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EVANSTON, IL: A Political Economy Newsletter (March 13, 2020)

This informal newsletter features timely Evanston-connected information in bite-sized formats. The purpose of this newsletter is fourfold — growing our community consciousness, creating a real democracy, restoring our natural resources (air, water, soil, ourselves), and supporting each other economically — one event, one person, one project, one epiphany at a time.

Special note to those who are new to this newsletter
I have been developing this informal newsletter over the last few months, sharing information that I think Evanston residents, businesses, and workers might be interested in under the broad label of FOOD + FARMS + DEMOCRACY — AKA political economy. This issue contains “regular” Evanston news as well as some items related to our current Coronavirus emergency.

NOTE re FOOD availability
While the grocery stores are being over-shopped right now, Evanston’s many restaurants and coffee shops still have plenty of food. In the interests of supporting local businesses and not letting that food go to waste, many restaurants are offering specials and/or adapting their operations to minimize exposure for everyone (customers and employees).  Check out the details re Lucky Platter and Bagel Art.  I’m sure many other Evanston restaurants are making similar accommodations.

UPDATE #1 on FOOD Availability — March 16, 2020 11:30 AM
Yesterday Illinois Gov. Pritzker ordered all DINING ROOMS closed in the state. This means that there is no gathering and sit-down eating or drinking at: restaurants, bars, cafes, grocery stores, bakeries, etc.

However, kitchens & stores may remain open for the purpose of preparing foods for CARRYOUT and DELIVERY. Many food businesses are posting TEMPORARY HOURS and OPERATIONS.

I am in the process of making a list of all EVANSTON food businesses that have posted temporary hours & operations. I hope to post this list in a separate blog later today (March 16).

UPDATE #2 ON FOOD availability — March 16, 2020 5:15 PM
In a separate blog, I am keeping a list of EVANSTON FOOD BUSINESSES that are posting temporary hours and temporary changes to their operations. I plan to update this daily through March 30. We’ll see how these two weeks go. EVANSTON, IL: Food Businesses March 17 – 30, 2020

Thanks to all the Evanston restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, etc., that are working so hard to provision the community.

NOTE: Tomorrow, March 17, is my traditional start of the growing season in the Chicago area. Spring clean-ups can begin and spring plantings can begin (cold season crops). It is curious that this food crisis is occurring at the time of lowest availability of locally produced foods.

Evanston media
Evanston political & justice groups
Individual Evanstonians in my networks
Nichols Neighbors (my neighborhood listserv)

—Coronavirus: 3 grassroots resources + Lucky Platter, Bagel Art specials
—Calendar: 6 events
—Evanston entrepreneurial news: 3 items
—State of Illinois news: 2 bills + 1 book



Grassroots resources for handling this at a community level—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual

— WHY THIS WEEK, NOW — roughly MARCH 15-22 — is the week for maximum social distancing, self-isolating, etc. (largely because we don’t KNOW who is infected)

Tina Niguyen, Politico, quoting two medical professionals.
Twitter thread (12) 
Includes this article recommending AGGRESSIVE social distancing
Social Distancing: This is not a Snow Day, by Asaf Bitton

YES Magazine:  3 articles
“As the coronavirus spreads anxiety & panic across the globe, people are finding ways to share information and support each other”

— SUSUN WEED, Wise Woman Center (NY) – herbalist
Video 7 mins: Herbal & diet-based prevention & treatment
Prevention (strengthens system):
—lacto-fermented vegetables (cabbage family—sauerkraut, radish, turnip)
—elderberry tincture
—echinacea tincture

— LUCKY PLATTER restaurant March 14 – 23
Open for carryout & free delivery (1 mile) only
514 Main St.

Temporary hours
Sunday, March 14:  10:30 AM – 7:00 PM
Mondays, March 15 & 23:  Closed
Tues -Sun., March 16-22: 10:30 AM – 7:00 PM

— BAGEL ART CAFE   March 15 – 20
615 Dempster
across from Dempster Purple Line station

Specials this week
$1 coffee, any size, hot/iced
$2 lattes any size, hot/iced

CALENDAR: Evanston’s political economy in action

Events may be re-scheduled because of COVID, but the information is still worthwhile.
Doublecheck with organizers.

— MARCH 16  (Monday) Live stream
AGE-FRIENDLY HOUSING: Bright ideas for your backyard
Sustainable backyard homes, coach houses, ADUs  (accessory dwelling units)

Evanston Development Cooperative (EDC)
7:00 PM
Live Stream only:

— MARCH 17  (Tuesday)
ELECTION: Illinois primary

— MARCH 24  (Tuesday)  CANCELLED 
NEW BOOK by labor historian, Toni Gilpin (long-time Evanston resident & activist)
The Long Deep Grudge: A Story of Big Capital, Radical Labor, & Class War in the American Heartland
Haymarket Books
“This rich history details the bitter, deep-rooted conflict between industrial behemoth International Harvester and the uniquely radical Farm Equipment Workers union. The Long Deep Grudge makes clear that class warfare has been, and remains, integral to the American experience, providing up-close-and-personal and long-view perspectives from both sides of the battle lines.”

