To view all posts made to date, please go home to Live from Allied Drive. Otherwise, all posts have been categorized into the topics below for your convenience. Enjoy your visit, and please share your thoughts. The beauty of blogging is that all of us can engage in dialogue about issues that concern us. Please let us know what you think!

Topics of Discussion

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Survival of the Fittest on Allied Drive?

I participated in an Employment and Training Open House today at the Boys and Girls Club, and it is always nice to do the work that I do in the community that I am connected to. As the appointed MC for the event, I navigated the various training programs available to residents in the community while making my best effort to keep the attendees engaged. All but one attendee was from the Allied Drive community and all but three attendees had been out of work for at least 90 days. One of the comments that consistently came forward was the need for a job now, today, yesterday. Rent is backed up, lights are about to be turned off, a baby is on the way. The question we were confronted with was how can we expect anyone to go to school for even as little as 3 weeks without pay? “What kind of job do you want” was not even a question to ask. Many in this room were willing to do absolutely anything at all that would offer a paycheck. How does that get anyone ahead? We cited success stories of other residents who sat in the same very seats months ago and made commitments to enroll in training programs and are now working at places like US Cellular, The Isthmus and Wisconsin Department of Revenue. It can happen, however it will be an uphill battle, and I was able to guarantee everyone in the room that at least ten things will pop up and attempt to block graduation from any program. It takes a lot of perseverance and a lot of determination to get ahead around here.

Much of that can relate to anyone’s life, however what makes Allied Drive unique is that everyone is in survival-mode, everyone is in crisis and everyone is pumped with serotonin in this grand effort to make it to the end of the day. When you live in such an environment, I swear, it impacts your ability to think straight. All the crisis situations I have been in out here were followed by this urgency to fix the situation with the most accessible solution. Nine times out of ten, that solution was self-destructive in some way, but it pushed the problem to bay. And though I knew it was self destructive, I opted for it anyway. I don’t know why. It has only been recently, through very strict discipline and consciousness, that I stopped myself from taking out a payday loan or going to that auto title loan place down the street whose signs scream at me as I am pulling down Allied Drive EVERY DAY. All these words screech, like "Fast Money," "No Hassles," or "Up To $10,000 NOW." Something makes me want to go in there and something makes me think that I would actually qualify for something close to that $10,000, and that would somehow solve all or most of my problems – can you imagine a $10,000 pay day loan? It would take decades and the value of a house to pay that off!

There is some kind of essence that breeds on Allied Drive and shifts us to this mindset that we are on the verge of collapsing. That distorts our ability to respond in a sound manner. They say that crisis meets everyone at some point in time, but imagine being confronted with it at the same time as all your neighbors, every day at every hour! Have you ever seen “28 Days Later”? That is what life out here feels like every day, all the time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Power of One a Success

The Power of One campaign came to a close and was deemed a success! Something like $8,000 was raised for the MAP program - congratulations!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

It's Black and White on Allied Drive

Someone commented recently that kids, black, white, Latino and Asian, do not play together. I've always known that not to be true, at least out here. Today, I walked out of my apartment, and these kids were playing "ninja" right outside my door. My camera let me take one picture before dying on me - though I can't say that kids do not see color, I can say that I don't think that they understand differences based on color until we teach that to them. My fiance and I were recently at a party with a lot of kids, and one of the young girls referred to my fiance as a "man with dark skin." Kids don't understand anything beyond that - just different color skin. When we first moved out here, a young Latina girl came up to my fiance and asked him if there are any kids in our family that she could play with. She didn't care what we looked like - she just wanted someone to play with. It's too bad as we get older we build all these biases toward one another. Allied Drive certainly provides experience for kids to learn how to live with one another in the broader scope of this world. I wish the rest of Madison could benefit from some of those same lessons.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Allied Drive Unsafe For Children?

