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Connection, networking and celebrating Evanston were the hallmarks of the second annual business mashup, a collaboration between the Evanston Chamber of Commerce and Northwestern University. Two awards were presented – the 2011 Catalyst Award and the Spirit of Evanston Award.

Lending for Evanston and Northwestern Development (LEND), received the Catalyst Award, which is “given annually to a person, organization or business that creates a ‘spark’ in our City to create jobs, make Evanston more livable, or who does something extraordinary to better our relationship between Northwestern University and the City of Evanston.” LEND secured micro-loans for small businesses in Evanston to keep them thriving. The Spirit of Evanston Award was inaugurated this year “an Evanstonian who embodies the complex mix of qualities that is Evanston: visionary, compassionate, connecting, creative and compelling.” The first recipient was Dan Coyne, who donated a kidney to a woman he knew from the supermarket where he shopped.

In accepting the award Mr. Coyne said, “It would take me hours to list all the reasons I love Evanston, so I want to focus upon the primary core of why Evanston is so cool: We, Evanstonians, embrace! We embrace our homeless through Hilda’s Place. We embrace our students with differing abilities through quality education/services. We embrace our trees and lakefront through funding and care. We embrace our low-income citizens through Reba Development Housing. So what drives this madness in Evanston? This systemic embracing on every corner? The answer lies within the words of a dead Scotsman named George MacDonald (“Love Thine Enemy, Unspoken Sermons”): ‘For to embrace is the necessity of our deepest being.’”