2023 Highlights & What’s Ahead in 2024

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

We are determined to do all we can to fight the effects of climate change through our work in transportation, land use, and health and equity. We host webinars, share resources and updates, offer technical support, and host forums and seminars. We participate in statewide and regional coalitions to have a wider reach and engage more people at the grassroots level. Our goal is to make sure all voices are heard in order to make equitable, effective, and lasting change. 

We have been receiving increased phone calls these days from people asking for help because the Comprehensive Plan for their town or city is being ignored. We offer suggestions but without the state standing behind the Comprehensive Planning Law it is nearly impossible for communities to stop development that runs counter to the uses and goals they laid out in their planning.

2024: We are updating our original Citizen’s Guide to Land Use Planning in Wisconsin to help people understand the law, follow the law, and update their comprehensive plans.

A Citizens Guide To Land Use in Wisconsin Cover

In 2023, we launched the Community Transportation Academy (CTA). The CTA is a free course open to anyone who wants to learn more about local transportation planning so they can be more effective advocates at the local level. The 10-week Academy creates the opportunity for deep public engagement so community members of all backgrounds can be better informed about how transportation impacts health, equity, and the climate, and use that knowledge to help shape our future systems. Participants learn the basics of transportation planning, hear from local and national experts invited as guest speakers, tour local infrastructure, and engage in problem-solving for issues in their own community.

2024: Our third Academy is being held in Beloit, followed by a fourth in Kenosha in the fall. The word is spreading! Leaders from six Midwestern states want to hold their own Academies, and we will be training and coaching them through the process thanks to a grant from General Motors.

Susan Gaeddert serves as the Coordinator for the Wisconsin Climate Table, a network of over 30 organizations working together for equitable solutions to the climate crisis. The Climate Table is running campaigns 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. In 2023, 1kfriends helped develop a website that features the Climate Table Tool Kit for Equity and Justice in Local Climate Planning – wisconsinclimatetable.org.

2024: Holding a statewide gathering in Madison on May 3.

Carl Glasemeyer, our Transportation Policy Director in the Milwaukee office, has been broadening our community partnerships and supporting local efforts to increase safe transportation options on the north side of the city. We provided technical assistance for a USDOT Reconnecting Communities grant application for the 30th Street corridor trail. After hearing community concerns on their ability to safely travel along Fond Du Lac Ave / State Highway 145, we are preparing a campaign to pressure WisDOT (Wisconsin Department of Transportation) to fund safety improvements. To initiate this work, we were pleased to work with Dr. Robert Schneider’s UW-Milwaukee Master of Urban Planning class where students are researching safety and transit recommendations for the street. You can view the results of the study here.

2024: Throughout the year we will continue to engage community partners to create a coalition focused on safety along Fond du Lac Ave., one of the most dangerous roadways in Milwaukee. This coalition will develop a vision for the street that we take to city, county, and state stakeholders to advocate for funding for much needed safety improvements.

1000 Friends and our partners presented a vision to remove I-794 in Milwaukee instead of WisDOT’s plan to repair the structure near the Summerfest grounds at an expected cost of $300M. This is our best chance in decades to remove the highway, to open 20+ acres for redevelopment, re-connect neighborhoods, and improve the health and economic well-being of thousands of residents. For details and renderings, visit our website www.rethink794.com (If you would like to keep up to date on the progress sign up for monthly updates on the website). Rethink 794 has been included in Connec+ing MKE -the city of Milwaukee new downtown plan and the WisDOT Lake Interchange Study included I-794 removal as an option presented during its public meetings this summer.

2024: We will continue to drive engagement in the study as WisDOT looks to conduct another round of public engagement this Spring. Additionally, 1000 Friends is expanding partnerships to ally our 794 efforts with expansion of rail service through Milwaukee’s Intermodal Station.

794 before and after

We held an Active WisconsinMoving Communities Forward on Active Transportation event to bring the network together in Appleton at Lawrence University in October. We are grateful to the Medical College of Wisconsin endowment for Advancing Healthier Wisconsin for sponsoring this event. To keep up to date, sign up for our monthly Active Wisconsin e-news on our website – activewisconsin.org.

2024: Holding a Network wide call April 17 and events in La Crosse and Stevens Point.

New publications we helped create are available under Resources:

2024: A companion to FLEX Your Grants will be released:

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Watch: 2023 Highlights!