EVANSTON, Ill. — Evanston’s Temperance Beer Co is releasing a unique new beer that celebrates and supports an Evanston first: The City of Evanston Reparations Fund. The City of Evanston recently created the forward-thinking fund to address, in part, wealth and opportunity gaps that Black Americans experience as a result of historical racism and discrimination.
Thanks to the leadership of 5th Ward Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, the City Council, and the Evanston community, Evanston, Illinois is the first municipality in the country — and the world — to have created a reparations fund for its Black residents. “We took the first step towards repair in the Black community by passing our reparations policy with dedicated funding,” says Simmons. “As our community works to develop remedy policies, it is important that we grow our fund to meet the goals for our Black community.” In addition to funding provided by a 3% tax on local marijuana sales, individuals and organizations may donate to the fund.
“I am so proud of the leadership that the City Council has shown with the fund,” Temperance Beer Co.’s founder and Evanston native Josh Gilbert explains. “It’s just a start, but it’s an important start, and we wanted to lend our voice and financial support in a way that will hopefully inspire others.”
Alderman Simmons responds, “Good leadership demonstrated by Temperance Beer is an example of the collective new direction in our City.”
The beer is called Where I’m From, an homage to the Digable Planets’ song of the same name. “Evanstonians have fierce hometown pride,” says Gilbert, “so we are proudly proclaiming where we’re from — and where we’re going — through this beer,” a hazy India Pale Ale with vanilla, tangerine, and orange peel. While Temperance Beer Co. had originally intended to contribute 13% of the proceeds to the fund, it recently decided to increase the amount to 100%.
“Temperance Beer has always been a thoughtful ally showcasing Black culture. I was not surprised to learn the owner, Josh Gilbert, was not only in support, but ready to take action,” states Alderman Simmons, “and commissioned the incredible talent of Maia Faith for the artwork.”
Maia Faith, the Evanston artist who designed the label, says that she “felt honored that Temperance entrusted me with bringing the visual representation of reparations in Evanston to life.” With her suitable-for-framing design, she explains the two characters are “separate yet connected,” and “as Evanston moves forward together, we are turning over a new and necessary leaf. When focusing specifically on the Black community, the tree signifies roots (history) and strength.” She goes on to explain the background “pale yellow/beige color makes one think of something old (the past)” while the “lush green of the leaves stands out, showing the possibility of life.” She concludes, “the leaves are not static, but rustling in the wind — the wind of change.”
“On behalf of our City of Evanston and the ward where Temperance Beer Co. started, we stand with you as you take this historic step with our Local Reparations Fund,” says Evanston 2nd Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, adding, “you make me proud of where I am from.”
Beginning Friday, January, 29, Where I’m From will be available at the brewery, located at 2000 Dempster Street in Evanston. It will be available from local retailers in early February. Find more of Faith’s art on Instagram @happygolefty.
About the Evanston Reparations Fund
The City of Evanston’s reparations planning process began in June 2019 following the City Council’s adoption of a resolution affirming the City’s commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity. The City Council’s Equity and Empowerment Commission held two community meetings to gather public input on reparations in July, and summarized input and recommendations in a report to the City Council. In September, the Council accepted the Equity and Empowerment Commission’s report and authorized the creation of a City Council subcommittee to begin the planning process.
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