What I've Learned About Evanston Through My Inbox

Columnist Christine Wolf describes life in Evanston using just some of the emails passing through her inbox.

Most mornings I wake around 4am, though not by choice. It’s frustrating for me and especially for my husband – his alarm goes off at five so he can bike to his office in Chicago. I should just go back to sleep, but I can’t. Occasionally I read a book on my Kindle, but usually, I lie in the darkness scrolling through emails and Facebook on my iPhone. I’ve become an early-morning electronic device addict: volume off, brightness dimmed, electronically connected to the roller coaster of life in Evanston.

Here’s what I learn via email at 4am on Saturday, October 5th:

1. The American Planning Association has named the Central Street neighborhood in Evanston as one of 2013’s “Great Places In America”.

2. A woman posts to two neighborhood group listserves I follow (Asbury-Dodge Neighborhood Group and Greenwood-Dewey Neighbors) that she’s heard “SHOTS FIRED” near Greenwood and Dodge. She reports that police are patrolling the area. “What is really happening in EVANSTON?” she writes. My body tenses.

3. A Northwestern University film student informs me our daughter’s been cast in a role for a student film called BONFIRE. I’m elated for her and forward the email, knowing she won’t see it until much later when she rises. She will be thrilled.

4. The City of Evanston is considering a ban on hedges over six feet tall? Apparently, since tall hedges may pose a safety concern to pedestrians, the topic will be discussed tonight at City Hall. I recognize the need for pedestrian visibility and safety, but I also anticipate the debates: what about residents with high, decorative hedges?  Are those “grandfathered” in? How do we enforce this ban? Where’s the staff and how are they paid? I wonder how hedge height even compares with other local concerns (refer to #2 above).

5. Heather Sweeney, a fellow Washington School parent, has forwarded a link from PEC.org, the Parent Education Consortium of the North Shore. Incredible information. Why haven’t I ever heard of this group before?

6. Neighbors reply to #2, several of whom encourage neighborhood vigilance balanced with care in making broad assumptions (“we need to watch out for each other, but verify what is going on, if possible . . .or use different words. Shots are a whole different scenario . . . thanks all, for talking together.”) Watching the positive discussion unfold online – no accusations, no angry fallout -- I’m grateful for these neighborhood listserves more than ever before.

That’s just a sample of a typical Early Morning Evanston Update. Where do you get your information on community happenings? What's your opinion on the six topics listed above?


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