May 2019 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. Jill Nagler, OutReach

Jill Nagler has been a volunteer for OutReach since 2011 in many capacities and is now the OutReach Board Secretary. OutReach’s mission is a commitment to equity and quality of life for all LGBTQ+ people through community building, health and human services, and economic, social, and racial justice advocacy. In addition to the board duties, Nagler also volunteers their time with the Speakers Bureau, educating people on non-binary identities.

Creating Opportunities for Madison’s Latinx Communities

Since it grew out of Madison’s Latino Family Resource Center in 2010, the Latino Academy of Workforce Development has provided general education, workforce training, and safety programs to a community hungry for learning opportunities. Before the Latino Academy’s inception, Latino Family Resource Center coordinators like Baltazar de Anda Santana provided basics like food and English classes to Madison’s Latinx population. But there was a growing desire among the LFRC’s clients for something more substantial. “There were the participants who were okay receiving the help, but there were other participants who were more interested in learning how to do things,” said de Anda Santana, now executive director of the Latino Academy. The effort to make clients self-sufficient came not from coordinators but from the clients themselves. “The participants wanted that, they wanted to be the ones to learn English, they wanted to learn computers,” de Anda Santana said.

More than three years after forming, city committee close to releasing recommendations for police reform

A city committee will release recommendations for police reforms, including the recommendation for an independent monitor and civilian oversight board, in the next few months. The committee, referred to as the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee, was formed in 2015 to conduct a review of MPD and address concerns over police brutality in Madison. In particular, the group was formed to respond to the death of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old black man, who was shot and killed by police officer Matthew Kenny. In June 2016, the committee spent $400,000 for an outside consulting group, OIR, to conduct an independent review the Madison Police Department. OIR looked at MPD’s policies, practices, culture and training and came up with 146 recommendations on reforms for the department.

The United Way of Dane County Announces Partnership with Forward Madison FC

The United Way of Dane County, a public organization that strives to bring together the voices of Dane County, publicly announced last month an official partnership with Forward Madison FC. This partnership allows for a new community building projects, such as organizing  a soccer clinic at United Way’s Seasons of Caring that begins in August. Forward Madison FC is a new professional soccer team, founded in 2018, based in Madison.. The team is led by Daryl Shore, the head coach and technical director. They began inaugural season in 2019 and played their first competitive game on April 3rd against the Chattanooga Red Wolves SC where they were closely defeated by a score of 1-0.

School board members want a new leader to build on Cheatham’s strategic framework for MMSD

Less than two weeks after newly elected school board members were sworn into their positions, Dr. Jen Cheatham announced her resignation from her position as Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD). Her resignation came as a surprise to at least one of the new members. While this announcement gives the school board an unexpected challenge, it also gives them an opportunity to appoint a new leader of Madison schools. “I was definitely surprised by Jen’s announcement,” said Ananda Mirelli, who was among the new school board members sworn in at the April 29th meeting. “But this is a good opportunity for the school board and the community to re-think and recalibrate what type of leader we want.”

Cris Carusi, a new school board member agrees.

SSFP: Mental Health In College Students

Have you ever considered the stress the average college student goes through? Or the many difficulties they face while studying for their careers and the problems these mental health issues can lead to? Depression among college students is high with 36.4 percent reporting some kind of depression including feeling helplessness, overwhelmed, sadness, hopelessness, and powerless. A survey conducted by the Association of University and College Counseling Center directors in 2013 stated that depression is the main cause of college dropout students. If untreated, it can lead to serious problems later in life, including taking one’s own life.

The Bus Stops Here: Service Changes, Reroutes and Uproots at Madison Metro

Last week Madison Metro Transit and its oversight committee the Transportation Commission held a public hearing on what has become an annual ritual of vetting a slew of service changes that do not involve a massive infusion of additional money. The aim is to have largely cost-neutral changes in place for the start of the next academic year, and the hearing in late April can be considered the public kick-off to the review process. Madison Metro had previously compiled the proposed service changes into a file that can be viewed and here.  The hearing itself was captured both on video and audio by the City of Madison's media site. The Commission will deliberate on the proposals at its May 22, 2019 meeting. In the meantime, written comments can be sent to Metro Transit Public Hearing Feedback, 1245 E. Washington Ave., Suite 201, Madison WI 53703 or by emailing

The Multi-Talented Taylor Wright Rushing, Artist-In-Residence at The Bubbler

Taylor Wright Rushing, a Masters of Fine Arts student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is an artist of many talents. From March to April, he shared these talents - including woodworking, painting, drawing, and music - as the Artist-In-Residence at the  Bubbler at Madison Public Library

“Philosophically, I’m really on the same page as the folks here.” Rushing said. It’s all about accessibility, completely unpretentious art-making, and it’s free to the public. The Bubbler has had such a great roster of other artists-in-residence that I’m proud to say that I’m friends with a bunch of them, and I’ve been able to work with them in a variety of capacities. For me, the opportunity to participate in the art residency program was something that I just had to do.”

During his residency, Rushing led multiple workshops on the subject of wood carving and whittling.

Say Hello to Springtime at Troy Farm’s Annual Plant Sale on Saturday

Troy Farm will offer over 20 types and 75 varieties of vegetables and herbs Saturday at their annual spring sale. All items are certified organic plants that are grown on-site at the Troy Farm.  The plant sale will be held on the Northside of Madison, at 502 Troy Drive, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Community GroundWorks Troy Farm, Madison’s first urban farm, is a nonprofit organization that produces organic vegetables and herbs while promoting community and sustainability. The organization focuses on education by providing internships and opportunities for young community members to learn about urban agriculture. If you wish to get involved with Troy Farm, you can apply for membership or attend Thursday Nights at Troy, a community event that includes a farm stand, pizza, live music, and activities.

A Day Without Latinx and Immigrants Draws Supporters from Across Wisconsin

Individuals across Wisconsin participated in a state wide strike last Wednesday as as part of an effort to urge legislators to restore drivers license to immigrants. Voces de la Frontera, a community organization based in Milwaukee, organized a Day Without Latinx and Immigrants general strike across the state of Wisconsin. Immigrants, their families and supporters participated by not attending work, school or purchasing anything. Over 100 businesses closed and community members from around the state converged to rally at the State Capital to voice support. 

“These events like May 1 are opportunities for people to be part of history by demonstrating their solidarity, showing our collective economic power to have an impact on the political process, and to say that Wisconsin is a welcoming state for immigrants,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera, said. The organization has a long history of activism in Wisconsin, and more recently are focused on building coalitions in an effort to restore the right to obtain driver's license to immigrants.