Shamawya Curtis is tired of people on Madison's southwest side pointing fingers.
She and others are planning a community picnic on Saturday at Elver Park. Dubbed "United We Stand," the picnic's goal is to get everybody - she stresses the "everybody" part - in the community together for food, fun and games.
"Instead of prejudging people, you can come out and get to know them on a first-name basis," she says. "It's a time for us to get to know your neighbors, get to know your teachers, your police."
The picnic will include food donated by area businesses, a basketball tournament for younger people, and card games for older folks. The tournament will include teams of three, picked randomly.
Curtis says sports can break down barriers: "When you're playing in a basketball game, you think about winning, you don't think 'Oh, he may be a police officer,' or 'He may be a drug dealer down the street.'"
The police have been asked to come in plain clothes, she says. There will also be a talent show and motivational speakers and information from many of Madison's human resource providers. The picnic lasts from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Curtis hopes it will be an annual event. "We need to have a day when the community does that."
It will be the second community gathering on Madison's southwest side in less than a week. The first was called by a very different group of people, calling itself the South West Alliance of Neighborhoods (or SWANS). It held a community meeting Wednesday night proposing a "Resident Bill of Rights."
Dave Glomp, one of the organizers, says he would like the neighborhood to have more access to information - particularly regarding crimes.
"We think there's a need for us to know when people come out of prison come into the neighborhood," Glomp says. "It doesn't mean they're going to be a bad guy, but we think it's important for us to know that."
He also wants to know who the worst landlords and who the worst tenants are.
Lisa Veldran, president of the Meadowood Neighborhood Association, came late to the Wednesday meeting but was pleased it felt productive.
"It actually brought people together," she says. "It was energizing for people to say, 'I want to be part of a solution.' Not necessarily part of the solution that was proposed [Wednesday] night, but part of the solution."
Still, she thinks more needs to happen.
"We still need to have a discussion about race and cultural differences. I think people get kind of freaked out about that," she says. "No matter what race or culture you come from, you always have the opportunity to learn from one another. We're always going to have these cultural differences in our neighborhood."