Hello Friends and Neighbors,
Happy holidays! I hope you have quality time to spend with family and friends in the coming weeks, and time to reflect on what went well in 2018 and look what we can do together in 2019 to make a better community for our friends and neighbors.
In this update, I will discuss $116,000 that the Dane Arts Commission on which I serve granted to local arts organizations, lots of neighborhood news, and an updated manure storage ordinance we are working on to jump start our goal to remove phosphorous from our lakes.
A focus on the arts
I have the honor of serving on the Dane County Arts and Cultural Affairs commission. A big part of the work that we do is to award semi-annual grants to local arts organizations. We fund a diverse number of groups, large and small, in a number of disciplines including music, dance, visual arts, history and art education. This last cycle we granted fifty-five projects totaling $116,511, and in 2018 we awarded almost $250,000 total. Although the arts are well under 1% of our total budget, in addition to enhancing quality of life, they provide an economic multiplier effect for our community. When I was reviewing the grants, I wanted to make sure we funded emerging and established projects, and that we had both regional diversity and equity in our decisions. I wanted to highlight some projects that are either based right here in our district, or who have district neighbors working on them. A comprehensive list compiled by Director Mark Fraire can be found at this link.
TAPIT/new works - Fish Fry: A Tasty Community Collaboration, Award: $1,200
Fish Fry, a collaboration between TAPIT/new works and Fresco Opera Theatre, will celebrate the casual, big-hearted spirit of community and good fun of our state’s beloved dining tradition. The production will fuse theater, opera, comedy, and a taste of tap dance to showcase the flavors of a vibrant neighborhood.
Tone Madison LLC - I Made This: Tinkers and Makers of Madison, Award: $500
To create a documentary and workshop series spotlighting Madison area musicians who make and modify their own instruments and gear. The series will create new connections among local musicians, and between musicians and audiences, as it explores the intersection between musical expression and hands-on tinkering.
Arts & Literature Laboratory, Inc. - ALL Jazz Fest 2019, Award: $1,940
The ALL Jazz Fest is Madison's only avant-garde jazz music festival showcasing the world-class talents of our local and regional jazz musicians. This evening of free concerts activates the Schenk's Corners neighborhood and increases public awareness of avant-garde music and support for the local musician community. The ALL Jazz Fest is unique among the numerous Madison music festivals in that, like our year-round jazz series, it focuses on progressive jazz and other improvisational/experimental music.
Please keep an eye on web site and social media for future grant announcements and please see this profile that the commission did to get a better idea of my history in the arts and my passion for promoting arts in our community:
Manure Storage Ordinance
One of the goals of the Healthy Farms, Healthy Lake (HFHL) task force was to provide concrete solutions that we could implement to reduce phosphorous that causes the toxic algae blooms in our lakes. This task force has representation from the county board, environmental experts, and agriculture producers and farmers. The task force had 8 goals, one of which is to enforce reasonable management regulations at the local level by adopting state agricultural performance standards into county ordinances as a complement to the state agricultural prohibitions already in county ordinances. Our current ordinances in chapter 2 and 14 of the Dane County Ordinances are woefully out of date. Here is the proposed ordinance:
In our recent joint EANR and Lakes and Watershed Commission meeting, we had a thoughtful discussion on the new proposed manure storage ordinance with healthy public input. A large component of this legislation is to update our existing ordinances to make them compliant with state law, and in many cases, if there are changes required due to the ordinance, there will be cost-sharing assistance upwards of 70%.
However, I also believe strongly in good government. Many of the ag and livestock producers asked for more time to review the ordinance and provide feedback. We made a joint committee decision to hold additional public meetings and have staff meet with the community to review the new ordinance, and we agreed to revisit the ordinance at our next joint meeting on February 14th, 2019.
Contrary to what we have seen at the state and federal level, we need to allow the public adequate time to fully participate in the decision of their government. The postponement to 2/19 does precisely that. I fully support the framework of the ordinance as it is, and I am grateful for the diligent work of the HFHL taskforce. Here is a presentation from staff with more detail:
I want to congratulate our neighbor Dean Loumos on retiring from both the non-profit Housing Initiatives, and the school board (he is not seeking re-election). Housing Initiatives focuses on providing safe, permanent homes for Madison’s most vulnerable neighbors who have a mental illness that leads to them being homeless. They have a very high success rate and help integrate so many people back into our community. Housing Initiatives will be in good hands, as our neighbor Brad Hinkfuss is stepping up to lead the organization.
I am sad to hear about the closing of Lakeside Press. Over the last 18 years, I have worked with Lakeside Press to print literary magazines, posters, campaign materials, etc. They have always been helpful and supportive, and have focused on helping so many of our local non-profits and activists. Our neighborhood will not be the same without our local radical print shop.
The North Mendota bike trail is humming along, and the board approved a $200,000 easement which will connect 1/2 mile of the trail to Governor Nelson Park. The trail will eventually link to Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Mendota County Park, and Schumacher Farm County Park. This link provides a map of the current easement and future phases: https://danedocs.countyofdane.com/webdocs/pdf/press/North_Mendota_Trail_Map_0.pdf
I worked with airport staff to make sure the new MSN Airport web site had links where you can sign up to get 115th Fighter Wing - F16 Flight notifications. You can sign up to receive alerts using this link.
In addition to the arts grants I mentioned above, the SASY neighborhood association is opening up a new grant cycle. I am the Yahara representative on the SASY neighborhood association, and over the years SASY has granted money to schools, neighborhood playground projects, landscape improvement, and local non-profits. Much of the funds that SASY grants out are raised from AtwoodFest! Please see the grant announcement here for more details:
I was recently on WORT’s A Public Affair with our neighbor Ali Muldrow and we talked flooding, clean lakes and clean water. If you missed our discussion, you can catch it here:
If you get this update in time, please attend the Solstice Bonfire at Olbrich Park on Friday, December 21st at 4:00. You will see all your friends and neighbors, can join in the drumming and dancing, and set your intentions for the next year. More details are here:
On a personal note, thanks for all your support this year. I am proud of what we accomplished together and I am well aware of the work that lies ahead of us. One of my biggest priorities in life is to advocate for our district and for all of our neighbors. I know many of you in our district prioritize civic and political involvement, and you take much of your free time and pour it into the community. I hope you have some time in the coming weeks to reflect on the good work that you do to make our community the special place that it is. From our family to yours, we really appreciate all your efforts, and we wish you all a happy holiday season and an awesome 2019!