Gray skies and drizzly weather didn’t stop Evanston from showing up for Earth Day over the weekend.

Evanston Ecology Center workers Lydia Wilson (left) and Laura Nusekabel chat at the Ecology Center’s free book table as part of the city’s Earth Day celebration on April 22. Credit: Trent Brown photo

The Evanston Ecology Center, Ridgeville Park District and Main-Dempster Mile each hosted an event on Saturday, April 22, in celebration of the holiday.

The Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 McCormick Blvd., welcomed environmental groups from across the city – including E-Town Sunrise, Collective Resource Compost, the Evanston Environmental Association, Climate Action Evanston and more – to set up booths by the Ladd Arboretum from 10 a.m. to noon at its annual Earth Day event. Meanwhile, Ecology Center employees gave away free children’s books about the environment that didn’t fit into the center’s regular programming.

As a board member of the Evanston Environmental Association, a nonprofit organization that supports and helps fund the Ecology Center and Ladd Arboretum, Julia Bunn spent her morning attending the group’s booth, which sold miniature plants. She said she celebrates Earth Day and works for the EEA for a “very simple” reason.

Evanston residents Rowan (left) and Ryan Bond pick up trash near Kamen Park. Rowan and other members of Evanston’s Scout Troop 916 cleaned up waste as part of the Ridgeville Park District’s Earth Day event on April 22. Credit: Trent Brown photo

“We can’t live without the Earth,” Bunn said. “This is essential, that we remember we’re part of the Earth.”

The Ridgeville Park District hosted its own cleanup event for Ridgeville Park and other parks nearby at 10:30 a.m. Local reggae band Urban Yaadies was originally supposed to play a concert at 11 a.m. after the park cleanup, but Ridgeville Park District Program Director Natalie Sallee said it was canceled due to the chance of rain. Still, there were snacks, music and recycled arts and crafts activities once the volunteers, including members of Evanston’s Scout Troop 916, cleaned their assigned park and walked back to Ridgeville Park.

“We are pretty lucky within our park district and our green space. People take really good care of it here,” Sallee said. “The community is really terrific about using trash cans and cleaning up after themselves, and even beyond that, going out of their way to clean up the parks when it’s not Earth Day.”

Main-Dempster Mile Executive Director Katherine Gotsick (left) poses with Fourth Ward City Council Member Jonathan Nieuwsma and his children, Greta (center-left) and Graham, at one of the check-in locations for the organization’s Earth Day Neighborhood Cleanup on April 22. Credit: Trent Brown

The Main-Dempster Mile hosted its seventh annual Earth Day Cleanup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The organization had two check-in locations on Chicago Avenue where interested volunteers could pick up gloves, bags, cleaning supplies and a wristband. Volunteers who showed their wristbands at nearby businesses, including Stumble and Relish, Sketchbook Brewing and elsewhere received free goodies.

Main-Dempster Mile Executive Director Katherine Gotsick said nearly 90 volunteers came out to clean up the area, “a huge victory on a 40-degree and drizzly day.” About 110 volunteers came out last year, she said.

“It is just about making sure that the place is clean, it doesn’t look uncared for, and it’s just kind of charming to be here,” she said.

Gotsick added that the annual cleanup provides volunteers with a broader understanding.

“Sadly, a lot of what they’re going to encounter is generated by homeless people. They’ll find beer cans, they’ll find liquor bottles, things like that,” she said. “And they’ll just be more aware of what’s going on in their community.”

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