Fifth Ward Festival helps bring community together to combat gun violence at Twiggs Park


Khadrice Rollins/Daily Senior Staffer

Residents and Community members gather at Twiggs Park for the Fifth Ward Festival. The festival featured information booths in addition to food vendors and entertainment acts to help promote the end of gun violence.

Khadrice Rollins, Summer Editor

Although the ground was wet and muddy, the sun stayed out to blanket those at Twiggs Park attending the Fifth Ward Festival on Saturday.

Put together by “Dear Evanston,” Citizens Greener Evanston, the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy and a host of other sponsors and organizations, the Fifth Ward Festival featured music, speakers, poetry and a litany of informational booths for community members to indulge in throughout the day.

“We wanted to do something this summer to help prevent gun violence, so this is what we came up with,” Nina Kavin, a team member of “Dear Evanston,” said.

Starting at noon, the event lasted until 8 p.m. and featured local artists and community members who took to the stage to speak and entertain the crowd while helping to promote positive messages to help combat gun violence.

Betsy Storm, who has lived in the Chicago area for about 35 years, but just recently moved to Evanston, was at the park helping out at the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America booth. She said the incorporation of music and poetry into the vent to help spread the message was helpful to make sure the message could be more easily communicated and accepted.

“I think it’s great that they’re blending entertainment with the cause, because the arts are so important” she said. “The arts are an important part of inspiring people to change, so I think that a really cool thing about the event, that it’s also fun.”

Kavin shared a similar sentiment, and said it was “critical” to use entertainment to help spread the message, because it “is a softer way to get the message across” and it also allows for people in the community to be recognized for their talents.

Many agreed that it was important to recognize the people in the community, but for some, it was about more than just acknowledging talent. Joyce Hill, a 5th Ward resident who helped with the organization of the festival, said it was important for people to be in the fifth ward to help combat the negative perception the ward had obtained over time in regards to gun violence and crime.

“People needed to know that in spite of those blemishes, there were real people that loved this neighborhood, that respected this neighborhood, that lived in this neighborhood and breathed in this neighborhood,” she said. “And they wanted people to come out and meet the community and see that it’s not all that bad.”

More than 150 residents and community members walked around the park throughout the day taking in the festivities and talking with people at the various booths that provided information on various ways to help stop gun violence, ranging from education to job training to voting.

As children played and people ate food courtesy of the various vendors, the festival also offered many the opportunity to help grow the sense of community in Evanston. Whether it was people who had never bothered to come to the 5th Ward, or 5th Ward residents who didn’t know their neighbors that well, the festival gave all a chance to see the coalition of people that make up the community while work toward promoting a safer community.

Fifth ward resident Gwen Braxton said along with getting people together, the event did a good job of providing community members with information they may not come across otherwise such as after school programs or social services.

“People need to know what’s available to them,” Braxton said. “There needs to be events like this to let people know.”

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