Evanston Public Library kept a favorite summer pastime rolling with an end-of-season block party at the Robert Crown branch library and community center Sept. 11. A celebration of literacy, learning and community, the event offered hands-on activities for kids and an opportunity for residents to connect with a wide range of community organizations.

Firefighters offer young Evanston residents a hands-on opportunity to explore a firetruck parked outside the Robert Crown Community Center at the Sept. 11 block party. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Some highlights for all ages included music with DIME Dance Studios, games and a community art project with Evanston sculptor and muralist Alfonso “Piloto” Nieves Ruiz. La Cocinita and Tamilito food trucks were on site, selling items from their menus.

Young attendees enjoyed fun STEM activities, arts and crafts with Antiracist AF, story time with Evanston authors Juleya Woodson and Kira Bigwood, and books from Young, Black & Lit, a nonprofit organization committed to increasing access to children’s books that center, reflect and affirm Black children.

Feifei Li said she came to the block party with her husband, Zhengwei, their 4½-year-old daughter, Skylar, and “lots of neighborhood friends.”

The Li family attended the block party Sept. 11 at the Robert Crown Community Center. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

“I like it very much. It’s fun for the families, and especially for the kids. Our daughter is having so much fun here,” Feifei Li said.

Skylar wore a youth-sized firefighter helmet, a popular giveaway at the event. Evanston firefighters gave children the opportunity to explore a fire truck from the inside and outside.

Kamiyah Taylor (center) and her grandmothers, Alva Gill (left) and Nancy Taylor, get information about the library’s community listening sessions at the EPL table at the block party. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Kamiyah Taylor attended the event with her grandmothers, Nancy Taylor and Alva Gill.

“We heard the music and followed it to Robert Crown. We’re here enjoying the activities,” said Nancy Taylor, who stopped to check out the information available from the library, one of more than 10 participating community organizations.

Representatives from Evanston community organizations welcome visitors to the Robert Crown Block Party on Sept. 11. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

EPL community engagement librarian Jill Skwerski and library social worker Tabitha Ledbetter answered questions and provided handouts with information about library services.

“Robert Crown is a community center and a branch library, so we’re out here reminding people to visit the library. And it’s National Library Card Sign-up Month. So, if they don’t have a card, they can get a card,” Skwerski said.

She invited residents to attend one of 10 collaborative sessions offered by EPL, scheduled through Dec. 8.

Friends Miriam (left) and Hailey enjoy reading books from the Robert Crown branch library at the block party. (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

“We have a series of listening sessions for the community, to really gather input and feedback about how the library can act in partnership with the community to co-create spaces and services that the community desires,” said Skwerski, who added that there are sessions in English and in Spanish, and sessions specifically for children, teens and adults.

Information about how to sign up for an EPL community listening session is available at www.epl.org.

The block party helped Evanston community organizations showcase their resources and programs that contribute to wellness and wellbeing of the public. In addition to the library, participating organizations included Evanston/North Shore Branch NAACP; Howard Brown Health; Family Focus; Main-Dempster Mile; Y.O.U. (Youth & Opportunity United); Childcare Network of Evanston; Actors Gymnasium; Evanston Pride; Young, Black & Lit; and Open Communities.

The Robert Crown Block Party brought community members together, making it a little easier to say goodbye to summer and welcome the beauty of autumn.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.