ten ideas for Evanston's future

Evanston150, an ambitious volunteer initiative conceived in 2011 as a "forward-looking" celebration of Evanston's 150th anniversary, succeeded in identifying the community's ten visionary ideas to make Evanston a better place to live, work, play.

community-wide collaboration

In 2013 Evanston celebrated its rich history over the 150 years since its incorporation in 1863. The groundwork for the Evanston150 community-wide visioning process began in 2008, and in 2011 a jury identified the 100 top project ideas from the 2,185 ideas generated over several months of community brainstorming activities. Public voting events were held the weekend of October 15-16, 2011 to narrow the pool of top ideas to 30, after which the jury selected the top ten ideas for the community to embark upon as specific projects.

ten big ideas

These were the top ten ideas identified in 2013 and how they live on in Evanston today:

Market for All Seasons: To create a year-round farmers market. A winter market has been established at the Evanston Ecology Center by the City of Evanston and Friends of Evanston Farmers Market. The markets are supported by Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets, with a mission to educate the public about the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown foods, and advocate greater access to healthy food for all community members, regardless of means.

Learn to Work: To create a 21st century youth workforce development program. Evanston Cradle to Career (C2C) is an initiative addressing needs of children through age 23, and one of the C2C action teams is focused on post-secondary planning and outcomes.

The More You Know: Establish neighborhood literacy centers with free WiFi. Evansotn Public Library continues to focus on bringing access to all Evanstonians, including digital access.

Here's to Our Health: To create a community health center. A partnership was formed with officials planning to open a new health center and with a federal grant in June 2012, Erie Family Health Center officially opened in October that year to serve Evanston.

Little and Learning: To create universal preschool. Access to early childhood education is a focus of Evanston Cradle to Career (C2C).

Walk N Roll: Improve safety and enjoyment for pedestrians and bicyclists. The Walk N Roll's project Shared Streets transitioned into Streets Alive! fairs, and was adopted in 2014 by Citizens Greener Evanston.

Water Water Everywhere: To enhance water recreation, and all children will learn to swim. In May 2014, ECF transferred the Evanston Swims! Fund to the YWCA Evanston/North Shore. The program will be expanded and managed through a partnership among the YWCA, McGaw YMCA and Evanston/Skokie School District 65.

Green and Clean: Make Evanston one of the greenest cities in the U.S. With support from Evanston Openlands’ TreeKeepers and the city’s Office of Sustainability and the Forestry Division in Public Works, 150 trees were planted to replace ones lost to disease.

Edible Evanston: To establish local food sources. The mission of Edible Evanston is to develop sustainable local food sources by creating urban farms, community gardens, greenhouses, and composting sites. Through these sites, provide educational opportunities for individuals to expand their knowledge of nutrition, growing food, and composting; and incorporate a long-­term commitment to development and preservation of open green spaces in the urban environment. The Evanston Community Foundation awarded two Responsive Grants for the Eggleston Orchard "Public Outreach Gardens" pilot project with two-thirds of the gardens located to serve underserved Evanston neighborhoods.

Evanston Teen Center: To create a world-class youth development center. Interest remains high in the community and the recent opening of the YMCA MetaMedia Center and the upcoming re-location of Y.O.U.'s headquarters demonstrate new efforts to offer programs to teens.