Neighborhood Network Newsletter Articles

January 1998

August 1997

August 1996

March 1996

January 1998
It's almost 1998 - do you know where your neighborhood association is? (January 1998)

Strategic planning for a neighborhood association? Why should a voluntary group of neighbors want to do that big corporation-type thing? Well, one definition of strategic planning is "a process by which an organization attempts to control its destiny rather than allowing future events to do so." Another is "a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it." With that in mind, 1998 is almost here. A new year usually brings a host of resolutions for individuals planning to improve their performance and make themselves better the following year. Why not think of strategic planning in the same vein for your neighborhood organization?

Having a plan covering the next few years or an Annual Action Plan covering the next year can offer several benefits. These are of course in addition to the "if you don't know where you're going, any map can get you there" basic idea that a plan is a guide to get you where you want to go. Having an Annual Action Plan can:

There's no need to make planning overly complex. Here are some steps to follow to develop a plan for your neighborhood association:

Step 1 - Get organized. Decide what your plan will entail, and get the commitment of the board to develop it. Outline a planning process that fits your association. Form a subcommittee if the full board is large.

Step 2 - Review mission and history of association. What's the history of your association? What have been significant events since the beginning of the organization, both failures and successes, and major changes. What's its present situation? What's its mission? Clarity about the basic mission (what you want to achieve in the long run, and with/for whom) is critical to effective strategic planning. To chart a course for the future you must be clear about what you intend to accomplish.

Step 3 - Identify opportunities and threats. What are the opportunities you currently face? What are the threats? What are your association's strengths and weaknesses? What are the critical issues in its future? Who are your "customers" and other stakeholders. Who are your competitors? Allies? Are there major opportunities for your association in teaming up with some other organization(s)?

Step 4 - Develop a strategy. Will you take an approach of looking at possible scenarios, critical issues, or goals?

Scenario Approach - quick, holds people's interest, uses "big picture" thinking
Step 1. Identify major scenarios for future - have each person on the committee describe their vision of the association in the next 3-5 years.

Step 2. Evaluate scenarios - explore relative advantages and disadvantages of each scenario, compare notes and decide which parts of the visions fit with your mission and community needs.

Step 3. Select preferred scenario - identify and evaluate alternatives.

Step 4. Test and refine it.

Step 5. Officially adopt the resulting plan.

Critical Issues Approach

Step 1. Identify critical issues facing your association.

Step 2. Sequence them in some logical order.

Step 3. Resolve each issue in turn by listing possible solutions to each, then selecting the best one. Prior decisions are sometimes revised in light of later decisions.

Step 4. After resolving major issues, review organization's overall strategy to ensure it is sound - are the activities planned consistent with the budget planned? Is participation large enough to undertake activities planned?

Goal Approach - works best to set overall emphasis or direction when the organization's goals are already clear. It may be best used after one of the other two approaches, and after your strategy for the future becomes clearer.

Step 1. Set goals.

Step 2. Identify possible strategies or objectives to reach each goal.

Step 3. Select the best strategies.

Step 4. Outline specific plans and time line to accomplish each strategy.

Some strategies a neighborhood association may develop include:

Grow - become larger and more influential, diversify activities and funding sources. Do you want to embark on a recruitment campaign? Or perhaps you want to apply for funding to take on some larger neighborhood activities?

Team Up - merge or develop joint programming with another association. Tenney-Lapham and Old Market Place neighborhoods combined their resources a few years back to publish a larger newsletter than either could have done alone. Capitol Neighborhoods (First Settlement District) and Old Market Place neighborhoods for years have worked together to present an annual garden tour.

Downsize - reduce the scope of activities to fit financial or other constraints. Are the members too stretched by your current activity level? Perhaps scaling back one or two activities is the answer.

Focus or Specialize - do a few things very well. The Northside Planning Council undertakes only a few events each year, but their Easter Egg Hunt is known throughout the City. They also support the Rhythm and Booms program, which they initiated.

Become Entrepreneurial - earn income to offset expenses or subsidize some activities. Many neighborhood associations have found garden tours to be excellent fundraisers.

Professionalize - document "how to" for various activities, both to ensure consistency and encourage participation, and to increase skills of those involved in the activities.

Does someone in the group have experience in planning or leading groups? Appoint or borrow someone to lead you through the process.

Step 5 - Draft and refine the plan. Agree on the format with the planning committee. Have one or two committee members develop the first draft. Refine the plan by reviewing with the entire planning committee, asking what members like best about it, what soft spots or omissions they see, what suggestions they may have to improve or strengthen it, and next steps to complete it. Review and examine any risks involved in the plan and decide whether to make any changes.

Step 6 - Devise an implementation plan. Present to the organization for approval. Adopt the plan. Don't forget to celebrate the occasion! And don't forget that the association will change, the world around you will change, and no plan is perfect.

Step 7 - Implement the plan. Map out and begin the implementation. Be sure the directions and strategies are not put away to be reviewed later, but are included in the year's budget and activities. Monitor and update the plan annually, before planning the budget for the coming year.

Remember that strategic planning is not an end in itself, but a tool to better accomplish your association's mission.

(From "Strategic Planning Workbook for Nonprofit Organizations, Revised & Updated," by Bryan W. Barry. Copyright 1997 Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Used with permission. For more information on Wilder Foundation publications, call 1-800-274-6024.)

MGE offers community energy grants (January 1998)

Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) is now offering Community Energy Grants to provide support for energy efficiency projects in your neighborhood or community. These grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded for projects that result in savings of natural gas and electricity supplied by MGE. The grant money can be used either to offset costs of the energy project, or to fund other neighborhood projects.

A wide range of energy projects could qualify for a grant. Some examples include:

  1. Talk with neighbors at meetings, events or through door-to-door contacts to encourage conversion of home outdoor security lights to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs or high pressure sodium fixtures. This could also involve working with a neighborhood retailer to give a discount on appropriate bulbs or fixtures. Grant funds awarded would be proportional to the number of outdoor lights converted.
  2. Sponsor a neighborhood workshop on home energy efficiency. MGE could provide presenters and technical expertise for the workshop and grant funds could be used to purchase energy efficiency materials and products for the participants. Additional grant funds could be available to the neighborhood if additional energy improvements were completed by participants after the workshop.
  3. Develop a sustainable neighborhood - one that reduces wasted energy and materials and helps maintain the potential of land and water ecosystems. Grants funds awarded would be based on energy savings resulting from implementation of sustainable practices.

Be creative - look for ways that you and your neighbors can save energy and meet your neighborhood needs and goals. For more information about the grants or to find out how to apply, call Bob Stoffs at 252-7906 or e-mail him at

Garden tours - grow your neighborhood spirit and treasury (January 1998)

If you are looking for an activity that will showcase your neighborhood, bring neighbors together, and add to your treasury, consider a garden tour. The key to a successful event (in addition to having interested gardeners) is in the planning - and now is not too early to start! The Capitol Neighborhoods (First Settlement District) and Old Market Place Neighborhood have co-sponsored a garden tour (generally on alternate years) since 1988. Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood has held one for several years. The Emerson East Neighborhood held its first tour this summer. All featured not only a walk through neighbors' gardens, but also a brochure with advertising from neighborhood merchants and a bake sale. Even though it rained for Emerson East's event, it was well-attended, and all were a neighborhood success and a financial success.

