Evanston RoundTable
Happy Easter!

Good morning, Evanston.

The RoundTable wraps up its first big membership drive this weekend – and it’s been a resounding success. More than 400 Evanstonians have stepped up – and more than 750 have contributed since we became a non-profit news outlet. Your support makes it possible for the Roundtable to expand our work covering local government, schools, civic and artistic activities, and other important issues facing Evanston. And that expansion is just getting started.

Local journalism is in crisis. The United States has lost 25% of its newspapers over the past 15 years, the vast majority of which were weekly papers and other non-dailies. Without strong local journalism, a community lacks the information it needs to make decisions about its future. It has no facts and no common language to understand and make decisions.

Reflecting on the mission of local journalism, this morning we wanted to bring you a terrific essay on the importance of local news by Pittsburgh-based writer and filmmaker John W. Miller.

America is becoming a land of news deserts. The U.S. has lost 2,100 newspapers in the last 15 years, and many of the surviving 6,700 papers have become “ghost newspapers,” shadows of their former selves, according to the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

There is hope – in the form of digital startups, philanthropic aid, and reinvestment in local news. ProPublica is partnering with local newsrooms around the country. Report for America has funded hundreds of new local journalism jobs. The American Journalism Project is raising $50 million to invest in newsrooms. More investment – a Marshall Plan, to invoke the legacy of Gen. George C. Marshall – is needed.

“Local journalism can’t take place without institutional support,” said Victor Pickard, author of “Democracy without Journalism?…You have to fertilize for new shoots to arrive.”

Help us continue to provide timely coverage of important news and events in Evanston. The civic health of our City depends on robust, independent journalism. Invest in Evanston – become a member of the RoundTable today!

Now on to the week that was. 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

Maria Topin carries a sign at the vigil. (Photo by Adina Keeling)

Vigil in Solidarity with Asian Americans. A vigil on April 1 attracted more than 150 people to Lovelace Park and scores more via Zoom to express solidarity with Asian Americans.

Bookends & Beginnings Leads Independent Booksellers in Suit Against Amazon and the ‘Big Five’ Publishers. One of Evanston’s independent bookstores, Bookends & Beginnings, is the lead plaintiff in a federal class action lawsuit filed last week in the Southern District of New York.

Mayor-Elect: Aldermanic Candidates Not to Be Blamed for Group’s Mailings. Mayor-Elect Daniel Biss has come out with what he described as “a quick note” to his initial statement several days ago that sharply criticized a group behind some political mailings in Evanston as “a shadow political party,” with “an unspoken policy platform.”

Hagerty a Top Donor in Evanston Together PAC. Stephen Hagerty is listed as one of the top contributors to an Evanston political group that has sparked controversy in its mailings promoting candidates in the upcoming Evanston municipal election.

New PAC Accused of Injecting Discord Into Aldermanic Campaigns. Despite a name that speaks of unity, a recently formed Political Action Committee is exposing some political fault lines in the community.

The new communal fridge in front of Childcare Network of Evanston. (RoundTable photo)

New Fridge, Same Mission. Less than two weeks after a wayward truck demolished Evanston’s first communal refrigerator, a replacement has been installed just a few feet away, still at 1335 Dodge Ave.

COVID-19 Update on April 2: ­­­­13 New Cases in Evanston, 3,235 in the State. To date, the City of Evanston has administered or distributed more than 22,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses. Next week the City plans to begin in-home vaccinations for people unable to attend City vaccination events. Everyone 16 and older in Evanston and Illinois will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 12. The City cautions, though, that eligibility does not mean availability, and demand for vaccines will continue to be greater than supply in the coming weeks.


Angel Cruz models the hoodie he made and screened with his signature design. (Submitted photo)

ETHS Seniors Followed Their Muses During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Evanston Township High School seniors Angel Cruz, Noam Hasak-Lowy, and Indira Abraham are making the best of the pandemic’s “new normal.” They’ve stayed plugged into the high school’s remote learning, have goals for the future, have pursued their creative passions, and are grateful for their mentors and peer support along the way. The three-part series by Judy Chiss includes profiles of Angel, Noam and Indira.

Proposed D65 Social Studies Curriculum to Include Lessons in Oppression and Resilience. Starting in 2023 and perhaps earlier, students in District 65 schools will learn from what administrators say will be a fuller and more honest social studies curriculum. The new curriculum will be aligned to the “Triple C” framework – college, career, and civil life – of the Illinois Learning Standards.

School District 65 Estimated to Receive $10.6 Million in Federal Aid, School District 202, $3.7 Million. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois K-12 school districts are receiving $7 billion in federal funding to support students as they return to the classroom after distance and hybrid learning due to COVID-19.

D65 Superintendent Devon Horton Forms LLC for Executive Coaching. In the past few days, members of the community have been sharing a link to the website of “Altering the Education Xpectation,” which offers executive coaching in the educational field. In the About Us section, Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent of School District 65, is the only person mentioned. Organizational papers for a limited liability company “Altering the Education Xpectation LLC” were filed with the Illinois Secretary of State on Oct. 15, 2020. Dr. Horton is listed as the manager.

Arts & Life

Fruteland Jackson (Submitted photo)

Fruteland Jackson Explains the Emergence of Blues in America. On March 23, Fruteland Jackson, a nationally known blues musician, teacher, and blues historian, shared part of his vast knowledge with a virtual crowd of nearly 300 eager listeners as a second-time Levy Lecture speaker. Mr. Jackson has the distinction of hosting the only in-person Levy Lecture in 2020, on March 10, right before the pandemic restrictions took effect.

Writing Memoir: The Gift to Yourself, From Columnist Les Jacobson. Last week I gave a Zoom presentation sponsored by the McGaw YMCA about the value of writing. I acknowledged that the title – “Write As If Your Life Depends On it” – was an exaggeration, but not much. I maintained that writing was like a gift to yourself, because it could make you a better person.

A Curt’s Café Memoir, From Columnist Peggy Tarr. It is March, Women’s History Month, a month to honor women for their accomplishments and contributions to history, culture, society, and support of each other. It is a time to love, honor, and show respect for women and have compassion for their challenges.

Deary Gabby: Am I Allowed to Admit This? Can I confide a secret? Everyone talks about how they can’t wait until the pandemic ends and things are back to “normal” again. But while I hate some things about the pandemic (no travel, fear of infection, death rates), I’m secretly not hating this all that much. I don’t have to go to boring family parties. I love not commuting to work. I have a built-in excuse to stay home and watch “The Crown.” I don’t even miss theater subscriptions. Am I allowed to admit this?

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