Evanston RoundTable
Artist and hip hop violinist Lina Mason, an ETHS alumna, is publicly exhibiting her art for the first time at this year’s Evanston Art Festival, Aug. 13 through 15. Mason is a music teacher at Lorca Elementary, a Chicago public school.

Good morning, Evanston.

Boasting more than 130 unique artists, Evanston’s eighth annual Art Festival began on Aug. 13, and will run through Aug. 15. The festival, located on Sherman Avenue and Church Street, is free and runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.


City Manager Erika Storlie and Mayor Daniel Biss (RoundTable photo)

Evanston City Council Members voted 5-4 to approve a separation agreement with City Manager Erika Storlie that will bring her employment to a close just a year shy of her appointment to the City’s top post.

The split votes did not appear to be over whether Storlie should leave the City. Instead, they represent lingering concerns regarding the separation agreement’s confidentiality provision.

Later in the meeting, Council Member Clare Kelly, 1st Ward, called for reconsideration of the vote. She questioned whether a confidentiality provision in the agreement would restrict the information the public would receive from the independent investigation the Council has ordered into sexual misconduct among lakefront staff.

The City Council meeting was originally scheduled for Aug. 9 but Council Members had decided to table action on the separation agreement until Aug. 12. The decision to postpone the meeting came after a tense public comment session, in which community members pushed for the removal of the confidentiality commitment.


Council Members move forward with a Guaranteed Income program, which would provide $500 monthly payments to select residents. As many as 165 residents across a wide range of ages could be in line to receive payments under the one-year pilot program that received the backing of the Evanston City Council on Aug. 9. 

The program is a joint venture between the City and Northwestern University. The University through its NU Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund is contributing $300,000 and the City is chipping in $700,000 – tapping federal COVID-19 recovery funds to support the program. 

The purpose of the fund is to support projects and programs that uplift Evanston’s most marginalized community members by dismantling systemic barriers, officials said. 


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

City-owned Foster Field, located between Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center and the Weissbourd-Holmes Family Focus building, is one of the public properties that lie within the proposed Five-Fifths TIF district. (RoundTable photo)

Speakers question values, impact of proposed Five-Fifths TIF. Opinions and questions abounded at a recent meeting on the Five-Fifths TIF, the City’s newest proposed tax-increment financing (TIF) district, which, if approved, would cover portions of the City’s Fifth Ward. Even the name of the City’s proposed TIF district is objectionable to some. Evanston resident and activist Darlene Cannon said, “The Fifth Ward TIF was to make Black people whole. I want to understand how this TIF is going to make Black people whole.”

The City presents three scenarios in implementing its strategies for achieving carbon neutrality

City presents strategy to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. By 2035, the City of Evanston hopes to achieve carbon neutrality, or net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, for municipal operations, including City buildings, streetlights and vehicles. The City presented its new strategy for achieving net-zero emissions at an Aug. 10 Zoom meeting, titled Planning for Zero: Evanston’s Municipal Zero Emissions Strategy. Carbon neutrality is achieved by either balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or by cutting carbon emissions entirely.

COVID-19 Update on Aug. 12: Six New Cases in Evanston; 3,114 in the State. The City of Evanston recognizes that the City is an area of “substantial transmission.” In a prepared statement, the City strongly urged vaccination for everyone over the age of 12, and the wearing of masks in public indoor settings – even by people who are vaccinated.

Renter and Landlord Eviction Webinars slated. The Metropolitan Tenants Organization is offering two webinars, one catering to renters and the other to landlords. If you’re a renter, join in on Monday, Aug. 16 at 6 p.m. for issues and questions about current eviction policies and renters rights during COVID-19. If you’re a landlord, join in on Wednesday, Aug. 18 about the eviction moratorium and changing rules.

Fallen tree on Sherman Ave. between Lincoln Street and Colfax Street. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Tuesday night storm leaves Evanston with fallen trees and power outages. City crews worked around the clock last week to clean up the damange from Tuesday night’s story. Trees were down, roads were blocked and power was out in various parts of Evanston.  


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Schools

School District 65’s $150 million tentative operating budget for FY’22 lays out spending to address learning loss. At the Aug. 9 meeting of School District 65’s Finance Committee, Kathy Zalewski, Business Manager, presented a tentative budget for the 2021-2022 school year (FY’22), and presented information estimating how the District will end its current fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2021. The District is estimating it will close out FY’21 with a surplus of about $3.2 million, which is about $2.9 million more than the surplus budgeted for the year. 

Is anything missing from that reading list? Throughout Evanston public schools, a robust library is a vital part of the institution, and for many schools, it is something to be proud of. However, just as in any other library, school librarians face challenges regarding banned books and keeping their collections inclusive, yet well rounded. In her 16 years at District 65, Nichols Middle School Librarian Kefira Philippe says she has never received a request to ban a book, or even a complaint about a book on the shelf. 

Art & Life

Unika Gujar displays her handmade crochet dolls. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Evanston artist sparks joy in children with her handmade crochet toys. Crochet toys are a hot item for students at Willard Elementary School. That’s what local artist and early childhood educator Unika Gujar discovered five years ago at the school fair, where she set up a stand and sold her handmade crochet toys. The Willard students loved the toys, and when Gujar ran out, they begged for more. Realizing the popularity of her goods, she decided to start selling her toys more seriously. 

I call these people liars. Dear Gabby, My husband is a different person when we have friends over. He is more lively, more forthcoming, more affectionate. Is this for show? Should I be grateful he is like this on occasion, or resentful that he’s not like this all the time? I don’t get it. Signed, Confused.

“I couldn’t have done it without this lady. I have a terrific partner,” said Dick Peach about his wife, Shelley. (RoundTable photo)

Retirement celebration honors careers and contributions of Dick and Shelley Peach. Dick and Shelley Peach have dedicated much of their lives to making Evanston a better place to live, work and play. They were both born and raised here. They met, married and raised their sons here. Only now, Evanston is their official second home. “We’re not leaving Evanston permanently. This is always going to be home.”

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals (Photo by Wendi Kromash)

Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals at Canal Shores. Evanston music lovers were treated to a soulful concert on Saturday evening, Aug. 7, as Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals took to the stage near the first tee at the Canal Shores Golf Course. Spokespeople from Out of Space, who produced the concert, and Canal Shores Golf Course confirmed that roughly 2,600 to 2,700 people attended.

Public Square

Lighthouse Keeper sees… that National Lighthouse Day was August 7th … that, speaking of lighthouses, a disclaimer is necessary to clarify that the Evanston RoundTable’s Lighthouse Keeper has no formal relationship with, or responsibility for, the Grosse Pointe Lighthouse. Just as the name RoundTable pays symbolic homage to the legend of King Arthur, welcoming many voices and diverse perspectives, the RoundTable’s Lighthouse Keeper pays homage to Evanston’s iconic symbol.

Sports

Hall’s return boosts Evanston football staff. Hall of Fame coaches he worked with – Chick Cichowski, Dan Mortier, Bob Naughton – all told Denny Hall the same thing: that he’d know it was time to retire the day that going to a football practice became a drudgery. That day hasn’t arrived yet. So Hall will return to the sidelines for the 48th year when football practice starts Monday across Illinois.


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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...