Evanston150 holds brainstorming sessions on campus

Jia You

The Evanston150 steering committee hosted two small but productive brainstorming sessions on campus Friday afternoon to gather ideas for changes to the city from the Northwestern community.

The committee hosted a special session for participants of Dance Marathon 2011, in appreciation of their contributions to the Evanston Community Foundation, and a general session open to Northwestern students, faculty and the public.

Patrick Keenan-Devlin, a former ASG president and a member of the steering committee, said input from the NU community is important for the success of Evanston150, an initiative to come up with 10 visionary projects to change Evanston when it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2013.

“Northwestern students … make Evanston what it is,” Keenan-Devlin said. “Without their input, it won’t truly reflect a community-wide initiative.”

The two-hour discussion touched on a diverse range of issues from transportation and utility to town-gown relations.

Bike-sharing emerged as a popular idea among students and faculty, along with improvements to bike paths and parking. NU political science Prof. James Farr pointed out Minneapolis has a working bike-sharing program. However, some expressed concerns about how bikes could be managed properly.

Town-gown relations were featured prominently in students’ discussions. Proposals to improve connections between the University and the city included partnerships with Evanston Township High School and a 5K race to bring students and residents together.

Rebecca Berg, a Weinberg junior, said she is excited about the prospect of Evanston150.

“I think it has the potential to be really big if it spreads across campus, and it should,” Berg said.

The steering committee is looking to generate 2000 ideas, said Sara Schastok, a committee member. A Selection Jury will then narrow down the list to 100, and a community-wide vote will decide the top 30 in October. Schastok encouraged Northwestern students and faculty to apply for the Selection Jury.

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