Evanston residents saluted the Earth this weekend by picking up trash around the city.

Earth Day, April 22, was marked by a tumultuous rainstorm, so the radiant sun and clear skies that greeted the following day, Saturday, April 23, made the neighborhood cleanups even more festive.

A variety of city organizations sponsored cleanups, including Downtown Evanston, the Kiwanis Club and the Evanston Ecology Center, which provided free trash bags and gloves to residents wishing to organize their own cleanup. 

The RoundTable caught up with volunteers participating in the Main-Dempster Mile Cleanup, organized by Katherine Gotsick, Executive Director of the Main-Dempster Mile Special Service Area. 

Katherine Gotsick poses in front of cleaning materials outside coLab Evanston at 1880 Oak Ave. (Photo by Debbie-Marie Brown)

“The history of the cleanup started with a single park,” Gotsick said. In 2017, the group organized a cleanup in Jennifer Morris Park, on the southeast corner of Custer Avenue and Washington Street. So many people showed up, according to Gotsick, the Main-Dempster Mile was encouraged to expand their cleaning area for years to come. 

This year, Gotsick and Jackson Adams, a two-year volunteer for Main-Dempster Mile, sent volunteers along Dempster Avenue and Sherman Avenue, to Raymond Park, Curry Park, CTA Park and Grey Park between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. By 12:30 p.m., over 100 volunteers had participated, according to Gotsick and Adams.

Every volunteer was given gardening gloves, rubber gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes, a trash bag and a neon green wristband that allowed participants to redeem treats at several businesses along the Main-Dempster Mile after cleaning, Gotsick said.

Gotsick organized several of the participating groups, including 20 members of a local Girl Scout troop, students from Beacon Academy, members of Kappa Phi Lambda from Northwestern University and a Bible study group.

Grey Park neighbors went the extra mile in cleaning the area, Gotsick said, by not only scrubbing but also sanding and staining picnic tables as well as raking leaves.  

NU students help out

Tahj Burnett, 21 (left), and Rand Meyer, 18, help clean up Main Street. (Photo by Debbie-Marie Brown)

Northwestern students Tahj Burnett, age 21, from St. Louis, and Rand Meyer, age 18, from Los Angeles, also participated in the cleanup. 

The two are both on Northwestern’s mock trial team and had learned about the cleanup from a friend. 

“We just finished up our nationals competition, which means mock trial are pretty much over for the year,” Meyer said. “And with our extra time, we thought we’d just, you know, get our good-boy points for the month.”

Burnett said the pair were excited to find other activities to participate in during their free time. 

“I’ve done service events on Earth Day before, but they weren’t cleaning-up related. They were just like, oh, it’s Earth Day. Let’s go do something,” Burnett said. “It’s one of the only nice days that we’ve had in a long time for the spring quarter. And I feel like this is probably one of the best ways that you could be spending it.”

Members of Girl Scout Troupe 47273 enjoyed a sweet treat at Frío Gelato, 1301 Chicago Ave., after helping clean up the Main-Dempster Mile with their families. Left to right: Paloma Cvetkovic, age 6; Elliot Empfield, 6; Carinna Furlow, 6, with brother Caden Furlow, 4; Emily Morrow, 6; and Maisie Martin, 6. (Photo by Evan Girard)

Morrows help at CTA Park

Emily Morrow is a six-year-old Girl Scout who helped clean up CTA Park, for which she received a Girl Scout badge.

“I cleaned with all my friends, I picked up some plastic bottles and glass,” Emily said.

Her father, Michael Morrow, a lifelong Evanston resident, said his favorite part of the day was making the area look a little cleaner and spending time outside on a nice day. When we caught up with the father-and-daughter team, they were visiting several businesses in order to redeem prizes, such as ice cream and dog treats, using their Main-Dempster Mile wristband.

Debbie-Marie Brown

Debbie-Marie Brown is a reporter and Racial Justice Fellow at the Evanston RoundTable. They cover the local reparations initiative, Black life in Evanston, and the 5th ward. Contact Debbie-Marie at dmb@evanstonroundtable.com...

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