The Weekly: Week Six Recap

Alex Chun and Susanna Kemp

Evanston’s mayoral candidates discuss issues ranging from police reform to housing. And a mutual aid effort headed by Evanston Fight for Black Lives established a communal fridge for community members in need. The Weekly: Week 6 breaks down The Daily’s top headlines. 

ALEX CHUN: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Alex Chun. 

SUSANNA KEMP: And I’m Susanna Kemp. This is The Weekly: a podcast that breaks down our top headlines each week.

SUSANNA KEMP: On campus, The Black House is on track to reopen in the fall, after COVID delayed renovation plans. 

ALEX CHUN: This week in Evanston, temperatures reached subzero, prompting Evanston Health and Human Services Department to issue a cold advisory. 

SUSANNA KEMP: And also in city news, Evanston has opened its first phase of the CV19 Rent Assistance Program, which aims to provide support to eligible residents who can now receive assistance for up to six months of past-due rent. 

ALEX CHUN: Those are some of our top headlines of the week. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into a couple stories. With Evanston’s upcoming mayoral election tomorrow, Evanston Fight for Black Lives and E-Town Sunrise hosted an open hall for the city’s mayoral candidates. The candidates were asked about their stances on a range of issues.

SUSANNA KEMP: Evanston Fight for Black Lives is also organizing a community-run fridge that people can take and add food to. It will be located on Dodge Avenue outside the Childcare Network of Evanston building. Stay with us to hear directly from the reporters and editors who covered these stories. 

SUSANNA KEMP: On Saturday, February 13, Evanston Fight for Black Lives and E-Town Sunrise held a town hall with Evanston’s three mayoral candidates on the ballot. EFBL is a  youth abolitionist group, while E-Town Sunrise is an Evanston Township High School organization dedicated to fighting climate change.

ALEX CHUN: The three mayoral candidates are current Purdue University junior Sebastian Nalls, former state Sen. Daniel Biss, and local activist Lori Keenan. With the mayoral election taking place on the 23rd, the candidates were asked about a variety of issues, ranging from local police reform to Evanston housing. Here to tell us more about this is city reporter Olivia Alexander. Olivia, let’s chat about some of the main issues brought up at the town hall, starting with policing. What was each candidates’ stance?

OLIVIA ALEXANDER: EFBL asked candidates directly, “Do you support defunding the police?” and all three candidates actually do support defunding the police. Interestingly, something Daniel Biss said at the town hall was that all three candidates do have largely similar approaches to many of these issues. So there was a lot of agreement. But in that way, each candidate did have the time to elaborate on what this might look like. For example, Keenan had to take a lot of time out of her answer to apologize for a comment that she had made about defunding the police being, like, a negative word, like she criticized the word “defund,” so she didn’t have as much time to explain her position. But Nalls, I think, stood out for having a really comprehensive plan. He was very action-based and committed to reallocating funds as soon as he got into office.

ALEX CHUN: And the day after the town hall, EFBL officially endorsed Sebastian Nalls as their mayoral candidate. Can you tell us more about this?

OLIVIA ALEXANDER: Yeah, EFBL posted a statement officially endorsing Nalls for mayor. During the town hall, I noticed the Zoom chat was really active and former ETHS students shouting out Nalls. And after Keenan’s apology, people in the chat were criticizing Keenan’s apology, saying it wasn’t enough. So I kind of did gain the feeling during the town hall that EFBL and their organization’s members were gaining support for Nalls. So then, on Sunday morning, they published a statement. It discussed how Nalls, a young person of color, needs to be supported by his community for being brave enough to run. They called out, also, other organizations for supporting who they do. And they challenge the aldermen, for example, who largely support Biss’ campaign. And Biss is a middle-aged White man, and they asked people to just reconsider why they support the people that they do. 

ALEX CHUN: Olivia, thanks so much for chatting with us today.

ALEX CHUN: In other city news, soon there will be a communal fridge located on Dodge Avenue. Community fridges have been popping up around the country recently, but this is Evanston’s first. 

SUSANNA KEMP: Assistant City Editor Delaney Nelson covered this story and is here with me. So Delaney, tell me a bit about this fridge!

DELANEY NELSON: The community fridge has been organized by Evanston Fight for Black Lives, and it’s a mutual aid effort to provide community members with food. There will be a fridge and a dry pantry section as well. It’s available to all community members. There are no prerequisites. And any person can take food from the fridge, anybody can drop food off at the fridge. The organizers also talked about partnering with Evanston restaurants and getting pre-prepared meals from restaurants. One of the organizers also talked about the idea of food rescues, where if restaurants or grocery stores are about to throw food away because it’s the end of the day, taking that food and adding it to the fridge because again, that’s something that can be used by the community. It’s a way to just provide for the community without wasting food, so yeah there are a few places where the food can come from for the fridge.

SUSANNA KEMP: Can you tell me more about the fridge as mutual aid?

DELANEY NELSON: So the organizers have really emphasized that this is a community effort. And it’s something by the Evanston community for the Evanston community. And it’s not exclusively for Evanston community members. People in the surrounding area can use it, people from the Chicagoland area can use it. So yeah, it’s really just a mutual aid effort in a way to provide people with assistance and provide people with food and really underscoring that idea of solidarity, not charity. Evanston Fight for Black Lives is a grassroots abolitionist movement, and we saw this pop up over the summer and really emphasize ideas of abolition. And mutual aid is a key component of abolition, relying on the community to take care of each other rather than relying on the government in any way. The organizers that I’ve talked to have talked about how they’ve sort of gathered some inspiration from The Love Fridge, which is a mutual aid effort in Chicago that has installed community fridges throughout Chicago, and this isn’t specific to Evanston. This is something that we’ve been seeing all over the country, and these ideas aren’t new, either. Mutual aid ideas have been around for a very long time.

SUSANNA KEMP: So when can we expect the fridge to be up and running? 

DELANEY NELSON: So the fridge is not completely done yet. They have a painter, Ziana Pearson-Muller, who will be painting the fridge. They talked about the idea of building off that idea of community and perhaps using ETHS colors. And they talked about painting fruits and vegetables and a community basket and making sure all those colors pop so that people are seeing the fridge. And then they’re also getting a carpenter to help build a shelter around the fridge, which will help it be protected from outdoor conditions, which we’ve been seeing are pretty extreme right now. But they are really hoping that the weather dies down a bit soon so that they can get to painting that and creating the shelter. So yeah, it should be up in the next few weeks, I think, is the goal.

SUSANNA KEMP: I think we’re all hoping the snow lets up! Thanks for coming on, Delaney. 

SUSANNA KEMP: From The Daily Northwestern, Susanna Kemp.

ALEX CHUN: And I’m Alex Chun. Thanks for listening to another episode of The Weekly. This podcast was reported on by Olivia Alexander, Delaney Nelson, Susanna Kemp and myself. This episode was produced by both Susanna Kemp and myself. The audio editor of The Daily is me, Alex Chun. The digital managing editors are Molly Lubbers and Olivia Yarvis. The editor in chief is Sneha Dey.

Email: [email protected] and [email protected]

Twitter: @apchun01

Stories Referenced:

ETown Sunrise, EFBL host mayoral candidates in town hall

City opens first phase of rent assistance program

Northwestern freshmen navigate midwestern winter

Black House on track to reopen in fall after COVID-19 delays