The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

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The Aux: where community connection takes center stage

Evanston’s upcoming commercial hub dedicated to healing, wellness and racial equity
Photo+courtesy+of+the+Aux
Photo courtesy of the Aux

Nestled on the edge of Washington Street sits a bright and modern building filled with community members of all ages seeking a safe space for wellness and healing. It is a space like no other in Evanston, although it isn’t available to its residents—yet.

Set to open late in the year, The Aux is a wellness hub dedicated to health and racial equity located at 2223 Washington St. The first phase of construction has begun on the vacant 16,500 square foot lot which will soon be transformed into a bustling space home to over 10 Black-owned businesses—including a fitness gym, smoothie bar, meditation studio, and salon—that focus on community wellness.

“The Aux is a gathering space where people come to heal; it’s a reconnection of community,” says co-developer of The Aux, Tosha Wilson.

Wilson is also the co-owner of The Laundry Cafe with Jacqui White, an Aux tenant where community members can clean their clothes while drinking coffee and enjoying the company of others. Both born and raised in Evanston, Wilson has served the Evanston community in law enforcement since 2002, and White is a police officer for the City of Highland Park.

Tiffini Holmes is also a co-developer of The Aux and is the co-founder of Well Beings Chicago, a tenant in The Aux. She was born and raised in Evanston, as well. 

“One day Tiffini and I were eating at Good To Go on Howard Street, and we met two women,” Wilson says. “We started talking and these women gave us great ideas about opening a wellness space. From that point on, we started having conversations that led from ‘What do you want to do?’ to ‘How can we make this work?’ From there, The Aux became an idea that sprouted legs.”

The hub will include several businesses that the developers want high school students to utilize.

Wilson and White hope that high schoolers will enjoy The Laundry Cafe as a gathering space to do work and spend time with friends, while cleaning their clothes.

“It’ll be a place where you’ll feel comfortable enough to spend multiple hours of your time, whether it’s to do your laundry or to come to enjoy Wi-Fi and do some homework with friends,” White says.

Wilson envisions a space where they can work collaboratively with the high school for students who may be in need of clean clothes.

“Sometimes people come to school with clothes that aren’t clean, and that can be embarrassing for a lot of people. So we’re hoping we can [organize] something with ETHS and students who may be in need,” Wilson says. “No one has to say who they are, but we can give them access to washing machines to make sure that folks are coming to school feeling like their best selves.”

Student entrepreneurs who hope to move their ideas to execution can even open up their own pop-up shop at The Aux.

“We know Wildkit minds are intriguing, they’re gifted, and we would hate to not have ETHS students inside The Aux selling products that we know people would buy,” Wilson says. 

High schoolers may also enjoy stopping by Smoothie RX, an organic and non-GMO smoothie bar. 

The Aux’s unique name was chosen for a reason. It was derived from a sound system’s auxiliary cord. The name symbolizes a connection within the community of Evanston.

“The name came from asking the question, what do Black people usually use to connect? And a friend of mine said music; we were in the car at the time, and it kind of reminded us of the auxiliary cord,” Wilson says. “And so the aux is short for auxiliary cord and it’s kind of a symbol of what we, as people, use to connect,”.

Wilson, Holmes and White all hope The Aux will transform the business landscape of Evanston and bring more Black-owned enterprises to the forefront of the community. 

“The Aux is opportunity,” Holmes says. “It’s an opportunity for the community to be well. It’s an opportunity for Black businesses to thrive. And it’s an opportunity that’s born out of accessibility.”

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Audrey Bodine, Staff Writer
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