Organizations discuss intergenerational activism at Indivisible Evanston meeting


Daily file illustration by Catherine Buchaniec

Indivisible Evanston hosted a meeting with Indivisible Northwestern, E-Town Sunrise and HeadCount Tuesday to discuss ways to promote activism and political engagement.

Chiara Kim, Reporter

Activists discussed ways to promote intergenerational activism and political engagement at Indivisible Evanston’s member meeting Tuesday.

“Tonight, we will hear from four groups across the generations to talk about their activism to save our country,” Indivisible Evanston Co-Leader Rosie Rees said.

Indivisible is a national grassroots organization supporting progressive officials with a local branch in Evanston. At Tuesday’s event, it hosted Indivisible Northwestern, Evanston Township High School’s E-Town Sunrise and HeadCount, a national organization promoting democratic participation. At the meeting, the groups discussed how different generations can connect through political activism.

ETHS junior Emmet Ebels-Duggan, part of E-Town Sunrise’s leadership, spoke about the climate justice group’s work, which includes holding weekly meetings to create conversation between student climate activists.

Ebels-Duggan highlighted the importance of youth activism and engaging youth through education and digital platforms. They also emphasized E-Town Sunrise’s intergenerational collaborations.

“Youth depend on our mentors of older generations to impart to us the knowledge and the experience that they have,” they said. “Building strong intergenerational networks allows youth movements to access … the people in power that we need to influence.”

SESP Prof. Matt Easterday, Indivisible Northwestern’s faculty mentor and co-founder, said activism groups often fail to train new activists. Easterday proposed new initiatives to connect the two Indivisible groups, like an intergenerational conversation event pairing Indivisible Evanston and Northwestern members.

Rees encouraged participants to sign up for these discussions, saying students “may think they’re getting something from us, but we will get a whole lot from them.”

Easterday said Indivisible Northwestern members work on campaigns such as getting out the vote for the midterm elections. As a professor in the Civic Engagement Certificate program, he teaches a class to provide support and connect students with local partners.

“Because these are real campaigns, if the students want to have impact, they have to recruit other students,” Easterday said. “So they’re really doing mobilizing and organizing as well.”

Indivisible Northwestern Co-Founders Kristine Lu and Gus Umbelino said they started the organization in 2020 to encourage students to get engaged in political activism. 

Lu and Umbelino said they have worked on various projects, such as soliciting ideas from the Evanston community for participatory budgeting, a process in which community members decide how to spend portions of the city budget.

“For people getting involved for the very first time, being able to work locally increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to see those tangible outcomes and make some small wins right away,” said Lu, a fourth-year Learning Sciences Ph.D. candidate.

Peggah Ghoreishi, the Midwest team leader of HeadCount said the organization aims  to encourage youth votership through means like registering voters at concerts. She said it’s important to build community partnerships to encourage political engagement, such as sharing volunteers with Indivisible Evanston.

“As long as we promote each other, that’s always a great thing to do,” Ghoreishi said.

Rees answered questions posed by Easterday’s students, explaining, for example, how Indivisible Evanston takes advantage of the national branch’s research but decides independently what actions to take on a local level.

She expressed her gratitude for the work the different groups presented.

“We are somewhat relieved to know that there are people like you in the next generations who are picking up the torch and keeping it going,” Rees said. “Keep up the great, great work.”

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