Mifflin Concept: Throughout late 2018 and early 2019, Madison’s Planning Division worked with social practice artists in order to promote participation in the city planning process—particularly the West Washington – West Mifflin Area Plan. This plan analyzed opportunities within a small area centered on the 400-500 blocks of West Mifflin Street and West Washington Avenue in Madison, WI. The intended result of this engagement was to develop of recommendations with detailed design standards and implementation strategies for the planning areas. The plan addresses land use, preservation, redevelopment opportunities, building and streetscape design, open space, and connectivity to the abutting neighborhoods.
CITYZINE*: Mifflin Concept contains excerpts from interviews that Borealis conducted with peer queers in and around the Mifflin neighborhood in Madison, WI. Borealis asked LGBTQ+ interviewees to imagine an ideal neighborhood in whatever terms were appropriate and interesting to them, addressing their primary concerns about and hopes for city planning in Madison. A city survey about the Mifflin / West Wash area helped guide many of the conversational prompts, although the zine represents hours of collective imagining sparked by a queer urge to organize. Zine images were produced through a collaborative project facilitated by Anwar Floyd-Pruitt and Emily Popp.
South Madison: In Fall 2019, the City of Madison began working on an update to a portion of the 2005 South Madison Neighborhood Plan. This is a 10-15 year look into how we shape the future; according to the City, this plan is intended to address issues that are relevant to the community and determine how best to achieve them. The City will be welcoming the Town of Madison into its municipal boundaries on October 31, 2022. This plan will work with the Town of Madison government and its residents, businesses, and property-owners to plan for its integration into the City.
Cityzine: South Madison contains excerpts from interviews that Borealis conducted with peer queers in and around South Madison in 2020 and early 2021, and it follows the Cityzine: Mifflin Concept project undertaken throughout 2018 and 2019. For this project, Borealis asked LGBTQ+ interviewees to describe their hopes for South Madison planning. Throughout these interviews, it has become clear that residents are uncertain about the planning process and would prefer to give input that spans City departments or initiatives—they want a neighborhood plan that looks expansively at the total picture of community well-being, interrogating the underlying assumptions made when rolling out these plans and not stopping a conversation when it seems to creep past the purview of City planners. Gentrification, housing, childcare, vacant lots, employment, and police surveillance were recurring themes. Many found it upsetting for the City to describe how population growth will impact housing needs in the future when houselessness is already a problem in our communities—whether or not more people move here. To put it another way, most interviewees wanted to use the conversation to discuss a broken system rather than the specifics of a particular neighborhood plan. Many participants were interested in imagining community control of the land and directly democratic decision-making rather than decision-making by distant representatives or developers. Some version of the phrase, “I’m not sure if this falls under neighborhood planning, but wouldn’t it be great if…” came up multiple times throughout these interviews. “We’re learning so much from this COVID-19 pandemic,” said one resident. “Why can’t we wait a little longer before making decisions about this neighborhood plan?”
*Cityzine was originally entitled Citizen Cityzine. The name of this project has been updated to better reflect all of the experiences of the people living in our communities, whether or not their citizenship is recognized, and to remove potential barriers to accessing the project.