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Northside Planning Council - NPC

NPC Executive Director’s Column: October/November 2018

Abha Thakkar

It’s been an eventful two months.

I wrote this column while sirens rang through my neighborhood for almost two hours. I live down the road from the mass shooting that happened on Sept. 19 at Deming Way, where four people were injured and a gunman was killed. My daughter’s school was on security hold, and we were all told to stay indoors until the situation was secure.

August saw Madison engulfed in a rain-soaked natural disaster unlike any in recent memory. The finished lower level of our home flooded, and I found the only reliable way to get to the Northside was via Hwy M. We considered ourselves lucky that the FEED Kitchens was not directly impacted by the flooding, but as the month continued, we realized that the indirect losses would be significant and possibly devastating, both for our operations and for our food businesses. See article to the right for more details about the flood’s impact.

I can only imagine all the ripple effects that these incidents of violence have on our psyches or that the flooding disaster had on the local economy. While the community response has been inspiring, these incidents remind us how vulnerable we are.

I am uncomfortable with the number of times we have seen our community on the home page of CNN in the last month. It is astonishing how quickly the global becomes local and the local becomes global.

We are left with questions. How do we respond? Can we prepare? Can we prevent? How do we make our economies, communities and families more resilient in the face of future disasters, natural and manmade? The answer is complex and multifaceted, but at the heart of it are the relationships —partnerships and coalitions — we cultivate with one another.  We need each other, to learn, to act, to overcome isolation. These are collective challenges — we need our collective brainpower, and that’s why we do the work we do at NPC.

It was these partnerships that we had the privilege of celebrating at the Northside Planning Council’s 25th Anniversary event at Warner Park Community Recreation Center on September 7. We had almost 300 people attend with food catered by 12 FEED and MarketReady businesses, tables hosted by 23 partner organizations, and 10 individuals honored with Changemaker Awards.  It was wonderful to have so many friendly faces together again and to meet so many new neighbors. We’re grateful to everyone who celebrated with us. You can read more about the event and the Changemaker award recipients on p. 14 -15.

It was a very special night, and we couldn’t be more grateful to our sponsors for their support, including the Willy Street Co-op, the Kester-Angle Family Fund, and Bharati & Ashok Thakkar, who gave generously at the 25th Anniversary Partner Level.

A very special thanks to our friends at MGE, the event host, whose gift not only made the evening possible, but who also continue to sponsor the Northside News calendar insert. We are continually grateful for their support.

And, finally, my personal gratitude to our event team, including Lisa Wiese, Chris Moore, Lauri Lee,  and Martee Mikalson, led by Oona Mackesey-Green, the Northside News managing editor and NPC Operations Manager. One of our staff members captured it well when he referred to Oona as a “Magical Unicorn with rainbows coming out of her.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I suspect those of you who attended the event will agree with me.

What’s next? Read more about various Northside initiatives on pages 4 and 5 designed to help us connect. Keep an eye out for the Northside 2020 Vision process and the next Northside Community Council meeting, coming soon!

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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Northside Economic Development Coalition

Northside Economic Development Coalition