The accompanying boxes provide helpful hints for planning a successful neighborhood garden tour. The following experienced coordinators provided this information and are willing to answer questions based on their experience planning and holding the event:

Leta Hansen - 258-9294
Old Market Place Neighborhood
Marybeth Wilk - 241-8265
Emerson East Neighborhood
Deb Byars - 256-6741 (weekends only)
Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood

Old Market Place has found an ice cream social at the end of the tour (to bring garden owners, volunteers, and planners together to share experiences and tips while they're fresh) serves to help evaluate the event. This allows people to unwind and leaves everyone with a feeling of accomplishment, as well as provides improvements for the next tour.


Hints for Planning a Successful Neighborhood Garden Tour Advance Planning


Select a planning committee. January or February is a good time to start for a June garden tour, if the committee is familiar with the gardens and what will likely be blooming during the tour. The committee can decide:

Boundaries of the tour - will it be a walking tour? A driving tour?

Theme of the tour - is it your neighborhood itself? Is there some landmark or historical or other aspect you want to highlight?

Purpose of the tour - attendees will want to know how their admission fee is being spent. Is it a fundraiser for the neighborhood organization? Will it fund some public gardens? Is it a social event to get neighbors together?

Date of tour - not only what date for the tour, but will there be a rain date? The next day or the next week?

Number of gardens on tour - you'll want enough to make people feel it's worth the price of admission.

Type of gardens - Will it be flowers? Vegetables? Both?

Hours of tour - four hours is a reasonable time frame. Capitol/Old Market Place has used 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accommodate volunteer shifts; Emerson East was pleased with 1 to 4 p.m.

Price of the tour - you'll want to take into account number of gardens, amenities, whether you'll have a lower price for seniors, will you allow children free.

Type of tour - will it be self-guided (two neighborhoods provided a map with tickets so that people could choose their own routes and go at their own pace. One group offered tour leaders once an hour).

Solicit gardens for participation - maybe the committee already knows which gardens to solicit, maybe a general solicitation of participation is called for.


Hints for Planning a Successful Neighborhood Garden Tour Before the Event


Inspect eligible gardens - look for unique and unusual features, note safety issues.

Meet with selected gardeners - explain the plan and the procedures; mention provision of ice water and chairs; desirability of homeowners' insurance; suggest doors be kept locked; show ticket samples; explain rain date; ask help soliciting sponsors, volunteers, flyer distribution; and answer questions.

Toilet facilities - are there public restrooms available at a nearby park or building? Or do you want to rent portable facilities? Many people do not wish to open their homes to strangers when they are busy hosting their garden.

Volunteers - for ticket sales, refreshment sales, sign/banner set-up and take-down, raffles, garden/tour guides, designing and distribution of ads, flyers, press releases, maps, or other activities you may choose to undertake. One group asks each participating gardener to provide two volunteers for their garden to check tickets, watch for tools and tripping hazards, assure clear paths, answer questions, give directions, provide ice water if it is a hot day, show seating (many gardeners are older and will need to rest along the way).

Publicity - contact radio and television stations, Madison City Channel, daily and weekly newspapers, leaflet the Farmers' Markets, post flyers. Madison Newspapers' garden section is put together in December, so publicity outreach can't start too early!

Fundraising - although the neighborhood organization may provide seed money, you may want to solicit baked goods, sodas or lemonade, printing, signs or banners to mark the participating houses, advertisers in brochures or flyers, gift certificates to raffle from local merchants including hardware or garden shops - even sponsors for carriage rides from garden to garden!

Budget - determine costs and potential revenues and sources

Sales - in addition to entrance tickets, will you sell refreshments, donated pastries, lemonade, plants, raffle tickets, etc?

Parking - where do you want your customers to plan to park? That would be a good place to sell tickets, etc., and to start and end the tour.

Neighborhood features - are there neighborhood plantings or other garden-related features nearby you could highlight as a part of the tour? Will some of the proceeds support those?

Insurance - remind homeowners of the importance of their homeowners' policy.

Pitch In!
Spring clean-up events (January 1998)

When spring is just around the corner, the melting snow tells you it is time for spring cleaning - not only in your home but also in your neighborhood's public areas, where the melted snow often reveals unsightly trash, recyclables, leaves, and brush accumulated during the winter months. Since we all want to get outside and welcome the warmer weather, why not join together for a few hours of Saturday morning clean-up? Why not follow the example of many Madison neighborhood associations that have been organizing spring (and summer and fall) clean-up events for years? All it takes is a little planning and some invitations to get neighborhood residents together to improve the appearance of your neighborhood's public places. See box on next page for tips.

The perfect opportunity for a clean-up event this Spring is the Earth Day Challenge on April 18. This is a City-wide volunteer park clean-up day. Parks Division staff will assist your group in the advance planning and will be on hand the day of the event. Last year over 500 Madisonians cleaned up 435 parks during the Earth Day Challenge. If your neighborhood would like to participate, contact the Parks Outreach Coordinator, Laura Prindle, at 266-5949.

Clean-up events don't have to be all work and no play. In fact, there are many possible ways to enhance your clean-up event with additional activities such as a meal, potluck, picnic, or a softball game where participants can socialize after cleaning up. You can also coordinate fundraising activities with a clean-up event. The Brentwood Village and Sherman Neighborhoods, for example, co-sponsored a creative Fall 1996 clean-up and fundraiser in conjunction with the Northside Business Association. After cleaning up and spreading fresh mulch (free from the Parks Division) at the Packers-Aberg intersection, site of the new neighborhood identification and welcome sign, the 50+ volunteers were invited to the Esquire Club for a pancake brunch fundraiser. Jim Kavanaugh, Esquire Club owner, rewarded the clean-up efforts by donating all pancake proceeds to the neighborhood sign project. Chet Hermansen at 249-9887, Katie Kunz, 244-8151, or Paul Rusk, 249-9667 can provide details on how they organized that clean-up or the one this past Spring for Earth Day.

For six years, the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood has been organizing Jazz in the Park, combining a clean-up of Wingra Park with an afternoon of free jazz. After a couple of hours of cleaning up the shores of Lake Wingra, they hold a free outdoor concert and invite everyone to bring a picnic dinner or purchase take-out food from nearby eateries, many of which help sponsor the event. Jane Riley can provide details.

Many neighborhoods have planned for and held clean-up days, and would be willing to share the benefits of their experience. Now is a good time for your neighborhood association to begin planning for a clean-up and to take part in the Earth Day Challenge!

August 1997
Tax-exempt status: Is it for your organization? (August 1997)

It is a fact of our time. Funding cuts and budget decreases have left many non-profit groups, including neighborhood associations, competing amongst themselves for an ever diminishing share of the fiscal pie. One possible strategy being used to overcome this hurdle is the use of 501(c)(3) federal tax- exempt status. Several neighborhood organizations in Madison, including Kennedy Heights and Vera Court, have pursued this path. Dudgeon-Monroe and Bay Creek are currently looking into it.

