Category Archives: Community

Inner and outer cleanup and exploration Sun. 11/4

Madison Parks will host a Flood Cleanup Challenge at eleven park shorelines Sunday 11/4 12 to 2pm.
Carl Landsness and Friends of Starkweather will be at the Olbrich site (meeting at beach house/bier garden opposite Walter St)…
needing much help (e.g. here, here and here).
If weather allows (and people desire), Carl will take cleanup volunteers up Starkweather Creek afterwards (providing canoes, fun and fulfillment)… and discuss alternative perspectives and possibilities re healing and honoring of people and place (including the flooding).

Holistic cleanup and paddle Oct. 20: 10/19 UPDATE

10/19 UPDATE: High water on creek and lake motivate us to delay paddle and cleanup and instead do an “awareness” walk on the Olbrich lakeshore, to survey and discuss consequences and responses to flooding, climate change and human consciousness.
Meet at Olbrich boat launch N of Atwood (E side of Starkweather Creek) at 10am or 1pm.
Focus will be a walk along the lakeshore from the Starkweather mouth to the Harry Whitehorse effigy tree  and mounds (via an “Indian Trail”)…
observing the impact of flooding, climate change and human consciousness, while discussing native history, culture, beliefs and healing, along with environmental icons Muir, Leopold and Nelson and how higher consciousness, community and cooperation can heal and honor people, place and planet like this native Rainbow Warrior Prophecy.
I will also address projects (ongoing or proposed) in the watershed to address phosphorus, pollution, population, polarization, poverty and prosperity, plus out-of-the-box alternatives and visions (e.g. “upstream” prevention, floating islands, natural beaches, Atwood ‘arch’, self-examination, self-improvement and selfless service… of the soul… for sanity, serenity, serendipity and synergy).
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world
-John Muir (Wisconsin native)
We face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild, and free
-Aldo Leopold (Wisconsin native)
There is a great need, and growing support, for the introduction of new values in our society—where bigger is not necessarily better—where slower can be faster—and where less can be more
-WI Gov./Sen.Gaylord Nelson (founder of Earth Day)
While I recognize the need for global support for the environment, I have always thought that the slogan ‘Think Globally, Act Locally,’ is an important plan of action for everyone
-Republican WI Gov. Warren Knowles (who collaborated with Democrat Nelson re Earth Day)
The future will belong to the nature-smart:
those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. 
The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.
It is wonderful to have national parks and forests to go to, but they are not enough. It is not enough to make a trip once a year or to see these places occasionally over a long week end. We need to have places close at hand, breathing spaces in cities and towns, little plots of ground where things have not changed; green belts, oases among the piles of steel and stone.Children especially need this contact, for they have not as yet been weaned from the primal needs of the race.
-Sigurd Olson, WI writer and wanderer that I resonate with

Friends of Starkweather Creek (in collaboration with Friends of Urban Nature) will host a land, water and inner cleanup and tour of Olbrich shoreline (herehere and here), Starkweather Creek (here and here) and inner debris (here) Sat. Oct. 20 at 10am and 1pm (choice of paddle or walk).

Meet at boat launch N of Atwood E of creek

Summer Solstice Celebration on Sunday

“Friends of Starkweather Creek and the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather- Yahara Neighborhood Association mark the 16th annual Starkweather Summer Solstice Celebration on Sunday, June 24, from 4-10 pm. This free event, held below the sledding hill at Olbrich Park on Lake Monona, features free canoe and paddle boat rides, music, drumming, singing, and dancing—concluding with a bonfire lighting at 8 PM. Bring your own picnic and thoughts to forget and lose in the fire ash and wishes to ascend with the smoke as we celebrate the beginning of Summer.  Park closes at 10 pm.  For information: madsolstice dot org or 608-251-1893.”

FYI & FSC Cleanup and Paddle up Starkweather Creek

Goodness, FSC, & FYI did some action on the creek on Earthday; they got kids out in nature! Zack from FYI at The Goodman Community Center ensured kids and teens from four community centers got together and cleaned up trash along Olbrich beach. There was a well deserved paddle up Starkweather Creek. Some of the many community champions were, Marquis Mason from Kennedy Heights Commuity Center, Jeremy Bulman from Vera Court Community Center, Deborah, Howard, and Zack rounded out the Goodman Staff.

