Real Life Library promotes empathy and understanding with live “books”

Walking into Goodman South Madison Library on Saturday afternoon, visitors are greeted by two friendly staff members. “Are you here for the Real Life Library,” a staffer asks? After signing in, a volunteer directs visitors to the back of the library, where another staffer awaits. “What book would you like to checkout,” he asks? After an unsure pause, the volunteer hands-out a checkout card.

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.

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.

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.

Madison’s Neighborhood Resource Teams want to shift perspectives, improve quality of life in “pockets” of the city

Mayor Paul Soglin’s Neighborhood Resource Teams are working to tune into Madison residents in order to address their needs by introducing neighborhood-based improvement projects to the city budgets and planning. Soglin created the Neighborhood Resource Teams in 1991 during his second term as mayor after noticing the division between government departments, where the topic-style organization of agencies prevented cohesive collaboration. “It became obvious that we needed a better approach in terms of the needs of specific neighborhoods,” Soglin said. “It was also obvious that the services provided should be in response to the neighborhood identifying priorities rather than the city making those decisions.”

The Mayor’s office identified neighborhoods it felt would benefit and formed teams comprised of city employees across government agencies. The teams focused on small pockets of the city until 1997, when Soglin left office.

The Mad Rollin’ Dolls break down gender norms and stereotypes

Tall and lean, Spam is known for her speed. In a bright green jersey, she whips around an indoor track at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum five nights a year, pushing and weaving her way through a tightly-knit group of women on roller skates. She works tirelessly towards the chance to hold a dismembered mannequin leg, painted gold with a roller skate on its single foot, high in the air at the championship match. Spam is a member of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls, Madison’s women’s roller derby league. The dismembered leg is affectionately known as Leggy, a championship trophy with a storied history.

Madison’s Juneteenth Will Be a Week-Long Celebration This Year

Madison’s annual Juneteenth will be celebrated for a whole week this year and will culminate with a parade and party at Penn Park. The Juneteenth Day Celebration 2018 will take place Saturday, June 16, noon-6 p.m., at Penn Park. Juneteenth in Madison is now in its 29th year. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, a day when African-American slaves in Texas were told by Union forces that they were free. They were the final group of slaves to realize their freedom.

What You Need to Know about the Spring Election

On April 3, Dane County will hold Spring Elections to elect state offices for Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge, District IV, Circuit Court Judges, and two school board seats. Here is a brief overview of the positions and candidates voters will elect on Tuesday. 

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is the final judge for cases in the state. The seven justices receive thousands of requests for hearings each year. The Court's job is to check the actions of the Governor, state assembly, the state police, and other government officials to make sure they do not overstep their powers. A justice would help to resolve national issues that reach the court systems such as women’s right to abortion or means of U.S. Citizenship. Michael Screnock

Campaign Website: https://www.judgescrenock.com/

Rebecca Dallet

Campaign Website: https://www.dalletforjustice.com/

Court of Appeals Judge, District IV

Appeals courts consist of three judges and do not use a jury.

One-on-One with the candidates for the Madison Board of Education: Gloria Reyes

Madison Commons reporter, Lauren Thill, interviewed three candidates for the Board of Education in Madison. We present the interviews unaltered in transcript form as part of a three-part series. In part three, we present the comments of Gloria Reyes who is running for Seat 1 against current board member Anna Moffit for the Spring Primary election on April 3. Reyes is currently Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, Civil Rights and Community Services. Can you talk about yourself and your experiences?