Federal tax-exempt status is aimed at non-profit and charitable organizations. It provides such groups with many favorable benefits including eligibility for funds earmarked primarily for charitable, non-profit organizations; federal and state tax exemptions; tax deductible contributions for members; preferential postage rates and permit fee discounts or waivers. Ann Lehmann, of the Kennedy Heights Neighborhood Association, stated that her organization used its 501(c)(3) status to apply for City funding. In turn, this funding was used to assist in building a community center for the neighborhood. Organizations may also find that as a contribution to their association is tax-deductible, members may choose to make larger monetary endowments.

While the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status can be time consuming and possibly even intimidating, it need not be. The following are some tips for getting the tax-exempt process started:

Federal tax-exempt status may not be the right path for every organization. Smaller associations may find that fees and time investments are prohibitive. Larger organizations may feel that the benefits do not outweigh the costs. Ann Lehmann of Kennedy Heights Community Center (244-0767) suggested that neighborhoods with many low and moderate income households might want to pursue this option. Her reasoning was that because many of the residents cannot afford to pay membership dues, the neighborhood association would need to look for other funding sources. She also felt that such neighborhoods required additional services and funding in order to enhance the quality of lives for the families and citizens of the community.

Regardless of the make-up of your neighborhood, applying for 501(c)(3) status is a step which requires much commitment from your organization. Darlene Horner of the Vera Court Neighborhood Association said that she would recommend the process to those groups that have committed people who are really involved in their communities. You can contact her at the Vera Court Community Center at 246-8372 or at 242-0115. If tax-exemption is right for your organization, the benefits will far outweigh the work associated with the application.

Marketing your organization (August 1997)

Imagine the scene - a 30-minute professionally produced infomercial depicting the best of your neighborhood. Your own specially written theme song plays in the background, accompanying the rapid fire barrage of street scenes from your neighborhood. At the end of it all, an 800 number for your organization appears at the center of the screen. Minutes after the ad is finished, the telephones in your headquarters begin to ring off the hook and are promptly answered by trained operators.

Sound like a dream? It is. Few, if any, neighborhood associations can afford or would choose to use such an ad to market their neighborhood. Further, the need to use such advertisements does not exist, as neighborhoods are usually seeking to recruit members from within the area and generally not competing to attract residents from outside the community.

Because the marketing needs for neighborhood associations are subtle and limited in scale, a low key, inexpensive approach is called for. The following are some examples which might be used to create awareness of your neighborhood association and its efforts within the community.

Marketing does not necessarily imply Fifth Avenue glitz and gloss. The purpose of marketing is to make your association known to residents of the community. The more avenues you use to identify your organization and its activities to the public, the higher your name recognition will be and the more likely it will become that residents will want to be involved in their neighborhood.

Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood long-range plan...truly a grassroots effort (August 1997)

The Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association (DMNA) believes one of its important goals is "to maintain the many qualities and build upon other opportunities that will keep Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood a desirable place to live and work." In fact, DMNA believes its neighborhood is a model of a traditional neighborhood.

In keeping with this approach, the DMNA has embarked on a unique undertaking. The Association has drafted a long-range neighborhood plan. What's so special about that, you ask? Lots of neighborhoods have created plans, you say? Ah, but those were targeted neighborhoods which the City of Madison requested to create a plan, and provided funding and support for the creation of the plan, generally under the Community Development Block Grant auspices in neighborhoods with a sizeable population of lower-income families. This plan, however, was drawn up by the Neighborhood Association without any prompting or funding by the City.

The Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood is a narrow strip of land extending westward from Camp Randall Stadium to the intersection of the railroad and Odana Road. Though now convenient to downtown and the University, it was originally a suburb - early in this century a Wisconsin State Journal article said the area near the Laurel Tavern and Michael's Frozen Custard was "far back from the factories and distracting noises of a growing city." Camp Randall was a Civil War training and POW camp; there was a stagecoach trail occupying what is now Monroe Street. Today Dudgeon-Monroe is a well-established, older City neighborhood comprised of good-sized, yet unpretentious houses, apartment buildings and small businesses. It is a pedestrian-friendly, middle- and upper middle-class neighborhood with two viable commercial districts and rising property values, as well as a goodly number of students attending either the University of Wisconsin or Edgewood College. It is dominated by professional persons, many of whom are associated with the University. It also contains such landmarks as Lake Wingra, Edgewood College, the Arboretum, and the Zoo.

The Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association has been active for 25 years. It represents the 2,969 neighborhood residents with a structure of area representatives, block captains and committees. A planning committee, which grew out of the DMNA Zoning Committee, coordinated all of the tasks associated with the development of the plan, starting in Fall 1995. This volunteer committee identified the issues, administered the neighborhood survey through the neighborhood newsletter, Hornblower, (resulting in a respectable 20% response), convened several business focus groups, creatively added a neighborhood planning charette into the 1996 Monroe Street Festival, obtained sample neighborhood plans from other Madison neighborhoods and cities across the country, drafted the initial plan and obtained feedback from block captains, solicited feedback from City staff and made appropriate changes. Highlights include:

The Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Long-Range Plan is in draft stage at present. It reflects the neighborhood survey and focus groups, and is packed with pictures, information, agreed-upon principles held by the neighborhood, and recommendations for the City, the Association, and the neighborhood residents and businesses. It will be introduced to the Common Council for approval later this year.

For further information, contact Kurt Kiefer, DMNA Long Range Planning Committee at 233-8661 or Shirley Lake, DNMA President at 238-1647.

Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood (August 1997)

Neighborhood Features:

Population (1990):



Chicago and Northwestern Railroad on the north, Edgewood Avenue on the east, Lake Wingra on the south, and Odana Road on the west.

Government Officials:

Aldermanic District:

10 (You can leave a message for your alderperson, Ken Golden, by calling the Madison Common Council Office at 266-4071.)

Dane County Supervisor:

Karen Cornwell (You can leave a message for your Dane County Supervisor by calling the County Board Office at 266-5758.)

Neighborhood Facilities:

Community Centers:

Dudgeon Center for Community Programs (3200 Monroe Street).


Monroe Street Branch (1705 Monroe Street), Sequoya Branch (513 South Midvale Boulevard).


Glenwood Children's Park, Wingra Park/Boat Livery, Dudgeon School Park, Henry Vilas Park, Glenway Golf Course, Tillitson Greenway, Hillington Green Triangle.

Polling Places:

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (2131 Rowley Avenue) or Dudgeon Center for Community Programs (3200 Monroe Street).


Thoreau or Franklin-Randall Elementary Schools, Cherokee or Hamilton (Van Hise) Middle Schools, West High School.


Hornblower (published 3 times per year).


Insider's Guide to the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood (1992), Walking and Biking Through the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood (1979), Neighborhood Directory.

August 1996
Special Events - A Way to Celebrate Community (August 1996)

The idea of celebrating community can be taken quite literally by planning special events or neighborhood festivals. In Madison, happenings such as the Willy Street Fair, the Triangle Ethnic Fest, and Juneteenth Celebration (celebrating Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation) combine fun and socializing for all ages while promoting a positive community image.

