|Vol. 9 No. 15
JULY 24, 2014
Publisher & Editor
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Eileen Hocker,
Alfonso Zepeda Capistran, Theola
Carter, Fabu, Lang Kenneth
Haynes, Heidi Pascual, and Donna
Feedback and Speak Out!
|Sustained Caribbean Beats
Before I get started on this week’s column, let me clarify something about last week’s column called Maneuvering Room. A few days after I
published it, I got a call from an old friend Eugene Johnson. Bishop Johnson is the head of Madison Pentecostal Assembly and retired as the
head of WisDOT’s DBE Programs, a civil rights section that monitors the fulfillment of mandates set by the federal government in the use of
federal transportation funds.
Eugene is a veteran of the civil rights ward and was once investigated by the FBI. He knows how things can be construed and used against
someone in ways that they didn’t intended. And he took me to task a little bit on my writing. During the times that we worked together in the
DBE Program and at the Urban League in the early 1980s, Eugene was never shy about taking me to task in a “very loving manner.”
In last issue's column, I tried to typify Madison’s relationship and attitudes toward African Americans and other people of color. It was a
literary device to describe the atmosphere back then, an admitted generalization to describe the times although individual actions and
attitudes ran the gambit back then too as they do now as well.
When I wrote the generalizations, the typifications, I failed to enclose these typifications in quotation marks. And so someone could assume
that what I was writing were my own thoughts at the time, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. And while Eugene felt that those who know
me would read it the way I had intended it to be, I should clarify the record for those who don’t know me or may read the column at some point
in the future.
It just goes to show you that even though I consider myself a pretty good writer, I’ve always got one at least one more lesson to learn. Thanks
Eugene for pointing that out to me.
In the article "Strategic Feedback" in this issue, Keetra Burnette writes about United Way’s upcoming Agenda for Change Conversations that
will be held at the Urban League of Greater Madison, Centro Hispano, La Follette High School and Warner Park Community Center. In these
conversations, United Way will be seeking feedback and ideas on what it should be doing as part of its development of its 2015-2018 strategic
This is a pretty big deal. Last year, United Way of Dane County raised about $18 million that it is spending this year on services that it or area
non-profits provide to meet community needs and to come up with solutions to community problems.
For the past 15 years or so, United Way has been focusing on reducing the achievement gap through the Schools of Hope project. In almost
every charitable or service activity in Dane County, United Way has a direct or indirect presence or hand in it. $18 million can buy a lot of
services and employ a lot of people. And how it gets spent and how it gets directed can make a whole lot of difference in people’s lives. How
these community resources — funds donated to United Way by companies and people like you and me — are allocated can have a huge impact
on the quality of life that people enjoy in this community, from youth to seniors.
That’s why it is important that a strong showing of people of color occurs at these Agenda for Change Conversations. United Way will be using
the information it receives from these sessions in shaping their four-year strategic plan, which is used to establish its funding priorities. If you
don’t express what your community concerns are, then they will never come under consideration. They need to hear it in order to do anything
In the article, Keetra Burnette stated that she is particularly interested in hearing from consumers of services that United Way funds or
administers. Even if the service is out there, is it culturally relevant? Are there reasons why some services in Madison fail to serve
significant numbers of people of color? Are there services out there that are no longer relevant or useful?
Are there new or underfunded services out there that could make a huge difference in people’s lives if they had adequate resources? Are
there some services in Madison that feed dependency versus empowering people to take hold of and control their own lives? Are there
services that have “institutional barriers,” unintended barriers that the service provider or providers are not aware of?
There are a lot of questions to be asked of and answered about services funded by United Way. It will strengthen overall service delivery in
Dane County if people like you show up and speak out.