Greening Monroe Street

Friends of Lake Wingra has been working with Wisconsin Environmental Initiative, Edgewood College Sustainability Leadership Program and other partners over the last few months on a plan to implement some tactical urbanism style ideas on Monroe Street during this year’s Monroe Street Festival which is October 10th from 10am-5pm.


What is tactical urbanism?  It is a concept where people come together to make inexpensive, temporary changes to the built environment as a way to improve neighborhoods and gathering places.  We are using the concept to demonstrate some ideas that could be incorporated into the Monroe Street Reconstruction project in the future.  Some ideas include pop-up parks that will green a few of the parking spaces along Monroe Street, traffic calming installations using plants, hay bales and washable chalk paint to highlight areas where traffic could be shifted somewhat to increase pedestrian safety, a protected bike lane using potted plants and much more.  Protected Bike Lane

Over the last few years there have been several student projects from UW and Edgewood students focused on improvements that could be done for Monroe Street.  These will be showcased in a display at Crazy Legs (several of these plans can be viewed electronically in our file library in the Management Plans and Reports category).  There will also be an opportunity to tour some of the existing natural features of the Monroe Street neighborhood including the DMNA Nature and History Trail.

Normal IL

Attendees will receive a passport to direct them to all of the different stations and receive stamps.  If you collect stamps at all of the stations and turn in your passport you could win a prize!

All of the partners who have been involved in the Greening Monroe Street project feel that the Monroe Street Reconstruction is a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake Monroe Street into a vibrant, walkable, eco-district to the benefit of the residents, the business and the Lake Wingra Watershed. According to Friends of Lake Wingra Chair Person, Ben Yahr, “We are presented with an amazing opportunity to improve our community, enhance our watershed, and protect Lake Wingra through the use of green infrastructure and placemaking on Monroe Street.  This is our chance to make meaningful progress on improving lake health with clean, clear water, restored spring flow, and a community that feels a connection to the lake.”

Stormwater Planter Seating

John Imes, the Executive Director of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative says “The Greening of the Monroe Street Festival is an innovative way to showcase the potential of “green urbanism” and “green infrastructure” approaches in our community,” said John Imes, Executive Director of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative.  “By incorporating cutting edge green design and sustainable practices along Monroe Street, we can help protect extraordinary natural resources while creating an even more dynamic place to shop and play.”  Popupcafe

Jim Lorman of the Edgewood College Sustainability Leadership Program adds “Our community is asking for streets that are much more than asphalt automobile corridors overlying sewer pipes. Streets should be central components of vibrant public spaces that support thriving local businesses within healthy and walkable neighborhoods. People want easy access to natural green spaces, and they want to be able to get places they need to go using a variety of modes of transit, including walking and biking, that are environmentally-friendly and safe. Monroe Street can be a model for this kind of sustainable design.”

Bioswale Sidewalk

The Greening of the Monroe Street Festival will be a kickoff event with a goal of raising awareness of what the street reconstruction could be in the future.  Please like our Greening Monroe Street Facebook page to stay up to date on news about the reconstruction process.  The current city budget has delayed the full reconstruction for 5-10 years.  We are advocating that the City allocate more funding for some temporary measures to help with traffic calming and pedestrian safety issues in the shorter term.  This delay, while disappointing, does present an opportunity for the City of Madison to try some ideas during the short term that could help with some of the challenges that the area currently faces.

We are looking for volunteers to help with the Greening of the Monroe Street Festival in shifts of 2 hours or more throughout the day.  Please contact our volunteer coordinator, Susan at skfrett(at)gmail.com for more details and to sign up.  Free Friends of Lake Wingra t-shirts for volunteers(while supplies last)!