Advertisement

Community members press mayor for more youth outlets

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl began her annual Town Meeting Wednesday at the Chandler-Newberger Community Center in usual fashion, briefing her audience on some of the issues in front of the city.

She then opened up the meeting to questions.

The pace was slow at first, with only a few questions rolling in from community members who were filling the seats of the center’s North Gym area.

“C’mon Mt. Zion,” said the mayor, looking out at her audience. “You all came.”

The mayor had taken notice that members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, one of the city’s historic churches with a large African-American representation, had turned out in force at the center, 1028 Central St.

From that point on, she was mostly in a listening mode as community members poured out their concerns about recent shootings and the need for solutions.

“We have children killing children,” said one speaker. “At what point do we say enough is enough?”

“I tried to be a good mother, but sometimes our kids get overpowered with our society,” said Wanda Reed, a longtime resident. “It’s it not the church, not the mayor … police … It’s our responsibility.”

Ridgeville Park Commissioners Dan Coyne and Rob Bady spoke of their efforts to bring more opportunities to that district, a separate taxing body that serves roughly 30,000 people in south Evanston.

The two worked to get basketball hoops reinstalled. More recently, they were active in sponsoring family pizza parties that recently drew an estimated 400 people to one park.

“There are some kids in our town who have never experienced roasting marshmallows,” Bady said.

Ellen Chiocca, a newcomer to Evanston, who works as a pediatric nurse in a clinic in Chicago’s uptown neighborhood, spoke of the young gunshot victims she’s seen as part of her work, and easy access to weapons fueling the violence.

Krenice Roseman and Kim Frazier spoke about the work of the Dajae Coleman Foundation (dc3f.org), a non-profit community-based organization founded in 2013 to honor the life of Coleman, a victim of gun violence at age 14.

The group seeks to encourage, empower and reward youth. On July 25, the foundation is sponsoring another community reading of “How Long Will I Cry? Voices of Youth Violence,” and engage in conversations of strategies to end youth violence.

The starts at 6:30 p.m., at Sherman United Methodist Church, 2214 Ridge Ave.

Shortly before his death, Coleman wrote an essay, lamenting the lack of support kids on the street receive.

Mary Rosinski, active in the foundation, spoke of the important of the city providing youth with access to the lakefront. She asked the mayor if the city had worked with the schools, opening up gymnasiums those youngsters could use on weekend nights, having a place to go.

Tisdahl was sympathetic with those efforts, recalling her work as a member of Mothers Against Gangs several decades ago, and the group’s efforts seeking more recreational and social opportunities.

She saw first hand, she said, “you take 300 kids off the street, dumb things aren’t going to happen as much.’’

She sought volunteers from members at the meeting to create some of the recreational opportunities, such as drop-in gyms, they are seeking.

Mount Zion Baptist Church Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Taurus K. Scurlock, volunteered his congregation’s support.

“We’d love to do the drop-in,” he said.

After the meeting, Scurlock said about 30 congregation members, along with 20 youth, attended the meeting to demonstrate their concern “that there is not enough for our youths to do. They fall victim sadly to the culture of the street,” he said.

Tisdahl ended the meeting with an appeal of her own. Speaking of the Evanston Police Department’s Text-A-Tip and other programs, “We really need to cooperate with police,’’ she told community members, “and tell them what we know and we need to get people who shoot other people off the streets.”

Earlier in the evening, the mayor sketched out some of the progress the city had made on creating more jobs for youth and workplace development, but said more has to be done.

She said the number of jobs in the Summer Youth Employment program has risen from 200 to 500. Similarly, the city has been successful in persuading Oakton College to start workforce development training classes in Evanston and received commitments from Evanston Township High School.

“I think we are doing what best practices require in terms of decreasing crime,” said the mayor who recently began her fifth year in office. “I’m told if we get up to 1,000 summer jobs that usually produces a decrease in crime of 30 percent.”

Tags:

0 Comments

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
                    
Advertisement
    
  
                    
Advertisement
    
  
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
  • Advertisement
Advertisement

Modal