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Evanston’s sesquicentennial year, and a celebration is already in the works for Dec. 29, 2013 – 150 years to the day of Evanston’s official beginning.

In our City’s first century and a half, residents of Evanston accomplished remarkable things. Beyond the usual organizational tasks, Evanston residents established schools, libraries, hospitals and fire and police departments, and the gem of a college that is our world-class Northwestern University.

Evanstonians were abolitionists and advocates of women’s suffrage; they were artists, musicians, physicists and physicians. They found ways to address the social problems they saw.

Progress here did not run in a straight line. Sometimes recognition of a problem was overdue, and sometimes the first proposal or so was not the solution. Some problems still need attention.

Few contemporary residents are descendants of those early Evanston residents, but the spirit of innovation and determination seems to dwell here still. And that is what we in this community will need, because as we enter this sesquicentennial year, violence is an unwelcome backdrop.

The rash of shootings in the past three months calls for community help. Several social-service organizations, many churches and the City of Evaston itself have programs in place to attract disenfrachised youth from the streets to a more stable way of life.

Time may be short to do this, because the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has handed the State of Illinois a ruling that is a ticking bomb: Approve legislation that will allow residents to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public.

Unless we can wean our young people from this culture of violence, many more will be lost than the three who have been killed this fall.

In its 149 years Evanston may have seen some failures, but it has never abandoned its residents. Shaken though we are by the violence wrought by guns here – and in Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, Arizona and Oregon – we nonetheless have faith that here in this City live some of the smartest, most innovative and compassionate people on earth.

May our next year be one of peace.