My City • Your City • OUR CITY

Safe spaces for our young people from the Evanston Collective

A year ago, Evanston’s youth-serving organizations united in response to escalating youth violence in our community to launch the “My City, Your City, Our City” Safe Summer Initiative. We employed young people to select and approve the activities. We centered their voices. We paid them for their wisdom and energy. Collectively, we then hosted six BLOCK (“Bringing Love to Our City and Kids”) parties and four community-wide events (“First Fridays”). We opened up Fleetwood-Jourdain and Robert Crown, providing safe, public spaces for youth to gather throughout the summer. More than 500 young people regularly attended these events. We held 79 consecutive days and nights of programming. And due in part to this effort, Evanston experienced 0 cases of gun-related, youth violence last summer.

As we prepare for this summer, we recognize the urgency and importance of coming together and providing safe, engaging spaces for youth. Over the past several months, we’ve lost five youth to gun violence, countless other youth have experienced interpersonal, institutional, and communal violence, and three nooses recently dangled in a tree in front of our schools.

As our youth’s attorneys, case managers, coaches, counselors, healthcare providers, and mentors – as their adults – we commit to getting more proximate to our kids this summer. We commit to centering their voices, and their needs. And we, the white members of this coalition, commit to holding ourselves accountable for the scourge of white supremacy which continues to infect everything from our institutions to our personal interactions.

Many in our community are asking right now ‘what can I do?’ Join us. Answer our call to connect and get proximate. Start by attending the First Friday event on Friday, June 3rd from 6-9 pm at Mason Park. Wear orange in recognition of Gun Violence Prevention Day.  Then, join us at one of the many other community events happening this summer…

  • Community Building Equity Summit, Friday, June 10th, Mason Park, 10 am-2 pm
  • Juneteenth Celebration, Saturday, June 18th, Robert Crown (Parade) annd Ingraham Park (Concert), 10 am-6 pm
  • First Friday, July 1st, Mason Park, 5-9 pm
  • National Night Out, Tuesday, August 2nd, Clark Street Beach-Arrington Lagoon, 4-9 pm
  • First Friday, August 5th, Mason Park, 5-9 pm
  • Back to School Event, Saturday, August 13th, Mason Park, 2-6 pm

Tell all the high schoolers in your lives to drop in at Gibbs-Morrison Monday-Friday from 6-9 pm; encourage high school and middle school youth to come by Fleetwood-Jordain on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-9 pm beginning Monday, June 6th and Robert Crown on Fridays from 6-9 pm. And check out the City of Evanston’s Safe Summer webpage for updated information about My City, Your City, Our City throughout the season.

Not only are we again providing safe, public spaces and a full calendar of activities, but we are also working together to create youth-led communal systems of accountability where young people agree on shared values and ways we treat each other in public spaces. Rather than exclusion and shunning, we will support young people to acknowledge the harms they’ve caused and communally decide on how to repair those harms.

We know that when young people are connected to – and invested in – their community, they are far more likely to be their best selves. When they are heard, valued, and centered, they are highly motivated to remain in community. Connectedness keeps them and all of us safe.

In Proximity,

The City of Evanston’s Youth & Young Adult Division

Connections for the Homeless

Curt’s Café

Erie Family Health Centers

Infant Welfare Society of Evanston

James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy

PEER Services

Youth Job Center

Youth & Opportunity United

Evanston Cradle to Career