SSFP: Local Neighborhood Foundation Helps Students Develop Real-Life Skills

The Mellowhood Foundation’s Summer Initiative is a paid summer program in the southwest Madison Meadowood neighborhood that teaches a large age-range of children about independence and real-world responsibilities. The initiative draws on the knowledge students already have from school, while also teaching them skills such as independence and self-determination. Mellowhood student Amaria has learned valuable lessons through the program, such as “working hard, getting good grades, and failing from time to time.”

The initiative focuses on team-building through activities such as gardening and group prayer. Students work together to develop menu plans using the food they grow and are served lunch and dinner. There is also an emphasis on helping students improve in core academic subjects like math, science, and English.

Enter Madison’s Selfie Contest Now

The City of Madison’s Selfie Contest is well under way, but there’s still time to enter. As part of Madison’s Historic Preservation Plan, the city seeks the input of its citizens regarding the places that have shaped the cultural, social, and physical character of the city.  

Residents who wish to enter the contest can do so by taking a picture of themselves in a Madison locale that they believe symbolizes something significant about the city. After snapping the photograph, send an email of their picture to historicpreservation@cityofmadison.com with a short description of the value and significance of the place in the photograph.  

Those selected for the first, second, and third prize will win $100, $50, and $25 respectively in the form of gift cards.

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.