Alfonso Flores

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Union Corners, Darbo and a Future

Categories: Critical, Important, Informative

Today, I read an article that resonated with points Madison residents are making regarding the Union Corners project, and the seemingly apparent greed or plain lack of foresight of Gorman USA, current steward of the 11-acre parcel. Attention to the long-term financial and social benefits to the city and existing and future residents must be paid but it has been given shamefully short consideration by Gorman and anchor tenant, or so the phrase has been used, UW Health. The clinic may be an anchor for Gorman, or an anchor (read: only) tenant for Phase I, but it will hardly carry the whole site, especially as its building and parking lots are currently drawn.

Back to the article, the last bit left unwritten the need for creative solutions to reduce poverty, and so, locally, the necessity to establish a cooperative economic growth model for Darbo/Worthington. An inclusive quality of life improvement agenda can do this. What can’t, and only perpetuates the societal infirmity, is the long-held tradition of displacement. We can do better.

Give it a read. http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield

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Sunday Rootin’

Categories: Entertainment, General, Informative

Dave!

Dave, and yes, 3 laptops.

Volunteer Dave and I (and several online resources) spent the bulk of the day together rooting a Chromebook, which was donated to help start WPNA’s computer loaner library. As part of a tech initiative in collaboration with Women of WORTHington, we aim to launch computer training classes of varying concentrations… along with figuring a way to get free community Wi-Fi to our residents.

Stripping copper

Stripping copper

The first fun bit: Jumper the write-protect on the board. OK, with what? Not having that kind of teeny part laying around, and seeing there was nothing to use from inside an old desktop I cracked open, we had to get creative. After staring at it a second, I grabbed some excess CAT5e cable and tore out one inch-long wire. The idea: Put some copper down in the thing and hope it makes a sufficient connection. I made a lil’ loop, shoved it down in there, taped over the excess wire and closed the back cover.

rootin-03Eureka!! Write-protect disabled and Developer mode entered! Then, I made a mistake. You could say I zigged when I should have zagged. Say whatever you wish, the result was hours—no kidding, HOURS!—of scratching our noggins trying to think of what to do next. We were at a standstill. Long story short, nothing short of a miracle, we managed to restore ChromeOS and kinda start from scratch. Easy breezy from there. Sorta.

Success! (sorta)

Success! (sorta)

What did we learn? Take it slowly, do it on a Sunday, have absolutely nothing else time sensitive to get to IF you plan on goofing part of the process. Otherwise, it’s relatively simple. Y’know, the whole reason I wanted to do this is because a Chromebook is so completely limited and I wanted to open it up. The other thing is I was a bit upset that Google throws these things out in the world with relatively really good hardware and then puts such hardcore restrictions on what you can do with it. Side note: ChromeOS is a weirdo. Creating a restore stick not only made the thumb drive unusable for anything else afterwards unless wiped with a partition utility but it created FOUR partitions (one invisible). Then after successfully booting to an Ubuntu stick, the installer warned me I was about to erase 22 partitions. 22?! WHAT?!

Anyway, there are some tweaks still to do and it’s not ready for public use but the netbook is running pretty darn well. We’re looking forward to messing with more computers and building up a nice lil’ library. Excluding bulky desktops, please get in touch if you have an unused netbook or laptop laying around. Not too old, please 🙂

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Homeless Campus in Darbo, City Says No

Categories: Entertainment, Important, Informative

Did y’all already know this?

Well, it’s evidence that I’m behind on my e-mails but I finally thoroughly read minutes from the Neighborhood Resource Team meeting earlier in January. For a relatively contentious issue I’m surprised notice didn’t go out widely—maybe I missed it—but here it is anyway: The City will not approve the homeless facility the Salvation Army had a boner about building at 3030 Darbo. I’m sure City staff didn’t use the word boner but Salvation Army was rather excited about cashing in their hot downtown real estate and royally screwing our neighborhood.

As Salvation Army complains it barely has funds to run its limited programs, it seems appropriate to start discussing alternatives. Maybe they’ve run their course, maybe their hierarchy is convoluted or unnavigable, or maybe their international organization is too archaic and removed to encourage the needed advancement of Darbo/Worthington. I don’t know. Whatever the reasons for underperforming, maybe there’s a different group to take it from here, to shape 3030 Darbo into a high-functioning community center, one that appeals first to the diversity of our neighborhood then beyond its modest boundaries.

