SPARC Spring Candidate Forums Set, Questions for Candidates Invited

It’s that time of year already and SPARC invites you to mark your calendars for our spring candidate forums!
sparc logo
  • School Board Candidate Forum:  Thurs. March 5, 6:00pm at the Sun Prairie Public Library
  • City Council/Mayoral Forum: Sun. March 22, 2:30pm at the Westside Community Building
As in previous years, we invite members of SPARC and the wider Sun Prairie community to send ideas for questions for the candidates to  Our forum committee will then meet to look for patterns and common themes in the issues that matter most to local voters, and use these to compile the final list of questions that will be used at the forum.  This is the best, most democratic way we know to make sure these candidate forums truly represent the concerns and values of our community! 

There will also be time reserved at both forums for general Q&A from the audience.

The events will be filmed to air on KSUN.

We hope you can join us and invite you to send your questions asap to  Deadlines:  Feb. 22 for School Board questions, March 8 for the Council/Mayoral questions.
We also remind you that the Mayoral Primary Election is Tues. Feb. 17 – don’t forget to vote!!!  Only the top two candidates will be at our forum, so make sure to vote!  Click here for links to more info about the candidates.  SPARC will put together our usual voter guide soon.

The Spring Election will be held on April 7, 2015.
Spring Elections matter most to local control of local communities.  Let’s set the bar high for our candidates and ourselves!

We look forward to seeing your questions and seeing YOU at the forums!

– Your friends at SPARC
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Great Decisions program returns to Sun Prairie

Great Decisions program returns to Sun Prairie

Are you interested in what’s going on in the world? Would you like to discuss global ideas in a friendly, non-partisan group? Then Great Decisions is for you.

Great Decisions was created by the Foreign Policy Association, a not-for-profit education organization that’s been around since 1918. The program is sponsored locally by the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition. The program is free, although there is a materials cost of $25.

Participants in this national civic education program learn about US foreign policy and global issues, discuss multiple viewpoints in a group setting, and take part in a national opinion ballot survey on policy issues.

The Sun Prairie Great Decisions group will meet at the Sun Prairie Public Library each Wednesday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. The group will start on January 14, meeting for eight weeks (except for January 21). The Discussion Leader is Glenn Schmidt from SPARC.

More information is available on the Foreign Policy Association Website, You can find the eight 2015 topics to be discussed, from Russia and the Near Abroad to Brazil’s Metamorphosis on the website. You can also connect with the Great Decisions program on Facebook at

To sign up for the local discussion group that starts January 14, contact Glenn Schmidt at or call him at 608 658-4602. Participation is limited, so sign up early to reserve your spot.

2015 Great Decisions Discussion Topics

Russia and the Near Abroad

Privacy in the Digital Age

Sectarianism in the Middle East

India Changes Course

U.S. Policy Toward Africa

Syria’s Refugee Crisis

Human Trafficking in the 21st Century

Brazil’s Metamorphosis

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SPARC Local Action Fund 501c3 Quarterly Meeting Nov. 24

The SPARC Local Action Fund 501c3 will hold its quarterly business meeting on Mon. 11/24 at 1:00 pm in the Community Room of the Sun Prairie Public Library.

This meeting is open to the public.little bits of good

We especially invite attendance by those who wish to get involved with the fundraising and grant writing efforts of this charitable arm of the Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition.  Funds raised through the SPARC Local Action Fund support our SnackSmart program to provide healthy snacks to hungry students in Sun Prairie public schools and other community projects.

If you would like to help with these efforts or get more involved, please contact us at

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Democracy Wins in Sun Prairie!

The Nov. 4 Election Day was a beautiful day for democracy in Sun Prairie!

Thought Sun Prairie might like a picture of the LOCAL election results. Voter turnout in Dane county was nearly 73% and  here in Sun Prairie, 12,915 votes were cast in the governor’s race! We had thousands of voter registrations almost ran out of ballots. The clerk literally printed extra ballots herself and we were prepared to handcount votes and only just missed having to do so!sport

In the city of Sun Prairie:
Burke 60.05% (7755 votes)
Walker 38.97% (5033 votes)

Breakdown by district:
District 1 (Colonial Club) Wds 1-5 – Burke 62.63%, Walker 36.39%
District 2 (Patrick Marsh) Wds 6-9 – Burke 60.18%, Walker 38.69%
District 3 (Library) Wds 10-14 – Burke 64.45%, Walker 34.58%
District 4 (Westside Community Bldg) Wds 15-19 – Burke 53.54%, Walker 45.59%

On the minimum wage question, 65% of Sun Prairie voted YES to raising the minimum wage to $10.10 and 34% voted NO.  On both the question of accepting federal Badger Care fund and the transportation fund question, 75% of Sun Prairie voted YES.