At a recent Madison city council meeting, an elected official was witnessed commenting within a public city meeting that Allied Drive is not a place anyone would want to bring their kids on the weekend. Such a snide comment reflecting snippets of news commentary of alleged violence within events in our community very likely influences others to believe that Allied Drive is inappropriate for children.

Despite the little pieces of Allied Drive that is revealed on the news, any Allied Drive resident would concur that our children drive our community. We have a lot of kids here. Some think that our kids are neglected. Don’t pass judgments strictly through surface observations. Poverty brings forth very complex factors.

Some think our neighborhood is violent. I wonder if the recent murders and abductions on State Street have resulted in similarly vehement remarks about State Street not being a place anyone would want to bring their children. Especially considering State Street’s violence can be perceived as a notch above Allied Drive.

Though violence is reported from time to time on Allied Drive, there has always been a story associated with the logic that led to the events. It’s over a man, or someone cheating, or someone not getting paid. In all of Madison, it is rare that acts of random violence occur.

The sad fact of the matter is that some Madisonians blame Allied Drive for virtually all of the city’s crime. Even a recent neighborhood meeting several communities away tried to make Allied Drive responsible for a substantial crime occurring in their community. However the reality is that Allied Drive busts encompass people from all over Madison. If you drive down Verona Road and pass the Allied Drive area and you see cars pulled over with multiple police officers interrogating the individuals in the car, there is a likely chance that you are seeing someone from another community that the police caught either coming into Allied Drive to do some wrong, or coming out of our community after doing some wrong. My small community encompassing about nine blocks is not a scapegoat for the entire City of Madison’s problem with drugs and crime.

For the record, in the two years that I have lived on Allied Drive, I have gotten to know many mothers, fathers, brothers, daughters, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and many, many children. Never have I felt that our children are unsafe beyond typical precautions that would apply anywhere else. It annoys me when people judge our community without knowing the first thing about our community.

A principle I would like to offer elected and appointed officials with the responsibility of "dealing with Allied Drive" is one that could quite possibly apply to all areas of life. Don’t judge a community from its worst without experiencing its best.

This column was originally published in Madison Voices, Allied Drive's community newspaper. Visit their Web site at:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Allied Drive = Political Exhaustion

On top of living on Allied Drive, my job in part involves employment on Allied Drive. Add to that, being on the board of a non-profit that serves Allied Drive, serving on two city commissions that devote a good chunk of time "dealing with Allied Drive" and writing for the neighborhood paper, Voices. In between all of that, I try to keep up with community events and this blog – at the end of the day, I am often tired of Allied Drive myself. Needless to say, if I see anything involving Allied Drive running in circles, I really don’t want too much to do with it. This whole CDA thing, to me, feels like a big semi-truck coming at us 90 miles-per-hour. We can stand out in the street with our hands out gesturing for it to stop and hope for the best. Or we can pick up our prized belongings and get the hell out of the way, and hope there will not be a whole lot of damage at the end of it all. I have heard the pro-CDA and anti-CDA arguments, and from my observation, there really is no purpose in sitting on the anti-CDA side. For real, if you pick up a carton of milk at the JFF office with an expiration date that is 5-days old, are you really going to drink it? Are you going to call Deans to complain about your milk chug? No, you put it aside, and come back the next day and hope they have something for you. Similarly, this whole CDA thing, is just too big and seemingly too powerful. I am hopeful that when the truck passes through the neighborhood, there will be some goodies that fall out of the back for us, and if not, such is life. Considering that we are not property owners without any real stake in the community, what can we really do? Speaking of … I better go pull my credit report, I think I have about a year now to get ready for a first-time mortgage. Maybe on Allied Drive, maybe somewhere else. As any resident on Allied Drive, I think I have to remain open-minded.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Power Of One

This Saturday, September 15th, come out to our community to participate in a walk that will help support MAP with your donations of $1 or more.

The registration for the walk will start at 8:00 am and conclude with a short ceremony around 10:00 am with a presentation from the Employer Group. If you have any questions, please call 608-239-4286.

The campaign is centered around the POWER in ONE ... see you there!