The Triangle Ethnic Fest, now in its 12th year, has grown from several hundred attendees to a crowd of over 7,000. Held on the third Sunday in August (this year August 18), the festival was created to showcase the variety of cultures in the Bayview area - their traditions, food, dances, and crafts. There are about 20 cultures represented at the event, with no more than one vendor for each ethnic group. The event draws the community together - not only the participants who work on it but those who attend and learn about other cultures or about community resources as well.

Because the event is well established with volunteers who return year after year, its planners mainly focus on fine tuning. Management of the event is done through eight committees and a chairperson who is elected for two years. Planning begins in the Spring.

David Haas, festival coordinator and executive director of the Bayview Foundation and Community Center, feels that the annual appreciation dinner for volunteers is one reason the people return to help each year. The festival planners also hold a meeting a week after the event to review what went well and what didn't while the event is still fresh in people's minds.

Although it costs $3,000 - $4,000 a year to put the Ethnic Fest together, Haas figures that even if they lose a thousand dollars, they're getting lots of free publicity and positive recognition for the area. The committee hopes to break even or to make money for the first time this year. "It's a lot of work, but we feel the recognition and community participation are worth it - and it's a lot of fun, too," say Haas.

The Juneteenth Celebration, sponsored in part by the Nehemiah Development Corporation, is a county-wide event designed to raise awareness about African American culture. Now in its 7th year, Juneteenth is still evolving in its organization and structure, changing its focus to include other cultures and reach a wider audience.

Scheduled as close as possible to the date of June 19 - the day word of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the slaves in the southwestern United States - Juneteenth Celebration was held on June 15 this year at the Dane County Coliseum. Inside for the first time instead of outside at Penn Park, organizers hoped to accommodate more people with disabilities and the elderly and to escape the vicissitudes of the weather.

Toya Robinson, this year's coordinator, and co-chairs Mona Winston and Annie Hayes, who have both been involved with Juneteenth since the beginning, plan and organize the event. Each year letters are sent out to potential participants about the focus of the event. Different organizations and businesses donate money or services. Along with food, music, artwork, and crafts, the event has booths where people can get information on what is offered in Dane County for and by African Americans. There is also an Afro-centric heritage tent.

"This year we wanted to make it more of a multi-cultural experience by inviting people from all ethnic backgrounds to participate and attend. We wanted to open it up and reach a wider audience to raise awareness of African American culture," Robinson says. So in addition to moving to the coliseum, Juneteenth planners involved other organizations. For example, Magic 98.1 radio station pledged to help find a celebrity and sponsor a concert.

Common Wealth Development, Inc., formed in 1979 by residents and businesses in the Williamson and Marquette neighborhoods who wanted to revitalize the area, began sponsoring the Willy Street Fair in an effort to contribute to building community. "The goal has never been fundraising," says Common Wealth Development director Marianne Morton, "but to celebrate neighborhood pride and promote a positive image of the area. It's also a venue for performers in the community since there are a lot of artistic, creative people in the neighborhood."

Since its beginning about 18 years ago, a committee of volunteers has coordinated the street fair. Anyone who is interested can serve on the committee. The fair is always on the third Sunday in September; and planning for it begins in early June. "We try each year to have a coordinator to make sure everything comes together," says Morton. Several years ago, Common Wealth enlisted the Wil-Mar Community Center to help out with the volunteer services. Any profits, which go to community groups, are split by the two organizations.

A key element of the fair is food and entertainment. In size, it has grown from one city block and one performance stage, to three blocks and four stages. Attendance for the all-day festival (11am - 7pm) is around 5,000 - 7,000. The fair traditionally starts with a costume parade for kids of all ages. Led by the same bubble-making, funky car, and sometimes a marching band, the parade is a fun way of drawing people into the spirit of the celebration.

Fair costs and profits can really vary, reports Morton, because it's an outdoor event. In 1995, the fair brought in a record $19,000 and expenses were $12,000. Part of the $7,000 profit was put aside to cover Common Wealth Development's future expenses such as an increase in insurance costs; the balance was used for community projects.

Morton advises associations to involve businesses as well as residents in the planning process of a special event. For example, the Willy Street Fair has benefited greatly from the participation of the Crystal Corner Bar, and their expertise in alcohol sales and the dispensing of food and beverages. Each of the performance stages is sponsored by 4 - 5 businesses to cover costs of performers, who are instrumental in attracting people to the fair.

Other sources of revenue include fees from food and arts and crafts vendors. Morton also recommends selling raffle tickets for donated prizes. Board members and volunteers begin selling raffle tickets months in advance for big prizes, such as airplane tickets or TV's. Tickets are sold on the day of the fair as well. Last year, the Fair made $4,000 on the raffle.

Individually, Madison's neighborhood festivals and events provide something fun to do on weekends, as well as give us a feel for the different neighborhoods in our city, and sometimes teach us something new about the world. Collectively, they help define Madison and are one more reason this is such a desirable place to live.

Putting Promotion in Motion (August 1996)

Promotion is the key to the success of any event. Plan ahead and keep it simple, especially if this is your first major event. It's far better to succeed with a small event than to fail trying for a complex one. Remember, the reputation of your organization is on the line.

Decide carefully the purpose of your event. Whether it's fundraising or just fun, make sure it will further the goals of your organization. Be sure your board members not only approve your budget but are personally committed to producing the event.

Corporate or business sponsors can be worth their weight in gold. Their dollars, volunteers and in-kind services (such as designing, printing, mailing or promoting) can give the event a professional polish. Be sure your sponsors receive high visibility for their efforts. Here are some guidelines I have found useful. Set priorities and do your best.

Flyers and Posters

Press Release

Print Media



Remember the golden rule of publicity: there is no such thing as redundancy. It's also true that you can't say "thank you" too many times. Remember each and every one of your volunteers and sponsors.

(The above article was reprinted with permission from the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation newsletter.)

Planning Tips for Special Events

Presenting the Brentwood Village-Packers-Sherman Neighborhood Plan (August 1996)

The Brentwood Village-Packers-Sherman Neighborhood has just completed a neighborhood planning process through a grant from the City of Madison Community Development Block Grant Office (CDBG). Bounded by Packers Avenue on the east, Northport Drive and Warner Park on the north, the Chicago Northwestern Railroad and N. Sherman Avenue on the east, and Commercial Avenue on the south, this neighborhood encompasses several designated communities that have combined their resources for the benefit of the whole area. The Federal CDBG funds allow the neighborhood to receive one year of planning services from the City's Department of Planning & Development, and two subsequent years of funding (approximately $180,000) to implement the recommendations identified in the plan.

Over fifty residents and area organizations were involved in the planning process, which included neighborhood surveys, face-to-face interviews, public meetings, and news articles in the Northside News. The neighborhood plan was submitted to the Common Council for review and adopted in July 1996. Plan recommendations will be monitored by alderpersons and neighborhood associations.