It was a holy shift in community action! This was about half of us during this shoot…the rest were up the creek! Our flotation best buds have come through for us again. Wingra boats supplied us with six canoes & Rutabaga with four canoes. We had treats from Madison Sourdough, who donated their wonderful croissants & a ton of coffee!

We loved working and be together on the creek with each and everyone of you. Non traditional professional go-getter Dave & Deborah got ya moving!…The action went as such; you got in, a life jacket and paddle were handed to you, and before you knew it, a push…and you were moving up the creek, with no direction…just a shout “Find your hearts passion!” Left, right, up down, it didn’t matter, you were going up the creek…and on you went!

Co-conspirator native Chicagoan Mama Bear, paddled two of her boats down lake Monona to ensure they would get some use. Some great kids from Vera Court were up for the challenge. It was their first paddle. A moment of amazement was seeing Dave put a little eight year old, in a single kayak, by himself…was this a mistake? It sure seemed like it, when the little one paddled and crashed landed a few times on the Olbrich side of the boat landing and wasn’t able to turn left or right…His friends, three of them, cruised on at high speed, to leave him seemingly behind. An hour and a half later,,,there was this green missile shooting down the creek, laser sharp…15 miles and hour…maybe 20! It was this same kid, with a big gleaming smile on his face…huffing and puffing he was moving so fast, an he blasted his friends out of the water with his new found skill!

There was only one dunking, and that was due to the flow with native son Carl’s bright and enchanting spirit on his birthday, nonetheless…he was outfitted without a paddle and went up the creek in the joy of the sun and the spirit of mother nature…to return to Mama Bear. With a big gleam in her eye, and Dave listening to the flow of the river, who seemed to be asking for their friend back to the water…up went the canoe! Splash!!! the canoe back over…Carl missing from it…laughter…here is your board members two dreamers and shenanigan artists Carl and Dave; sharing in a good cleansing laugh 🙂 Make sure to vote for this activist Mr Carl, for an upcoming Chair seat at our annual meeting coming up in October! No worries, these three know how to have a safe and fun time, the 60 degree water ensured, it was a quick event.

Anyway…we had some much fun, and so many more stories to tell! What an event! Great unity from our community and groups. Come out and ask us more about the fun we have.

We love working with you and the passions you share with us…and we especially enjoy sharing time with you. It is so great to see the difference all of us together are making…enthusiasm & all! 🙂

April Nature Canoe Outing

Another fun event. Thank you for everyone that came out. This wouldn’t have been possible with out the generous donation from Wingra boats, who donated six canoes for our use! Our good friend Billy, donated his time to get the canoes to us, four separate trips and a cleaned garage! And not to mention, all the other folks who lent a boat, a paddle, a life-jacket, or tried like all heck to squeeze a canoe into their car to our event!

“Squack, squack, squack.”
“Is that your shoes Ms Deborah?”
“They must be soaked?”
“That’s why I wore them…Wait!!! Is that Carl & Dave running down Atwood Avenue with a canoe and paddles!? Gosh…did they steal that canoe…just to make sure we got everyone on the creek!?”
“Here Ms Deborah…It’s the last canoe…”
“Wow!!!…nice running Dave!”
“I’m Don Quixote today! And I am going on this…the last of the canoes…with these fine young folks who waited so patiently!”
“Alright Carl….Enjoy!”

If you missed the event today, we had a whole lot of community unity to get forty-five people up the creek! It is for our monthly FUN event that we partner up with City parks, the Goodman Community Center and Friends of Starkweather creek. Kids from the Goodman Community Center’s after-school program joined along with people from all around the city. Some canoes had two people and some had four in them! It was a 70 degree mid-morning day, with a great bunch of folks to spend time with, on a paddle.

No one dumped their boat that we know of…and people were nice enough to pick up trash they found in, on, and around the banks. Some took a short ride, and some took a long one. To hold true to the name, we had a cursing good time! If you don’t know what happened to Ms Deborah’s shoes, and where the heck Carl & Dave took the canoe from…make sure to come out to our next adventure…and see what mischief you can get into with them!

