Resilience in Evanston, IL


While insulated from some of the climate threats that coastal cities face, the city of Evanston, Illinois, must contend with many other climate related impacts, including hotter temperatures and drought-like conditions, an influx of invasive species, flooding from increasingly intense storms, and impacts to water quality. The city has taken an active role in preparing for these changes, recently releasing its third iteration of a climate action plan and paying close attention to how these climate impacts may disproportionately affect its lower income residents, communities of color, immigrants and refugee communities, as well as the elderly, youth and disabled residents.

Evanston’s goals are: 

  1. To educate community members from kindergarteners to seniors on what the local impacts of climate change will be; and 
  2. To facilitate community-developed solutions to those hazards and impacts.

To accomplish this, the city has worked with multiple community partners to develop and beta-test a bilingual educational activity called Experience Climate Change. The activity asks several questions of its participants: What do climate impacts look and feel like locally? What decisions does the city need to make, and how can residents contribute to mitigating these local impacts? Participants then discuss what they learned, consider the various actions the city and its residents can take, and complete a survey — a critical element of the process, which helps the city of Evanston understand how residents are engaging with climate hazards and their solutions.

NLC is supporting Evanston in its effort to expand this experiential learning activity to include more communities, partner with museums throughout the region and add content for two additional environmental issues: the connection between air quality and climate change, and zero waste. The goal is to create an activity that can be much more easily and independently set up for multiple events and expanded so that community organizations can run the activity without the aid of city staff. The city of Evanston is eager to engage all members of the community in its climate action plan—particularly those who have been historically underrepresented in planning processes — so that they can make more informed decisions and ultimately, co-create viable solutions with the city.