It was wonderful to see long lines at every polling place and to see so many people so eager to cast their votes! So nice to live in a community where so many people are so engaged, informed & involved! Once again, Sun Prairie sets a high bar for the rest of the state!

The spring elections will be just around the corner, when we’ll have opportunity to vote for the offices that matter most to our community.  Seats will be open on the school board and city council – SPARC would love to see members of our network continue to step up and run for these seats!

Local action works!



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SPASD – and SPARC – take huge step forward in fighting student hunger!

Dear friends,

SPARC is thrilled to report a major step forward in our efforts to advocate on the issue of student hunger and the problem of teachers & staff trying to help by paying out-of-pocket to feed kids at school.

While the board rejected the tax levy increase approved by voters at the annual meeting, the revised budget that the school board passed last night includes $19,000 that will be used as a starting point for an elementary Fruit Bowl pilot, making whole fruit snacks available to any kid who needs one during the school day.  Our tax levy remains the same as last year.

This action is just a beginning, but it’s also the result of many presentations, conversations, emails, discussions, and appearances at school board meetings that helped launch this effort and open eyes to the impacts of student hunger in our schools.  We so appreciate the board members, administrators, teachers and staff who have been listened seriously to our concerns and started the process of working toward sustainable solutions to addressing the needs of hungry students.  As Dr. Culver said recently, we truly are fortunate to live in a community where our schools and our students are so valued.

SPARC has been asked to continue helping address hunger needs at the middle and high school levels while the district’s administrative team looks deeper into the ways student hunger affects teaching and learning in our schools.  Our next step is to talk to the staff at these schools and see how we can be of the most help.  We know from the survey we conducted last year that the needs are even greater in the upper levels than at the elementary schools, so we appreciate your continued support of our program as we continue to advocate for systemic solutions to this problem.  For more information on how you can help, please visit:

As always, we thank you for your support and welcome your ideas and suggestions for how we can continue to help in our small way to move Sun Prairie forward!  As we’ve learned through the SnackSmart program, change is slow but our efforts ARE making an impact, and moving one step closer to making sure every kid in our community has an equal shot at success.

We also want to remind everyone how absolutely critical it is to VOTE in the Nov. 4 election.  Polls are open from 7am-8pm, or you can still vote in-person absentee until 10/31 at City Hall from 8am-5pm.



28 October 2014


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Fall 2014 SPARC Local Action Guide: Election Updates, Voter ID & More!

It’s a busy fall in Sun Prairie and SPARC put together this Local Action Guide to help you keep track of what’s important to our community!  Scroll down for updates & announcements of important events and volunteer opportunities.

Action item:
of the Sun Prairie Area School District:spasd logo banner

  • Monday, September 29 at 7 pm in the Performing Arts Center of the High School
  • This is the all-important annual meeting where taxpayers VOTE to set tax levy and approve the annual budget.  In previous years, proposals have been made by citizens at the meeting that have a major negative impact on the budget, so it’s absolutely critical that EVERY VOTER who cares about our schools attends to make sure the budget it passed at a level that assures success for all learners, and to ensure that any proposals that are passed at the meeting truly reflect the will of the community.  All voters of the SPASD are eligible to vote at the meeting – and “futures depend on us” to be there and support our schools!
  • Free childcare will be provided
  • Click here to review the Annual Meeting Book

Tuesday, Nov. 4 is  ELECTION DAY!vote-nov-4th-600x300 
Help Sun Prairie Get Out the Vote!

VOTER REGISTRATION & INFORMATION: Need to register? Not sure where to vote? Visit My Vote Wisconsin to find your polling place, see a sample of the fall ballot, and learn what you need to do to register.  You can register at the polls on election day or you can register in advance in person at City Hall or the Sun Prairie Public Library.  Be sure to bring proof of residency with you to register!  Not sure if you have what you need to vote?  Check out this handy new interactive voter guide from United Wisconsin to find out!

EARLY/ABSENTEE VOTING: You can vote early (in-person absentee voting) at City Hall from Oct. 20-Oct 31.  Alternately, you can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you (requests must be made by Thursday, Oct. 30 and ballots must be postmarked or returned to City Hall by 8pm on election day). Sun Prairie residents can click here for more information about Absentee Voting.