February Nature Walk

What happens when you get a sunny 50 degree day in February, with half
of the FSC board and 14 people total and a few dogs??? A tree
crawl…no beer needed. Don’t let Sean Gere fool you with his Clark Kent
glasses…he is a super hero for the trees!….he has over 26 years
experience, teaching, learning and sharing his knowledge with people
from all around the world. Sean Gere explaing about the trees he loves

Sean helped us identify about 25 to 30 different species of trees;
he shared in showing us the different characteristics of the buds, how to
identify them…and just some good ol’ tree rules of thumb! Carl, Dave &
Deborah rounded out the remaining board members…the usual suspects as of late. Who wants to eat some seeds!

Since Dave is easily distracted on a warm day…he decided to join the
kids in throwing sticks as far as they could in Worth Park’s open
field, next to the bike path. The kids and Deborah worked on daring each other into eating some of the tree seeds that they found on the ground, from the previous two seasons. When it became time to move, the kids felt like helping mother nature melt the snow by, making sure the ice made its way down the storm drain….jamming as much ice as they could in there!…this left mother nature to share the gift of calming winds & bright warm rays on our faces.

The walk ended before we hit Milwaukee street! As everyone else went
back to Goodman, Carl, Deborah and the kids started a new adventure;
they went seeking out one tree…this one tree is visited every time
Carl takes you on a tour…it’s a very special tree in the watershed This tree has many stories, which these kids can tell you about!

January nature walk

Monthly nature outings at Starkweather Creek are a great way to explore this local, urban gem! Outings each month vary, but thus far have included canoeing, biking, sledding, and hiking. A handful of us stepped out into the Starkweather Watershed last Saturday for what seemed like a spring-like walk…it was nearing 50 degrees and melting snow created puddles that were knee-deep…the kids who joined us had a blast splashing in them.

We meandered through the little trails near the Milwaukee Street area; this particular area is great because it is the perfect blend of an urban environment and nature — housing in the visible distance leads to tree lined trails and the creek. On one of the trails, we came across had vine-like branches that hang down, 50 feet tall & strong enough for adults to swing on! Continuing on, the trails takes us near Fair Oaks, which made for an adventurous crossing as we slid our way haphazardly in rubber boots and shoes across a natural ice skating rink that Mother Nature had created for us.

Join us on a future outing, which occurs the third Saturday of every month from 10-11:30 AM, meeting at the Goodman Community Center. Check out our events calendar for upcoming events!

Canoe Racks

Hi all, check this out fundraiser out we are working on Canoe Racks

We are raising funds for a publicly accessible canoe rack near the Olbrich Playfields at the outlet of the creek! The racks will be built and maintained by City of Madison Parks Department. Some of the twelve racks will be dedicated to canoe storage for Friends canoe tours and clean up events. The rest will be available for rental from the public. Please help us meet our goal of $800.

The Friends of Starkweather Creek lead events on the creek each year, including free public tours, creek cleanups, and a kids camp in partnership with Goodman Community Center. We currently rely on the generosity of boat rental companies and volunteered labor to haul canoes to the public boat launch.

Canoe outing

The City of Madison Parks Department has arranged to build and install a rack at the boat launch near the Olbrich Playfield, in exchange for a reduced donation. This means that we won’t have to limit tours based on the availability of canoe trailers or rented equipment. Racks will greatly reduce the labor involved in hosting tours, allowing us to host events more regularly. Thanks to the partnership with Goodman, having a canoe rack would help us get kids out onto the creek. It’s a win-win!

$500 will go towards the boat rack (reduced from $1,000). $300 will go towards Friends of Starkweather Creek rental costs (also 50% discounted) for the first year.

If we raise more than our goal, funds could go towards life jackets, paddles, equipment storage, as well as towards making this program sustainable for future years.

Our Waters Our Future: Writing Contest

What’s your vision of a positive future for water and people in south-central Wisconsin?


The “Our Waters, Our Future” Writing Contest seeks inspiring short stories that can fuel conversations and actions to ensure healthy waters and vibrant communities for generations to come. The winning story will be published in Madison Magazine. Top finalists will receive other awards. Submit your story by February 1, 2016. The contest is open to all Wisconsin residents and students ages 18 and up.

For complete details, visit

The following organizations have teamed up to tap your creativity: UW-Madison’s Water Sustainability and Climate Project and Center for Limnology, Madison Magazine, Sustain Dane, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters.