‘A reunion of the environmental community:’ Evanston celebrates Earth Month this April

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Daily file illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Students pressed city politicians about Evanston’s commitment to meeting climate goals at a panel during the Climate Justice Conference on Wednesday.

Lily Carey, Assistant City Editor

For the past two years, Earth Month celebrations in Evanston took place on Zoom. As the city hosts more in-person events, Rachel Rosner, board president of Citizens’ Greener Evanston, said this year’s Earth Month will bring back the collaborative spirit of the city’s climate movement.

“It’s like a reunion of the environmental community,” Rosner said. “This year feels much more about connection, which is also a really critical component to addressing climate change.”

CGE, which works to make Evanston more sustainable, is one of many groups seeking to unite the community around sustainability this April through a variety of events.

In 2018, Evanston implemented the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, which set a goal of city carbon neutrality by 2050. However, the city has struggled to institute concrete policies, prompting community leaders to emphasize the importance of engaging residents in climate activism this month.

Residents can participate in a range of in-person celebrations and online presentations. Here’s a look at some of Evanston’s Earth Month events.

April 1: “We’re No Fools!” Launch Party, 5 to 8 p.m., 1245 Hartrey Ave.

To honor the first day of Earth Month, nonprofit creative reuse center The WasteShed and building material use center Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse will host a launch party Friday evening. Evanston author Susie Pratt will read excerpts from her new book “More or Less: Essays from a Year of No Buying.” Attendees can also play games, dance and do arts and crafts. Registration and masks are required.

April 10: Art Makers Outpost Celebration, 12 to 4 p.m., 609 South Blvd

Art Makers Outpost, an environmentally conscious arts center in south Evanston dedicated to repurposed art, will host an Earth Month celebration featuring a drum circle, arts and crafts, community mural painting, a plant and seed exchange and more.

Valerie Kahan, Art Makers Outpost’s owner and founder, said her business’ mission of waste reduction aligns with the community’s passion for sustainability.

“When people were home for the last couple years during the pandemic, they probably became acutely aware of how much garbage they were producing,” Kahan said. “People have become more aware overall, and everybody wants to make a difference.”

April 22: D65 10-Second Film Festival, 6:30 p.m., 1560 Sherman Ave

District 65’s Climate Action Teams will host a film festival at the Rotary International Headquarters on Earth Day, screening 10-second films about climate change and sustainability made by Evanston youth.

The organization hopes to make District 65 more environmentally-friendly and recently pushed for the district to reduce waste and hire a sustainability coordinator.

Film festival organizer Chad Calease said the event helps make these initiatives more digestible for students.

“Kids are pretty open minded, and they’re pretty expressive,” Calease said. “We really wanted to give them a venue to transmit their thoughts and feelings about this.”

Film submissions are open until midnight on April 21.

April 23: Evanston Ecology Center Earth Day, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., 2024 McCormick Ave

The day after Earth Day, the Evanston Ecology Center will hold an event featuring a range of family-friendly activities, including a seed swap with Edible Evanston, the Evanston Environmental Association’s Bird Buzz Native Plant Sale and much more.

“One of the really wonderful things about plants is that they are a carbon offset,” said Julia Bunn, vice president of the EEA. “Some of the plants (at the sale) will be indicated for putting into your rain garden or managing downspout water off of buildings.”

The EEA will also host two Zoom presentations on April 6 and April 27 about the benefits of planting native plants in the community in anticipation of its plant sale.

Robert Crown Library Events

The Robert Crown Branch of the Evanston Public Library will host multiple environmentally-focused events throughout the month. These include an April 6 presentation on native plant gardens and a hands-on bike repair workshop on April 21. There will also be two meetings of the Evanston Repair Cafe, co-sponsored by Citizens’ Greener Evanston, on April 9 and 21 where residents can fix electronics, appliances and other items together.

With so much happening throughout Evanston this month, Calease said he’s excited to see how his film festival and other events around the city can unify residents around CARP’s message.

“We are all geared towards the same goal, which is to see CARP not just as a written document, but as a living fact,” Calease said.

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Twitter: @lilylcarey