It is time to lace up the recycled dancing shoes and dig out the festive casual attire. Evanston is holding its first “Green Ball,” a sustainable event intended to ensure that the 38-year-old Evanston Ecology Center becomes self-sustaining by the end of 2013. A brainchild of the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) and the City of Evanston, the Green Ball will take place at the Levy Center from 7 to 11 p.m. on May 18. The evening’s theme is to “keep the ‘ball’ rolling at the Ecology Center.”

The EEA is going to great lengths to ensure the ball is as green as its name, says EEA president Fred Schneider. A donor has purchased energy credits to cover the energy used the night of the ball. Paper and printing have been kept to a minimum, with e-vites and word of mouth substituting for paper invitations and tickets distributed online.

Additional bike racks will be in place at the Levy Center, which is “relatively accessible,” though not centrally located, says Mr. Schneider.

About 95 percent of the food scraps, along with utensils, will be composted through Evanston-based Collective Resources. Event organizers have chosen to rent rather than buy: Nature’s Perspective, for example, is lending 20 trees.

Evanston’s South Boulevard Band will provide the music and Evanston restaurants their finest takes on food that is local when possible. Goose Island Brewery, WineStyles, and Green River will furnish beverages.

Patrons can stroll a Green Boulevard lined with exhibits by Evanston green groups, create a custom-themed herb garden with the help of Green Edens gardeners or take a chance on creative raffle prizes. Among them are an I-Go electric car for a day, lunch with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl or a private tour of the City’s Water Treatment Plant followed by dinner at Oceanique.

Open for bids at the silent auction will be experiences like kayaking the Chicago River or peeking behind the scenes at the Field Museum.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Evanston Ecology Center. Currently the EEA generates revenues that cover 80-85 percent of its expenses, says Mr. Schneider. City Council recently approved a plan for operations and a separate one for capital expenditures.

The event, like the Ecology Center, represents an enviable public-private partnership. “What is exciting [about the Green Ball] is the collaboration and support from the community,” says Mr. Schneider.

As EEA president Fred Schneider puts it, “The Green Ball is an opportunity to show support for the Ecology Center as well as celebrate Evanston’s green community and recognize the significant contributions made by all of these environmentalists and community leaders to the sustainability of Evanston.”

Claire Alden, Ecology Center program manager, says planning the Green Ball is inspiring: “We’ve had an outpouring of support from all of Evanston, including local businesses, community organizations, religious groups, City government departments and many, many individuals.” 

Catherine Hurley, the City’s coordinator of sustainability programs, added, “It’s a testimony to what makes Evanston such a unique, supportive and caring community.”