With trumpet flourishes and theatrical flair, Evanston150 this evening unveiled its final selection of 10 projects organizers hope residents will work to accomplish in time for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2013.

Here’s the list, with descriptions provided by Evanston150.

The More You Know: City of Information
Establish fully functional neighborhood literacy centers in geographically different areas of Evanston. In addition to providing conventional library services and events, these facilities will promote community learning with a focus on technology. This project will also establish free wi-fi city-wide in order for residents to have access to information everywhere!
Here’s to Our Health
Establish a community health center to provide high quality and affordable medical, dental, and preventive care for all, regardless of ability to pay, for those who are uninsured and underinsured. The center will provide laboratory and x-ray services, patient case management, pharmacy services, translation and transportation assistance.
Edible Evanston
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. Incorporate a long-term commitment to development and preservation of open green spaces in the urban environment.
Walk ‘N Roll Evanston
Commit to safety and enjoyment for pedestrians and bicyclists in Evanston. Create more bike lanes and walking paths, educate drivers and bikers about their use, add borrow-a-bike stations throughout the city. Provide more locations to lock and store bikes, add fountains to beautify existing paths, and designate certain streets or blocks as car-free. Transform certain areas, including converting Mayfair Rail Spur, into a pedestrian and bikeway, extending the bike path connecting Rogers Park and Evanston, and connecting the lakefront path with the canal path.
Green and Clean
Make Evanston one of the greenest cities in the United States. Become carbon neutral, conserve water, and create sustainable sources of energy. Balance carbon released with an equivalent amount absorbed through planting trees and vegetation. Promote responsible water use and conservation by installing rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavement. Research and develop renewable energy sources while simultaneously increasing energy efficiency in existing buildings.
Teen Town
Create a world-class youth development center focusing on appropriate opportunities for holistic growth. Provide a positive youth development space for activities such as career counseling, tutoring, job training, financial literacy, apprenticeship programs, technology, and exploration. Include volunteer and internship opportunities. Encourage leadership development through physical, social, artistic, and cultural activities, such as the implementation of Il Sistema, a children’s music education program. Provide community gathering and recreational spaces.
Learn to Work and Work to Learn
Develop a vocational/co-op technical school serving a diverse population of students and residents. The school will integrate classroom study with practical work experience, providing training that connects to opportunities for employment in Evanston and the surrounding region.
A Market for All Seasons and Reasons
Establish a year-round indoor/outdoor community market as the centerpiece of a revitalized public space. This market will connect our community with local farmers and artisans, strengthening our local economy, and will serve as a vibrant community gathering place. Its essence is two-fold: to energize our public spaces, and retain dollars within our community.
Water, Water Everywhere
Ensure that ALL Evanston residents have access to water recreation by providing free beach access, building a state-of-the-art green technology, outdoor water pool/water park. Develop Evanston’s canal as a “second coast” space by cleaning and enhancing the waterway for more recreational activities. Teach all children to swim.

Little and Learning
Provide the foundation for success in school through high-quality affordable, universal preschool experiences for 3 and 4-year olds so that all Evanston children are ready for kindergarten and prepared for success later in life.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. City of Misinformation?

    The More You Know: City of Information

    Establish fully functional neighborhood literacy centers in geographically different areas of Evanston. In addition to providing conventional library services and events, these facilities will promote community learning with a focus on technology. This project will also establish free wi-fi city-wide in order for residents to have access to information everywhere!


    Well…..enquiring minds certainly want to know, but this proposal sounds fishy.  'neighborhood literacy centers'?  Is that a euphemism for branch libraries?   Free wi-fi sounds good, but let's pull the plug on branch libraries.

  2. add an 11th idea

    Missing in all of this is something that presents a slight problem, how to pay for all of this?  