I’m far from demonizing Salvation Army. I know their food programs and other services fill a need. What I’m doing instead is asking the question: Who else could do the same or better or offer more? Looking around Dane County you’ll see organizations involved in similar work. Maybe a few could come together under one roof to provide the current services at Darbo, maybe they’d expand services into the evening, maybe they’d have child care, or maybe they’d have weekends chock-full of entertaining and educational and physical activities. Well, maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. But, at least I’m talking, and I would love to hear feedback.

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Update – Playground and Basketball Courts

Categories: Garden, Informative, Park Activities

New Basketball Courts As y’all can see when walking, biking or driving by, the workers and machines are plugging’ along: new basketball courts are going in and the playground looks really close to welcoming its new equipment. While the City and contractors are doing the initial work it is largely going to fall all us, the residents, to ensure its health for years to come. That means getting out and doing more in the park, picking up some trash while out there, and helping kids and adults understand the long-term benefits of keeping our park litter free. Playground AreaIf you create a valued relationship with someone, and they see how you feel about the park, it’s likely they’ll adopt a similar attitude. Case in point, it still takes some direction on my part but one of the kids I play soccer with will now take trash with him after playing to throw it away at home. Pretty cool.

Garden SpotYou remember the talks about putting in a community garden in Worthington Park to make up for the sad loss of the space on the Salvation Army property?  Well, a couple weeks ago, before a Saturday Soccer session, I stopped and noticed an area of the removed basketball courts I thought would be great to situate a garden. There’s plenty of sunlight, it’s outside the large green space, and it’s near the shelter (which really, really needs a rehab).

Later this week, I’ll have some time with Parks and a gardens coordinator from CAC. If you’d like to offer your comments or criticisms, or if you have time to volunteer in developing a garden plan, please get in touch. You can e-mail Friends of Worthington Park to help get the ball rollin’.

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Saturday Soccer in the Park

Categories: Entertainment, Kids, Park Activities

socsatsm

Yesterday, I launched Saturday Soccer, a casual kick-around for area kiddos. All youth players are welcome to attend, though I’m trying to focus on ages 5-10. Roughly the first half of the hour session will be going over soccer basics, like trapping and passing, then we’ll break away to a short-sided game with small goals and no goalies.ss-090713-1

Just telling a few neighborhood kids, and no flyering, I had about 7 lil’ dudes show up. That was perfect because I was without an adult helper, which I’ll need when numbers grow. I passed a ball around with Fred and Anthony, then had them take shots on a super-wide goal. Really, it was ridiculously wide.

ss-090713-2We’d been kicking it around for a bit when Samuka, Boss and Omar dropped in.  Those three have more soccer experience so I threw out a couple orange pinnies, set up a couple flagged goals, and went right into a game–barefooted. Yep, played some good ol’ bare-footie. See, the inimitable trio went shoeless so I, thinking I had the advantage of not only age and strength but also cleats, tossed off my boots and socks and joined in.

ss-090713-3So, my feet hurt today but what a blast! Of course, as this program matures kids will get decked out with proper attire. Tony Feller and folks in MAYSA donated (that morning!) a dozen Size 3 soccer balls, and Tony extended his and MAYSA’s help when procuring equipment for future soccer modules, and also kits when we gather enough players to start an area club team… which would be awesome!

Soccer balls donated from MAYSA

Soccer balls donated from MAYSA

Kids from all around can participate. Be on time! It starts at 10:30, ends at 11:30. Parents are encouraged to attend, too. Bring something to snack on, or host a potluck picnic to follow the soccer hour. I’m open to suggestions and I’ll always welcome help. Saturday Soccer is going through the end of October, and another will follow next Spring. I plan to offer this four times next year.

If you have questions or comments, please get in touch.

~Alfonso

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Park Improvements Underway

Categories: Informative, Park Activities

It has begun! Park improvements got underway last week—the old playground equipment is gone, the swings were removed, the gravel by the swings gathered up, and that crappy fence is coming out today. Want to be more in the loop? Get in touch!

