Sunday’s stroll up Dodge Avenue was designed to be more spiritual than physical exercise. The walk began at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation and ended two miles north near Faith Temple Church of God in Christ and Dar-us-Sunnah Masjid mosque. This was the second annual Peaceable Cities Walk and Talk, designed to help unmask the lack of awareness, mystery, even suspicion that can arise between persons, ethnic groups, religions and cultures unfamiliar with each other.
Knowing one’s neighbors may be easy, but the effort to know those beyond one’s typical parameters may require a stretch. Joey Rodger, executive director of Peaceable Cities: Evanston, seemed to believe that most Evanstonians want to make that stretch.
“People want to do the right thing,” Ms. Rodger told the RoundTable. “We just have to make it easier for them.”
Before the walk began, the nearly 90 participants were given a small color-coded sticker that indicated the ward where they live or work – an easy icebreaker for the walkers, who were encouraged to change walking partners every 10 minutes.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she read in the New York Times last week that strong communities where people know each other are much better able to handle a disaster than other communities. Walks like these are important, she said, “and we need to have more like them.”
“From a tiny spark occurred a fire,” said Police Chief Richard Eddington. “That spark of care will make this community a safer place,” he said, as he thanked people for “taking the time out on this beautiful day.”
JRC’s Rabbi Brant Rosen said, “We feel very strongly at JRC, as I know Evanston does, that peacemaking is inherent in each and every one of us. There is no dividing line between the global and the local. [This walk] is a statement that each of us is committed to being a peacemaker.”
Loyce Spells, Evanston police officer and chair of the Peaceable Cities board, said, “the purpose of the walk and talk was to address creating a more peaceable city and the most liveable city in the United States. We are courageous enough to say, ‘If we can’t do it here in Evanston, it just can’t possibly be done in the U.S.’ So it is possible that the U.S. is waiting for us.”