Home Page: ABOUT US
About the Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin
Our Vision and Shared Values
Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin is a network of engaged people in Southwest Wisconsin who through constructive dialogue and education foster informed, positive change at the local, regional and national levels.
Our work is rooted in the basic values of opportunity, fairness, tolerance and respect for each other.
- We value our freedom to communicate ideas, just as we value the tolerance and respect which is given to others who speak, write, and take action.
- We value universal access to excellence in education, to economically sustainable jobs, and to quality health care.
- We seek security through global cooperation.
- We value honesty, integrity, and financial responsibility in governments and in business, as we do in our homes and in our communities.
- We value respect for the resources of our planet.
- We value fairness in bearing the burdens of citizenship.
- We value common good over self-interest.
- We value the arts which delight, inspire and enliven our shared community life.
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Our Organization’s Leadership
The Grassroots Leadership Council meets monthly to:
- Keep an eye on emerging issues
- Monitor the activities of our Interest Groups
- Plan future events and forums
- Develop strategies for encouraging more cooperation and communication within our communities so we are all working effectively together.
- Provide guidance and support to incubator efforts
- Ensure fiscal responsibility and good financial management
Leadership Council members (You are encouraged to contact them):
Chair, Shirley Barnes, Dodgeville, [email protected]
Secretary, Earl Barnes, Dodgeville, [email protected]
Treasurer, Jubie Simonson, Mineral Point, [email protected]
Bryan Walton, Citizens for Peace, Spring Green, [email protected]
Chuck Tennessen, Sustain Iowa County, Mineral Point, [email protected]
Susan Gereau, Clyde, [email protected]
Sharon Nicholas, Dodgeville, [email protected]
Lisa Cvengros, Dodgeville, [email protected]
Jessica Wieczorek, Dodgeville
Our Interest Group Team Leaders (You are encouraged to contact them):
Health Care Reform - Earl Barnes, [email protected]
Grassroots Citizens for Peace - Bryan Walton, [email protected]
Immigration - Shirley or Earl Barnes, [email protected]
Sustain Iowa County - Chuck Tennessen, [email protected]
Save our Public Schools - Jessica Wieczorek - www.soswisconsin.com
Our e-mail Grassroots Gazette alerts citizens to local events that inform and motivate them to act -- by contacting their legislators, writing letters to the editor or getting involved in local citizen action efforts. Our Interest Groups study and advocate positions on issues such as the environment and climate change, health care reform and peace and justice issues. We enjoy good debates and the friendship of those who might not always agree with us. Email
Shirley Barnes at [email protected] if you would like to receive a copy.
Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin was formed in the fall of 2003 when a group of friends got together for lunch to talk about how we could have a positive impact on our communities and country. We all believed citizen action worked if everyone pulled together. So we decided to test our ideas. There were ten of us that first day. A week later 20 people showed up. The following week 40. That's when we decided we were onto something. Our first "Grassroots Politics and Pie Fest" drew 100 people to talk about the issues most critical to them and to enjoy homemade pie. Our on-going Interest Groups were the result.
Today, over 1,000 people from Iowa, Sauk, Grant, Lafayette, Dane and the surrounding counties subscribe to our Grassroots Gazette e-mail alert. Our members work hard to keep informed and involved -- in local, state and national issues. And ever since that first "Politics and Pie" fest, we have incorporated food, fun and friendships into everything we do.
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Our e-mail Grassroots Gazette alerts citizens to local events that inform and motivate them to act -- by contacting their legislators, writing letters to the editor or getting involved in local citizen action efforts. Our Interest Groups study and advocate positions on issues such as the environment and climate change, health care reform and peace and justice issues. We enjoy good debates and the friendship of those who might not always agree with us. Email Shirley Barnes at [email protected] if you would like to receive a copy.
Engage with others on our "Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin" facebook page, be sure to hit the "Like" button and become our fan!
Our website http://www.Grassrootswi.org is a forum for information and progressive opinion.
We have developed a strong network of partners that have worked with us on various initiatives through the years.
- In cooperation with the Community Connections Free Clinic, Iowa County Literary Council and Plymouth Congregational (UCC) Church, we have started an English-as-a-Second Language tutoring program.
- In cooperation with the Iowa County Bar Association, we hosted debates between candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the last two election cycles.
- On health care reform, we work closely with the statewide Health Care Reform Coalition, headed by Citizens Action of Wisconsin and have hosted a number of local forums and discussions.
- The 2009 Rural Immigration Summit in Dodgeville was a joint effort between UW Extension and Grassroots. It drew nearly 100 people and spawned our new Immigration Interest Group.
- Working with the Dodgeville Public Library, Grassroots Citizens for Peace has sponsored a fascinating series of forums and discussions on Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Middle East and other international hotspots. In 2010, the Great Decisions series coming to Dodgeville will be another joint effort between the Dodgeville Library and Grassroots.
- In 2009, working in cooperation with the Dodgeville Chamber of Commerce, we fostered a discussion on health care reform between Dr. Aaron Dunn, a Grassroots health care task force member, and a representative of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Association.
Grassroots has been an incubator for new initiatives, such as Sustain Iowa County, a group modeled after Sustain Sauk and Sustain Dane which was spun off from Grassroots in late 2007. At the 2008 and 2009 Sustain Iowa County Fairs, participants learned about what it means to be an Eco-Municipality, how to install solar and wind power, and many other practical tips for keeping our communities sustainable. As a result, Iowa County became one of Wisconsin's first Eco Counties and a Green and Healthy School program is now in place in the four Dodgeville schools.
Grassroots believes that the arts are an important medium for bringing people together around sensitive issues.
- In 2008, we sponsored a theatrical performance of “Tear up the Front Page” which addressed the question of whether or not there is bias in the mainstream media.
- Also in 2008, Grassroots Citizens for Peace sponsored a successful Poetry Slam and Music Jam for a Peaceful and Sustainable World.
- In 2009, we hosted an “Evening with the Authors” highlighting local Wisconsin writers at this year’s membership meeting.
Grassroots has sponsored training programs to help our members develop citizen action skills, such as framing issues and writing letters to the editor. We are currently investigating a program to teach facilitation and issue framing as well as social media.
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How to Start a New Interest Group
Grassroots has developed an Interest Group Charter for people wanting to form a new Interest Group. Organizing methods, citizen action skills needed for success, potential sources for members and projected outcomes are among the topics covered. To learn more about starting a new Interest Group, contact us.
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