Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Summer hip-hop events at Philosopher’s Grove bring positive crowds

Increased programming at the top of State to discourage “problem behavior”
Marissa Haegele

The city is looking to combat long-standing issues surrounding the area of State Street by the Capitol, known as Philosopher’s Grove, using a new, less political tactic: hip-hop.

The Urban Community Arts Network is working closely with the city of Madison to put on a series of concerts and workshops this summer in an attempt to bring a fresh face to the often troubled area.

The Philosopher’s Grove has become a frequent location for drug dealing, public intoxication and even violence over the last few years, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said. To help combat this, the city reached out to various groups, including the arts network, to assist with programming for the problematic area.


Madison City Council approves changes to Philosopher’s Grove

UCAN put on several types of events this summer near the Capitol end of State Street. The “For the Love of Hip-Hop” summer concert series returned to downtown, and a “Learn at Lunch” program was added.

The “Learn at Lunch” program hosts hip-hop related activities during lunchtime, between noon and 1 p.m., so those who work or live downtown can attend during their lunch hours, UCAN Vice President, Mark ‘ShaH’ Evans, said. One of the events was a lesson on the history of hip-hop given by Evans.

“The history of hip-hop event was a dope experience,” Evans said. “The only other time I’ve been able to do that is in schools.”

The event drew nearly 300 people, ranging from avid hip-hop enthusiasts to those simply intrigued by the unfamiliar topic, Evans said.

The hip-hop community in Madison has faced many ups and downs in the last 10 years, Evans said. The hip-hop scene has flourished periodically, however, city politics can also play a big role in the hip-hop scene, he said.

“If something is going on in the city that is dealing with minorities, everybody in the city sometimes freaks out,” Evans said. “Then you don’t have hip-hop going on a lot.”

The past few years have been difficult on the hip-hop community, Evans said. UCAN began hosting events on State Street due to difficulties finding a venue, but this is the first time the organization has collaborated with the city, he said.

This collaboration has the potential to benefit both the city and UCAN, Evans said. Working with the city over the summer has encouraged the arts network to pursue more events. Evans said this could lead to a revival of the hip-hop scene in Madison over the next few years.

“We haven’t had any problems with anybody down there,” Evans said. “It’s been nothing but support.”

The increase in programming in the area has been successful from a city perspective as well, during programming there was little-to-no problem activity, Verveer said.

Madison wants to remodel and add activities to Philosopher’s Grove

Some regular offenders have even participated in the hip-hop events, which Verveer said helps discourage bad behavior. However, he noted as soon as the programs end, issues begin to reoccur, preventing the events from being a complete solution.

Despite the continuing problematic behavior in the area after the programs, Evans said he believes hip-hop can be a uniting force for the city.

“I think hip-hop can cure a lot of the issues they have [at Philosopher’s Grove]. During the history of hip-hop event, everyone was engaged and asking questions – even dancing,” Evans said. “Hip-hop is the only genre of music I know that can do that. It fuses so many different generations and groups together.”

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