The Grassroots Community
UrbanThoreau's president, Michael D. Barrett, has long been
active in fighting the spatial barriers between communities
created by highway sprawl. Here is an essay, written in
1998 for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, in response
to Wisconsin Department of Transportation's 20-year highway
sprawl plan and its effects on our communities.
– A local organization dedicated to bringing together
the various environmental conservation organizations.
They have a very active online forum and publish an annual
Madison Green Pages– a listing of all environmental
organizations in the region.
– This site was produced by the City of Madison
to help residents get involved in their neighborhoods.
Of particular interest is the link to neighborhood associations
and neighborhood plans.
The Atwood Community
Center – One of the best examples of a non-governmental
neighborhood center. It is the community fulcrum that
leverages the strengths of a mixed-income, diverse, convivial
neighborhood. Despite being in one of the poorest census
tracts in the region, this neighborhood still sends more
of its kids on to four year colleges than many surrounding–wealthier–areas;
much of the credit goes to the after-school programs offered
by the Atwood Community Center.
WORT Radio –
The center of on-air community in Madison, Wisconsin.
WORT supports progressive community efforts with well-produced
shows of community activists of all stripes. Then, expect
to hear everything from West African, to Country &
Western music in the same evening!
Danenet is the local web non-profit that gets non-profits
up on the web. From our observations, they tend to be
partial to progressive, community-oriented causes.
The Isthmus –
Madison's alternative weekly is a standout example of
a for-profit media enterprise that takes it's position
in the community seriously– for the good of the
community! The links page captures a lot of the quirkiness
that goes into community building in Madison. The quirkier,
the better, as far as community is concerned!
Community Page – For many of us, a bikeable
place is a livable place, and vice versa. Madison bicyclists
are hell-bent on putting this community on two wheels.
Madison cab drivers
– Even cabbies are driven to make a better community.
Find out how this "army of maniacs" is using "collective
knowledge and observations to a good purpose." This is
a good example of how active this community is on all
– Tired of the same old, self-referential media?
Check out Indymedia, a news source which prides itself
on covering the community activist news; i.e., the news
the corporate media is too afraid to cover.
Chicago's Center for Neighborhood
Technology – Provides a national model for bringing
out the undervalued, underutilized strengths of urban
areas in an effort to build sustainable communities.
Farm to Table
– The Farm to Table organization connects Manhattanites
with the hinterlands. Farmers and big city folk alike
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Schools, Housing, Government
David Rusk on Cities
– David Rusk is a brilliant researcher and captivating
speaker on the intertwined fates of our cities and regions.
According to Rusk, most urban ills can be boiled down
to housing, sprawl and school policies.
Manager Association – the details the history
of good municipal policy in Oak Park, Illinois. Oak Park
was faced with all the perils of demographic change that
wrecked many a close-in suburb. They innovated to accommodate
diversity while keeping the wealth in the community. It
is also a stand-out example of citizens holding their
representatives to high standards!
Working to elect citizen politicians who don't mind working
with their constituents. This is as grass-roots as politics
gets. And it is effective to boot!
The Madison Times
– A minority-owned community newspaper that "focuses
on positive and success stories in the African American,
Latino, Southeast Asian, and American Indian communities,
and in other communities of color." It also provides the
best in-depth coverage of school issues of any paper–
daily or weekly– in Madison.
The Isthmus' Daily
Page Archive – An article which analyzes the
trials & tribulations of this generally successful
school district as it struggles to accommodate a diverse
Department of Defence
Dependents Schools– A stellar example of a school
system that has a fifty-year history of integrating all
incomes and races into a high performance school system
can be found on US military bases around the globe. Here
are some of their secrets as revealed by a former Department
of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS) System teacher.
She makes much of the pedagogic technique, which may indeed
be a major part of the success of these schools in integrating
a student population that is nearly half black, Hispanic
and other minorities. But a critical component to the
success as noted in a 1999 Wall Street Journal article
here on NPR), is communityinvolvement, something
fostered by DoDDS. It also points up the need for significant
investment in schools.
investigated the reasons why DoDDS students consistently
rank in the top fifth of national standardized tests,
despite the fact that stereotypical income and race indicators
would suggest a radically different outcome. (Hint: There
aren't any drill sargeants in these schools.)
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Four Lakes Group
Sierra Club – An environmentalorganization that
represents most of Southwest Wisconsin, including Madison.
They do local conservation and activism, put out newsletters,
host an active outings calendar and hold monthly educational
programs. Though the parent organization is based in San
Francisco, this group gets active on a local level.
– Local cyclists (environmentalists putting their
beliefs in action!) in Dane County Wisconsin have put
together a resource for bike advocates (and others) to
contact local officials about a more environmentally sound
and community" as discussed in a short essay on a co-housing
– Located in East Lansing, Michigan is a great example
of a local initiative to tie in quality urban life, community,
places and energy efficiency.
Dane – Where geek-meets-community. Dane County's
(Wisconsin) geographic information specialists are making
their trade accessible to the commonfolk to help create
a better place.
The International Council
of Environmental Initiatives – Known affectionately
as 'ick-lay,' is the organization making it easy for local
governments to implement environmentally-friendly developments.
Protection Agency's Global Warming Site – A
wealth of information about causes & effects, as well
as, and most importantly, actions communities and individuals
can take to head it off.
Wide Learn– Presents an overview of environmental
education programs at universities the world over.
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