UPDATE: Due to the US Supreme Court ruling, the VOTER ID law will NOT be in effect for the Nov. 4, 2014 election.  Voters are not required to show proof of identification.  The only documentation an unregistered voter needs is proof of residence to register to vote. 

VOTER ID LAW:  As of today, the voter id requirement WILL be in effect for the fall election, so please encourage everyone you know to be prepared at the polls and help spread this important information.  SPARC has several volunteers lined up to provide FREE rides to the DMV for anyone who needs one.  Just email to make arrangements.

Here are some voter resources you may find helpful:

The City of Sun Prairie needs your help to ensure a fair and smooth election on Nov. 4.   Full and half-day shifts available, compensation provided.  Must attend one of four training sessions that will be held on Oct. 22 (4:30pm), 23 (9am), 29 (5pm), and 30 (9am).  For more information, contact Arrin Linzenmeyer at City Hall – or 837-2511.


  • NAACP Candidate Forum, Oct. 9, 2014. 5 – 9 p.m., Edgewood College, Anderson Auditorium – Predolin Hall, 1000 Monroe Street, Madison, WI. This event is free and open to the public!
  • Community Session on Testing and Assessment for Grades K-12.  Wed. Oct. 15, 6:30pm, Sun Prairie High School.  RSVP on the SPASD facebook page.  Sun Prairie Area Schools is now on facebook and twitter.  Be sure to follow them to stay informed of news and events.
  • Sun Prairie Reads main event!  An evening with Seedfolks author Paul Fleischman.  October 17, 6:30pm at the Sun Prairie High School PAC.  SPr ARC was honored to partner with the library for our “Growing Community” series of discussions and the Grow it Forward Community Art & Action project – be sure to get to the library to post your flowers on our community mural in advance of the author’s visit!
  • Did you know Union Cab of Sun Prairie provides FREE CAB RIDES TO THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY for anyone who needs one?  Call 608-837-5550 or 608-242-2020 to arrange a ride, and be sure to thank this worker-owned cooperative for this wonderful service to our community!
  • School Board Committee Positions are Available. Apply Today!  The Sun Prairie School Board is seeking community members to serve as citizen representatives on two of its committees.  Community input has been a valuable asset to the work of the School Board. Each committee meets once per month. Appointment is for two years beginning November 3, 2014.
    Planning Committee — 2 citizen representatives needed.  This committee is responsible for the development of planning for the District’s instructional and operational/business functions, helping to provide the School Board with a common focus for decision-making. Meets the 1st Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.
    Performance & Operations Committee — 3 citizen representatives needed. This committee is responsible for monitoring and providing guidance to the School Board on all items pertaining to the current fiscal and/or academic year. Meets the 3rd Monday of each month at 6:30 pm.
    If interested, please mail or deliver a letter with your name, address, telephone number, and a statement not to exceed 500 words about your qualifications and interest in appointment to serve to: Chandu Vemuri, Sun Prairie Area School District, 501 South Bird Street, Sun Prairie, WI 53590. Applications Due: Monday, October 13, 2014 by 4 pm. You do not need to specify the committee for which you’re applying unless you have a preference. Any adult resident in the Sun Prairie Area School District is eligible to apply for appointment. Interviews with interested applicants will be held during the week of October 20th.
  • Prairie Job Connect meets every Tuesday from 10-noon at Sunshine Place, 1632 W. Main St.  “People of all education levels, work histories and backgrounds are welcome” to drop in “to meet with a team of professionals is available to help build resumes, walk though applying for jobs online with on-site computers, finding employment postings and develop other skills needed to navigate the job market.” For more information, call Vreugdenhil at 608-825-3225 or email her at

Volunteer Opportunities:

  • Schools of Hope is looking for tutors in math and reading to work 30-45 minutes a week with one student over the school year.  Application materials available online.
  • School Friends – a mentoring program through Dane County Big Brothers/Big Sisters – needs volunteers to match mentors with 70 kids in Sun Prairie schools.  Click here for more info.
  • Sunshine Connections – volunteers are always needed to help with local programs like Meals on Wheels, Sunshine Suppers and more.  Visit Sunshine Connections for more info.
  • Interested in volunteering on a local campaign?  Please note that while SPARC is a non-partisan civic organization and doesn’t support or endorse candidates,  we’re happy to pass on information about opportunities to get involved, and we encourage everyone to take an active part in the fall elections and promoting civic engagement in Sun Prairie! We gladly share information that our members ask us to pass on to our lists.The Sun Prairie for Mary Burke office is located near Kwik Trip, at 1150 W. Main Street.  The phone number is 608-422-2999.  Stop in between 8AM and 8PM to see how you can get involved: making phone calls, canvasing door-to-door, preparing food for volunteers, preparing materials, decorating the office, the opportunities are endless!  The office will be holding a kick-off celebration on Saturday, Sept. 27 from 2:30-5:30 pm.  RSVP here.Click here to find the nearest GOP field office (if there’s a local office, no one has shared that info yet).

