NEWaukeean of the Week

Damien Smith

"Out-of-towners sometimes remind us of how cool this place is."

By - May 23rd, 2016 01:37 pm
Damien Smith. Photo courtesy of NEWaukee.

Damien Smith. Photo courtesy of NEWaukee.

Where do you work and what makes your role awesomesauce?

I’m a Youth Organizer with Safe & Sound. What makes my job awesome is the fact that I get to interact with youth, organizations, community members and leaders-all without the confines of a building. By that, I mean in previous roles, I worked at youth centers building relationships with youth and families. Now, I get to be what I call a “Hook-er-up-er” of people and resources and I have everyone in the city (But two neighborhoods especially-AMANI and Harambee) as potential partners and collaborators.  The dopest thing is I get to dream up and put into action ideas that I think are cool and can get youth positively engaged in the community; ultimately helping to create safer neighborhoods.

What do you love most about Milwaukee?

Although not a huge city, Milwaukee has different personalities depending on where you find yourself geographically at a particular moment. I like the different “feels” of the various parts of town. I think we sometimes take the city for granted. Out-of-towners sometimes remind us of how cool this place is. I appreciate the different seasons we experience. You get to rock nice sneakers in the summer, and cool jackets and sweaters in fall.

What is something missing from our community that you would love to see implemented?

I think we need more creative, recreational, and social outlets for youth. When I was young, there was always stuff to do. Today youth and adults share the same spaces, and youth don’t have many spaces that are their own, so they create stuff. Stuff that may not always be positive. I’d like to see better relations between law enforcement and community. We’re cooking up some cool, creative things via an initiative called H.O.M.E Team (Heroes Operating in Milwaukee Everyday) to address that issue. You’ll be hearing about it soon.

Where do you see Milwaukee in five years?

I see the city being sort of a destination spot, similar to Chicago. The Milwaukee Bucks are embarking on some things that’ll really make Milwaukee be a great place to hang out. I’m seeing strong, young leadership in Milwaukee’s African American and Latino/a communities. I’m looking forward to really exciting things for Brew City.

What local restaurant is at the top of your list?

Too many! If I gotta say one, then Oakland Gyros.

Ideal weekend?

Friday: Shopping, maybe copping a new pair of kicks.

Saturday: Hanging out with my wife, summer festival or somethin’. Rockin’ my new kicks.

Sunday: Church, cook out at the house entertaining family and friends. Just Midwestin’ it!


One thought on “NEWaukeean of the Week: Damien Smith”

  1. Thomas says:


    I like your positive attitudes about what you do in our city and about unique qualities of different neighborhoods. I agree with you that there should be special places for our youth. Long ago when I was young, places such as roller-skating rinks had youth nights. I do not expect roller-rinks to come back, but could there be special youth days at, say, disc golf parks?

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