Features the McCormick family who owned International Harvester and later The Chicago Tribune.

— MARCH 27-29  (Fri-Sun)
This event takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, but I am listing it for the following reasons:
—Director Hillary Bachelder graduated from Northwestern University and is based in Chicago
—One of the three candidates featured in the film is from a “liberal” Chicago suburb
—Another candidate is a farmer (Evanston has a strong food & farm community.)
—Many Evanston women are politically active
—Someone in Evanston might want to screen the film
—Distributor (Kartemquin) is based in Chicago and has Evanston ties

Represent is equal parts personal and political, and interweaves the stories of women on both sides of the aisle who share the singular goal of improving their community through public service. Myya (22) attempts to spark a youth movement and unseat the incumbent mayor of Detroit, MI; Bryn (33), a farmer and working mother in Granville, OH, runs for township trustee, but, in doing so, is placed in opposition with the only other woman in office; and Julie (47) walks a tightrope between her identities as a Korean immigrant, woman of color, and Republican candidate for State Representative in a liberal Chicago, IL suburb. Through portraying the nuances of local politics, Represent elevates both the systemic failings and unsung heroes at the heart of our “smallest” elections.”

— MARCH 31  (Tuesday)
Convened by Citizens Greener Evanston to discuss the use and/or banning of leaf blowers in Evanston
4:00 – 5:00 PM
1110 Judson
Note: This group has been meeting for a few months. No progress has been shared publicly yet and I’m not sure what the final goal is. For some related background, here’s my Oct. 2019 blog: LEAVE THE LEAVES

— APRIL 14  (Tuesday)
DEAR EVANSTON’s Racial Justice Book Group 
Read & discuss Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower
by Brittney Cooper.

6:30 – 8:30 PM
Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center


Author & illustrator of children’s picture books
Classes, workshops, presentations — for children, for adults

NEW GARDENING SEASON — Eco-friendly landscape design
Green Edens
I believe Amy is concentrating on design this year (no maintenance).
Website is being updated, but the 2020 gardening season is here!

NEW BOOK  Mending Life: A Handbook for Repairing Clothes and Hearts
Sasquatch Books
Illustrated, inspiring, and 100% practical.
Nina and Sonya are graduates of ETHS currently living in Portland, OR.


Two current Illinois bills that support economic self-determination.
Plus a related book that I just came across.

Enables ADUs, coach houses, backyard homes on residential properties throughout the State of Illinois.
HB 4869 
Sponsor: State Rep. Robyn Gabel (Evanston)
Lead organization: Evanston Development Cooperative (EDC)
Crain’s Chicago Business article

SYNOPSIS: Creates the Local Accessory Dwelling Unit Act. Defines terms. Provides that a unit of local government may not prohibit the building or usage of accessory dwelling units in the unit of local government. Provides that a unit of local government may provide reasonable regulations relating to the size and location of accessory dwelling units similar to other accessory structures unless a regulation would have the effect of prohibiting accessory dwelling units. Limits home rule powers.

Promotes freedom to use hoop houses on residential property throughout the State of Illinois.
There are currently two bills, a House bill and a Senate bill. Right now, the Senate bill is the better of the two.
SB 3329  
Sponsor:  State Sen. Scott Bennett
Lead organization: Right to Garden  (Elmhurst)

SYNOPSIS: Creates the Right to Garden Act. Provides that the State or a unit of local government may not regulate gardens or the use of season extension techniques and devices on residential property. Provides that the Act does not preclude the State or a unit of local government from adopting statutes or regulations pertaining to: restrictions on water use during drought conditions; existing or future adoption of property set-backs; maximum lot coverage; utility safety; fertilizer use; control of invasive species; a substance regulated under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Industrial Hemp Act, or the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act; or any other regulation that does not have the effect of prohibiting gardens. Defines the terms “garden”, “residential property”, and “season extension techniques and devices”. Limits home rule powers. Effective immediately.

HB 4704  Sponsor: State Rep. Sonya Harper (Chicago)

— BOOK:  Captured Economy
Four areas of increasing micro-management by government as “captured” by special interests:
— financial regulation
— intellectual property
— occupational licensing
— land use regulation

“In November 2017, Oxford University Press published The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality. Coauthored by Niskanen Center scholars Brink Lindsey and Steven M. TelesThe Captured Economy argues that systematic breakdowns in democratic governance have allowed wealthy special interests to capture broad domains of the policymaking process and twist the rules for their own benefit. Steadily worsening “upward redistribution” via “regressive regulation” has contributed significantly to the American economy’s twin woes of stagnating growth and sky-high inequality.”

I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet and there are some red flags about the authors’ framing (e.g., economic “growth”) and their understanding of money (e.g., public vs. private).  Also, I’m not sure whether they are conflating “free market” with “democracy” (as many people do). Nevertheless I think they are legitimately identifying some serious issues and areas of over-regulation that would benefit from robust public conversation. The fact that they’ve developed a simple website to encourage such conversation is an indication of good faith.