Evanston RoundTable

Good morning, Evanston.

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

Handling of lifeguard complaint was ‘a serious institutional failure,’ says Mayor Biss. The City of Evanston’s past handling of charges of sexual harassment and abuse brought by female lifeguards and beach employees in a petition to the City last July represents “a serious institutional failure that we must get to and rectify,” Mayor Daniel Biss said in a statement on July 22, in a report updating the City’s response to the situation.

City to Bring in Outside Firm to Investigate Female Lifeguards’ Allegations of Sexual Harassment at Evanston Beaches. The City of Evanston will turn to an outside firm to investigate charges brought by more than 50 female lifeguards and beach staff in a petition given to the City in July 2020. The petition asked for City officials to address sexual harassment and other abuses at Evanston’s lakefront. The City’s response posted on July 19 of this year on its website – the City’s second in a four-day period – said the City would hire an outside firm to investigate the female beach workers’ concerns.

Evanston officials have relied on General Obligation debt funding for a variety of major capital improvement projects. (RoundTable photo)

City May Look to ARPA Funds to Reduce Reliance on Debt Funding. The $43.1 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds Evanston is receiving to assist its recovery from the impact of COVID-19 may also prove helpful easing the debt funding the City turns to every year to finance major capital improvement projects. City officials discussed the possibility at the July 12 Administration & Public Works Committee in connection with an estimated $14.2 million general obligation bond sale that Evanston will be entering soon to support a wide range of capital projects in 2021.

COVID-19 update on July 22: Four new cases in Evanston, 1,993 in the State. The weekly number of new cases per 100,000 people in Illinois is 50 for the week ending July 22, a 42% increase from the week ending July 15 and a 138% increase from the week ending July 8. The number of new cases per week in the State are now 117% higher than they were on June 10, the day before the State moved to Phase 5. The trend is up. In the last two weeks, the trends of new cases per week are also up in Evanston, suburban Cook County and Chicago.

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Opening District 65 Schools in February as One Way to Address Students’ Mental Health and Social/Emotional Wellbeing. While opening the schools for in-person learning was intended to limit learning loss due to remote learning, part of the rationale was to better address students’ mental health issues and wellbeing. Plans to reopen school buildings changed with the waves of COVID-19. In the meantime, isolation from extended family and friends; restricted activities; economic hardship from the lockdown; concerns about health, safety and at times the loss of loved ones; and the remote learning took a toll on everyone.

Dr. Tali Raviv (Photo from Northwestern University website)

Not Just a Local Problem: Children Worldwide Are Affected by Isolation and Stress of the Pandemic. An estimated 1.6 billion children in 190 countries – approximately 90% of the world’s children – have been affected by school closings during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, according to UNICEF. The pandemic altered daily life in countless observable ways. Stores and restaurants stood empty; employment layoffs proliferated; lines at food banks stretched; Zoom use soared; and in addition to being out of school, many children were on lockdown, confined to their homes for extended periods of time. 

Arts & Life

Fleetwood’s 10-to-12 year-old age group, the Trailblazers, enjoy dodgeball at The Quad in Evanston. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Jenkins)

Evanston summer camps make a big return. The Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center and the Chandler-Newberger Center both dealt with difficult times during the darkest days of last year’s pandemic. Now, they are rebounding and hoping to get back to normal. Fleetwood-Jourdain had to shut down last year when the pandemic hit, which meant people couldn’t come in to play basketball, soccer and karate.

Artist Ben Blount’s second design for a mural at the intersection of Washington and Custer. (Photo courtesy of Ben Blount)

Arts Council approves new mural highlighting racial justice. The Evanston Arts Council voted unanimously July 13 to contribute funding to a new mural slated to reflect Evanston’s commitment to racial justice. The mural will appear on the viaduct walls on the west and north sides of the Washington/Custer intersection. The two walls, immediately off Chicago Avenue, have been empty since the fall of 2019. The new mural will consist entirely of text – very large white letters on a black background – using language that derives from the City’s Resolution 58-R-19 passed in June of 2019: A Resolution Commitment to End Structural Racism and Achieve Racial Equity. 

Coyotes, who remain mostly harmless to humans, bring worry to the community. (Photo courtesy of Cook County Urban Coyote Research Project)

Neighborhood Menace or Natural Wonder? Coyote Debate Lives On. You can almost set your calendar by the perennial debate about coyotes in residential neighborhoods. Last May, several Nextdoor.com discussions bubbled over when a coyote openly camped out near a school in Skokie’s Devonshire Park, possibly guarding her den of pups. Neighbors from Skokie and Evanston traded fears, opinions, admiration and even some barbs and snark about coyotes, and Nextdoor users from Rogers Park, Uptown, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Highland Park and Bannockburn also weighed in.

4 Suns flourishes at Main and Dodge. Immediately upon walking into 4 Suns Fresh Juice, patrons are enveloped by colorful murals, friendly staff and the sweet smell of sandalwood incense. At only seven months old, the juicery is an oasis of wellness, vitality and the creativity of Black artists. On Dec. 4, 2020, Gabrielle J. Walker, a captivating woman with a big heart and ambitious desire to provide for her community, opened 4 Suns.

