Groups enter 2013 with big goals
Evanston 150 members have some important goals entering 2013, which marks the city's 150th anniversary. | File
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:21AM
Imagine a series of linked streets where residents might bike, jog, stroll, just plain mingle without any worry of cars or trucks bearing down on them.
If the idea sounds utopian, it is. Members of Evanston’s Walk N Roll are proposing a closed streets experiment as one of their key ideas for 2013
“The route we have been looking at is around Main and Chicago,” said Susan Munro, one of the group’s leaders. “That may not turn out to be the best. What we need to do is get buy-in from residents and merchants in the next month.”
Walk N Roll is one of 10 groups that emerged from the Evanston 150 process with big plans for 2013.
Evanston 150 was started in 2011. The community-wide initiative involved a number of citizens and community groups, resulting in 10 “visionary ideas” to celebrate Evanston’s 150th anniversary. Some groups have already made substantial progress.
Evanston 150’s “Water, Water, Water Everywhere” group made a splashy debut this October, involving 130 District 65 students in a program designed to teach basic swimming skills.
Community officials gathered a little later to celebrate another Evanston 150 group, “Here’s to Health,” goal in the opening of a federally funded health center.
At a November anniversary meeting, leaders of other groups indicated they are pulling together information, working on logistics and taking the nitty gritty steps necessary to bring their goals to reality.
The other groups include the following:
• “The More You Know” group is exploring establishing neighborhood literacy centes with free WIFI.
• “Little and Learning” is seeking universal preschool.
• “Green and Clean’s” goal is to make Evanston one of Illinois’s greenest cities.
• “Edible Evanston” is looking to create sustainable food sources.
• “Teen Town’s” quest is world class youth development center for Evanston.
• “A Market for All Seasons” is searching for a spot to host a farmer’s market year round.
Grand Rapids, Mich. is close to completing a $30 million year-round farmer’s market project, noted Dennis Clarkson, spokesperson for the “A Market for All Seasons,’ group.
For the Evanston group, the next step is to obtain a 501C tax designation, denoting non-profit status, he said.
Once that is done, “we need to start identifying the different foundations that help us get to where we want to go.”
Little and Learning is in the process of setting up focus groups to look at the availability of child care through the eyes of parents, said Connie Porteous, spokesperson for that group.
“We’re trying to find out where the gaps are,” she said. “We’re trying to set up focus groups so we can talk to families who have had success and families who have not had success.”
Families who might be interested in participating should contact Porteous, either through email at email@example.com, or through the phone, at 847-328-4148.
To learn more about Evanston 150, and how to participate in the process, click on evanston150.org
Edible Evanston’s goal is simple – encourage residents to grow their food locally, said Ken Kastman, one of the group’s leaders, speaking at the Evanston 150 November meeting.
The group is aiming to create at least 150 gardens in line with the city’s 150th anniversary this year.
“Gardens can be in backyards, front yards, patios, balconies, parkways,” he said. “There are raised beds in public spaces, businesses have roof gardens, institutional spaces.”
The group then hopes to create a web site where residents can register their gardens, he said.
Walk N Roll already has some significant achievements under its belt. Earlier in the year, the group took over three parking spaces in the Main and Custer area, conducting readings and even holding a joint meditation session to demonstrate other less intensive uses of the space.
The Open Streets project, though, is the group’s big initiative, said Natalie Watson, one of the group’s spokespeople along with Munro.
“We believe if we can get more people walking and biking it can make Evanston a better place,” she said. “It makes our air cleaner, it makes us all healthier, it makes the streets safer. It helps our businesses.
“We want to see our streets blossom,’’ she said.~.