    Nowhere is there any revenue generating suggestion. I suppose "tax the rich" is one. However they have all left…

    1. Number 12-14

      12.  Remove all salary and benefits and perks from the city council and boards

      13. Zero based budgeting.  All spending must be evaulated each year and all new projects must specify the source of funding

      14. No new 'art' or 'arts' until the budget is balanced and pensions fully funded [or converted to 401-k and funded].

      1. good idea

        12. Remove all salary and benefits and perks from the city council and boards

        13. Zero based budgeting.  All spending must be evaluated each year and all new projects must specify the source of funding



        Great idea!  Let's make all of our aldermen and staff do lots of extra work by re-evaluating every line item every year  ( say…how much should we set aside for snow removal this year?  Let's not look at last year's budget..let's start from zero .).  Let's make every manager spend lots of time every year justifying their budget anew, as if they didn't do it the previous year.

        And then…to top it off…let's expect the aldermen to do all of this extra work for free.  Nothing.  This will ensure that only old people with plenty of time on their hands will run for council.

  3. Quit Before You Start?!

    Wow, what a defeatist attitude these comments demonstrate.

    A group of Evanstonians (NOT the City of Evanston) spent months trying to come up with some ideas for improving our community. They generate over 2,000 ideas, big and small. They creatively consolidate and come up with 10 big projects for members of the community to work on. And what do we get – the usual grouching about "what's it going to cost."

    What about trying to come up with creative solutions? What about a little sweat equity? What about donations? What about thinking about the valuable outcomes that these projects might have?

    Instead of griping about what's wrong with these ideas, how about participating to find solutions?

    Or maybe even implement a good idea yourself to improve the quality of life for Evanstonians?

    Of course, it's much easier just to sit home and complain.

    1. Think before you start

      These hard working souls must be in a vacuum somewhere. They apparently are not aware that the City does face some financial problems.


      A pension problem that requires hundreds of millions of dollars by 2044. Are they aware that our taxes are going up? We pay $75 for a vehicle sticker and the mere mere in Skokie pay $20.

      It is much easier to spend until you run out of other peoples' money.

      1. Read before you write

        Vito, did you even bother to read anything other than the article reporting the results?  This is not about coming up with ways to have the City bankroll new ideas.  Part of the challenge, from the beginning, was to find ways to pay for the 10 ideas.  Go read about Envision Dubuque, which was the model for Evanston150.  They were able to accomplish all 10 of their visionary ideas.

        Some of the ideas take more creativity and sweat equity than money.  Other ideas do require significant funding, but it is possible to put together partnerships of private sources, community organizations and foundations to back the ideas, possibly combined with service fees or tuition as sources of revenues.  Given the state of the economy, new or increased taxes are not a realistic source, but some of the ideas (such as "Walk 'N Roll") may just require coordination of expenditures that would be made in any event.

        Take a look at the Evanston150 website and see the list of sponsoring organizations.  What's more, there were dozens of participating organizations throughout Evanston.

        I don't necessarily think that all of the ideas are practical, at least in the current economy.  Certainly, some are at best very long term.  But the process of looking forward and asking what would make Evanston a better place 5 or 10 years from now and trying to see how to accomplish them is not only realistic but necessary. Things like early childhood education, energy efficiency, information infrastructure and other ideas that will help keep Evanston vital have to be addressed.

        Instead of taking a defeatist attitude, pick up the challenge.  Help figure out which ideas are feasible and how they can be accomplished within the limits of the available resources.  We have so much talent in Evanston that if half the effort that was put into sniping was redirected in a constructive manner, we would get things done in a jiffy.

        1. Think before you do

          Given the state of the City's financial exposure, should we divert our efforts tfrom trying to make the City financially feasible? With effort just trying to maintain services and staff, these are "feel good" diversions. How do we pay for the library, much less have literacy centers? We have kicked the can down the road on pensions long enough, stretching the deadline from 2033 to 2044 is not much help. How do we pay for a new school — $25 megabucks? There are all kinds of "feel good" proposals: Wind turbines in the lake, marinas and casinos in the lake. Do we fund them with a bag tax or just soak property owners?

          Just drive around and see all the empty lots, storefronts and foreclosed properties. That is where we should be looking forward.

          What may be sniping for some may be rational reality for others…

          1. Library Funding—A Ploy

            Allowing the library to operate as independent of city funding has allowed the council to avoid facing another budget issue.

