Before she became Seventh Ward Alderman, Citizens Greener Evanston (CGE) President Eleanor Revelle helped plan the activities for this year’s Earth Month celebration. Underlying those activities, she said, is an expansion of CGE’s definition of sustainability to include environmental quality, economic strength, and social justice/quality of life issues, Ms. Revelle told the RoundTable in an interview in February.

“So far, CGE has focused on greenhouse gas emissions. … We want to be more intentional about addressing these other sustainability issues, such as affordable housing and gun violence.  This matches the City’s vision of making Evanston the most livable city,” said Ms. Revelle.

Evanston is a good place to live but is not really a “livable city” for all its residents. Ms. Revelle said this point was brought home to her in a workshop she convened last fall at Oakton Community College. Among the attendees were about 20 people from Evanston. “We heard that Evanston is not a livable city for everyone. Three issues were put forward to make Evanston more livable: affordable housing; addressing violence, especially gun violence; and economic opportunity.”

Those three topics will be the focus of CGE’s Earth Month celebration, whose theme is “Making Evanston the Most Livable City – For Everyone,” scheduled for 2-5 p.m. on April 24 at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St. 

Veronica Kyle of Faith in Place will be the keynote speaker. Ms. Kyle leads the outreach programs of the organization, which is dedicated to bringing together religious people of diverse faiths to care for the Earth through education, connection, and advocacy.

After the keynote speech, there will be three breakout sessions, one focused on each of the three main topics. Jennifer O’Neil of the League of Women Voters of Evanston will lead the session on affordable housing. Robin Simmons of Sunshine Enterprises will lead the one on economic opportunity, and the Reverend Patricia Efiom of Evanston, Own It!, the session on gun violence.

“Each group will address three questions: What are the challenges (e.g., to having an adequate supply of affordable housing in Evanston)? What are the opportunities? How can we (as individuals, as organizations, working together) make a difference?” said Ms. Revelle.

After the groups give their reports, the plan is to have Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl respond to those challenges and suggestions. 

“In addition, we will be creating Facebook groups for the people in each of the breakout sessions so they can continue the discussion and collaborate on action steps going forward. … It is our intention to bring our traditional environmental audience together with others who are working on these issues to discuss these challenges, the opportunities we have to bring about change, and action steps we can take to make a real impact in these three areas,” Ms. Revelle said.