"Reducing violence has to be a priority for our city. It affects us all so we all have to be part of the solution."
Eleanor Revelle is the new alderperson for the 7th ward in Evanston. Juliet C Bond had the chance to sit down with her last week to discuss her concerns about violence in Evanston.
DE: What are your concerns about violence in Evanston?
ER: In 2015, I participated in a justice summit at Oakton Community College. This particular summit was organized through Open Communities. Open Communities promotes inclusive communities in north suburban Chicago.
They provide fair and affordable housing counseling services, community education, advocacy, and organizing. I presented about how Evanston had organized the Evanston 150 initiative. My involvement with the summit grew out of the creation of my own organization, Citizens' Greener Evanston Evanston (CGE), and the Streets Alive events. The conversations at the summit focused on how to make our city both more sustainable and livable.
DE: Do you have a focus as an alderperson?
ER: Yes, as a response to the question, “What stands in the way of making our city a livable community?” there are three areas of concern:
2. Economic Equity
3. Affordable Housing
These are the areas of priority that I see, as an alderperson, having to address.
DE: If you had to provide one quick sound bite about your concerns and/or solutions to the challenge of violence in Evanston, what would you say?
ER: Reducing violence has to be a priority for our city. It affects us all so we all have to be part of the solution.
DE: How would you describe some of the current efforts that our city is engaged in?
ER: We are examining what we are calling a “Neighborhood Integrity Ordinance.” This is an effort to focus on properties as they relate to violence and affordable housing. The city consulted with Sargent Shriver at the National Center on Poverty Law, the ACLU, and Open Communities. As a result, we drafted some plans to separate properties into tiers. Those properties identified as second tier would get more criminal justice attention. Right now, there is a small task force, including three landlords and three alderpersons who are working to draw up a really strong ordinance proposal.
Of course, this is only one way to address community violence. We need a multi-pronged approach including the kinds of efforts Evanston Cradle to Career is focusing on (literacy), housing, economic equity and more. One of the things I’m worried about and hope to address is the many forms of violence that takes place at home, leading to violence outside of the home. Our community has to work together to create a community norm, which de-normalizes violence. Right now, the minimum I can do as an alderperson is to support our local youth violence outreach programs.
DE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
ER: Yes, I hope the passionate and caring community members across our city attend an event we are planning for April 24th from 2pm-5pm at Fleetwood Jourdain. We are planning community discussions, including local non-profits and others interested in supporting positive change in Evanston.