The Northside Planning Council (NPC) was pleased to create Northside United in the fall of 2013 as a community group for interested neighbor leaders and others to come together, share information about Northside happenings, and identify needs that the community could tackle together. There are many on the Northside that have missed a larger community group since the NPC structure evolved to a smaller, more traditional non-profit board of directors and we hoped that the United group would recreate the opportunity for wider community engagement. During 2014 the group learned about Northside issues and considered several possible things they might work on together.
During this time the Race for Equity report for Dane County was widely shared and as a result the group decided to focus on racial disparity issues specific to the Northside. This culminated in the launch of a Year of Equity and a kick-off Racial Equity Forum held on January 26th at Sherman Middle School. The forum was attended by 120 interested people. A smaller group of about 20-25 have met twice since then to plan for additional 2015 activities and events. See the Year of Equity recommended plans in the next section.
Since the January forum, some organizational changes have occurred at NPC, resulting in less staff capacity to support multiple groups and efforts. Therefore we have had to make some tough decisions on where to focus staff, board, and volunteer efforts. We will continue to support the Year of Equity as outlined below. For the Northside United group in general we need to make a few changes to ensure that we can manage the various commitments to the community.
· The Northside United meetings will move to quarterly and coincide with NPC Board Meetings. On a quarterly basis, Northside United will piggy-back on the 3rd Wednesday meeting of the NPC Board.
· This will begin on May 20 with additional 2015 meetings on August 19 and November 18. If this works for 2015, then subsequent meetings would be on the 3rd Wednesdays in February May, August, and November.
· The times of the Northside United meetings will be 7pm to 8:30pm following a 6-7pm short NPC Board Meeting. Board meetings are open meetings and anyone is welcome to sit in on the NPC Board meeting prior to the United meeting.
· Neighborhood associations and other Northside community organizations will be encouraged to participate on United. This will allow information to be shared and to ensure that other members are aware of activities and efforts.
· We will seek a few Northsiders to assist with agendas and meeting planning that would function as a Northside United Steering Committee. At least two NPC Board members would also serve on the steering committee.
· These regularly Northside United meeting agendas will be primarily to share information and find ways to partner on various efforts and opportunities. Speakers may be invited or special topics of interest planned for some meetings. One standing agenda items in 2015 would be an update on Equity efforts but this would not be the only meeting topic.
· If there are new ideas and projects that are suggested at the United meetings, a core group of interested members would take the lead on that effort. NPC can provide some assistance with basic printing and promotion with the Northside News, NorthsideMadison.org, and Facebook. Other coordination and expenses would need to be provided by those interested and by additional funds raised. NPC can serve as fiscal agent for any funds that are raised or provided by grants, etc.
· If the suggested project fits into current NPC Goals and there are potential funds available through grants or donations, NPC may be able to assist with seeking that funding.
We feel confident that this plan is one that we have the capacity to support. The NPC Board and United Steering Committee would review this structure at the end of 2015 by seeking feedback from the regular attendees.
2015 Year of Equity
NPC has been honored to work with so many passionate Northsiders in recent months who want to tackle disparities in our community. Though we have recently had to make some tough organizational decisions that reduced our staff capacity, we are committed to supporting the 2015 Year of Equity. There have been two meetings since the January forum with wide-ranging discussions about what else to do in 2015.
Based on the ideas suggested and on our current capacity and similarly aligned goals NPC, will be able to do so in the following ways.
1. COMMUNITY BOOK READING - Coordinate with the Lakeview Library to choose two books to read in 2015 and provide opportunities for discussion about the book. This could be with meetings at the library as well as online blog options. The chosen books would be publicized at the Library and in the June/July and Oct/Nov issues of the Northside News.
2. COMMUNITY SUPPERS - A core group of NPC, Warner Park center, MSSCR, the Northside Farmer's Market, and Boomerangs host a free supper on months with a 5th Sunday. We commit to working even harder to attract a diverse crowd from all Northside neighborhoods. We will also develop fun, non-threatening strategies to encourage attendees to meet new Northsiders. Guest hosts are invited to help with each supper.
3. NORTHSIDE NEWS - A focus on the Year of Equity with related articles in the Northside News and an increase in contributors of color. This would include but not be limited to the annual August/Sept Youth issue.
4. ANOTHER FORUM - NPC would work with a committee of interested community leaders to host a 2nd forum, possibly in the fall or perhaps again in January 2016.
Meetings would be convened as needed to plan for the above activities. A core group of interested individuals would be welcome to be part of this committee and then can also report back to the Northside United meetings.
If there are additional activities that others want to pursue, NPC can provide some support with printing and promotion but leadership and any funding support would need to be provided by other individuals or organizations.
Steve Reese, NPC Board Vice Chair