CUE: South West Madison

by Ashleigh Ross and Marian Slaughter

CUE has been involved with the South West Madison Community Organizers (SWMCO) and their associated work groups since fall of 2011.  SWMCO is a group of southwest Madison residents, UW faculty and students, and Madison/Dane County Public Health Department nurses that work to build leadership in the community as a way to promote holistic health and well being.  SWMCO requested support from CUE to help them better manage faculty and student requests for involvement.  Specifically, SWMCO asked CUE to help them document their community organizing process and model and to act in a role similar to “traffic cop” to coordinate and organize university requests for partnerships.  CUE is also supporting SWMCO in identifying resource gaps and finding ways that students, faculty and staff can help fill them.  CUE graduate students have assisted SWMCO by recruiting interns to help with a local children’s garden, finding science presenters for the Hammersley Youth Activity Day, coordinating with UW classes that are working in Southwest Madison, and participating in SWMCO planning processes.

Professor Randy Stoecker taught a Community and Environmental Sociology capstone course in the spring of 2012 which provided research support for community leaders interested in creating a neighborhood house/community center in the Hammersley area.  Students in the course conducted research about Madison area community centers to determine which services were offered for people of all ages and then provided a list of these possibilities for community leaders that included funding sources, programming, transportation and infrastructure models.

In the next year, at least 3 UW classes, Professors Stoecker in Community and Environmental Sociology, Brian Christens and Shannon Sparks in School of Human Ecology, and Sam Dennis Jr. in Landscape Architecture with Ashleigh Ross, CUE assistant and Environmental Studies TA, will utilize student research and service to support SWMCO’s efforts.  Currently, CUE is working with SWMCO and faculty to determine which priorities will be addressed in these classes.  Through this process CUE staff will be working with SWMCO members to design a process for academic research to ensure that the community is engaged with research and that the UW efforts meet community needs. ■

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