~Alfonso

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With that natural berm maybe we don’t need a replacement fence. What do you think?

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Hard at work, with the help a massive truck yanking out the posts, removing the dilapidated fence.

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Agh! Where’s the playground?! Don’t worry, new equipment is on the way, plus a nice natural wood chip surface instead of pebbles.

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2013 Yard Sign Design Contest

Categories: Contest, Entertainment, Kids

its4kids

We’re having a design contest open to all
Darbo/Worthington kids ages 5-9!

WPNA received a mini-grant from Goodman Community Center, which was made possible by Madison Community Foundation, to hold this contest. The winning drawing will be printed on 100 12″x18″ yard signs. The winner will receive a full color poster of the drawing, and the drawing will be on display throughout the neighborhood.

Either print out this form or get a copy from Will Green at Salvation Army, Becky Green at Mentoring Positives, Deenah Givens at Goodman Center or Fabiola Hamdan at Joining Forces for Families, and have your child draw and color what he or she likes about our community. It can be anything! (One entry per child, please.)

The deadline for submitting a drawing is July 28th, Deadline Extended! Drawings are due by August 18th. All information must be included on the form in order to be accepted. Please coordinate drop off to one of the folks mentioned above, or mail to the WPNA office at 414 Rethke Ave, Madison, WI 53704. A winning drawing will be selected and presented at the Darbo Family Picnic on August 24, 2013.

The contest is only open to kids in the Darbo/Worthington neighborhood. Any questions, please e-mail for more information, or catch me when you see me in the neighborhood.

Have fun!
Alfonso

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Playground Improvements – First Meeting

Categories: Informative, Park Activities

While the basketball courts and fence are being addressed this year, last night’s meeting with Mike Sturm, landscape architect and planner from Parks Department, focused on making primary decisions about the playground improvements.

The department’s process was explained to a committee, which formed from the attendees, and choices on age range usage, surfacing and equipment styles were made. The committee went with a natural wood product for new playground surfacing, which will replace the gravel currently there, and the PowerScape line from manufacturer GameTime was selected to generate equipment options.

Example from the PowerScape line.

Example from the PowerScape line.

Mike Sturm will take the information from the meeting, run some numbers, make some drawings, and schedule a second meeting for the committee to make more decisions, leading to an intended September installation. If you have input you’d like to share about playground improvements, send an e-mail and I’ll make sure it gets to the committee.

-Alfonso

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2013 Park Improvements Meeting

Categories: Important, Informative, Park Activities

A mailer should have gone out for this special meeting discussing park improvements slated for this year and beyond. For instance, happening later this year, the basketball courts are getting replaced, the fence is coming out, and the playground equipment is getting updated. All this needs your input!

6PM ~ Wednesday, May 8
Community Room in Hawthorne Library
2707 E Washington Ave

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May 8, 2013 Meeting for the Park

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First Welcome to Darbo Meeting

Categories: General, Informative

Soglin talking to kidsDuring a meeting at the mayor’s office a few months ago, Soglin asked Alder Rummel and I to put something together for the residents of the Eastpointe and CDA apartments in Darbo/Worthington. I understood the intention was to poll folks on what they saw as the future of their neighborhood. With substantial help from Deenah Givens at Goodman Community Center we put on an event for April 29th.

Sticky Notes ExerciseWhat I helped create to frame this special meeting was the concept Welcome to Darbo, what could turn into a series of events aimed at specific issues facing the Darbo/Worthington neighborhood. Though turnout was less than hoped for, the meeting was a success and quite encouraging.

Perspectives heard during that first Welcome to Darbo were valuable. However, what I found more interesting I learned while door knocking prior to the event. There are residents passionate about change but perhaps stumped by what to do or where to go with their opinions, let alone they may feel marginalized by a perceived socio-economic status, especially if their previous attempts to address concerns fell on deaf or unconcerned ears.

It’s around this borderline broken spirit with apathetic undertones, concerned folks need to rally, to help demonstrate things can be accomplished if the voice is loud and forceful enough and the mission unified, regardless of financial standing. I won’t go into here what issues are most pressing among people I talked with but I will say this: Summer’s gonna be interesting 😉

-Alfonso

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