Have news or announcements to share in the SPARC Local Action Guide?  Email your suggestions to!

Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC)

Join our community on facebook and follow us on Twitter @PrairieAction.

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SPARC’s Local Action Fund Granted Non-Profit Status

Great news!

The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition is thrilled to report that the IRS has officially approved our application for 501(c)3 status, which means that we can now fully expand our efforts to make a local impact through SPARC Local Action Fund, the charitable arm of SPARC.  Many thanks to all on the SPARC team who worked so hard to make this happen, and to the many community supporters who continue to make our efforts possible.

The SPARC Local Action Fund has been established to provide a mechanism for SPARC to serve the community by applying for grants and soliciting donations to help promote equity, build community, and fight hunger in Sun Prairie through such programs our existing SnackSmart program, which provides healthy snacks to hungry kids in all seven Sun Prairie elementary  schools and Prairie Phoenix Academy.

If you or your organization would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the SnackSmart program, you can donate to the SPARC Local Action Fund 501(c)3, CLICK HERE TO DONATE:  Donate Button with Credit Cards

Donations can also be mailed to SPARC Local Action Fund, 6325 Devonshire Lane, Sun Prairie, WI 53590.  Donations received by mail are not subject to fees, so if you intend to make a larger donation, this ensures every dollar goes directly to the community.  Please email with any questions.

Healthy snack donations can also be dropped off at our local collection location, the Sun Prairie Public Library, 1350 Linnerud.  Healthy snack ideas include individually-packaged, high-protein, low-sugar and nut-free, non-perishable items such as

  • nut-free granola or fruit bars (NutriGrain bars are specifically requested by schools)
  • fruit cups in 100% juice
  • unsweetened applesaucesnacksmart logo cups
  • dried fruit
  • whole grain low-sodium crackers or chips (like whole grain Goldfish)
  • rice cakes
  • whole grain finger-food cereals (like regular Cheerios)
  • graham cracker products (Teddy Grahams, Giant Goldfish, Bug Bites, etc)

Click here for more information on the program and how you can get involved.

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SPARC calls on Sun Prairie to help kickstart Community Radio Program!

SPARC Urges Residents, Businesses To Pledge to Community Radio Project
the sun
The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition (SPARC) urges area residents, businesses and organizations to contribute to the “Kickstarter” fundraising campaign for the planned 103.5 The Sun community radio station.

The fundraising deadline is Aug. 19 at 11:49 a.m., and many more pledges are needed to launch the community radio station.

If funded, The Sun would provide a much-needed local outlet to connect our community, giving local individuals, groups, and businesses a new forum for sharing news, information and opportunities, SPARC said.

In a news release Wednesday, SPARC said it is urging its members and Sun Prairie residents to contribute $10 or $100 or whatever people can afford. SPARC also asks that you also share the link to the Kickstarter campaign – – on facebook and Twitter to help spread the word and support this effort.

SPARC is offering its supporters a chance to contribute to a group donation to the program, and challenges other local community to groups to raise funds among their memberships also.

SPARC members wishing to contribute to SPARC’s group contribution can send their donations to Heather DuBois Bourenane at 681 Broadway Drive, Sun Prairie, WI, 53590, to be included with the SPARC donation. At a donation level of $150 or more, donors receive an opportunity to host their own show and recognition on an Adopt-a-Watt plaque at the station. Deadline for contributing to this group donation is August 16, 2014. Please email with pledges or questions about the team donation.

SPARC will also collect donations in person this Sunday when it hosts the Progressive Partners Picnic (free and open to all) at Orfan Park from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m). Donations intended for the community radio may be dropped off at this time by anyone not wishing to donate online.

If the goal of $10,350 is not reached by August 19, the Sun Prairie Media Center will not be able to collect any of the money pledged (and all pledges made through SPARC will be returned). Media center director Jeff Robbins has reported that interest has been strong but much more is needed and soon but the time is growing short to turn that interest into tangible financial support.