Levy Lecture with author and documentarian Ava Thompson Greenwell. During the past 15 months, Ava Thompson Greenwell completed the documentary she produced and directed, “Mandela in Chicago,” saw it premier on Chicago’s WTTW-Channel 11, completed and submitted for publication the manuscript for her first book, “Ladies Leading: The Black Women Who Control Television News,” Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications.

‘Women of Distinction’ Puts History In Perspective 127 Years Later. A yearning for justice and dedication to equality in the African American community today mirrors the same hopes and struggles more than a century ago, as reflected in author Lawson A. Scruggs’ book “Women of Distinction,” written in 1893. Progress has been slow, but Dr. Scruggs lauded the efforts of 91 Black women who helped make a difference in keeping this important struggle alive. The book introduced 91 Black women who made significant contributions to the nation in the 19th century. 

Steven Rogers outside his Harvard Business School office with his daughter, Ariel, who graduated from ETHS in 2004.

Time to Act: How White People Can Help the Black Population. Steven Rogers’ formula for helping the Black community is crystal clear: whites should donate to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, patronize Black businesses, deposit money in Black-owned banks and support reparations. The former entrepreneur and retired Northwestern and Harvard Business School professor, a longtime Evanston resident, has a new book titled “A Letter to My White Friends and Colleagues: What You Can Do Right Now to Help the Black Community.”

Doug Holt (guitar), Jane Holt (vocals), Susan Abraham (guitar and vocals), Max Shapiro (percussion), Jeremy Manier (bass guitar) and Kip Rainey (pedal steel, mandolin, guitar).

Alongside Harold Returns to Stage with ‘Pure Joy’ The evening began with “Silver Lining” by Mt. Joy and ended with “Baba O’Riley” by The Who. In between, the band Alongside Harold played two hours of solid Americana covers “with a twist,” including a mellow version of “Lovesong” by the Cure and a mashup of “I’ve Got a Feeling” and “She Came in through the Bathroom Window” by the Beatles.

The Age 60 – 65 Meteors Senior Basketball Team that represented the Evanston Levy Center at the National Senior Games in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June 2019. Left to right are the following players: Jeffrey Doman, Keith Chalmers. Bob Anthony, Jim Mayer, Bob Crawford and David Duffy.

Levy Center Basketball Reopening Brings Joy to Members. Dorrance Halverson started shooting baskets by himself at the Levy Senior Center shortly after the court was built in 2002. More players began to join in the program the next few years, leading to pickup games at noon. Bob Swedlow joined in 2013 and Chuck Pierret joined in the fun 2 1/2 years ago. But last year COVID-19 hit and the center shut down.

Homemade dolls (Submitted photo)

The art of making art: Cozbi Cabrera. Cozbi A. Cabrera and her family are new to Evanston, having moved here just before the pandemic from Brooklyn, N.Y. where she owned a women’s and children’s boutique full of her creations. Ms. Cabrera makes art in three distinct forms: book authorship and illustration, community quilting and handmade dolls. All her art forms are inspired, delicate and beautifully unique.

If You Plant It, Monarch Butterflies Will Come. “We brought a milkweed pod home with us from Michigan after a visit last fall. My husband scattered the seeds along the rocks south of the beach at South Blvd. Monarch butterflies are a common sight there now!” Photo of the week submitted by Mary Jon Girard.

People are weird about money. Dear Gabby, How do I talk to my partner about their mother? We’ve been together over 10 years and in that time, she has never once paid for a thing when she is with us, despite having plenty of money. Not a glass of wine, dinner, movie, nada. It drives me insane but it doesn’t seem to bother my partner one bit. When I’ve tried to broach it, my partner gets defensive. Where does that leave me? Signed, Stuck with the check…

Public Square

Michael Woolf: What is going on at the Lakefront? Like many Evanstonians this week, I was alarmed at the reports of sexual harassment and assault that were reported by female lifeguards, many of whom are or were minors at the time, at our lakefront. What is going on? Thankfully our City Council has seemed ready to take up the task of accountability, and I wholeheartedly support them in that endeavor. However, like many, I find it troubling that an issue of this magnitude was not communicated to them. Secrecy is no way to ensure accountability.

Peggy Tarr: Scatter Rugs Be Gone. While out of town, a neighbor – a retired beautician whom I shall call Ann, volunteered to cut my hair. She had done so when I visited a year or so ago. This time, she came over to where I was staying and cut my hair. I knew Ann did not want any payment, but I decided to give her a thank-you card and put a little something inside it.

Letter to the Editor. Dear Editor: YWCA Evanston/North Shore is committed to eliminating racism and empowering women, and we support District 65 administrators and school board’s anti-racism and anti-oppression work. A few years ago, we supported the district’s leadership as they embarked on the process of becoming an anti-racist district. That was a courageous declaration then, and the work to achieve that goal has been considerable and commendable.

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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...