Evanston RoundTable
Open air cinema was a big draw at National Night Out. (Photo via Heidi Randhava)

Good Morning, Evanston.

Residents headed outdoors this week to shop, eat, dance, and enjoy the warm weather. More than 300 residents of all ages gathered at Penny Park for Friday’s National Night Out, an event celebrating police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., a steady stream of people carrying blankets and portable chairs made their way into the popular park in the 2nd Ward. Many stopped to order grilled jerk chicken skewers, mac & cheese and other specialties from the Soul & Smoke food truck on site. 

Children danced to the music at Thursday’s market. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Thursday was also a big day for community building. Residents flocked to Fountain Square to attend the Thursday Night Market, where vendors, artists and retailers set up stands and sold beer, cheese, chocolate, clothing, soap, handmade toys, hot sauce and more. Children danced along to music played by a live DJ, while parents observed the atmosphere. 

The City Council will consider a separation agreement for City Manager Erika Storlie at its Aug. 9 meeting. Under the agreement, her tenure would come to a close just short of a year after she was appointed to the position. The City Manager’s resignation would then be effective at the close of business on Oct. 8. The document is to be termed an “agreed-upon resignation.”

In case you missed any of the most important news last week, here’s a roundup of the top stories from the RoundTable this past week.

City News

COVID-19 update on Aug. 5th: 14 new cases in Evanston today, 3,048 in the state. While people seem to be acclimating to more and larger indoor and outdoor gatherings, the trends of new COVID-19 cases are all going in the wrong direction. The seven-day total of new cases in Evanston has steadily increased from zero on June 21 to seven on July 8, 11 on July 15, 18 on July 22 and 30 on July 29.

Sharing Greenleaf (RoundTable Photo)

Pilot street-sharing program does not fly with West End businesses. It did not take very long for Paul Klitzkie, the general manager of Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, to see that the City’s pilot shared-street program for the entire length of Greenleaf Street was not a good fit with the narrow strip of the street where his and other businesses are located. City officials launched the one-month project July 19 to allow pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to safely share the entire length of Greenleaf Street from McDaniel Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevard.

Photo via Unsplash on Unsplash.com

Rats! What you need to know about the City’s Rodent Control Program. Worried about rodents in your neighborhood? Don’t panic! The Evanston Health and Human Services Department has your back. The City’s robust Rodent Control Program provides baiting and treatment following an inspection, all free of charge for residents. The program, which is primarily aimed at controlling rats, is available for residential properties only.

Evanston reparations applications open in September. The new City of Evanston Reparations Committee met for the first time Aug. 5 in front of an audience of about 30 people at the Lorraine Morton Civic Center. The new expanded committee consists of three Council members and four community representatives who are tasked with exploring and identifying programs and opportunities to be supported by the City’s Reparations Fund.

Noir d’Ébène Chocolat et Pâtisserie Owner Journey Shannon and EDC Vice President Robinson Markus greet tour members July 28. (Photo by Matt Simonette)

Organization leads tour of local ADUs. Members of Evanston Development Cooperative led several dozen community members on a tour of various accessory dwelling units (ADUs) the afternoon of July 31.  The tour began outside Noir d’Ébène Chocolat et Pâtisserie, 1309 Chicago Ave., and ended at Nichols Middle School, 800 Greenleaf St., which is close to several ADUs.

Plan Commission advances ADU moratorium proposal. The Evanston Plan Commission advanced a proposal that would impose a six-month moratorium on permitting and construction of non-owner occupied accessory dwelling units. The proposal rose from a growing concern by community members that absentee landlords would purchase large homes in close proximity to Northwestern University from which they would create rental units for student housing.

More than 50 people, including former Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, attended the retirement celebration to honor Chief Cook (Photo by Heidi Randhava)

Retired Police Chief Demitrous Cook is honored. Community members praised retired Police Chief Demitrous Cook’s keen ability to connect with people – with one speaker calling him Evanston’s “most approachable chief” – at a heart-warming celebration of his service held on July 30.

2022 wheel tax payment period now open. All vehicles registered through the Illinois Secretary of State to an Evanston address are required to pay an annual wheel tax. Preprinted renewal notices will be mailed to residents this week with an online renewal ID (link code) and instructions. 

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ETHS Plans to Re-Open As a ‘Humanizing’ Space. Earlier this summer, three Evanston Township High School administrators presented their vision of a newly reopened school that would make students feel welcomed and supported. Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell, Associate Principal for Student Services Taye Kinzie and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Pete Bavis told School Board members at their June 14 meeting that their plan is that students would “return to a school community that centers radical love and empathy.”

Evanston Scholars admits largest-ever cohort into college prep and success program. This month, 45 Evanston Township High School juniors began their six-year journey to college graduation with Evanston Scholars. The Evanston Scholars program guides students through the college admission process, supports them to persist through college graduation, and connects them to internships, professional networks and employment opportunities with the aim of graduating from college and finding strong jobs.

Arts & Life

Co-owner Liz Morales in front of her new business (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Cinnaholic opens its doors in Evanston. Phillip Morales and his mom Liz often struggled to indulge in desserts that didn’t leave them feeling sick. They are lactose intolerant, so for a long time, they would carefully indulge in dessert and wait for the stomach aches to begin. Phillip Morales was born and raised in Schaumburg but lived for a while in Las Vegas. He was pursuing new business ideas, and when he came across Cinnaholic, he knew he couldn’t pass it up. 

