Archive for the ‘Jobs with Meaning’ Category

Isthmus: “Citizen: The Real Reason for Atwood Avenue’s Renaissance”

Saturday, November 1st, 2014
Just published at….
Citizen: The real reason for Atwood Avenue’s renaissance
Eliminating parking requirements for small storefronts buoyed business growth

Michael Barrett on Saturday 11/01/2014 10:23 am

“Destination: Atwood Avenue” was a nice little promo piece inIsthmus that should definitely be featured in the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor’s Bureau pamphlets. It lacked, however, a good investigative question: Why has Atwood seen such a revival?

Yes, yes, we are lucky to have so many creative entrepreneurs who have worked hard to make their businesses successful on this once run-down thoroughfare; good on them, and thanks. And yes, the the transition of the Barrymore Theatre from adult movie theater to hip venue was a signal event. But it is a tired old story, because there it sat for nearly 20 years, a lonely beacon, with neighbors of empty storefronts and no resurgence in sight.

The true linchpin of the revitalization of Atwood: city parking policy. Had it not been for the informed, critical activism of a few people in the neighborhood, not one of the hip enterprises that have grown up on Atwood in the last 14 years — the era of sustainable and rapid resurgence — could have ever happened on Atwood. Why? Because the city prohibited it through parking policy.

Until the early 2000s, suburban parking requirements were imposed on dense, parking-light urban business districts such as Atwood. It was a death warrant.

Creativity and entrepreneurship were throttled. Coffee shops were told to brew in strip malls. Boutique beers, ordered to industrial parks. Eclectic restaurants, stymied.

Here’s how it worked: The city required that there be an off-street parking space for every table for two, no exceptions. This meant no fun. No funky. No creative. No nothing.

This went on for decades. As older enterprises faded, the city parking bosses ensured that no new businesses could move in to keep the district vital. It wasn’t the mall that killed Atwood, it was public policy.

By 1999, a (very) small group of visionary citizens had had quite enough of this. These active alt-transportation agitators worked with verve and persistence, at times getting in the faces of hidebound alders and parking bureaucrats, to put a stop to the desertification of Atwood Avenue. Over the shrill warnings of planners and highwaymen, the citizens who crafted the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Worthington Neighborhood Plan (PDF) of 2000 enshrined a provision that prioritized a walkable business district. To that end, it strongly recommended eliminating parking requirements.

Yes, eliminating parking requirements. Altogether. This was a radical notion up to the mid-aughties, believe it or not.

Once passed, these same citizens started showing up at zoning meetings, plan in hand, demanding that cool businesses be allowed to locate on Atwood sans parking.

Cafe Zoma was the first successful — but hard fought — “exemption” under the new neighborhood plan. It featured zero car parking stalls. That set the precedent for all the coolness that followed. Creative entrepreneurship blossomed, and just keeps blossoming.

Under new city leadership in 2003, Atwood Avenue’s successful elimination of parking requirements was recognized and even incorporated into the new zoning code. There are no longer minimum parking requirements for small storefronts anywhere in the city.
Michael D. Barrett is an energy efficiency and community plan analyst with UrbanThoreau LLC and publishes

MGE: The Rustbelt Mindset

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Word has it that Madison Gas & Electric was the lead lobbyist in scuttling the state’s green energy plan during the state’s recent budget deliberations.

One major component of the plan: 25% of state’s total energy was to come from renewables. It also included a massive conservation push. There were significant provisions for reeling in cars. It was a multi-frontal assault on gluttony. It was a good plan.

Kristine Euclid, Gary Wolter & Co. should be ashamed of themselves.

As many readers know, I’m a major doubter about renewables. For now. I believe that there is so much low hanging fruit in terms of conservation that it would be unwise to dive into renewables until we have reduced our overall burn to the point that renewables could actually make a dent. As it stands, we burn so much that even a massive, Manhattan Project-scale investment in renewables wouldn’t make a hill of beans difference. We’ve got to burn less — a lot less — in order for renewables to be more than decorative. That said, this plan was so comprehensive, and so, so, just plain good on so many levels — especially conservation — that I think the 25% was a good, achievable target for renewables. I believe we would have been forced to burn a lot less in order to achieve that target number. We could never in a million years gotten to that number trying to build up to it assuming current consumption. We would first have to reduce, reduce, and reduce some more to make that number a reality. A good thing.

