Evanston’s nearly 150 years of history have been tenderly researched, documented, dated and framed. At present, though, an intrepid and forward-looking group of Evanstonians is asking us to imagine the next two decades through a project called Evanston 150.

Taking its name from the past, the project looks to the future. It is modeled after a similar program in Dubuque, Iowa, which saw tremendous success.

The steering committee, composed of civic, business and community leaders, is calling upon each resident to contribute an idea to how Evanston can grow and thrive in the next 20 years.

For six weeks – from late March until mid-May, Evanston 150 will be a repository for residents’ ideas, dreams and wishes for the next 20 years of community growth. … Jay Lytle, former mayor and one of the chairs of the Evanston 150 steering committee, says he hopes at least 2,000 ideas will be generated.

Some ideas are already floating around: a performing arts center, a bowling alley, more small retail shops, more small businesses based on our own formidable stash of innovative curiosity and intellectual capital.

With the closing of the South Branch Library, threats to the North Branch, and hopes for a West Branch, it is certain that expanded library services will be on someone’s wish list.

Now is the time to figure these out, expand on them, replace them or refine them.
The steering committee will sort through these ideas, compare and compile them and then refine them to about 10 ideas we can all back.

Evanston 1863-present is history. Evanston 150 is the future. These ideas will be its leavening. Put on your wildest thinking caps and mark your calendars for the March 26 kickoff at the Levy Center.