Exploring the world around you from different angles and varying perspectives helps leaders better understand, engage and lead. That was the motivation behind the LGM26 class’s 5th session when they hit the streets in a variety of neighborhoods to conduct community asset inventories. Click below for reflections on the experience from Alex Vitanye and Kyle Humphrey.
A STRANGER IN MY OWN CITY
Alex Vitanye, Badger Sports Products
I love Madison. More specifically, I love “my” Madison which includes the areas of town where I live, work and play. However, this LGM session, like the others before it, took me further out of my comfort zone which only furthers my affection and hope for our area.
Our day started at Centro Hispano, an organization I had vaguely heard of but knew very little about. Centro Hispano is an underrated hero of our community, especially in a time when immigration is such a hot button issue and racial tensions are bubbling. Evelyn Cruz shared the services the center provides, broken down into these areas: Empowering Youth, Strengthening Families and Engaging the Community. The services Centro Hispano provides to immigrants, Dreamers and members of the Hispanic community facing legal issues is vital. Not being a member of that community and dealing with those struggles, I can only imagine the gratitude clients feel for the center and the lives it has positively altered.
Groups spent the afternoon exploring different neighborhoods in the Madison area. My group was assigned to the Northside, an area I’ve driven through numerous times but never spent any time in. I was pleasantly surprised in what we found. Residents and business owners in this area are fiercely proud of it, concurrently hoping to have it remain their best kept secret. Our visit shed light on the issues this area faces, which are themes across Madison: affordable housing, transportation, food insecurity and employment. It was enlightening to learn about how community advocates and groups like the Northside Planning Council band together to address these concerns at a hyper-local level. The perseverance and collaboration we heard about should serve as a model for other areas in our city.
When colleagues and friends have asked me about my LGM experience, I typically respond that it’s made me feel like a stranger in my own city in a completely positive way. We’ve learned about major issues facing our community that because of my situation I may not ever learn about, let alone experience. I’ve been to community centers, government buildings and neighborhoods that weren’t part of my 2.5-year exploration to date. Most importantly, we’ve been exposed to hidden gems and unsung community heroes doing yeoman’s work to make Madison such a great place to live.
CHANGING THE LENS YOU LOOK THROUGH
Kyle Humphrey, NeuGen
Session 5 offered our LGM class the opportunity to learn a grassroots perspective of our community and the needs of the people in it. Our morning was spent at Centro Hispano, working on our individual group projects and learning more about the organization. I had no idea how many services and people go through there every year!
I am continually struck by how the current political environment shapes the day to day lives of people, especially minorities in this country. What to me has been a largely divisive political tactic is cause for genuine fear and distrust for some of the people using the services provided by Centro Hispano. It is a reminder of the real-world impact that leaders can have, even those far removed from the people affected.
The lessons from Centro Hispano were a nice springboard into our afternoon activity; canvassing various neighborhoods of Madison to perform an inventory of social determinants of health. The area my team assessed was downtown Madison, including a meeting with the President of Downtown Madison Inc., Jason Ilstrup. I have been living here for over a decade and have never looked at the city this way. It was really eye-opening to put yourself into the roles suggested by our worksheet and note how the city’s offerings vary based on your life situation.
Ultimately, I came away with a great appreciation for this session of LGM. While hearing speakers is an important way to learn, nothing compares to a hands-on approach. It was also a great way to get to know some of my fellow LGM classmates better. I expect that this is one of the sessions that will stand out in my memory when I look back on this experience in years to come.
HITTING THE STREETS - LGM26, June 2019
- Written by Super User
- Category: Reflections
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