Resident and business involvement, and the past successes of established neighborhood organizations, were instrumental in securing the funds. Lesleigh Luttrell got involved in the planning process because she feels that "a neighborhood is more than your driveway in front of your house. In order to feel more like you live in a community, you need to know what is going on with the people in it rather than just observing what goes on out your window."

With a total population of 4,415, this is an area that strives to maintain a diverse population. Its racial and ethnic make-up reflects the City as a whole. A majority of the neighborhood residents are long-time Madisonians, and the largest age group is people over age 55. The neighborhood is noted for its affordable housing - in 1990 the median assessed value of a home was $58,400 - but the housing stock is varied, with single-family homes accounting for 57.2% of the dwellings. It is not uncommon to find five neighboring homes constructed in styles representative of five different decades.

As one of the first sights travelers encounter when exiting the Dane County Regional Airport, the neighborhood has a unique opportunity to make a lasting impression. Its proximity to Lake Mendota and Warner Park presents many recreational opportunities and beautiful vistas.

The area's place in Madison's history is significant as the home of the Oscar Mayer Foods plant which is located next to the last remaining railroad switching station in Madison (the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Roundhouse at 1741 Commercial Avenue, built around 1895). Oscar Mayer Foods was responsible for the early development of residences in the area. After Oscar Mayer bought the plant in 1919 from the Farmer's Cooperative Packing Company, he built 50 affordable homes in the vicinity of the plant to provide housing for plant workers in an extremely tight housing market. Mayer also lobbied for the extension of the streetcar line to the entrance of the plant by guaranteeing that the owner of the streetcar company would be reimbursed for any operational losses incurred because of the extension. By 1920, Oscar Mayer was the 5th largest meat-packing plant in the nation.

A number of common threads emerged from the planning process. One was to ensure that the Warner Park Recreation Center stays a priority on the City's agenda and meets the neighborhood's needs, along with pushing for more youth recreational activities in general. More neighborhood events such as festivals, picnics, and fundraisers will be encouraged in order to build social and political networks. Building a partnership with Sherman Middle School and increasing awareness of available community services are on the agenda, as well as continuing to monitor residential redevelopment and maintaining the older housing stock.

One of the plan's goals is to transform Aberg Avenue into an attractive gateway into the neighborhood. Additional sidewalks, custom-designed street banners, and business facade improvements are some of the ways the neighborhood has identified to achieve this goal. Recently, the neighborhood planning group held a clean-up of the area that attracted 60 volunteers and was followed by a pancake breakfast to raise money for a neighborhood identification sign. An improved gateway will serve as a catalyst for similar projects elsewhere in the neighborhood and on the northeast side.

Long-time resident (45 years in the same house) Norma Briggs feels that beautification efforts will really pay off in the long run. "It makes you feel that much better entering the neighborhood when there is a sign with flowers and landscaping. It shows the care and pride that goes into a place."

Chet Hermansen, owner of Chet's Car Care on Aberg Avenue, and a long-time resident, has been instrumental in coordinating efforts such as the clean-up. "The business people in the area are all very interested in updating and gung-ho to improve their property." Hermansen and others are participating in a City program that allows people to adopt parcels of land that the City cannot afford to trim and landscape. Business owners work together through the Northside Business Association. "The City Inspection Unit has been very helpful in getting hold of people who are not taking care of their responsibilities and encouraging them to get things done, as well," reports Hermansen.

"We're trying to revive the business climate in the neighborhood," says Hermansen. Hermansen feels that the same forces that worked against the small businesses are now starting to work for them. Although the competition from many new chains and businesses on the east side has been tough, "it is now becoming so congested in the East Washington corridor that people are wanting a better business network in the community so they don't have to travel in such traffic." Hermansen hopes to see buses stopping not only at Northgate and Sherman Plaza, but at individual stores as well as part of an effort to improve pedestrian safety. Traffic controls and other options need to be implemented to assist Madison Metro users and shoppers on foot. Hermansen and other residents are concerned that N. Sherman Avenue has become a feeder street for commuters from Waunakee, DeForest, Dane, Lodi, and points north of Madison. "If the people in Brentwood Village can't get across the street to frequent the businesses on N. Sherman Avenue, then we're defeating the purpose of revitalizing the businesses."

One strategy for neighborhood improvement that is already working is encouraging voluntarism among youth and seniors. Sherman Middle School students and the North/Eastside Senior Coalition are currently working on forming volunteer networks. Peggy Walker, a Sherman Middle School 7th-grader, participated in the recent neighborhood clean-up because she likes helping out. "It makes me feel good when people say thank you and are appreciative. A lot of my friends don't understand, but I'd like to see more kids volunteering for things like going out to visit nursing homes."

Senior citizen Briggs, who has done volunteer work at the Sherman Middle School library, feels it's important to help old and young interact with each other. "As people get older, they really need the help of younger residents to keep up their home and property." She feels a Warner Park Recreation Center could promote that kind of networking, with shared space for the North/Eastside Senior Coalition and recreational programs for youth.

The planning process has energized the whole community. Neighborhood organizers hope to keep the momentum going by continuing to recruit volunteers to help meet the goals and objectives that have been set and to assist in obtaining any additional funding that is needed.

Brentwood Village-Packers-Sherman Neighborhood (August 1996)

Neighborhood Features:

Population (1990):



Northport Drive and Warner Park on the north; Packers Avenue on the east; Commercial Avenue on the south; and Chicago Northwestern Railroad on the west.

Neighborhood Organizations:

Neighborhood Associations:

Brentwood Village (Paul Rusk, 249-9667); Sheridan Triangle (Margaret McEntire, 249-0062); Maple Wood Condominium Association (Barbara Fraser, 249-5976).

Neighborhood Councils:

Northside Planning Council (Tim Carlisle, 242-6338); Northside Community Council (Sandy Tuttle, 249-8222).

Neighborhood Business Association:

Northside Business Association (Kenneth Sipsma, 243-1230).

Government Officials:

Aldermanic District:

12 (You can leave a message for your alderperson, Dorothy Borchardt, by calling the Madison Common Council Office at 266-4071 or her home at 249-7202.)

Dane County Supervisor:

Larry Olson, District 12 (You can leave a message for your Dane County Supervisor by calling the County Board Office at 266-5758 or his home at 244-1480).

Neighborhood Facilities:

Community Centers:

Packers Community Center (Jackie Thomas, 249-0160); Northport Community Center (Pat Leonard, 249-9281).


Lakeview Branch Library, 2845 N. Sherman Avenue, 246-4547.


Almo Triangle, Brentwood Park, Sheridan Triangle, Sherman Middle School playground, Warner Park, Windom Way Park.

Polling Places:

Fire Station #10 (1517 Troy Drive); Sherman Middle School (1610 Ruskin Avenue); Lakeview Elementary School (1802 Tennyson Lane).


Emerson, Lakeview, and Mendota Elementary Schools; Sherman Middle School; East High School.


Brentwood Village Association Newsletter, Northport News, Northside News, and Sheridan Triangle Newsletter.


Brentwood Village-Packers-Sherman Neighborhood Plan (July 1996); Northport-Warner Park Neighborhood Plan (November 1992).

