With fanfares and commedia dell’ arte, the Evanston 150 steering committee presented the top ten ideas fo Evanston’s future.

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About 300 people attended Evanston 150’s Black Tie and Blue Jeans party on Nov. 10 to celebrate the 10 visionary ideas that were the result of the project, and to hand them off to the community for implementation.

Nationally-acclaimed storyteller and Northwestern University Theater Professor Rives Collins emceed the evening, which featured performances by the Stuart Rosenberg Band, Piccolo Theatre, and the Natural Trumpet Ensemble of the Music Institute of Chicago.

“As a storyteller, I am very pleased to be here tonight to help the Evanston community convey the story of who we are and what we aspire to accomplish for our future. The purpose of these big ideas is not only to punctuate an anniversary but to positively impact our community for many years to come. Starting right here and now, these 10 ideas will be transformed into 10 projects that will truly shape the stories Evanston will tell about itself for generations,” Prof. Collins said.

Members of the steering committee, paired with Evanston residents, presented each of the ten ideas. The ideas were “packaged” in brightly colored plastic bags. With help from the audience, the pairs picked a colored bag and, accompanied by fanfares from the trumpet ensemble, opened it and described the idea.

Steering committee member Sara Schastok thanked the sponsors whose funding support engaged Evanston in imagining its future. “And we know Evanston has responded,” she said.

Steering committee member Jay Lytle concluded the presentation saying, “Okay! Now it’s blue jeans time. It’s time to get down to work. Pick the idea of your choice. The Steering Committee has two goals, to take on these ideas and see them done or underway by 2013, and in the process to see us all find new friends within our common causes.” He urged audience members, “Find your table and let’s make this happen.”

The 10 Ideas, in no particular order, are as follows:

The More You Know:

City of Information

“Establish fully functional neighborhood literacy centers in geographically different areas of Evanston. In addition to providing conventional library services and events, these facilities will promote community learning with a focus on technology. This project will also establish free wi-fi city-wide in order for residents to have access to information everywhere.”

Here’s To Our Health

“Establish a community health center to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental, and preventive care for all, regardless of ability to pay, for those who are uninsured and underinsured. The center will provide laboratory and x-ray services, patient case management, pharmacy services, translation and transportation assistance.”

Edible Evanston

“Develop sustainable local food sources by creating urban farms, community gardens, greenhouses and composting sites. Through these sites, provide educational opportunities for individuals to expand their knowledge of nutrition, growing food, and composting. Incorporate a long-term commitment to development and preservation of open green spaces in the urban environment.”

Walk ‘N Roll Evanston

“Commit to safety and enjoyment for pedestrians and bicyclists in Evanston. Create more bike lanes and walking paths, educate drivers and bikers about their use, add borrow-a-bike stations throughout the city. Provide more locations to lock and store bikes, add fountains to beautify existing paths, and designate certain streets or blocks as car-free. Transform certain areas, including converting Mayfair Rail Spur, into a pedestrian and bikeway, extending the bike path connecting Rogers Park and Evanston, and connecting the lakefront path with the canal path.”

Green and Clean

“Make Evanston one of the greenest cities in the United States. Become carbon neutral, conserve water, and create sustainable sources of energy. Balance carbon released with an equivalent amount absorbed through planting trees and vegetation. Promote responsible water use and conservation by installing rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavement. Research and develop renewable energy sources while simultaneously increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings.”

Teen Town

Create a world-class youth development center focusing on appropriate opportunities for holistic growth. Provide a positive youth development space for activities such as career counseling, tutoring, job training, financial literacy, apprenticeship programs, technology, and exploration. Include volunteer and internship opportunities. Encourage leadership development through physical, social, artistic, and cultural activities, such as the implementation of Il Sistema, a children’s music education program. Provide community gathering and recreational spaces.

Learn To Work And Work To Learn

“Develop a vocational/co-op technical school serving a diverse population of students and residents. The school will integrate classroom study with practical work experience, providing training that connects to opportunities for employment in Evanston and the surrounding region.”

A Market for All Seasons

And Reasons

“Establish a year-round indoor/outdoor community market as the centerpiece of a revitalized public space. This market will connect our community with local farmers and artisans, strengthening our local economy, and will serve as a vibrant community gathering place. Its essence is two-fold: to energize our public spaces, and retain dollars within our community.

Water, Water, Everywhere

“Ensure that ALL Evanston residents have access to water recreation by providing free beach access, building a state-of-the-art green technology, outdoor water pool/water park. Develop Evanston’s canal as a “second coast” space by cleaning and enhancing the waterway for more recreational activities. Teach all children to swim.”

Little and Learning

“Provide the foundation for success in school through high-quality affordable, universal preschool experiences for 3 and 4-year olds so that all Evanston children are ready for kindergarten and prepared for success later in life.”

Community groups and individuals now begin the process of organizing and implementing the ideas. The Steering Committee hopes to see all 10 ideas implemented or underway by 2013, the 150th anniversary of Evanston’s incorporation. Evanston 150 says anyone who was unable to attend the Nov. 10 event is still welcome to get involved. The Evanston150 website at www.evanston150.org will post details soon for the the Jan. 7 “Get to Work” workshop as well as contact information for the 10 idea groups.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...