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You may have heard about SOC’s “GO BLUE” campaign, but what does it mean exactly? It stands for “Grassroots Organizing Building Leadership, Unity, and Engagement.”
Grassroots Organizing • Organizando de Base
We work with and for residents to create a safe, livable, and economically vibrant community and are committed to helping residents attain the following:
- Greater voice in the decisions affecting their communities
- Improved access to public resources
- The ability to act together to make positive changes in their neighborhoods
We do this through the creation and support of resident associations, door-to-door outreach, SOC-sponsored community meetings and events, collaborations with community stakeholder groups, and more.
Building Leadership • Desarrollando Liderazgo
SOC provides a leadership academy and ongoing leadership development for
residents in our coverage area who are interested in forming or further developing neighborhood groups or other grassroots organizing efforts. Based on resident interest and currently available resources, students are selected and leadership academies are designed and administered in ways most relevant to our residents’ specific needs.
SOC makes efforts to recognize and enhance the contributions of resident leaders and allies who have made substantial impact to improve the Near South Side. Stay tuned as we will continue to deploy new initiatives as funding, needs, and interests change.
Building Unity • Creciendo Unidad
Milwaukee’s near South side is the most diverse community in the state. SOC views this not as a challenge but a strength, and aims to leverage this asset to take diversity and inclusion to new heights. We do this by celebrating our rich heritage and the cultural evolution of Milwaukee’s South Side through our stewardship of the Old South Side Settlement Museum (OSSSM), and by the culture of inclusion we promote in all of our activities.
While others focus on deficits alone, SOC chooses to take an asset-focused approach to community development and engagement. Some of these assets for the South Side include its great history as an immigrant community landing spot, its numerous co-existing racial/ethnic groups, the widely varying economic backgrounds of its residents, the cross-generational differences within communities, the variety of family structures and traditions, the concentration of small businesses on its main streets, its strong faith community, its classic and unique architecture, and its integral contribution to the city at large.
SOC works to build issue-based coalitions that address the needs relating to our mission. In the past year, we have launched the following initiatives:
- Driver’s Card program – for our immigrant residents and to improve public safety for all
- 5th Place Revitalization program – to address the needs of one of the most historically crime-ridden areas of Milwaukee
- Street Prostitution Diversion program – utilizing a harm-reduction model to provide positive alternatives to the women involved in favor of incarceration without services
Building Engagement • Creciendo Involucración
SOC helps to launch resident associations, collaborates with residents directly, and provides support to individuals and resident groups. To better serve our residents, we develop customized relationships with each resident and resident group.
Several factors are considered in the selection of neighborhoods to be targeted for outreach efforts each year. These factors include the funding levels available to SOC, the critical needs facing residents at the neighborhood and even block level, the history and current state of resident voice, the organizing efforts already underway by SOC or other community groups, and the current distribution of public resources within each neighborhood.
Three persistent areas of need that have become long-standing program areas for SOC include Neighborhood Safety, Housing Resources, and Bilingual Services. See the linked pages for more on SOC’s programming meant to address these key needs.