But the old, gray industrialists at MGE didn’t like it. Why? For one, by forcing reductions in the total burn of coal in the state, the bill probably would have reduced the value of their recent investment in 19th century coal technology at the Oak Creek power plant (or Elm Road, or whatever the latest euphemism for that rusting relic is).

It gets worse. Not only did they scuttle a visionary, 21st century green energy policy, they now want to hammer their green power paying customers with the cost of keeping their coal fired power plants.

More below….


April 27, 2010


Michael Vickerman

RENEW Wisconsin


RENEW: Renewable Energy Not Responsible for MGE Rate Increase

Higher costs associated with fossil fuel generation are driving Madison Gas & Electric’s costs higher, according to testimony submitted by company witnesses. The utility filed an application last week with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to collect an additional $32.2 million through a 9% increase in electric rates starting January 2011.

The bulk of the rate increase can be attributed to expenses associated with burning coal to generate electricity. A 22% owner of the 1,020-megawatt (MW) Columbia Generating Station near Portage, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) and the owner plant owners plan to retrofit the 35-year-old facility to reduce airborne emissions. The cost of Columbia’s environmental retrofit is expected to total $640 million, of which MGE’s share is about $140 million.

MGE also owns an 8% share of the state’s newest coal-fired station, the 1,230-MW Elm Road Generating Station located in Oak Creek. A portion of the proposed rate hike would cover lease payments and other expenses at that plant.

MGE’s application does not attribute any portion of its proposed rate hike to renewable energy sources. However, MGE plans to increase the premium associated with its voluntary Green Power Tomorrow program from 1.25 cents per kilowatt-hour to 2 cents. RENEW estimates that the premium hike will collect more than $1 million in 2011 from the approximately 10,000 customers participating in the program.

According to the utility’s web site, 10% of MGE’s electric customers purchase some or all of their electricity from renewable resources. Moreover, Green Power Tomorrow has the second highest participation rate of all investor-owned utilities in the country according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Not surprisingly, MGE anticipates subscribership in Green Power Tomorrow to decrease if the PSC approves the higher premium. Currently, the program accounts for about 5% of total electric sales. Program subscribers include the City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, Dane County Regional Airport, Madison West High School, Goodman Community Center and Home Savings Bank.

According to MGE, sinking fossil fuel prices have widened the difference between wholesale power costs and the cost of supplying customers with renewable energy. However, it is worth remembering that the cost of supplying power from MGE’s renewable energy assets, such as its Rosiere installation in Kewaunee County and Top of Iowa project, did not increase last year and will not increase in the foreseeable future.

“Even though the cost of MGE’s windpower supplies is not going up, Green Power Tomorrow customers will take a double hit if the PSC approves this rate increase and request for higher premiums,” said RENEW Wisconsin executive Director Michael Vickerman. “It’s a ‘heads-I-win-tails-you-lose’ proposition that will wind up rewarding customers who drop out of the renewable energy program because coal is cheaper.”

“It would be short-sighted to penalize renewable energy purchasers just because fossil fuel prices are in a temporary slump,” Vickerman said. “But if MGE is allowed to institute this penalty at the same time it imposes the cost of cleaning up an older coal-fired generator on all of its customers, including its Green Power Tomorrow subscribers, it would have a profoundly negative impact on the renewable energy marketplace going forward.”

“This is the wrong time to be throwing up barriers to renewable energy development. We at RENEW will fight proposals that reward fossil fuel use and penalize renewable energy,” Vickerman added.


RENEW Wisconsin (HUwww.renewwisconsin.orgUH) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance a sustainable energy future through public policy and private sector initiatives.

Green Collar Job Symposium, Saturday May 1 — Tomorrow

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I will be a panelist at the May Day shindig tomorrow (newsrelease below). Robbie Webber may be a panelist with me as well. Our session will be around 11:30.

Hope to see you there!




Green Collar Job Symposium, Saturday May 1, Madison Labor Temple, 1602 South Park Street, 9:30 – 5:30.

