they will provide many services (assisted living, memory care, salon, cafe, etc.) requiring non-resident employees who will also need to find parking. The commercial property in the Sienna building at 1744 Oak Ave. has recently been sold to a law firm, due to move in within the next few months. The staff required to support a law office will have to find street parking. Metered spaces along Oak Ave are typically filled by 9:00 a.m.
Residents in the immediate vicinity of the project, particularly those with disabilities, are concerned about pedestrian safety with the influx of residential, public, and commercial vehicle traffic from potentially two 160+ -unit high rise buildings within a half-block of each other.
One of the proposed “public benefits” in the developer’s application included having the gravel dog park open to the public. The issue of monitoring and enforcement was not addressed by city staff or the developer.
Developers build buildings. It is not uncommon for developers to sell their property for a significant profit soon after completion. The luxury rental building at 1717 Ridge Ave (½ block from current proposal) was completed in April of 2013. The developer, Focus Development, Inc., sold it at a significant profit five months later to Invesco, Ltd. The building was 75% leased at the time. E2 builder Fifield Companies sold its K2 property in Chicago in 2014 after completion in 2013. It is irresponsible and frankly naive to think a real estate developer is committed to a lasting investment and continuing involvement in the community.
City government is responsible for supporting development that benefits the community. Do we really need another luxury rental? Another project so out of scale with its surroundings and that will have a negative and lasting impact on the existing neighbors is unconscionable. Bad development hurts us all.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Alyce Barry

In Defense of Nichols Policy
A recent National Review article attempted to use the research-based equity work taken on by Nichols Middle School Principal Adrian Harries, with the full support and vision of the District 65 Board and administration, to undermine the importance of racial equity work in our City and our country.
The powerful work that District 65 is taking on is not only necessary but essential to creating more just spaces for children and families. I applaud Principal Harries for taking up that charge.
The article is opinion but not identified as such. It's ideology framed in inflammatory language, masquerading as journalism. Since its authors, Eli Steele and Beth Feeley, don’t live in Evanston, someone who lives here wanted them to write this.
We all need to challenge bigotry wherever it appears, including here in Evanston. There was a hate crime in Evanston recently: the N-word carved into playground equipment at Willard School. It reminds us, as the National Review article does, that white nationalism is right here among us.
Children deserve to be protected from the physical and emotional harm caused by explicit and institutional racism. We, as a community that claims to value diversity, need to stand tall in protection of the necessary work being undertaken so that we can continue to develop and refine our tools to know how to respond to and dismantle the replication of harmful disparities.
Experts cite a wide variety of benefits gained from race-based affinity groups. These include safe spaces for getting and giving support increased understanding of our own beliefs practice having tough conversations with people from similar backgrounds, before having them with people from different backgrounds and gaining confidence in speaking in groups.
I have space for correcting only two of the many erroneous passages in the article. There was “no mention,” the authors say, “of any educational innovations aimed at closing the profound achievement gap…” If they knew or cared anything about racial equity work, they would know that talking about race in order to reflect on our racial attitudes is itself the innovation. In too many classrooms in Evanston (and across America) race is the elephant in the room, and courageous conversations like those Principal Harries is fostering are an essential first step. As James Baldwin wrote, "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced."
Second, the authors attack the 2017 equity audit for producing “no statistical evidence of racism in District 65.” That evidence wasn’t the audit’s task, as copious amounts of data had already been collected, leading the District to attribute the achievement gap to institutional racism. District officials regularly affirm this fact in reports and at meetings.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Michael Sultan

Collaboration With Central Street Project Urged
This quick note is to address the entities that have recently spoken about and/or written about a ZBA request at 3233-49 Central St. I live at 3225 Central St. and would like to comment on comments repeated in the RoundTable from that meeting and the comments made by some of the owners who spoke against this project at said meeting.
While I think that 14 units is pushing what should be on that site, I have to protest some of the comments that I find, both at the SBA meeting and in the RoundTable, to be untruthful.
First, saying that the owners of the property “had not been cooperative with the neighbors,” is false. They had an open house early in the project’s history, posted notice of the ZBA meeting, and when I stopped in to ask questions of said project, were very helpful to me.
Second, I have lived here 14 years, and about eight years ago, I personally walked and left a letter on both sides of our unpaved alley to see if there was any interest in having the City pave our alley. I received only one response from the owners of houses on Hartzell Street and a couple from owners on Central Street. For anyone to claim that there had been “three different petitions” to have the City do something, they must have missed our eight units here on, Central Street – of which I am Homeowners President.
Third, things were said at the meeting about “dings to a garage door,” a “pothole in front of a unit” on the south side of Central Street – from former tenants’ parking on Cowper Avenue.
I would like to just address these by saying I have walked these locations, looked for damage where it has been claimed, and have found none. As for parking on Cowper, I have been guilty of this during snow emergencies but, out of common courtesy, I try to not block walkways.
Lastly, a project, as this is going to be, needs to be honestly addressed, and I do not believe this was done by neighbors of mine. If we are against 14 units, say it, but don’t make up things to cloud the issue or report them as “facts” to oppose the development.
Let’s work with the Schermerhorns to get what will increase our property values and improve our neighborhood but fit into the current zoning – without quite the density – and get this project moving forward. Something will be built here, and I would rather be part of the solution than part of the problem.
Lastly, I am available to walk this project’s area and meet with anyone who feels I have spoken wrongly here.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Sigrid Pilgrim

Inviting Smells That Attract Many Critters
Open letter to Mayor Stephen Hagerty and Alderman Tom Suffredin:
I have just received your Mayor’s letter. To add food waste to the yard waste containers is just about the most ridiculous idea that has come out of City Hall in a long time.
Can you imagine the flies and maggots that will develop when meat scraps and similar protein foods are deposited and left for a week in the summer? No waste container is immune to squirrel and other animal gnaws (our garbage can attest to this as well). You are certainly inviting more of the same smells that attract the critters that abound in our town and yards.
This is a terrible idea. Imaging some chicken carcass lying on the bottom of the yard waste container that’s basically empty (in the summer we don’t always have enough yard waste to put the container on the street.) Now add the 80-90+ degree heat, and I am already covering my nose from the smell.
Who came up with this terrible idea – especially since there is a company already in Evanston that offers non-compostable food scrap pickup, yes, at a fee?
Please make sure this doesn’t turn into reality.

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Guestbook entry by: Doug Arend

Thanks for Chess Problems
As a long-time, i.e., 20+ years, regular reader of the RoundTable, I wanted to send a shout-out for Michael Matek and the regular Chess Problem feature.
When my girls were working their ways through Kingsley – Haven – ETHS, I would typically turn to any article(s) regarding Districts 65 or 202 first, and then to the chess problem.
Now that my girls are grown and have moved away, Michael’s chess problem takes precedence ahead of articles regarding school districts.
I don’t know who within the RoundTable organization is responsible for keeping Michael’s content coming every two weeks, but please give her/him/them my thanks. In a world seemingly increasingly filled with tension and anxiety, it is remarkably calming to spend a train ride downtown trying to work through Michael’s latest offering. Thanks RoundTable.

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