Photo by Heidi Randhava

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The fourth in a series of five Town Hall meetings to address issues of access, equity, and empowerment was held on April 25 at the Evanston Public Library.  The meetings, moderated by City of Evanston Equity and Empowerment Coordinator Rev. Patricia Efiom, give community members an opportunity to share their vision for equity in Evanston.

Early in her presentation, Dr. Efiom drew a distinction between equity and equality, using slides to demonstrate that equity cannot be achieved by simply providing equal access to programs and services. Stressing the importance of hearing the voices of marginalized communities in Evanston, Dr. Efiom said, “We need to find that community and find out what their needs are, instead of what we think their needs are.”

In an effort to hear what the entire population is feeling, the city will conduct an equity climate survey with general questions about what Evanstonians think around issues of equity, Dr. Efiom told an audience of more than 45 people who attended the meeting.  Residents will be able to complete the survey online, by mail, over the phone, or in person by obtaining a hard copy from city buildings, to ensure that all who wish to participate can do so.

Results of the survey will be used in combination with information from the Town Hall meetings to draft an equity plan proposal. Dr. Efiom will work in collaboration with the Housing, Homelessness, and Human Relations Commission, and there will be an opportunity for public input before the language for the proposal is finalized.

The proposal will be presented to City Council, when there will again be a period for public comment. The proposal “will give us the trajectory” to get a comprehensive Equity Plan in place, according to Dr. Efiom. “The goal is to build a process that empowers all people to fully participate,” she told the group.