The Green Collar Alliance will be holding the first annual Green Collar Symposium and networking event Saturday, May 1 at the Madison Labor Temple.  The purpose of the event is to create a model which if implemented in local communities can create sustainable 100% employment.  The Symposium will feature a presentation by the Natural Step Organization and three panel discussions as well as a musical performance by the Raging Grannies.  Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Job Opening @ 1000 Friends of Wisconsin

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

It looks like my buddy Barb Irvin is moving on to the Wisconsin Natural History & Geological Survey, (congrats, Barb!) which means that there is a big opening coming up at 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Here’s what she has to say about the position:

Hi –

I have accepted a position as the Administrative Manager at the Wisconsin Geologic and Natural History Survey. I’m sad to leave 1000 Friends but am excited by the new opportunity (though I do wish they had a shorter name!).

So, 1000 Friends is in need of a part-time office administrator. It’s a great place to work – I can’t believe that I’ve been there almost 6 years. The posting is attached. Please distribute widely – I want to leave Steve and Deb in capable hands.


Barb Irvin

Finance Director

1000 Friends of Wisconsin

16 N Carroll St, Ste 810

Madison, WI 53703

608.259.1000 x101



Job Opening: Office Manager

1000 Friends of Wisconsin, a statewide non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, is seeking a part-time Office Manager. 1000 Friends advocates and promotes good land use policy making the connection between land use and transportation decisions and our state’s economic and environmental health. We have a small, energetic staff, supportive board, and dedicated membership. Founded in 1996, 1000 Friends is the only statewide organization focused exclusively on Smart Growth comprehensive planning and implementation.

For further information on 1000 Friends, check our website:

Salaried position at 20 hours/week in a flexible, fun and fast-paced office environment.


  • Manage overall day-to-day operations of the office.
  • Manage organizational bookkeeping using QuickBooks software; process invoices; manage accounts payable; make deposits; maintain system for cost allocation; generate financial reports for board meetings, funding applications, and funding reports; monitor cash flow; and oversee annual audit of organization finances.
  • Handle check and credit card processing.
  • Coordinate payroll and employee benefits program, including retirement plan and flexible spending accounts.
  • Maintain member database; produce renewal requests; analyze membership trends.
  • Assist the Development Director.
  • Provide clerical and administrative support to Executive Director and for other staff as appropriate.
  • Order/maintain office supplies, equipment and computer systems. Contact vendors for repairs and maintenance.
  • Assist with event and program planning.
  • Respond to routine phone calls and route other calls as appropriate.
  • Edit newsletter articles, correspondence and reports.

Qualifications · Experience with management of a small office preferred · Grant management (financial) · Experience with Microsoft Office applications, especially Excel, required · Experience with bookkeeping (especially with QuickBooks) required · IT skills and database experience · Excellent oral and written communication skills · Ability to interact effectively with volunteers, members, staff and the general public  · Ability to work independently on multiple projects · Commitment to mission of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

Submit a cover letter (no more than two pages) detailing qualifications with salary requirements and a resume to: or mail to:

Deb Nemeth

1000 Friends of Wisconsin

16 North Carroll St., Suite 810

Madison WI 53703

Application deadline: October 28, 2009.

Wisconsin Association of Lakes Job Posting: Communications Director

Monday, August 24th, 2009

This will be the first in an occasional series of job postings. I know some of my readers are undergoing, ahem, shall we say, life transitions given the state of the economy & so forth, so I’m going to post whatever job listings come my way. Just my little effort to help in one little way. I’m on several listservs, some of which are limited distribution, especially among enviro leaders. So many of the postings will have a non-profit, esp. enviro non-profit bent to them. The jobs I’ll be posting are jobs that either a) have not yet been broadcast into the MSM, or b) never will be. So this will be something of an early warning system, radar over the horizon, knowing-the-right-person(!) sort of thing. I won’t post stuff that I know is already out there, broadcast, in the MSM. Although I guess I might post it if I find out some insider info that might help readers here get the job. No guarantees though. And please don’t email me asking for more info. I post what I know here. For further info contact the organization. Good luck!

This just in today:
[stuff deleted]
The Wisconsin Association of Lakes is undergoing some transition. We have a Development Director starting, and are in the process of hiring a membership coordinator.

Karen has told me that I can’t leave until I replace myself, so if you know anyone interested in being a Communications Director, contact Karen at

Please feel free to forward this announcement to others who may be interested, there are so many great folks out there that I am sure I have inadvertently missed someone!


Tami Jackson
Wisconsin Association of Lakes
Director of Communications
Phone: 608-661-4313