Northside Planning Council - A Voice for North Madison (August 1996)

The Northside Planning Council (NPC) has been instrumental in increasing citizen participation and creating a voice for the City's northside residents since it was formed in 1993 at the initiative of the City, Dane County, United Way, Madison Community Foundation, and Madison schools. (The northside area is bounded by Commercial Avenue on the south, Packers Avenue, including Oak Park Terrace Trailer Court, on the east, the Madison/Maple Bluff municipal dividing line and the shores of Lake Mendota on the west, and the Madison city line on the north.) As a coalition of Northside neighborhood associations, the Council facilitates citizen action through identifying and responding to issues in the northside community, whether advocating for funding the proposed Warner Park Recreation Center, supporting new neighborhood associations, or holding community action forums to discuss issues such as what we can do to encourage young people to build strong, hopeful lives.

As a community organizer with experience working in Third World countries, NPC facilitator Tim Carlisle had to adjust to working with government instead of against it when he began working for the Council. "In some countries much of the organizing is helping people who have been oppressed by the government to speak up for their human rights," he said. "Here, individuals are actually being encouraged by the government to advocate for themselves and to participate in the decision-making process." It's an opportunity that many people on the northside are taking advantage of as is evidenced by several new neighborhood associations and by residents partnering with NPC to form task forces to respond to issues such as the proposed sale of land now being used for the Troy Drive community gardens.

Part of NPC's strategy is to develop a community-wide network of neighborhood associations (it currently represents 18) in order to boost resident involvement in both local government decisions and in individual neighborhoods. It not only facilitates formation of new neighborhood associations but provides an ongoing workshop series on neighborhood organizing and technical assistance on fundraising, advocacy, and community involvement processes.

NPC contributed to the planning process that the Brentwood Village-Packers-Sherman Neighborhood just completed by sharing information about the issues and needs that it had already identified. The Council has also encouraged the formation of new associations in the area in order to provide a vehicle for residents to continue to be involved with the redevelopment effort and to monitor the progress of implementation of strategies designated in the plan.

NPC has had a major role in the northside recreation center proposed for Warner Park. The need for a center was identified in part because of the shifting demographics of the area in recent years. The population has become more diverse in income, age, race, and ethnic background, and many of the newer residents lack connections to the institutions and traditions that tie a neighborhood together. Envisioned as a recreational, educational, cultural, and community service center, the facility is an important link in fulfilling the needs of the northside community. Over 100 residents participated in a series of workshops sponsored by NPC to develop a design for the center that meets the diverse needs of the Northside community. Although the center was not funded in the City of Madison 1996 capital budget, Mayor Paul Soglin has emphasized that its construction is still a high priority, and has stated his commitment to place it in his budget for 1997.

The Northside Planning Council finds that one of the most effective ways of disseminating information to the community is the Northside News, a free bi-monthly community newspaper published by NPC. The publication includes school news, historical essays on the area, business updates, creative work (particularly by school students), health resources, reports from elected representatives, sports, neighborhood profiles, and home improvement tips, as well as coverage of community issues.

"The intent of all NPC's activities is to give people more ways to have more of a voice in what goes on in their own community. By getting people involved and linking neighbors and neighborhood organizations together, NPC hopes to build a greater sense of community on the Northside and a better community for all of its residents." The Northside Planning Council provides a good example of how diverse residents and various businesses, service organizations, and government institutions can work together to plan a healthy future for Madison's citizens. A second planning council is currently being formed on the South side of Madison.

If you would like more information on the Northside Planning Council, you can call Tim Carlisle at 242-6338.

Retention: It's Not Just for Ponds Anymore (August 1996)

Is your neighborhood association stuck in a rut? Does the same core group of people make up the attendance at every meeting? Are your members so burned out that they are nothing more than ashes and cinders? If so, your organization may be in dire need of a membership infusion.

All groups experience down periods. These may be times when members feel that the group may not be achieving its goals or when members feel that they are doing all the work and are becoming burned out. At other times, single issue members may drop out at the completion of a difficult and often controversial neighborhood issue.

If attracting new bodies doesn't seem to be the problem but rather, keeping them in the fold, what is an organization to do?

The following ideas are some potential steps which might be taken to keep drifters coming back on a regular basis:

Attracting and retaining members should not require carrots and sticks or locks and chains. An active organization which continually seeks to involve the community and which produces results is one which will have members eager to participate. Remember that new people often see things which we as current members might be too involved to notice. If your organization is having trouble retaining members, it might be necessary to invest time and energy to find out why. The answer might just be the key to turning your organization's membership problems around.

March 1996
Walking Down History Lane
Regent Neighborhood - It's History, People, and Assets (March 1996)

The Regent Neighborhood is made up of three distinct areas: University Heights (Breese Terrace to Allen and University Avenue to Regent); the West High area (Allen west between Regent and University Avenue); and south of Regent to the railroad tracks, extending from the stadium to Forest Hill cemetery - the proposed West Lawn Heights Historic District.

With almost 6,000 residents within the borders of the neighborhood association, it has one of the largest populations of all the neighborhood areas in Madison. There are 2,752 housing units and condominiums, including 1,294 single-family homes and 1,458 apartments.

The area includes the UW Chancellor's home, the Mayor's home, the imposing First Congregational Church, West High, and Randall School. The neighborhood borders the UW stadium and other university property. The Regent Neighborhood Association Board has divided the neighborhood into six areas that have its own resident representation. In all, 75 block captains are active in carrying out the functions of the organization. There are about 500 paying association members who live mainly in the 1,294 single-family homes. The association stresses proactive efforts to improve the quality of life and sponsors eight committees to deal with different issues - social, political, and economic.

Neighborhood Assets

"This neighborhood was built on a pedestrian-oriented scale," notes Nan Fey, President of the Regent Neighborhood Association. Karen Cornwell and her husband chose to live here because it meant they never had to buy a second car and because it gives the children freedom to be independent by walking to school or the grocery store. "The Regent Food Market is the center of the neighborhood," says Cornwell. "They will give you advice at the butcher counter about what you should be buying. It's a wonderful place to go and provides elderly people with a way to be independent, too."

The Regent Neighborhood exemplifies the advantages of a pedestrian orientation over automobile-dependency. "Everyone values the scale of the neighborhood: narrow streets promote conversations and moderate speeds; the small commercial centers are gathering places for the community," says Fey.

"It is a neighborhood in a classic sense," Nancy McMahon points out. "There are rituals and our children have grown up with traditions - the Fourth of July celebration and a post-Christmas dessert party, for example. Our house was previously owned by a woman who lived there fifty years; she moved out when she was 90 to go to Attic Angels, but fully expected to return some day."

A Neighborhood With History

The Regent Neighborhood is distinguished by its University Heights and proposed West Lawn Heights historic districts. Characteristics of the neighborhood are (1) high-quality historic architecture, (2) a curvilinear street pattern, and (3) residents who, from the beginning, have represented a who's who of University of Wisconsin faculty and administration. University Heights has also served as the setting for several works of fiction. Wallace Stegner's wonderful novel Crossing to Safety comes to mind, as well as Kelly Cherry's short fiction set.