SPARC encourages other local community groups and organizations to help the Sun Prairie Media Center to get the word out and make this happen in our community.
The Sun Prairie Media Center is a non-profit organization operating on a budget that covers the day-to-day operations of KSUN and KIDS-4, Sun Prairie’s two public access TV stations. It won’t cost much to operate ‘The Sun’ radio station once the initial costs are covered.

The proposed community radio station would host talented local musicians that don’t get the airplay or recognition they deserve from local commercial radio. It would also feature local sports and forums on important community issues. Residents will have a large role in determining the programming of the radio station.

Anyone who donates at least $10 to 103.5 The Sun Kickstarter campaign will receive some exclusive giveaways, including “103.5 The Sun Community Radio” stickers, flashlight keychains, t-shirts, and mugs. In addition, anyone who donates at the “Adopt-A-Watt” level of $103 will have their name etched on a plaque at the “103.5 The Sun Community Radio” studios.

All donors will receive updates on the radio project and special on-air thanks once the station launches. “103.5 The Sun” is scheduled to be on the air in summer 2015. Additional information on the station and its progress is available at

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SPARC to host Progressive Partners Picnic at Orfan Park August 3

The Progressive Partners of Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District summer picnic will be held Sunday, August 3, from 1-4pm at Orfan Park in Sun Prairie!  The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition is excited to host this quarterly meeting for the first time and looks forward to a fun, productive afternoon that will provide an opportunity for grassroots teams and area progressives to connect, share ideas, and talk about how local action works in our communities!

All are welcome - RSPV today for this great chance to connect with local progressives!

All are welcome – RSPV today for this great chance to connect with local progressives!

Click here for more details and to RSVP!

We will have a sitter on hand to watch kids at the park during the “business” portion of this largely social event, so feel free to bring the whole family! In addition to plenty of free time for socializing and connecting with area progressives, we’ll be chatting with a few of our elected officials and fall candidates, and learning more about the Community Schools initiative in Sun Prairie and how we can organize locally to protect our public schools and provide an equal playing field for all students. Each of the grassroots teams will also provide a short summary of events/organizing activities since our last meeting.

RAIN PLAN: In the event of stormy weather, we will send an announcement to all who RSVP’d and will hold the event at the Westside Community Building at 2598 West Main (corner of West Main and Highway C/Grand Ave). There is an outdoor shelter, however at Orfan Park, so we don’t plan to change the venue unless the weather is very bad.

Hope to see you there!  Friends, new & old, and families welcome!

Please share this invitation widely and RSVP today!

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Grow It Forward! A Community Art & Action Project

Want to see how far one little act of kindness can go?

GROW IT FORWARD at the Sun Prairie Public Library!
grow it forward image art & action

SPARC’s Grow it Forward Community Art & Action Project is a collaborative effort to “grow” an interactive garden mural at the library that represents random acts of kindness and connections that inspire all of us to “grow it forward” and build community in Sun Prairie.   This art and action project provides an opportunity to embrace diversity and build community, two major themes of the Sun Prairie Reads novel, Seedfolks, through local acts of kindness.


This is what the GROW IT FORWARD mural looked like on the first day – go check out for yourself what it looks like NOW that the garden of kindness has begun to grow! The mural is located on the large wall next to the entrance to the Children’s Library.

For every act of kindness you do over the summer, place a flower on the mural on the library wall and watch us grow a garden of kindness together.  Paper flowers – and “seeds” with ideas for local actions – are provided at the mural, or you can make your own.  All are welcome to participate in the GROW IT FORWARD Project, which will continue as an ongoing project through the duration of the Seedfolks Sun Prairie Reads program.

While you’re at the library, be sure to participate in the Summer Reading Programs for kids, teens & adults!  And remember: the library is a collection site for our SnackSmart Program, which provides snacks to summer school.  If you’d like to make a donation of a healthy snack (suggested items:  nut-free, healthy snacks like fruit, NutriGrain bars, cheese sticks, no-sugar added applesauce, low-sugar cereals and low-sodium crackers).  Just drop your snacks off at the bin behind the check-out desk – and be sure to add a flower to the wall if you do!  We CAN make sure no kids learn hungry in our schools!

grow it forward flierSAVE THE DATE:  SPARC will be hosting a second talk, on Sept. 11, 2014 at 6:30pm at the library, on Growing Community: Sharing our Stories.  Please mark your calendars and joins us for this celebration of the diversity of our community and the value of connecting with one another.

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