“I realized I couldn’t just tell stories over and over again,” Dear Evanston co-founder Nina Kavin said. “The stories in and of themselves are valuable and beautiful and powerful, but if you don’t follow stories up with action, then they’re just stories.”
The site launched as a social media campaign out of the Evanston Community Foundation’s “Leadership Evanston” program in 2016, where Kavin worked alongside five other community members to investigate youth gun violence in Evanston. The project was only designed to last three months, Kavin said, but after it officially ended, she began running it on her own.
Susan Trieschmann said she started Curt’s Café because she was horrified by the high rates of incarceration and recidivism in the justice system. A study of recidivism rates in 30 states by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that within nine years of release, 83 percent of previous offenders were rearrested. At Curt’s, only three students out of almost 300 have gone back to jail — and two of them are currently employed with help from the organization — Trieschmann said.
“We’re just all the same in the core parts of our heart,” she said. “And we’re all trying really, really hard. I would say that to my students as well. Don’t judge.”
First quartered in Robinson’s home, then in the former Foster School building, the nonprofit center now operates from the basement of Sherman United Methodist Church, 2214 Ridge Ave. The room would be spacious were it not filled with bookshelves and tables, each piled high with volumes of records, photographs and other items.
The collections have gone from three file folders labeled “Color” to more than 250 linear feet of archival material.Still, even with all the work the staff puts in, some community members said Shorefront does not get the respect it deserves city-wide.