Elizabeth Tisdahl, Mayor of Evanston
Elizabeth B.Tisdahl was elected Mayor of Evanston in April 2009 after serving six years as 7th Ward Alderman in the Evanston City Council. From 1989 she served twelve years on the Evanston High School Township Board of Education, including two years as president. Before running for elected office, she was a founding member of the Mothers Against Gangs School Liaison, which sponsored drop-in nights for troubled youth at Evanston Township High School.
Introduction by Steve Lome
In fall of 2009, 16 year-old Chicago high school student, Darrion Albert, was caught in the crossfire of gang violence on his way home from school. In the wake of Darien’s senseless death, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, and U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder both came to Chicago in search of solutions to the spiraling problem of youth-on-youth violence.
The American Institute of Sindhulogy, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace through intercultural exchange and awareness, wrote to Secretary Duncan with one solution: age appropriate classroom curriculum based on the nonviolent practices of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and others.
Mr. Duncan wrote back “great idea,” but noting his lack of resources, suggested the Institute take a leadership role in developing such a program. Two years later, the Institute is launching a community-based nonviolence pilot program in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, IL, an economically and racially diverse community of about 65,000 residents.
Evanston Mayor, Elizabeth Tisdahl, expressed her support with the accompanying video message on the importance of listening, appreciating differences and working together. Please take a few minutes to watch it, then contact the Institute through this website to find out how you, too, can be part of the solution. Thanks for your time, and we hope to hear from you soon.
City of Evanston
Non-violence is a wonderful philosophy because at its core, it emphasizes that everyone is human. It is founded on a respect for all people, not just people who are ‘like me.’ Non-violence encourages us to open our hearts and listen to people with whom we may disagree. If you wish to be heard by an opponent, you must be prepared to listen. Shutting yourself off from another person, even if you don’t like them, will cause them to reciprocate in kind and resolution can never be achieved.
Non-violence also puts a stop to the vicious cycle that violence creates. Non-violence leaves no angry victims eager to lash out and retaliate. It takes away the main excuse for violence, “they hurt me first.” Instead, it creates an opportunity for dialogue and compromise. It is especially imperative to teach this to our children and youth. As a community, we should endorse and embrace an atmosphere of peaceful dialogue and non-violence, even in our disagreements. We should teach our children, that the answer to someone being mean to you, isn’t to be mean back, but instead to approach the problem with an open mind and understanding. That resolution should be the goal. We need to embrace this philosophy at every level, not just the most extreme. Retaliation and violence is never the answer, at any level of conflict. Because if it is alright for a child to push another on the playground because ‘kids will be kids,’ then why isn’t gang warfare an acceptable method of conflict resolution? Violence should be distasteful at every level, not just the most extreme. If we take this philosophy to heart as a community, and impart it whole heartedly to those in our lives, even when it is difficult, we will create a richer community and make Evanston an even better place to live.
“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.