Custer Avenue view of Reba Place Church and new wall paintings. (Photo by Gay Riseborough)

Reba Place Church murals reflect freedom and inclusivity. Six newly painted banners on the outside of Reba Place Church tell an important story of the house of worship’s mission. The building’s west wall, facing Custer, has been bare since the community acquired it in 1980. But the congregation had long wished to put something “on the outside” of the building that would describe or represent what went on “on the inside – who they are and what they care about.

‘Woven Stories’ exhibition to begin Aug. 7. The “Woven Stories” exhibition will be on view through Aug. 31 at Open Studio Project’s Gallery 901. “Woven Stories” is an exhibition of 13 different weavings from the participants of “The We Were Never Alone Project – weaving workshops for victims and survivors of domestic violence.” 

Is the grass always greener? Dear Gabby, Everyone on my block has beautiful front gardens, well-kept lawns, tasteful seasonal decorations and fences that actually stand up. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about any of these things, even though they are, indeed, lovely to look at. Regardless of not caring, I am starting to feel some self-imposed pressure to keep up with the Joneses. It is creeping into my already packed mental list of “shoulds.” Do I have to start rooting out my dandelions?

Sam Rattanopas (left), co-owner Mina Sudsaard (right) and NaKorn’s small staff used their kitchen to prepare and package thousands of free meals for delivery to people in Evanston and Chicago during the months when the restaurant was closed. (Photo by Linda Gerber)

NaKorn Urban Thai has unique food and a big heart. Sam Rattanopas and Mina Sudsaard, co-owners of Evanston’s NaKorn Urban Thai restaurant, were 11 years old when they met and became friends while students at their Bangkok school. Later, in 1996, the good friends spread their wings and emigrated from Thailand to the United States for graduate school to prepare them for careers in graphic design and telecommunications. 

Evanston Latino group gives needed support and guidance during the pandemic. For Evanston Latinos President Rebeca Mendoza, change begins when adversity looms over communities of color. The pandemic spurred her into action, inspiring her to create a non-profit focused on delivering accessible information to non-English speaking residents in Evanston. Mendoza founded Evanston Latinos after preliminary census data revealed racial health disparities. Last May, the COVID-19 positivity rate for Latino residents hit 18.3%, significantly higher than the City average.

Plant Shop Evanston, formerly Backlot Coffee and Other Brother Coffee House on corner of Grove St. and Sherman Ave. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

New plant business spreads aroma of success in former coffee. Backlot Coffee co-founder Isaac Bloom always had an affinity for plants. Despite his success in the coffee business, Bloom was itching to see if another type of business could flourish in his second coffee location in Evanston. His dream to launch Plant Shop Evanston became a reality during COVID. Right before COVID-19 hit, Backlot Coffee took over the previous location of Other Brother Coffee House on the corner of Grove Street and Sherman Avenue.

Aydin Dincer 6 (Photo by artist)

The art of making art: Aydin Dincer. Aydin Dincer is a wonderfully stubborn guy wanting to do things his way, and it shows beautifully in both his art and his food. Dincer owns and operates Prairie Joe’s restaurant in Evanston, a unique place to enjoy a feast with both your stomach and your eyes. There is a set menu as well as daily special created by Dincer that reflect his food history and creativity.

Public Square

The Second Church of Christ, Scientist, across from Willard Elementary School, is under consideration for Landmark status (RoundTable photo)

Guest essay: Owner should not govern Council’s church landmark decision. On Aug. 9, the Planning and Development Committee will consider the Preservation Commission’s recommendation to designate the Second Church of Christ, Scientist at 2715 Hurd Ave. an Evanston Landmark. Unfortunately, the owners of the church object to designation. Owner consent, while desirable, is not necessary for landmark designation.

Les Jacobson: High Focus. I’ll admit it: concentration has never been one of my strengths. Even as I’m listening to you my scatter-brained “monkey mind” will skip from topic to topic like a flat rock over still water. I’ve grown adept, over the years, at appearing to listen, to be interested and focused, nodding at all the right moments, occasionally mumbling something vaguely responsive.

Peggy Tarr: Just desserts. Three of us (all senior women; two with white hair) decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory’s bakery since we just wanted desserts. When we entered the bakery area, there were a number of patrons ahead of us. Some of the patrons stood in front of the desserts’ display case, so we could only see all the desserts on display by moving back and forth.

Evanston resident John McKnight wins IACD lifetime achievement award. Founders of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (ABCD Institute), both retired Northwestern professors, won Lifetime Achievement awards from the International Association of Community Development. Evanston resident John McKnight and Jody Kretzmann founded the ABCD Institute at Northwestern University in the early 1990s after publishing their best-selling community development book, “Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Towards Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets.”

Democracy dollars. All too often, our politicians promise to fight for their communities and to represent all their constituents. However, once they’ve won an election, their top priority is re-election. And that means catering to the wealthy donors and corporate interests who can fund their next campaign. But what if politicians could rely on the community for that money instead?

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Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...