With more than a dozen people online, the Environment Board deliberated at its virtual meeting on Thursday, March 9, about how to reach more people and foster greater engagement.

Matthew Cotter, an Environment Board member, addresses the audience at the Saturday meeting.
Matthew Cotter, an Environment Board member, addresses the audience at a Jan. 28 climate action meeting. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

“When we talk about community engagement, what I hear often in Evanston is that people don’t feel like they’re heard,” said board member Kimberly Marion Suiseeya.

She suggested the city can take steps to create more informed citizens by bringing residents into the process of the board and the city’s other work.

“There’s a lot of people out there who still don’t know there’s a Climate Action and Resilience Plan,” said Joel Freeman, a board member at Citizens’ Greener Evanston. The city adopted its climate plan in 2018.

Board members showed support for an independent working group within the body, as well as listening sessions to bring in more people.

Among the agenda items at the meeting were:

  • CARP Implementation: The city’s two new sustainability specialists are expected to start mid-April, according to city documents. The city has also identified a firm for the CARP dashboard, with the final details in the process, said Cara Pratt, the city’s sustainability coordinator.
  • Plastic bag tax ordinance: The board is pushing for quick City Council action, according to a staff memo.
  • De-carbonization policy: Natural gas ranks as the biggest portion of the city’s greenhouse gas inventory at nearly 52%. The city’s de-carbonization plan seeks to ban gas fixtures in new construction.

The board is also set to see some reshuffling in the coming months, with board member Tom Klitzkie and co-chair Cherie Fisher both stepping down. The pair are currently in their second terms, the maximum for the board.

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Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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