Last week, the Race to Equity’s Community Ambassadors launched its first edition of the Ambassador Times Journal, a community resource that will bring together stories, announcements, and worthy news for Madison neighborhoods of color.

For more than two years, Gaddi Ben Dan and Betty Banks, longtime community journalists and executive producers of Club TNT, have been acting as consultants and advisors to the Race to Equity Community Ambassadors. “In talking with them, we had great conversations about building community, reaching residents and what kinds of things are important in neighborhoods and communities,” Banks tells Madison365. “They all brought newsletters out of their neighborhoods. So we started talking about the power of the press and how important it is – especially to communities of color.”

The first issue of the Ambassador Times Journal.
The first issue of the Ambassador Times Journal.

The Community Ambassadors decided that they wanted to come together to collaborate on one publication that would include writers that worked to promote community engagement and awareness and to improve communications. “It’s about people in the neighborhoods and it’s for people in the neighborhoods,” Banks says. “The Community Ambassadors are encouraging anybody in the neighborhood to come forward to contribute so we can capture the real flavor and uniqueness of each neighborhood.”

Those neighborhoods that the Ambassador Times Journal will focus one include the Allied Drive, Wexford Ridge, Meadowood, Darbo-Worthington and South Madison neighborhoods.

For its inaugural edition, the Ambassador Times Journal also got contributions from outside of those neighborhoods. “It’s a real mix of different neighborhoods and people and events. It’s the first edition,” Banks says. “We know as we move along and get stronger, more people and more voices will emerge.”

The Community Ambassador Team works to address racial disparities in Dane County by acting as liaisons between Race to Equity and five neighborhoods in Madison. The Community Ambassadors include Sheray Wallace, Jevon Diming, Venus Washington, Sina Davis, Selena Pettigrew, Chianae Williamson, and Will Green who represent neighborhoods from all over the city of Madison.

“This is also about educating people about the power of the press so one of the things that we know will happen is that this will continue to gain momentum and when people see the paper they will want to join as writers and really get involved,” Banks says. “The real power is with the Community Ambassadors who gather the news. It’s their paper. We are the advisors to the paper.”

(L-r) Jeanne Erickson, Gaddi Ben Dan and Betty Banks
(L-r) Jeanne Erickson, Gaddi Ben Dan and Betty Banks

Gaddi Ben Dan serves as Editor-in-Chief, Jeanne Erickson is managing editor, and Banks is the copy editor. Right now, the Ambassador Times Journal is a bi-monthly endeavor. The hope is that this newspaper becomes an institution of connection and support for various communities of color throughout Madison.

“I think it’s really important that the neighborhoods have a voice. When issues come up, they want to be able to talk about them,” Banks says. “As people of color, we need to be telling our story and we have to raise our voices to the issues. Much of what you’ll see in this paper you will not see in other publications.”

You can pick up the Ambassador Times Journal at grocery stores, coffeeshops, and public libraries all over town.