Breese Stevens sold the 106 acres that would become University Heights to a development company for $106,000 in 1893. Stevens had owned the land since 1856 and soldiers from Camp Randall had logged it for firewood during the Civil War. The growing congestion of downtown neighborhoods and the extension of the streetcar line spurred development. The growth of the University of Wisconsin in the early 1900s attracted strong interest from faculty in the location (in fact, Stegner described a residence on Van Hise Street thus: "it looked like a house with tenure").

The first house on the hill, a shingled Queen Anne style at 115 Ely Place, was built by Conover and Porter - the same architects who designed the castle-like red gym on campus next to the Memorial Union. A reminiscence by one of the early residents described mud halfway up the carriage wheels on the unpaved roads and how the children loved watching the lamplighter light the streetlights. Several houses had windmills to power their water mills.

University Heights is perhaps best noted architecturally for a Louis Sullivan-designed house at 106 N. Prospect Avenue and a Frank Lloyd Wright residence (the "airplane house") at 120 Ely Place. It contains excellent examples of Queen Anne, Georgian revival, Bauhaus, shingle, Tudor, Chicago Progressive, and Prairie styles. The homes are ample and evocative of other eras.

The West Lawn Heights area will likely be officially designated a National Register historic district sometime in 1996. The area is architecturally significant as a fine, largely intact, early-twentieth century residential neighborhood with styles that typify period movements such as Bungalow, American Foursquare, and Prairie School, as well as the later Period Revival styles that came in after World War I.

Neighborhood Issues

The three neighborhood areas have different concerns, but common issues are traffic, lack of greenspace, and maintaining a relationship with the University. The area is host to West High teenagers and their cars, as well as to university student, faculty, and staff parking on residential streets. The streets are narrow and, where parking is allowed on both sides, become essentially one lane in width.

Traffic issues are primarily connected with UW development. The building and expansion of UW Hospital brought with it an increase of traffic on Highland and Farley. As a result of the general development south and west of the City, more people are coming in from there to the university and cutting through the neighborhood to avoid traffic on Monroe and University.

"Cooperation with the University's master planning process is in our best interest," says association president Nan Fey. "It is our nearest and most important neighbor, and the decisions it makes in regard to development affect us."

Representatives of the neighborhood are on a university/community committee, along with members of the Common Council, representatives of City departments, and business owners. The association persuaded the UW to participate in an open comment process whereby the residents of the City could advise the University of the effect on-campus decisions have off-campus.

As with some of the other older areas of the City, "the whole neighborhood is park deficient," says Fey. One of the reasons the association is discussing doing an independent neighborhood planning process is to identify the qualities of the neighborhood they want to preserve and goals they want to achieve - including more greenspace and minimizing traffic flow.

As in some other areas of the City, University Heights is a survivor of the bed-and-breakfast wars. There is concern about bringing commercial activity into the heart of the neighborhood. One of the problems in the past has been dealing with different, more lenient City requirements if the B&B was located in a historically designated home. The neighborhood worked hard to address the controversy by spearheading changes in the City ordinances to protect the residential quality of their classic and historic community.

If you would like to know more about the Regent Neighborhood, contact:

Nan Fey, President
Regent Neighborhood Association
2027 Chadbourne Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 238-7160

Regent Neighborhood (March 1996)

Neighborhood Features:

Population (1990):



University Avenue on the north, Breese Terrace on the east, Wisconsin-Calumet Railroad and Regent Street on the south, Virginia Terrace and North Franklin Avenue on the west.

Historic District Boundaries:

University Heights Historic District: University Avenue on the north, Breese Terrace on the east, Regent Street on the south, and North Allen Street on the west.

Neighborhood Facilities and Services:

Aldermanic District:

10 (You can leave a message for your alderperson, Ken Golden, by calling the Madison Common Council Office at 266-4071).

Bus Routes:

(E) Monona/Allied, (A) East Towne/West Towne, (G) Mendota/Hill Farms, (B) Lansing/Meadowood, (P) Walnut Grove, Ltd., (JX) Greentree, Ltd. Detailed bus schedules are available on all Madison Metro buses.

Centers of Worship:

First Congregational Church (1609 University Avenue), St. Andrew's Episcopal (1833 Regent Street), First Baptist (518 North Franklin), Blessed Sacrament Catholic (2131 Rowley).

Fire Station:

#4 (1437 Monroe Street), #9 (201 North Midvale Boulevard).


Monroe Street Branch (1705 Monroe Street).


Stevens Street Playground, Hillington Green Triangle, Holister Avenue Triangle, Olive Jones Park, Hoyt Park, Reservoir Park.

Polling Places:

West High School (30 Ash Street) and Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (2131 Rowley Avenue).


Randall-Franklin Elementary Schools, Hamilton (Van Hise) Middle School, West High School.


Regent Neighborhood Newsletter (published Spring and Fall).


University Heights Historic District: A Walking Tour Guide (1987), A Planning Study of the Regent Neighborhood (1989).

A New Access Alternative: Let's Surf the Net! (March 1996)

The infrastructure has recently been installed to greatly expand access to City information and City personnel over the "Information Superhighway" - the Internet. All that is needed is a computer with a modem, a phone line, and a fairly inexpensive software package to enable your neighborhood association to "surf the City" on the City of Madison Home Page.

By accessing the Home Page, neighborhood associations can acquire a wealth of information without going anywhere or making any phone calls. Here are a few examples of the information currently available on the Home Page (


Home Page users can find phone numbers and e-mail addresses for City personnel organized by department, as well as a listing of documents available from the Department of Planning & Development, including neighborhood plans, brochures, and walking tour guides; guides to City building codes, permit procedures, and the City zoning and approval process; City statistics, visitor's guides, and business brochures; and various other City planning documents.

Council/Committees/Citizen Participation

Home Page users can find phone numbers and e-mail addresses for Alderpersons and for appointed members of committees, boards, and commissions. The agenda for the next Common Council meeting, past Common Council agenda, election schedules, and Madison City Channel schedules are also available.

City Services/Transportation/Public Safety

Home Page users can find a listing and description of various services, including recycling, day care, senior services, and a community resource directory; information about Madison Metro and City parking; and information on the City Fire and Police Departments, including a guide to setting up a

Neighborhood Watch program.

City departments have only recently begun to utilize the Home Page, and access to even more information is sure to come in the near future. The Home Page also includes a survey form and a help line to find out what information citizens most need to obtain.

Which information would your neighborhood association most like to see on the Internet? To find out more about the City of Madison Home Page, contact Mike Simle - Data Processing, over the Internet at, or by phone at 267-8686.

The Business of Fundraising

People have a hard time asking neighbors and friends for money, even if it is for a good cause. Yet fundraising is usually one of the responsibilities of neighborhood association members. One way to approach fundraising is to think of your association as a small business. Like a small business, you need to understand who your customers are and what they need and you need to charge enough to cover your expenses and make a "profit."

