The 2013 Evanston Green Living Festival has a pressing theme – “Preserving and Protecting the Urban Forest” – in a year when City of Evanston officials are raising awareness about the deadly impact of Dutch elm disease and the Emerald Ash Borer on the City’s trees.

The festival, presented by the Evanston Environmental Association (EEA) in concert with the City of Evanston, will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd.

In keeping with this year’s festival focus on the urban forest, Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of Public Works/Forestry, and Mark Younger, City arborist, will deliver the keynote address, “What’s Killing Our Trees: Evanston’s Solutions to a Global Problem.” The speakers will include statistics on tree mortality in Evanston and the world and will discuss the City’s tree management practices and equipment.

The seventh annual festival will also feature a variety of activities. The Green Market will showcase more than 100 businesses and organizations engaged in the likes of composting, green design and organic gardening. There will be a green silent auction, free utility-bill analysis by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and family activities and crafts.

Attendees can get close-up views of sustainable lifestyles with the Tiny House, a 128-square-foot sustainable house built by Northwestern University students and now permanently located at the Ecology Center; demonstrations of all-electric cars and other forms of transportation that reduce the carbon footprint; and displays of such alternative energy sources as solar panels.

People are encouraged to bring their old, unused bikes. Working Bikes, a nonprofit organization, will refurbish the bikes and get them to someone in need, either locally or around the world.

For fun, the festival will have bicycle rickshaw rides, the ultimate in alternative transportation, and delicious food and refreshments served by Evanston’s Hummingbird Kitchen.

The Festival’s “protecting the urban forest” theme complements the City’s 2013 ongoing campaign to preserve and protect its trees, said festival co-chair Rick Nelson. The City reports that more than 2,000 trees have succumbed in recent years to the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Officials are so concerned that they held a “tree summit” over the summer, launched an “I Heart Evanston Trees Project” to raise money for new plantings and painted doomed ash trees along Sheridan Road a bright blue as a stark reminder of the challenge of preserving the urban forest.  

“Trees are an absolute necessity to the health of people and the planet, but problems such as disease, insects, climate change and logging are killing this vital resource at an alarming rate all over the world,” said Catherine Hurley, the City of Evanston’s Sustainability Coordinator. “The Green Living Festival shows Evanston what we can do at a local level to preserve and protect our trees and fight this global problem.”

The EEA encourages people to bike, walk or take mass transit to the festival. Free shuttle service to and from Evanston’s Downtown Davis Street Metra stop and the festival will be available courtesy of the City of Evanston and Davis Transportation. Secure bicycle parking will be available.

 “We can’t put on the Green Living Festival without the loyal support of the City and so many local businesses and organizations that are on the front lines of making Evanston a greener place to be,” festival Co-Chair Claire Alden said. “This is a team effort, and our goal is to make Evanston an even more sustainable city than it currently is.”

Festival information is available at www.evanstongreenfest.org or by calling the Ecology Center at 847-448-8256.

One Tree, Two Tree, Red Tree, Blue Tree

Evanston’s urban forest is composed not only of blazing autumn colors and leafy shades of green but also these ash trees along Sheridan Road, killed by the emerald ash borer and painted blue to attract attention to the plight of Evanston’s ash trees.