The director of Bucketworks is featured in our new weekly column highlighting city newbies and their views of Milwaukee.
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and why did you choose to live here?
I have lived in MKE since June of 2012. In 2008, my plan was to move back to the USA from Berlin, Germany, to live and work in MKE (because I saw parallels in the potential of MKE and what was going on on the ground in Berlin), but I was waylaid by what turned out to be my future wife. So I delayed plans a bit until this past summer. I chose MKE because I very much feel the Upper Midwest is the place for creative innovation and sustainable, fun lifestyle in the USA, and because I am originally from Wisconsin and believe it is a wonderful place to live. Good people, cheap cost of living, great beer and a sense of community that is lacking in other places.
What is your favorite Milwaukee event?
I have to admit I am not really one for the big event scene in MKE, even though this seems to be the summer festival capital of the planet! I tend to relish the day-to-day awesomeness I see all around me. In particular, I enjoy events that give you creative license to participate. (Disclaimer: shameless plugs ahead) Two upcoming examples of such events are BarCampMKE and BuildHealth that we host at Bucketworks. These are community-derived and -driven events that are basically what the participants make of them—and I have yet to be at an event driven by community activity that wasn’t a whole lot of fun while also building community and learning. I am huge believer that these kinds of events are the things that will really drive the successes of MKE as a whole.
What about Milwaukee makes a place you want to work and play?
1) Value of living: You can eat well and encounter great activities without paying much, and this says nothing about the availability of cheap housing. These are the keystone to creativity in both business and culture. If it doesn’t cost a whole lot to live, there is more time to try new things and explore!
2) The potential: MKE has been relatively dormant for awhile, but it feels like a very exciting place with more energy and ideas appearing every day. I do think we are in a pretty special space and time, but that remains to be seen!
Milwaukee needs to do two things. The first is we need to look around and pay attention. There is a LOT happening in the city, but I have noticed that we tend to keep our heads down and focus on our own thing. Yet if we looked up a bit more, I think we would find that doing “our thing” is a whole lot easier just because we would see the resources and opportunities around us. The second thing we need to do it crow a bit more—show that MKE pride! People tend to get down on MKE by focusing on what isn’t perfect here, but if we would take an optimistic perspective on the city it becomes a self-sustaining feedback loop. Good ideas beget good actions which begets good ideas…and so on! I think MKE would be the place to be if the community simply celebrated the city and maximized the great projects that are already underway here.
What do you do?
I am the director of Bucketworks at 706 South 5th Street. Bucketworks is a collaborative eco-system that was started by James Carlson 10 years ago (just one example of a great MKE project). Our mission is to facilitate and align community and ideas. Basically this means we provide a place and a structure for people to test out creative impulses and actualize plans, such as creating an art project or starting a business. We feel it is our role to assist people with creating a sustainable lifestyle that is literally exciting and challenging every day. Life is just too short to not to be enjoying the trip!
Originally posted at Newaukee