Before your association begins any new fundraising efforts, ask yourselves:


Know Your "Customer"

As a "business" it is important to know your "customer." Whether you design a survey to send out, send volunteers house-to-house to solicit feedback, or chat on the telephone with other residents about their concerns, having an accurate picture of what residents want and expect from their organization will make raising money easier.

Whatever method you use, be sure your customer research tries to reach all members of your neighborhood - in all parts of the neighborhood. By involving everyone in the neighborhood, from residents to absentee landlords to businesses to anyone who uses the neighborhood for community purposes, you set a precedent for inclusion rather than exclusion.

Don't Forget the Obvious

In a neighborhood with many families with children, a real need parents may have is for accurate information on older children willing to babysit. For such a neighborhood, a directory that lists ages of children and names of kids willing to babysit or do odd jobs - in addition to the phone numbers and addresses of neighbors - would be a good service to offer residents who want to be able to easily contact other neighbors. If residents are particularly interested in social activities, use this interest to raise money by putting on an event such as an adult dance, a family ice-skating party, or a chili dinner/pancake breakfast, where residents contribute the ingredients and preparation time.

In some neighborhoods, like Vilas and Schenk's-Atwood, there is a natural partnership with local merchants who want to develop relationships with potential customers and improve their surroundings. Vilas Neighborhood Association president, Burnie Bridges, notes that neighborhood merchants' advertisements fund the neighborhood directory, and contain information - such as hours of operation - that is a resource for users of the directory.

The Vilas Neighborhood's efforts to raise money for playground improvements at Vilas Park is a good example of knowing its customers. The service identified was providing playground equipment for the children of the neighborhood and, because Vilas is one of the more active parks, for the children of the Dane County. An estimate of the cost of the equipment was obtained from the Parks Division so a goal could be set for donations and people would know what their contributions would purchase. Although the fundraising effort was supported locally by concerned neighborhood parents who use the park with their children, organizers appealed beyond neighborhood borders to publicize the need for new equipment in a park that is used by people from all over Dane County who visit the Vilas Zoo. Of the $11,000 raised in the first phase of the fundraising effort, two-thirds was from private contributions and one-third from corporations.

Use the "Vision" Thing

"One of the most important things for neighborhood fundraising is to have a vision of what you are trying to create," says Nancy Ragland, a fundraiser for Olbrich Gardens. "It is harder to raise money for specifics like shelving or carpeting than for a vision of something that would enrich or bring a neighborhood together, like a community center."

Bert Stitt, of the Capitol Neighborhood Association, recommends priority-setting before attempting to raise money. "Once a year we have an all-day retreat, at a hotel or church, to determine priorities for the next year."

Ragland also recommends getting your potential donors - which includes everyone in the neighborhood as well as others in the community - involved in the planning process from the very beginning." It is hard to raise money from people who are not involved, or touched in some way, by the project itself."

Set an Example of Generosity and Support

One of Bert Stitt's cardinal fundraising rules is, "You can't ask for money if you are not willing to give money yourself. One way to show your commitment is to be the first to put money in and then challenge others to match your contribution." A show of commitment by neighborhood leaders encourages others to participate.

The Message is in the Media

Jodi Bender, of Catholic Social Services, stresses the importance of developing a relationship with the media. "People can't donate to you unless they know about you."

Familiarize news editors and freelance writers with your project or neighborhood at a time when neither one of you are on a deadline. Cultivating a partnership with media representatives makes it easier to get your event or issue publicized when timing is important. Always offer media free tickets or easy access to events you want them to cover. Keep them informed of the progress of ongoing projects.

Celebrate Your "Patrons"

When you have achieved your goal and earned your reward, remember to give something of value back to those who helped. Whether it is publicity for businesses, a 'good news' item to the newspaper or perhaps a neighborhood ceremony, thank your donors with some kind of recognition. Reward generosity in order to raise the level of generosity.

A Bright Idea from East Buckeye . . .

How does your neighborhood raise money for neighborhood improvement? Keith Schlesinger, of the East Buckeye Association, would like to exchange ideas with other associations. He is willing to publicize fundraising activities in the Buckeye Bulletin newsletter if other neighborhood organizations will do the same for East Buckeye.

"We do a luminaria sale around the holidays that other neighborhoods could support as well. We sold 80 kits our first year, for 640 luminaria (candles set in sand inside a paper bag - a practice popular in the southwest, based on a Hispanic Christmas tradition) lighting up the neighborhood. We would be happy to offer them to members of other associations or to nearby residents who don't have an association but may want to light up their block."

Besides the luminaria sale, where residents pay $5 for 8 bags, candles, and sand to light their walks or driveways on a designated night, East Buckeye also hires a horse and wagon and provides a bonfire and cookies to put neighbors in a festive mood.

Keith Schlesinger
East Buckeye Neighborhood Association
2021 Anvil Lane
Madison, WI 53716
(608) 221-0060

Speak Up! (March 1996)

Madison's City committees, boards, and commissions are responsible for processing a good deal of the City's business, according to Sally Miley, assistant to the Mayor. Committees examine, discuss, and prioritize public issues before making recommendations to the Mayor and the Common Council. They are appointed to represent not only those present at meetings, but all citizens.

The Common Council meets biweekly throughout the year to consider issues referred to it by committees, City staff, or its own members. The Council considers issues in the form of a general report, a resolution, an ordinance, or a public hearing and determines the course of committee actions by voting to reject, place on file, or approve a resolution or ordinance. Committee meeting schedules may be obtained by calling the Clerk's Office and are also posted in the City-County building.

Participating in public hearings is one of the most effective ways for citizens to influence City policies and activities. Anyone may speak in support of or opposition to items on the agenda and citizens are encouraged to attend or speak out on neighborhood issues. The purpose of public hearings is to solicit public comment. Since the most effective statements are brief and concise, prior attention to organizing your presentation is recommended.

Individuals who wish to speak at a hearing usually fill out a registration form that indicates the agenda item, name and address, and whether you will be speaking in support of or opposition to the item. You may just wish to register your support or opposition by checking a box rather than speaking. If there is more than one agenda item, a separate registration form must be filled out for each. If there is no form, speak to the chairperson or secretary prior to the start of the meeting.

Association members can get an item on the agenda of a board or commission by contacting the chairperson of the committee or a representative of the City department or agency to which the issue pertains.

For those who have never participated in or seen a Common Council or committee meeting before, proceedings are televised on Madison City Channel.

Questions & Answers:

How can our neighborhood association obtain the Common Council agendas? It's simple. You can contact the Madison City Clerk's Office at 266-4601, Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to find out about the next week's agenda items.

How can our neighborhood association obtain Board and Commission agendas? Board and Commission agendas are posted outside the City Clerk's Office, City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. You can also request that your neighborhood association is sent an agenda by contacting the appropriate City department/agency.

What if members of our neighborhood association are unable to attend a meeting? Residents can voice their positions in other ways. You may send a letter, telephone, or e-mail to:

Mayor's Office
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Room 403
Madison, WI 53710

Common Council Office
c/o District Alderperson
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Madison, WI 53710

You can also forward your correspondence to the appropriate City department or agency.

Speak Easy