Regional planners seek input from community members on their “Greater Madison Vision”

A regional planning commission is surveying Madison-area residents to discover how communities would like the city to change in the future. The project, called “A Greater Vision Madison,” was unveiled on September 12 and will ask residents of Dane County and other bordering counties what their priorities for the future are related to society, the environment, population and technology, according to Alder Larry Palm, Chair of the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission. A primary goal of the project, Palm said, was to emphasize the community’s values and visions rather than looking for quantitative information. “We want to understand where the differences in the community lie based on demographics and where people live,” Palm said. “Then, we can better understand where people align and differ.”

As part of the survey, respondents are first asked to rank their priorities for four types of change: society, technology, environmental changes and population.

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.

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.

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.

$15 million Imagination Center prioritizes community’s input and needs in planning for its construction in 2020

Ald. Samba Baldeh is gathering citizen input to help shape what will be known as the Imagination Center in the Northeast side of Madison. “The City is growing very very fast so it really was overdue for us to have a library in this area. It’s important that we have resources for after school programing that can cater the possibility of people of color who sometimes struggle after school to have a personal place to go,” Baldeh said. The Imagination Center has been a year in planning, receiving a budget of $500,000 last year for outreach to gather information on what citizens want to see in it.

Media Digest June 8

Top Story

The downtown centerpiece Judge Doyle Square project is facing a new roadblock as Chicago developer Beitler Real Estate Services sues the City of Madison over its appropriation of an additional $11 million dollars. Logan Wroge @LWrogeof the Wisconsin State Journal, 6/7. Community

A new program will help inmates of Dane County Jail move back into society.  The program is a joint effort of Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM) Nehemiah Center, Anesis Center, and the Jessie Crawford Recovery Center. A contract with Dane County for $110,000 is pending.

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.

Media Digest May 17, 2018

Our Top Story this week: Robert Chappell of Madison 365 breaks the news that CEO Michael Johnson is leaving the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County to head the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Paul Fanlund @fanlund of the Capital Times talks to Johnson who offers some advice on where Madison needs to head next. In Politics, on Tuesday, May 15, there was a talk titled “Citizens’ Public Hearing on Fair Maps” in Madison, co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leaders Tim Cullen (a Democrat) and Dale Schultz (a Republican).   The event is co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Common Cause Wisconsin, the Fair Elections Project, and the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.  Tuesday 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church (Fellowship Hall), 203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison. Matt Defour @WSJMattD4 of the Wisconsin State Journal  previews what is likely to be a hotly contested primary for the Westside Assembly district being vacated by longtime state representative Terese Berceau.

Café Social connects Colombia and Madison

When he arrived in Madison in 1999, Omar López did not know English. He had never seen snow before. But he did know one thing definitively, he could not find a cup of coffee in Madison that would compare to what he knew in his native Colombia. López opened Café Social in August 2016 with his partner Douglas Swenson. Enter the shop, you are greeted by the sweet aroma of freshly brewed Colombian coffee. Almost every day, López, 50, prepares his coffee shop for the day, then mans the counter.