5 Projects Vie for Creating a Stronger Community Contest Title


Five interesting and diverse projects will square off on Thursday night at Becket’s for the conclusion of the 4th annual Creating a Stronger Community Contest. So announced Matt McMullen and Sam Beschta, students in the Quest III Environment & Society class at UWO, tonight at the annual Earth Week Banquet.

The projects are:

Cycling Without Age: A partnership between Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh and East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, this project will bring the first Cycling Without Age initiative to an elder care program in the U.S. According to the group’s proposal, it will provide “Opportunity for people of all ages and differing abilities to come together for a rickshaw ride, experience wind in their hair, and share memories of the past while creating new memories and building friendships.”

First Tuesdays: The proposed expansion of a free downtown lunch and concert series to increase attendance and community connections made at this established event that takes place six times a year at the First Congregation Church. According to the group’s proposal, “People go out to lunch for an hour normally during the work day, so why not come to FCC for a concert and a home-cooked meal? …(We) can bring in great performers, but…would like to see a boost in attendance to the 200-250+ range with participation from UWO and downtown Oshkosh business folk.”

Growing Oshkosh (UWO Children’s Garden): This nonprofit urban farm and educational facility took first place in the second year of the Contest. Given that the mission of the Contest is to help new initiatives get off the ground, Growing Oshkosh will be eligible to take up to second place for their proposed project. According to the group’s proposal, “Not only would this be the first garden project ever for the (UWO) Child Care Center itself, it would also be the very first vegetable garden–EVER–on the entirety of the (main) UWO campus…Our plan is to build the garden in early May–budget-permitting–and create accompanying educational programming…within a relatively short time frame so children at the Center can start growing as soon as possible.”

Parent University: This project is being pitched by Lighted Schoolhouse, an after-school program active in several Oshkosh public schools, and several other local partners involved with district’s seven 21st Century Community Learning Centers. According to the group’s proposal, “The goal of the event is to engage Oshkosh Area School District parents in a ½ day workshop focusing on enhancing family connection, self-improvement, and networking. We will also offer a resource fair introducing parents to the myriad resources we offer in the Oshkosh community. By using our schools to link parents to necessary resources, we are helping to ensure that our students’ and families’ needs are being met.”

Bettering Oshkosh-Tiny Homes (BOTH): This project proposes to create a neighborhood of tiny homes based on the model employed in the tiny homes village in Madison, to address homelessness and a lack of affordable housing in a sustainable fashion. According to the group’s proposal, “Our plan is to address the homelessness in Oshkosh head-on by building a Tiny Homes community in some of the brownfield space within Oshkosh. Each new Tiny Home would be aesthetically pleasing and grounded, while remaining mobile if it becomes necessary to relocate at a future date. Built with the basic framework of a well-insulated shed, each 400-600 square foot Tiny Home costs about $4,000 to build and…(be near) the many wonderful amenities and services in downtown Oshkosh.”

They will compete for seed money and support from the general public, as it is free for all to come hear the pitches from these contestants, and a contribution to the award kitty of $5 (for students) or $10 (for non-students) will allow anyone to vote for their favorite project. In previous years, proposals taking first place by virtue of receiving the most votes from attendees have been awarded at least $1,500, with additional funds given to second and third place groups. Which and how many groups are funded and at what levels this year will be determined by how many people turn out to vote and pitch in.

The event goes from 7-9pm this Thursday, April 23, at Becket’s and features food and live music. It is sponsored through financial and in-kind support by American Democracy Project at UWO, Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, UWO Foundation, Becket’s, UWO Earth Week Committee, UWO Philosophy Department, and UWO Sociology Club.



About Author

Paul Van Auken

Paul Van Auken has been a member of the sociology and environmental studies faculty at University of Wisconsin Oshkosh since 2007, after completing a Ph.D. in sociology from UW-Madison. A native of Iowa but resident of Wisconsin since 1999, Paul conducts research on issues related to neighborhood, community, land use planning and access to public space, sustainability, and teaching and learning. He also practices public sociology, regularly writing a column called “Shortening the Distance” for Oshkosh Independent. He lives with his wife and two daughters on the historic, walkable, and interesting east side of Oshkosh, near the shores of Lake Winnebago.

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