“We are hoping that this will be a diverse event and that it will in some way begin to address the need for us to get to know one another and to work together with common goals in mind,” says alder Tag Evers, who represents the 13th District in Madison. “This is a great opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors. We want to create a positive environment where we get to know each other better.”
Those are some of the goals for the inaugural Good Neighbor Gathering, which Evers and others have been busy organizing. The event will take place Saturday, Sept. 28, 3-8 p.m. at Brittingham Park, 829 W. Washington Ave.
‘The Good Neighbor Gathering came out of a conversation we started having on how we can connect the various and diverse neighborhoods in District 13,” Evers tells Madison365. “This is a fun event. This isn’t a political event. This is a fun, neighborly event. To the extent we can get to know each other better, we can stand with each other when the situation arises.”
Six westside neighborhoods will be coming together to celebrate National Good Neighbor Day on Saturday. The 2019 Good Neighbor Gathering is a free, alcohol-free, family-friendly event open to the entire Madison area community.
Some people assume that because the Dudgeon-Monroe and Vilas neighborhoods are in District 13, Evers says, that it is an affluent and not-particularly-diverse district.
“District 13 also includes the Triangle and Bayview Community Center. Some of our city’s most vulnerable residents live in the area,” Evers says. “Residents in the Triangle are isolated and set apart from the neighborhood and the rest of the city. The idea was to bring everybody together on Sept. 28, Good Neighborhood Day.
“We’ve, in fact, started a District 13 alliance which includes representatives of all the neighborhoods … and this is our first effort,” he adds.
Evers has been the alder since April. It became evident to Evers that the presidents of the various neighborhood associations in his district didn’t come into contact with each other.
“In some instances, they didn’t know each other at all,” Evers says. “So there wasn’t much communication between the different neighborhood associations.”
The Bay Creek, Monona Bay, The Triangle, Greenbush, Vilas, and Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhoods are all part of the Madison’s 13th Aldermanic District. The neighborhood organizations are all working to organize a Good Neighbor Gathering for the entire city to enjoy.
On Saturday, from 1-3 p.m., there will be a shoreline clean-up organized in partnership with Friends of Monona Bay at Bernie’s Beach. That will be followed by DJ Mando from 3-6 p.m. Meanwhile there will be a bouncy house provided by the Boys & Girls Club, Science is Fun!, Fit2Go Van, multiple food carts, and more.
From 6-8 p.m. R&B band Kinfolk will perform.
“It’s a good-faith effort to try something new. Most of the city’s festivals are on the east side,” Evers says. “Our idea is to spread out and create a new event that brings people together. There’s more that unites us than divides us. We really want to focus on that.”
This is the inaugural event, and Evers would love to see it become an annual event that will hopefully grow and grow.
“The first one will be at Brittingham Park, the next one may be at a different park in a different part of the district. Some day, it could be in the middle of the green space in the middle of Bayview that they are developing in the Triangle, for example,” Evers says. “We will be moving it around to different parts of the city to increase the sense of old-fashioned solidarity and awareness that if you have a challenge or issue or problem in one neighborhood, it may overlap into another.”
The 2019 Good Neighbor Gathering is being supported, Evers says, with donations from local businesses and individuals who have chipped in to help make the event happen.
“We can’t sweep under the rug the many challenges we face. Together, on Good Neighbor Day, we’re going to come together and we’re going to accent and place emphasis on what can bring us together,” Evers says.
“It’s an opportunity for people to get to know each other and place a greater emphasis on our shared values and our spirit of kinship,” he adds. “It will also be a great opportunity for people to relax and get to know each other and have fun.”