Mayor Paul Soglin’s roundtable discussion Saturday morning at Monona Terrace is a chance to meet community leaders, city officials and staff, build leadership skills and learn ways to better engage neighborhoods.
The event features specialized workshops and a question-and-answer session with the mayor. The day is anchored around three longer, in-depth sessions on the topics of violence, racial equity and housing trends.
The mayor alternates hosting roundtable events and neighborhood conferences each year. He started the discussions in 1996 as a way to help neighborhood leaders learn how to work with their elected officials, build leadership skills and strengthen relationship with neighborhood residents.
Soglin said the long-term goal of Saturday's event is to get neighbors more involved in city activities for the coming year and to crowd source priorities and concerns from residents.
“It also helps us come up with better solutions to solving the problems, so in other words we may pick up trends involving traffic problems, public safety,” Soglin said. "It’s easier to identify a problem. It’s a bit more challenging to find a workable solution.”
For example, Soglin said many solutions have been presented in response to violence witnessed in Madison this summer but that input from residents is critical to their success. The session titled "Violence, Trauma, Resilience, and Actions" will discuss different strategies that have been used to increase safety in Madison.
“Whatever solutions we adopt are always more effective with neighborhood involvement,” Soglin said.
Zandra Hagberg, senior marketing director at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, will be presenting during the session on violence on the Focused Interruption Coalition's crisis response efforts and on what the coalition views as a need for peer support. She said she wants to gather community feedback to inform the efforts going forward.
In the 2017 budget, Soglin included $400,000 for peer support programs to address violence as the first step of the coalition’s 15-point plan. Over the summer, the city and a nonprofit finalized a $50,000 contract to implement a short-term plan of offering peer support and connection to services. This year, Soglin included $250,000 to expand peer support efforts to address violence before it occurs.
"Much of what is going on in our community is a lot of unaddressed trauma in an under-resourced community," Hagberg said. "Having peers there to help victims and families recognize the trauma they’re going through and help them navigate the resources and systems necessary to address those is critical."
Linda Horvath, an urban planner with the city, is expecting the event to be “energizing.” In addition to the workshops, local artists will be interacting with participants and creating a piece of art that can be shared in neighborhoods.
“It’s really an opportunity for neighborhood leaders and others who are interested to learn how to access elected officials, work on their leadership skills and forge stronger relationships with others who are supporters of neighborhoods,” Horvath said.