Why Meadowood?

I posted about this on Day 15, but figured it would be good to have its own standalone page too.

As I have written a fair amount about Camarones, I figured it would be good to share some information about the Meadowood Neighborhood Center (MNC), and why that connection is important.  I grew up in the Madison area, just down the road from where the MNC is now located.  The MNC is a pilot neighborhood center that was opened 3 years ago as a collaboration with the City of Madison, and is managed by the Madison School and Community Recreation. The center itself is located on Madison's southwest side, right next to the Meadowridge Public Library.

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The goal of the MNC is to "is to provide a safe, supervised space for youth during the after school and evening hours.  It also serves as a place for neighbors to socialize and a place for adult programming.  The space is a focal point in the neighborhood to share resources for a better and stronger community." 

The MNC has a variety of different services and programs for adults and children in the community.  Most of the programs are free or very low-cost (and the programs that have a fee often have waivers or reductions to try and not exclude interested individuals).  One of the more popular programs is an employment connections group and it occurs every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  This is a collaborative program between a variety of great services in Madison (including Joining Forces for Families, Urban League, Employment and Training, and the Meadowridge Library).  These agencies and various volunteers come and assist with job searches, resume writing, computer work, job leads, and other useful services to individuals trying to secure employment.

Another popular service at the MNC for adults is the open computer lab.  Every day adults can come in and use computers in the center for free.  Volunteers also offer different computer classes depending upon the day, as well as assistance in job searches and resume writing.

For youth, the MNC offers both middle and high-school drop-in after-school programming, and elementary school programming.  This fall, while finishing up my PhD, I was working part-time at the MNC.  I was hired as an after-school program leader, but was there all day on (mostly) Mondays and Wednesdays assisting with clerical work as well as adult programming during the day, and then helping to lead youth programming in the afternoons.  Most of the youth attending the MNC are Toki Middle School students (where I also attended middle school and is not far from the MNC).  MNC serves over 100 middle and high school youth on any given semester, with the bulk of these youth coming from under served or disadvantaged families. 

For the most part, news surrounding the Meadowood Neighborhood area has largely been due to negative activities.  Drugs, violence, and theft reports have been increasing in recent years.  The MNC has definitely been an important resource at allowing more positive activities (and news) to reach the area.  Additionally, the efforts from the Meadowood Neighborhood Association (which holds its meetings at the MNC), are definitely a strong component to improving neighborhood dynamics.

The goals of the MNC and the population it serves are both similar and different to the proposed center in Ecuador.  There are many parallels between the two communities (of Camarones and southwest Madison-Meadowood area), which make them perfect for a "sister" pairing (more on this in later posts).  Of course, any number of areas would probably work just as well, but these two areas are areas that I know well, have lived in, and have had the opportunity to work with on various projects.  Future goals for cross-cultural programming in these centers includes the ability to replicate the programing and activities in other interested after-school programs or neighborhood centers in other parts of Wisconsin and Ecuador, as well as other areas in the US or world.

Questions, thoughts, comments?  Please comment below or email me.