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2020 Year of Kindness & Nonviolent Action

2020 Year of Kindness and Nonviolent Action (YKNA) was a Public Art and Community Engagement initiative designed to utilize the transformative power of the arts to bring people together around the common goal of fostering an inclusive and peaceful community.

Evanston residents, artists, and leaders from community organizations, youth groups, and educational institutions formed a coalition to shape this initiative which resulted in a yearlong series of arts-based programming and events designed to increase awareness around the roots of violence, and draw on the existing strengths in our community to empower its members to take action.  Recognizing and enacting kindness within our community were identified as foundational to this work, and inclusive of even the youngest members of our community.  Kids Create Change was a partner organization in this initiative and both Melissa and Angela participated in the advisory council to help develop the goals and activities throughout the year.


At the start of 2020, a plan was in place to host a series of programs, exhibitions, performances, workshops, talks and events throughout the year at various locations in the City of Evanston.

The goals were to:

1) increase awareness around the roots of violence that plague our community

2) celebrate and activate kindness and nonviolence, and

3) engage and empower residents to take action and be part of change in their community

The initiative kicked-off in January with a community event at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.  The event was a success with over XXX attendees representing all ages and backgrounds. Participants engaged in hands-on art making and were able to meet and converse with members of their community.  The event was a powerful testament to diversity, creativity and collaboration in our city.

The pandemic hit soon after the kick-off event and many of the planned projects and events were either cancelled or put on hold.  Our only option was to pivot towards finding ways to still engage the community in this work in a safe and responsible way.  This approach required partnerships with additional artists and arts organizations throughout Evanston, and resulted in activities such as Evanston Arts Connects and a Community Peace Offering. 


Advisory Council

Colette Allen, Director,  Evanston Family Focus

Lachisa Barton, Youth Outreach Worker, Parks, Recreation & Community Services, City of Evanston

Mariana Bojorquez, Latino Engagement Librarian, Evanston Public Library

Lisa Degliantoni, Director, EvanstonMade

Alice George, Citizen-Artist, Co-Founder of Sketchbook Brewing

Fran Joy, Artist/Political Activist

Indira Johnson, Public Artist/Peace Activist

Nina Kavin, Director, Dear Evanston

Sarah Laing, Director,  Open Studio Project

Laura Lindroth, Director of Programming and Community Engagement, Rainbows for All Children

Angela Lyonsmith, Artist/Art Therapist, EvanstonMadeKids Create Change

Sheila Merry, Executive Director, Evanston Cradle to Career

Pat O'Connell, Peace Activist

Melissa Raman Molitor, Third Space ArtsEvanstonMade​, Kids Create Change

Tim Rhoze, Artistic Director, Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre

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