At a town hall forum Wednesday night most speakers called for more recreational activities and job training opportunities for young people as a response to gun violence in Evanston.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, who led the session, said the city’s summer youth jobs program has expanded to offer more than 500 jobs this year, but she hopes to soon be able to double its size.

The mayor also encouraged residents to volunteer to organize recreation programs for students — noting that years ago she’d been involved in organizing evening drop-in programs for students at Evanston Township High School.

A young activist with the Dajae Coleman Foundation.

Activists from church groups and other organizations also promoted events they’re organizaing.

Those include a community book reading at 6:30 p.m. on Friday July 25 at Sherman United Methodist Church, 2214 Ridge Ave., at which members of the Dajae Coleman Foundation will read excerpts from “How Long Will I Cry?” and discuss youth violence, and a prayer vigile at 7 p.m. tonight and Friday at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 1113 Clark St.

Ridgeville Park District Board Member Rob Bady.

Rob Bady, a member of the Ridgeville Park District’s board, said the park district is working to reach more young people in its south Evanston neighborhood with a variety of events — including pizza parties that have drawn several hundred people. The next one, he said, is scheduled for Aug. 13.

He said that until recently, while there are 6,000 kids in the area Ridgeville serves, “we were only serving 150.”

About 70 people turned out for the town hall event held at the Chandler Newberger Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Additional Suggestions

    I suggest a possible revamp of middle and high school health education courses to include information on the dangers illegal guns pose, plus detailed information on the physical devastation and deaths that result from bullets. Providing young people documented information on the typical career track (i.e., times arrested and incarcerated) and overall life expectancy of a gang member would also be helpful in influencing and guiding our youth toward making the right decisions for their future. Too many think thuglife is a game until they wind up arrested for murder—or are murdered by some other clueless baby thug.

  2. Why the focus on “students”? Recent gun arrests involve adults.

    Every time there are gun-related crimes, the usual suspects arrange "town meetings", calls for more recreation activities and "job training." As the article attests, these programs are implemented or expanded, yet we still have gun crimes.  

    It seems like the Mayor, council, and police need to step back and look at the facts.  We have a criminal element in the community who are largely comprised of ADULTS.  

    Look at the recent arrests reported by Evanston Now: a 20-year old "habitual criminal" from Chicago, a 19-year old, a 53-year old accountant, a 31-year old from Des Plaines.

    What we need is better and more aggressive policing of known criminals.  This should be combined with  more aggressive enforcement of code violations and improvement of the safety of streets.  Jane Jacobs argued back in the 1960s that the most vital neighborhoods are those where citizens feel safe walking around neighborhoods.  Abandoned and dilapidated buildings combined with the tolerance of adult criminals creates communities of fear.  Aggressive police and code enforcement will do much more to improve the community than having a bunch of feel-good community meetings that result in zero change.

    1. Real jobs is the solution

      Certainly some of these city proposed plans will get some kids off the streets—for a short time [day light, summer ?].  How many of these teach them the knowledge base and real skills that will enable them to get jobs when they [hopefully] finish school ?  No, most of these are like the WPA dig a hole and we will pay you, then fill the hole in and we will pay you again.

      But the real solution is REAL jobs !  And that is something Evanston has not done since all the Council and push-back from NIMBY groups make it hard for business to want to come to or stay in Evanston.

      The schools and parents need to do a better job of teaching the kinds of skills and moral that keep kids from getting into trouble and be prepared for real jobs.


  3. If you create events will they come?

    I have at least Six Parks within walking distance of my home. Several of these Parks have play areas,basketball courts, lots of open space. Most days when I walk the dog I will walk by at least three of them. Rarely is there any activity in the Park. Creating structured recreational activities  is a nice idea. But you need to know  what interests the people your creating them for. Soft ball,basket ball,catch a number of other possibilities.

    I also looked at the "Evanston Life" Booklet for Spring/Summer. Seems most things offered were in the Spring when students are still in school. Perhaps some of the classes should be offered in summer where they may be a greater interest.

  4. Another mess of a city meeting
    For the first hour, the HVAC which appears to be out of balance was running with such high velocity it was almost impossible to hear the speakers. Wally run off and tried to get it shut off.

    A few of us asked other questions which the Mayor side stepped. But she did tell everyone in the room that she would be asking NU for its drawing of the bike path on the lake to give me, we will see what she comes up with in a week or two.

    She also side stepped my question on the resevoir, when I asked her why she stated there was no discussion about this and it should be replaced.

    As far as the Mayor jobs program- driving around Evanston today, I did see kids out working at least two crews painting street light control boxes. One kid working with a city employee at the Ecology Center. Ofcourse these jobs are giving these kids, a chance to be responsible, building some confidence, but the reality these are not giving them any real job skills. Is this any real solution to the crime problem? Those that are likely to engage in criminal activities I suspect will do so after they get off work regardless of the program or not, and the others who are not going to do criminal activity will still not be involved with the gangs or guns.

    I was somewhat concerned one of the kids was standing out in Greenbay road painting the light control box with no barrier or flagger, so a car could hit him.

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