Dave Reid
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The Hangout Gets Real

The Young Professionals event at City Hall triggers some discussion of race in Milwaukee.

By - Apr 18th, 2013 04:18 pm
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“Instead of trying to tackle all of the big issues in one hour, the panel will focus on numerous smaller ideas. The discussion will be centered around the day’s theme of sustainability, both environmental and economic.” That’s how Urban Milwaukee president Jeramey Jannene, who served as moderator, introduced the panel discussion at  Monday’s YP Week event, The Hangout. But when you put a panel of Milwaukeeans together you never know what will happen. Panel members Matt Wild, Fernando Reyes, Judge Derek Mosley, Jason Korb, Rick Barrett, Anna-Marie Opgenorth and Vanessa Allen took the topic and discussed everything from energy efficiency to where to find good soul food in Milwaukee.

Mosley offered the soul food tip, recommending Mr. Perkins. On the topic of sustainability, he also noted that the Milwaukee Municipal Court has saved millions of dollars annually by going paperless. Opgenorth told us that 40 percent of Milwaukee’s housing stock was built prior to World War II, and just 10 percent since 1980. Barrett predicted that his Moderne development, because it’s made of concrete, “will keep giving back for 200 years.” He also noted that the residents in the new tower are about half white and half black, something he never expected but was proud to note, he added.

Barrett’s comment came after Mosley frankly addressed the issue of race,  an issue that often shuts down many discussions in Milwaukee. Mosley noted that he had 4,000 Facebook friends, half black and half white, and nobody from one race had friends in the other. His point drove home what is often left out of the larger discussion of  sustainability, the people. A complete discussion of sustainability must not simply take into account planet and profit, but the entire triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit.

The message for Milwaukee? To become a sustainable city we must start by bridging our divisions and building on our diversity.

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13 thoughts on “Photo Gallery: The Hangout Gets Real”

  1. Ben says:

    While I understand that the black-white divide may be seen as the widest in the city, I would just like to point out that racial issues in Milwaukee and everywhere else are more complicated than that. We have a significant Latino and Hmong population here, so when we talk about “race issues,” I think it’s important to think beyond the black-white binary and beyond black-white relations.

  2. Phil J. says:

    Thank goodness for Newaukee. I would have never known that there is mass segregation in Milwaukee. Who woulda thunk? We’ve got some real visionaries over there.. Also, by looking at who’s all there, is this Young Professionals Week or Young White Professionals week? What’s the point of having a “discussion on race” when pretty much only one race is present?

  3. Frank says:

    I counted three black people out of a couple hundred at this event.

    Just sayin’.

  4. Adam says:

    I’m trying to understand the comments on this article. I have on numerous occasions listened to Judge Mosley speak and every time I am impressed by his attitude and message. This was an open event held by an organization that wants nothing more than to advance Milwaukee forward. Only 3 black people in the crowd? Whos fault is that? I apologize that there wasn’t a bus running from these neighborhoods to bring in people of different race and background. What I can say is that every year fellow members of professional organizations donate thousands of hours and dollars improving neighborhoods and communities outside of our own. The gap persists and is certainly something that needs significant work but how dare you mock or point a finger at individuals trying to make a difference. Become part of the solution, not the problem. I apologize for any errors as I am responding via my mobile device.

  5. Frank says:

    @ Adam –

    Mr. Mosley took upon himself to note the racial diversity in a real estate development and also from his Facebook friends list. He also noted that his Facebook friends were not friends with a ethnicity other than from their own. My apologies for having the audacity to mock him and point fingers.

  6. Andy says:

    Why is newaukee being blasted for this? Its open to people… of no particular backround. Many of the programs this week deal directly with improving the worst parts of the city and helping those who need it most. The people who are most active in this and other organizations are those who tend to give the most of themselves to causes greater then themselves. Many of the leaders and participants on this weeks panels were minorities. The one thing an organization cant control is who shows up to open events. Theres plenty of young professionals in this city who are of minority status that have the same choices and opportunity to show up to any event. Im sorry more decided not to take advantage.

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @Frank To clarify (as your statement appears incorrect). Rick Barrett spoke about the diversity in his development, The Moderne. Judge Mosley used his Facebook friends as an example of segregation in Milwaukee.

  8. Shareef says:

    I just put a deposit down at a place in downtown Milwaukee and it didn’t feel as segregated as it has been advertised. Granted, I only spent a few days in the city, but I’m moving there in early May and I’m a little worried if race is going to shut down these young professional events. We’ve had similar issues in Philly but the lack of diversity of these pics is appalling.

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Shareef First welcome to Milwaukee. Certainly we have our issues, but I’d say Milwaukee is one of America’s great cities. So come and help in being apart of the solutions.

  10. Mike says:

    The problem with Newaukee is most of what they do is pure symbolism. Sure, they have cool “meet-ups” and talk about cool things like “water hubs” and “sustainability”, but does it lead to a growing economy? I mean part of their website is devoted to something called “great grubbage” which sounds like something a 50 year old guy would come up with. Like don’t those cool kids call food grubbage these days?

    So they get together and pontificate about things like diversity and such without recognizing that the crowd is made of a bunch of 20 something year old white hipsters.

    Meanwhile, there are actually a lot of 20 and 30 somethings out there grinding. They are starting businesses and employing people. They won’t get any attention because the Tom Barrett’s and Mark Kass’s of the world want to come across as cool and just as cutting edge as these milennials doing their meet-ups. So meeting up gets the attention as being innovative instead of the person actually starting the business. Don’t believe me. Take a look at Kass’s 40 under 40. I think only 4 to 5 people on the list were actually first generation business owners.

    So we spin our wheels as an economy because there are too many people talking instead of actually doing.

  11. Phil J. says:

    I would have to echo Mike’s words. I mean these kids’ area of expertise is in marketing. They do a great job of throwing together shindigs and getting college graduates to meet each other, but that’s about it. They’re a social group at best. I want to see them have one of these events at the Goldin Center or Hopkins School and explain to those kids how their conversations and conventions aren’t applicable to them because most of them won’t even graduate highschool. A lot of talking gets done in Milwaukee, but there isn’t a lot of doing. How this kid was named a 40 under 40 astonishes me. Also, how did someone from WE Energies make the list? Is rate raising suddenly an admirable quality of companies?

  12. Mike says:

    Phil,

    I thought the most embarrassing event they held was the “reverse job fair” where they got businesses to actually come in and pander to the cool kids as to why they should come work for them. In reality if these businesses needed these people they could simply offer them jobs as this demographic is more unemployed and underemployed than most. Instead they come in and tell them how cool they are and how their businesses are working to change the world and such.

    The reality is when you look at the career arc of most people, we really do not develop the skill set and experience that employers really desire until we hit around 30 years old or better. Malcolm Gladwell has a very good thesis that to be truly great at something you needed to spend 10.000 hours doing it. In other words, you need to get some experience. The arrogance that these companies have to develop some social media to beg you to work for them is just stunning.

    The problem we have right now though is the Business Media is falling all over themselves to appear cool and trendy. That’s why they win the 40 under 40, That’s why as sure as I’m writing this Angela Damiani of Art Milwaukee will win next year because she said “We need the old guys to get out the way so we can run the city” and the Business Journal was all over that with praise.

  13. Shareef says:

    Mike, thanks for the honest assessment. I’ve seen this in the different cities I’ve lived in. If Newaukee is simply a social group than I’m fine with it, but i KNOW there have to be people in the community grinding every day and not worrying about being “trendy”. The question is, how can we make the connection between the two groups? One has the resources and one has the drive ..

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