Madison artists give residents signs of life

Yard signs with messages about community and belonging have popped-up around Madison as part of a Madison Arts Commission temporary project. The project, called “If Not This, Then What?,” was created by Madison artists J.L. Conrad and Trent Miller. Sponsored by a Madison Arts Commission grant, Conrad and Miller, who are married, have given out over 200 signs for free so far since the project debuted in July. The signs contain three different phrases, including “It’s too early to know,” “You take it from here” and “If not this, then what?”

According to Miller, he and Conrad were inspired by the idea of getting people to see and think about how we anchor meaning in the world.  

“[Conrad and I] started talking about what would it look like if there were more poetic, open-ended signs in the world as opposed to ones that are so prescriptive, or political, or trying to sell something,” Miller said.

DreamUp Wisconsin Looks to Bolster Middle Class Income

On May 16 the University of Wisconsin - Madison launched The Alliance for the American Dream, which is a collaboration between the community and the university to produce ideas to increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent by the year 2020. Although the median income in the county is about $65,000 with only 3 percent unemployment, there are racial and geographic disparities. United Way of Dane County said the black household median income is below $30,000 and the minority unemployment rate is over 20 percent. Schmidt Futures is funding the project, which is called the DreamUp Wisconsin Initiative. It is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty at UW-Madison.

Health Department Offers Free Private Well Testing To Dane County Residents

Public Health Madison & Dane County is offering free private well water testing to impacted Dane County residents following last week’s floods. Torrential rains flooded many parts of west Madison and Dane county last week, causing both Gov. Scott Walker and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to declare states of emergency. In response, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC), a local health department run by Dane County, announced Monday that it is teaming up with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and Wisconsin Department of Health Services to offer free and expanded testing services to private well owners affected by the floods. “We want to make water testing for well owners hit hardest by the flooding as easy as possible for folks,” said Doug Voegeli, Environmental Health Director for PHMDC. “Doing this testing is crucial for making sure that your water is safe since drinking water contaminated with bacteria can cause illness.”

There are approximately 23,000 private wells in Dane County, and PHMDC estimates that about 10,000 private wells are in or near areas impacted by the floods.

Northside Planning Council Will Celebrate 25 Years of Community Transformation

The Northside Planning Council (NPC) began with the dedication of one employee and a board of directors made up of neighborhood residents and quickly grew into the Northside’s primary organizing force. NPC is now celebrating 25 years of transformative community action. NPC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration will take place Friday, Sept. 7, 6-8:30 p.m. at Warner Park Community Recreation Center. Residents and community partners are invited to enjoy dinner, live music and the Northside Changemaker Awards while participating in the launch of the 2020 Northside Vision process.

Madison’s Startups Show Off During Startup Showcase

On Tuesday, August 21, five startups will present at the sixth annual Forward Festival Startup Showcase at the Memorial Union in Madison. The showcase, part of an eight-day celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship called the Forward Festival, and features early-stage startups from the Madison area. Each startup will have five minutes to pitch their business to an audience of business people, entrepreneurs and community members. Forrest Woolworth, one of the organizers of the Startup Showcase, said they looked for startups that highlight a variety of different industries and stages. “It’s the best ROI [Return on Investment] of your time to see the exciting things happening in the Madison startup and tech community,” Woolworth said.

City of Madison After School Services Initiative Criticized for “Lack of Transparency”

Local watchdogs and litigators say a City of Madison initiative and its multiple committees should provide the public with greater transparency. In a unanimous 2017 decision, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that committees created by local governmental bodies in Wisconsin are themselves governmental bodies subject to the state's open meetings law. Wisconsin open meetings law states: “All meetings of all state and local governmental bodies shall be publicly held in places reasonably accessible to members of the public and shall be open to all citizens at all times unless otherwise expressly provided by law.”

Public bodies are required to give notice of the time, date, location and general agenda of all meetings at least 24 hours in advance. Even when, “for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical…in no case may the notice be provided less than 2 hours in advance of [a] meeting.”

Madison-area Out-of-School Time, or MOST, is a City of Madison initiative. According to the City’s website, the group was started by Mayor Paul Soglin.

League of Women Voters publishes voter guide for August primary

The League of Women’s Voters of Wisconsin has launched their online voter guide for the state primary elections on August 14. The online resource, called, aims to provide voters with nonpartisan candidate information, important voter registration and polling details and other helpful election day information, according to a League of Women Voters press release. “The most important thing [about the guide] is that there’s information there so people can make their own informed decisions on who they want to vote for,” Eileen Newcomer, Voter Education Coordinator for the League’s Wisconsin chapter, said. “There’s all this information out there on different candidates and it’s hard to find one site that has all the information.”

To ensure the guide is nonpartisan, the League collects information on candidates’ positions through a questionnaire and posts their responses verbatim. According to Newcomer, the League publishes voter guides on VOTE411 ahead of each election as early as possible.

August 2018 Backyard Heroes

Community Shares, a partner of Madison Commons, recognizes two volunteers each month. The volunteers come from Community Shares' member groups and are selected for their service to the community and to community issues. Jenifer Cole, Wisconsin Women’s Network

Jenifer Cole is the Past President of the Wisconsin Women’s Network, an organization that promotes the advancement of women and girls in Wisconsin through communication, education, advocacy, and connections. Cole has served on the board since 2013 and currently works as a Program and Policy Supervisor for the Department of Children and Families. She has been committed for the last 20 years to gender and social justice and has worked at many nonprofit and government organizations around the U.S. Cole holds a BA in Theatre and Gender Studies from the University of Southern California and a MPA from Cornell University.

Take a Historic Walk around UW-Madison and the Capital

Madison has at been the center of all things ‘Wisconsin’ since before the state joined the union in 1848. Though Madison continues to grow and change every year, much of its history has been preserved, with over 140 nationally registered historic places in the city. With so much history to take in, we narrowed down the list to the top 10 historic places in Madison and into this interactive map.