Evanston climate community reconnects, plans for future together


Lily Ogburn/The Daily Northwestern

Environmental groups from the Evanston area gathered to discuss their recent work and network with other organizations.

Lily Ogburn, Reporter

Evanston and Citizens’ Greener Evanston brought together about 30 local organizations Saturday to reconnect the Evanston climate community. 

The Reconvening on Climate Action and Resilience meeting represented a renewal of the Climate Action and Resilience Plan coordination meetings that occurred in person before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting promoted collaboration on implementing CARP, which aims for carbon neutrality in Evanston by 2050. Similar meetings will occur quarterly, with the next one planned for April.

Matt Cotter, chair of the CARP Implementation Task Force and a member of the Evanston Environment Board, said the event aimed to re-engage the community. 

“It’s to get people together, to hear what’s going on, to get people connected and to plan going forward because there’s still a lot of work to do,” Cotter said.

The event brought together around 70 people. Throughout the meeting, attendees discussed composting, energy efficiency and strategies for increasing environmental awareness for their corresponding umbrella organizations.

From high school students to activists in local retirement living centers, advocates gave presentations about their recent work and future plans.

Eleanor Gransteron, a sophomore at Evanston Township High School and member of environmental activist group E-Town Sunrise, talked about the organization’s sustainability work at the school.

“We are starting a composting program in at least one of the cafeterias,” she said. “What we’re focusing on right now is more about policies around sustainability.”

Gransteron said she has enjoyed collaborating with ETHS to learn about how electricity and water work at the school, and that E-Town Sunrise is beginning work on sustainability policies and exploring climate curriculum options. 

Cas Anolick, a resident at The Mather, a retirement living center, said residents formed the Mather Evanston Environmental Group to look into the center’s carbon footprint and hopefully to investigate wind energy for the community. 

“We are part of the blame, and we want to produce an Earth that’s better for our grandchildren,” Anolick said.

Papers line the wall on a clothesline to represent a climate timeline
Reconvening on Climate Action and Resilience attendees had the opportunity to add their environment experiences to an interactive timeline with global climate events in history. (Lily Ogburn/The Daily Northwestern)

Following public comments, event attendees discussed climate goals and networked with other organizations. They could also visit an interactive timeline on the wall and write notes about their environmental experiences on a timeline of global climate events. At the end of the timeline, attendees wrote their hopes for the future of the planet. 

After the event, Environmental Justice Evanston co-Chair Jerri Garl said Zoom meetings and emails don’t encapsulate the same energy and passion of the Evanston climate community. 

“This was incredibly powerful,” Garl said. “These kinds of conversations are going to continue in the community, and we’re going to see more things happen.” 

To Julie Dorfman, a member of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, bringing religion into conversation with climate activism is important. 

After all, religion is about moral values, she said, and protecting the planet is a moral challenge.

“Different religions have different ways of framing it, but many people consider being stewards of the Earth part of their spiritual practice,” she told The Daily. 

With so many organizations working together, Citizens’ Greener Evanston — which is changing its name to Climate Action Evanston, according to CGE Vice President Chuck Wasserburg — took a supporting role.

Wasserburg said to truly take action on climate change, meetings like this are necessary to get smaller advocacy groups on the same page.

“In general, when you’re looking at climate change, it’s such a huge problem that you feel lonely,” Wasserburg said. “Psychologically, it’s a big lift to be in a room with everybody who’s passionate about it, about doing something.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @LilyOgburn

Related Stories: 

Sustainability coordinator shares CARP progress, shortcomings at City Council meeting 

CARP struggles to gain traction three years after its implementation 

“Climate justice now”: ETown Sunrise and ETHS students walk out for CARP implementation