2022 Highlights & 2023 Projects

Our work at 1000 Friends is centered on community health, economic vitality, responsible transportation policy, and environmental justice.

We are a small but mighty organization determined to do all we can to fight the effects of climate change through our work in transportation, land use, and health. We host monthly webinars, share resources and updates, offer technical support, and host forums and seminars.

A couple of years ago the University of Wisconsin-Madison approached us to ask if we would adopt a program that was no longer funded by the University. We said yes and Active Wisconsin became part of the 1kfriends family providing member groups across the state with activities and resources to make active transportation and accessible transit a priority in their communities. Susan Gaeddert, our Community Program Director, manages the Active Wisconsin Program.

As an extension of our work with the Green Tier Legacy Communities Alliance for Health, Susan worked with staff in Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids on a project to promote health and equity by working to identify problem areas and develop safe bike and pedestrian routes to parks and schools. We will be sharing story maps soon.

Since May 2022, Susan has served as the Coordinator for the Wisconsin Climate Table, a network of 33 organizations working together for equitable solutions to the climate crisis. The Climate Table is running campaigns to develop a tool to help municipalities center equity in climate action planning, organize at the grassroots level to relieve energy burden in Southeast Wisconsin, and promote Gov. Evers’ Clean Energy Plan.

Gregg May, our Transportation Policy Director has been leading a coalition that opposes a $1.2B expansion on I-94 in Milwaukee and instead promotes “Fix at Six” which would, among other improvements, repair the road at its current six lanes, add bus rapid transit (BRT) access along the nearby corridors, and promote walking and biking infrastructure along the Stadium Freeway.

Gregg and our partners are also challenging WisDOT’s (Wisconsin Department of Transportation) plan to replace the interchanges near the Summerfest grounds at an expected cost of $300M. This may be our best chance in decades to remove the highway, which severed the Third Ward from Downtown and the lakeshore. It is estimated that 32+ acres could be open for redevelopment, re-connecting neighborhoods, and improving the health and economic well-being of thousands of residents if the entirety of I-794 was removed and replaced with a boulevard. For details and renderings, visit our website www.rethink794.com.

Gregg is also leading a group of Midwestern states focused on local climate plans for clean and equitable transportation and land use planning funded by the GM (General Motors) Foundation. We will be providing resources to train grassroots groups to advocate for disability rights, best practices for harmonizing climate commitments with transportation and land use planning, and technical assistance to help local planners meet their climate goals.

Here are just a few of the new 2023 projects we are looking forward to:

In February 2023 we will start our first Community Transportation Academy. This 10-week course creates an opportunity for deep public engagement and advocacy in the future of public transportation policy locally and statewide. Many people want to get involved but often do not have the knowledge or resources to get started advocating. The Academy will provide instruction and resources to help community members to become more involved in sound transportation policy. The first of a series of Academies, led by Susan, will be in La Crosse in partnership with UW-La Crosse and AARP. The next academy will be held in Racine in the fall.

We receive more phone calls these days from people asking for help because the Comprehensive Plan for their town or city is being ignored. Unwanted development is occurring, and zoning laws and regulations are being ignored. We offer suggestions but without the state standing behind the Comprehensive Planning Law it is nearly impossible to stop unwanted development. We are committed to upholding the law. Deb is leading this effort and it is at the top of our agenda for 2023.

We just received funding for 2023 to lead the Transportation Federal Funding Action team along with cohorts from Iowa and Michigan. There are many great new opportunities, and we want to make sure local governments know how to take advantage of them.

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