Environmental Justice Evanston is commemorating the recent one-year anniversary of Evanston’s Environmental Justice Resolution by outlining our accomplishments since the resolution was unanimously adopted by the City Council in September 2020. We are also previewing the work that remains to be done to ensure all residents of Evanston will benefit from the achievement of Citywide environmental justice.
EJE is a committee of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, and we were instrumental in the drafting and adoption of the Environmental Justice Resolution. We have continued to work tirelessly since then to assure the City will as soon as possible meet its commitments under the resolution.
In the last year, EJE has undertaken the following projects in an effort to move environmental justice forward:
- Working with community and neighborhood groups. We have coordinated with local residents who are dealing with environmental just concerns. For example, we have worked with residents in the Ninth Ward to better understand the environmental problems posed by certain commercial activities in the area bounded by Oakton Street, Hartrey Avenue, Cleveland Street and the North Shore Channel, and their impact on nearby neighbors.
- Preparing guidance for reporting environmental justice problems. We have prepared a detailed set of guidelines to assist local residents who need to investigate and report environmental justice problems. These guidelines are in a document titled “Environmental Justice Playbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Addressing Your Environmental Justice Issue.” Please contact us if you want a copy.
- Developing an environmental justice mapping tool. We have spearheaded the development of the “active GIS-based inventory of environmental justice areas” required by the Environmental Justice Resolution. We refer to this as the “mapping tool.” When completed, the tool will show the relationship between key environmental indicators and neighborhoods in the City. We have collaborated with City staff and outside resources (such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and we were selected for an incubator grant from Northwestern University under which experts from Northwestern will assist us with the development of the mapping tool.
- Working with local officials on next steps. We have stayed in touch with local officials – including the Mayor, City Council members and key City staff – about our ongoing efforts to advance the requirements of the Environmental Justice Resolution. We are actively working with these officials on how the City can meet its commitments under the Resolution to move environmental justice forward in Evanston.
Our goal is for the City to adopt a mitigation plan that will put in place the policies, practices and procedures needed to ensure that environmental justice is achieved for all residents of Evanston. To do this, we are advocating that an environmental justice investigation be undertaken that will closely examine the nature, extent and causes of environmental justice in Evanston, and that will involve input from and face-to-face discussions with affected residents in all quarters of the City.
We also recommend hiring a consultant to assist with the investigation, using American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for the consultant. This investigation will culminate in a set of recommendations that would serve as the basis for the City’s environmental justice mitigation plan.
Over the upcoming months we expect to work with the Mayor, City Council members, City staff and residents to assure the commitments of the Environmental Justice Resolution are acted upon. We look forward to the community’s support in this effort.
Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments you might have at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet Alexander Davis and Rick Nelson,
Co-chairs, Environmental Justice Evanston