Local public arts program engages community and inspires at-risk youth

A high-school student stood near the door of a classroom in Hoyt School, observing quietly as his classmates painted. He appeared nervous to join in. Artist Sonya Sankaran calmly handed him a paint brush and reassured him that mistakes could always be fixed. Soon, the student was painting flowers alongside his classmates. The student is one of many around Dane County who have contributed to public murals with Dane Arts Mural Arts (DAMA).

Media Digest January 30, 2018

Top Story

Dane County’s two forensic pathologists haven’t had a vacation day in a year, but they say the need for their services is reflective of the need for increased death investigator standards. Education

At Monona Grove High School, there’s a debate about whether “To Kill a Mocking Bird” should be included in the curriculum. Students with special needs are given an opportunity to shine on the stage with The Penguin Project in Sun Prairie. Madison schools superintendent Jennifer Cheatham is looking back on what she accomplished in her first five years. Development

After the abrupt closure of Sam’s Club earlier this month, the CEO of Dane County Boys and Girls Club is advocatingit be turned into a sports facility.

For the child


Tanisha Hook went door-to-door, begging for food after her family was routinely kicked out of apartments and living on the streets. She was 4 years old. Until her school therapist stepped in and helped Hook enter the foster care system, she was a child experiencing neglect. Going to school with dirty clothes and hair, black eyes and cold sores, Hook would take on the role of the parent and try to make things work. For children like Hook, these experiences can become routine and a new normal.

A local women’s theater strives to give women a voice

After remaining unrecognized for her dedication as a modest props master at a local theater company on a number of shows, Kathie Rasmussen finally put her foot down. After remaining unrecognized for her dedication as a modest props master at a local theater company on a number of shows, Kathie Rasmussen finally put her foot down. She courageously told the director of the next show that she would under no circumstances do props anymore, giving him a list of things she would happily do instead. He agreed. The next thing she knew, she received the assignment list for the company’s next production, and she was listed as the props master. Rasmussen’s experience as a woman having her hard work and opinions disregarded in a male-run industry is all too familiar.

A local non-profit organizes against hate by uniting communities with love

“Hate is a willful denial of compassion.”
These are the words of Arno Michaelis, former member of one of the largest racist skinhead groups in the world. Michaelis willfully denied compassion in his life, letting his personal suffering develop into a terrible rage that caused him to harm many innocent people, as well as many of his loved ones. It was not until a Jewish man, belonging to a group that he claimed to hate, treated him with the kindness that Michaelis never treated that man with, that he realized he needed to change. Michaelis’s speech caused an emotional stur among the attendees of a United Against Hate event last month at the Monona Terrace. There were few dry eyes in the room as he shared his story about confronting his hate and suffering, which led Michaelis to start Serve 2 Unite, and become an advisory board member of We Are Many-United Against Hate.

Going beyond the plate with Madison food tours


Diving into the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company’s Brat and Pretzel Burger felt like sinking teeth into a Wisconsin culinary history lesson. A juicy beef patty is topped with a savory bratwurst burger, smoked bacon and stout-caramelized onions. The pretzel bun was oozing with a luxurious layer of Wisconsin’s famed sharp cheddar, exuding a perfume of fragrant comfort. The burger tasted like a culinary representation of the state. Even the restaurant’s brick laden home was ensconced in a rich backstory: the Great Dane is nestled in the old Fess Hotel, a building on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated Madison landmark.

SSFP: Three Simpson Street Reporters Receive Outstanding Young Person Awards

This story originally appeared in the Simpson Street Free Press. The story was written by Jacqueline Zuniga Paiz, an Assistant Editor at SSFP. 

Every year, over 800 Wisconsin parents, youth, teachers, school faculty, and community members come together to attend Urban League’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Recognition Breakfast. Held at Edgewood High School this year, the annual event celebrates local students’ academic achievement, extracurricular participation, and commitment to community service. About 200 middle and high school students of color from Dane County receive Outstanding Young Person awards at the event, which is one of the state’s biggest youth and family-focused celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Simpson Street staff and students are proud to announce that three of our young reporters were among those who received awards at this year’s community celebration. from St.

Statewide school garden organization provides resources, connects Madison schools

School gardens have found a home in Madison. Over 30 local schools are incorporating garden-based education into the curriculum, and the rewards outweigh the challenges. Ginny Hughes, education director for Community Groundworks, said gardens often begin with the vision of a passionate teacher, parent or community resident, but leadership changes and lack of funding, time and energy can lead to the downfall of an intended garden space. “It’s always changing, and it always requires attention, so that work requires resources,” Hughes said. “I think that’s where we find a lot of lack in our Madison schools.”

That’s where the Wisconsin School Garden Network comes in.

Madison grant program aims to increase community engagement, improve neighborhoods

The City of Madison’s Neighborhood Grant Program, which awards a total of $25,000 to neighborhood projects every year, is currently accepting applications through Feb. 19. Grant money will be awarded to small groups of neighborhood volunteers, neighborhood associations or business organizations that are involved with community building or civic engagement. The program supports projects that seek to build community engagement and improve its neighborhoods. “Strong and healthy neighborhoods make a strong and healthy city,” Linda Horvath from the City Planning Division said.

Public listening project aims to center public vision for Madison’s future growth

Every 10 years, the City of Madison is required to update its comprehensive plan, which is essentially a mission statement detailing the city’s plans and priorities for growth. To make this revision process more accessible to the public, the city created a public-listening project titled Imagine Madison. 
Since the fall of 2016, Imagine Madison has gathered residents’ opinions through a variety of in-person events and an online survey. Imagine Madison’s mission is to gauge the public’s visions, opinions and priorities for Madison’s growth. “Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in daily concerns, but we’re looking at the things we need to consider looking out 10 or 20 years down the line. We’re looking to the horizon, and not just looking at what’s in front of us,” Brian Grady of the City Planning Division said.