            If the funding came through the council, it is very likely that reduced hours and collections would soon occur because of the cities financial problems.  Then citizens would see the "city has no clothes."  Instead the library [at least the Main] is supported by residents.  If the library was under city funding and reduced services, it would show [another example] of how badly the city is managed and had inept financial practices.  Instead the city can pretend everything is fine and go after the '100' proposals that are out of touch with reality—and I'm sure they will find more things we can't afford.

    2. Start complaining…

      You must be new to this site?

      Complaining is the norm here. Rarely are constructive solutions discussed.

      It's both amusing and disheartening to read most comment boards on this site when the problem-solving solutions are far outnumbered by the knee-jerk reactionary comments.

      Let the responses begin…

    3. “Quit before you start” now that a good idea!

      Frankly this is par for the course here a bunch of residents waste months talking about ideas. What is generated is the same old stuff.  There is nothing new here but the agendas of certain community members.  Some of these same people have wasted our tax dollars for years.

      Come up with the $400,000 dollars to pay the city for free beaches from the lost revenue and the other hundred of thousands of dollars in problems it will create.

      Come up with the 3-4 million it will cost to open a health clinic, and the yearly cost of hundreds of thousand of dollars to operate, when it may not even be need.

      Open more community gardens when we don't need more, maybe the city has some extra funds.

      Free preschool, how much money did District 64 spend on the child care center it has now! By the way does not look like achievement in the district has gone up?  15 -20 million

      As I said these are the agenda of the select few, not a big community agenda.

      The community foundation needs to spend it own funds on this effort not our tax dollars, anyone want to tell me how much the school district and city spend on this silly effort?

      1. Where is your evidence for a conspiracy of the few?


        ""Some of these same people"? "agenda of the select few"? "not a big community agenda"? You seem to think that there was some sort of conspiracy to regurgitate a pre-determined result. That's a pretty serious charge. But do you have any fac;ts to support it?

        Were all of the people who submitted over 2200 ideas part of the "select few"? How about the hundreds of residents who participated over two days in the voting process that reduced 100 ideas to 30? Were they all aiders and abetters, tools of the "select few"? What of the jury that whittled the 2200 ideas to 100 and then the peoples choices down to ten? Were they the "same people" you criticize generally and by innuendo? Or, were they under the thumb of those unnamed people.

        It is certainly fair to debate the merits and feasibility of each and all of the ten ideas generated through the Evanston 150 process. The results may be aspirational, but that is a far cry from a "silly effort." There is nothing silly about preschool education to help get kids off to a good start in life. There is nothing silly about vocational education for those who are not college bound or who need retraining. And there is nothing silly about literacy centers or community markets, each of which can not only improve lives, but, if located strategically, can help to anchor and revitalize neighborhoods. If those, and the other ideas, are not "a big community agenda," what is?

        Does this mean that economics are not important? Of course not. The reality is that funding for these projects will not come primarily from taxes. Increasing real estate taxes at 8% or even 5% a year is not a sustainable policy. And pensions for current public employees will have to be modified so that those who have earned their pensions will actually be able to receive a return on what they have earned to date, other necessary programs and services will not be starved and those who have to pay will not be overburdened. That modification will clearly require more foresight and courage than we have seen from our state legislators, including the ones from Evanston.

        But as formidable as the economic challenge is, it should not stop the effort of many, many people to try to strenghen the community in which they live. So, come on Ponzi, give it a shot. Join one of the groups working to make our City a better place. You might even find it productive.


  4. Submit more ideas on this web site

    The one missing idea is how to pay for all of this without increasing taxes or fees on evanston residents.

    Let this be the first of the fund raising ideas. The people who came up with these ideas should be responsible for raising the funds for the cost of implementing. This would be the true test of how good they think their idea really is.

    Good luck

  5. Hmmm

    Not one of these ideas addresses solving the cities fiscal calamity and bringing new businesses.

    Not one of these ideas generates revenue.

    Let's give everyone something for free.  And who is going to pay for this?  How does the city plan to fund any of this?

    Simple point – realign your priorities.

    Solve Evanston's fiscal crisis first. 

    Once the city is on good economic footing, then let's go ahead and address these programs, some of which are good ideas.

    Good ideas yes, but bad timing and mis-aligned priorities.

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