Cycling Without Age Wins 2015 Creating a Stronger Community Contest

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Note: While this news may not be hot off the presses since the event took place during Earth Week, on April 23, it was not covered by any other local media, so it is still indeed news, brought to you by the Oshkosh Independent. The below was written by Sam Beschta and Brylie Baird, who just completed the Environment & Society course at UWO. This was a Quest III course for the University Studies Program, the hallmark of which is a 14-20 hour community experience project. Helping to organize and facilitate the contest was their project. See previous articles from O.I. for more details about the contest.

The conclusion of the Creating a Stronger Community Contest at Becket’s was a booming success with 87 students and community members turning out to vote on their favorite proposal and help raise $852! This was added to the $1,000 raised in advance from Oshkosh Area Community Foundation and UWO Foundation to create the seed money award pool.

While there, guests were able to enjoy some free snacks generously donated by Becket’s, participate in a silent auction, listen to some live music performed by the band A Solid Seven, and hear reports from four winners from previous years (H.O.M.E., Neighborhood Kids Crews party.0, and Oshkosh Food Co-op).

UWO Student Brittany Hinz was part of the Quest III class that helped organize the contest. She commented, “It was great to see so many people come together for such a great cause,” while fellow groupmember Stephanie Jordan stated, “Everyone was having fun and enjoying good conversation. I think that is what this event was truly about, bringing everyone together as a community.”

Each of this year’s five finalists, Cycling Without Age, First Tuesdays, Growing Oshkosh (UWO Children’s Garden), Parent University, and Bettering Oshkosh-Tiny Homes were also able to give one final pitch to the crowd before polls opened to try and grab as many votes as possible while spreading awareness for their respective projects.

Quest III student Matt McMullen at the voting table

Quest III student Matt McMullen at the voting table

At the end of the night, Gerard Bodalski and Bonnie Behnke of Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh were crowned first place and rewarded with a total of $1,352 to help fund their proposal for Cycling Without Age. Coree Van Thiel representing the Lighted School House Program that took second place for the Parent University” proposal and were rewarded with $500. These were our two winners for the contest! Bonnie Behnke stated, “Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh will forever be impacted by our participation in the Creating a Stronger Community Contest.”

Coree Van Thiel with Parent University.

Coree Van Thiel with Parent University.

Even though all of the wonderful projects were unable to be rewarded with money, they were able spread awareness of their efforts and possibly make some partnerships for future projects. Dani Stolley from Growing Oshkosh stated, “While Growing Oshkosh was not one of the winners, it was worthwhile for us to be there, making connection, and even enlightening a few folks who simply came in for dinner or drinks at Becket’s that evening.”

Courtney Bauder, a UWO professor from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh who brought his Honors class to the event, stated: “The students enjoyed the event and were pleased with the winners… Overall they thought it was a great event and appreciated the food, music, and contest entries.”

If you are interested in keeping up to date on what the individual groups are doing with their winnings, check out our Facebook page where the winners will be posting updates on their progress in six months. Hope to see you all next year at the fifth annual Creating a Stronger Community Contest!

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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.

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