Northside Planning Council - NPC
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NPC Executive Director’s Column: April/May 2018

Abha Thakkar

I just got off of an exciting phone call with the dynamic staff at Vera Court Neighborhood Center, and they helped me remember something about the Northside Planning Council and the evolution of our community. We were discussing the prospect of working together to support a new youth leadership council housed at Vera Court. I was sharing how that could intersect with our development of the new Northside Community Council (NCC), a group that we hope grows into a representative coalition of Northside organizations that facilitates information-sharing and collective action. I told them about the Northside Planning Council’s (NPC) history as a council from 1993-2009, when our board was made up of representatives from dozens of Northside groups. Rebecca Ressl, Vera Court’s Development Director, then said, “so, that coincides with the period that all the most exciting progress was being made on the Northside: Stabilizing Vera Court neighborhood, building Warner Park center, establishing Troy Gardens, starting the Northside Farmers Market, starting up the Northside News…” I was grateful for the reminder of what we accompished together as a council.

2018 is NPC’s 25th Anniversary, and as we prepare to announce our celebration plans, it’s clear to me that a central theme of this year needs to be collaboration – we are all working to serve the same community; we can do it better together.

Rather than thinking of ourselves as countless small to mid-sized groups operating on our own to capture people’s attention, raise funds, offer programming, provide services and improve the quality of life on the Northside, what if we were to do it together?

What if we were to take inventory of all the nonprofit-owned vehicles and assess when they sit idle? What if we could share those instead of buying more?  What if we were to organize an annual Northside capital campaign and create an equitable process to identify spending priorities? One year, it may be an improvement at Kennedy Heights; the next year it might be a gift to expand the The River Food Pantry.What if, instead of all of us having separate outreach strategies, we were to have a collective strategy around branding the Northside and the various groups that make it a great place to live?  Hire shared communications staff that leverages the Northside News and our collective social media power? NPC employs the neighborhood navigators to do relationship-building for multiple initiatives, but what if we could expand that capacity and build a more comprehensive network of trust and information-sharing? What if we could, together, register every eligible voter on the Northside? What if we could come together to address the root causes behind the problems we’re trying to mitigate?

NPC is willing to provide facilitation, infrastructure, technical tools, grantwriting support, fiscal agency, etc. It would be my dream to meet with all of the established and emerging leaders on the Northside and design a model for the rest of the City to emulate. I think we can do it. But NPC doesn’t have the capacity to do it by ourselves. I need other inspired people who are willing to reach out and develop these relationships and our agenda with me. Let’s do it together: director@northsideplanningcouncil.org or (608) 230-1221.

Northside Planning Council

The mission of the Northside Planning Council is to improve the quality of life and foster equity on the Northside through community organizing and economic development.

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