"We need a regional transit system."
What makes your role great?
I support all of the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation‘s (NWSCDC) activities: from business lending, to partnerships with manufacturers and municipal government, to neighborhood groups and community engagement work. We have a multi-faceted approach to community economic development, and I get to be involved in guiding and implementing the community’s vision for economic transformation. We make an impact, helping attract and grow businesses in Milwaukee’s northwest side to bring jobs to the area. I get to nerd out in census data, as well as guide projects to implementation.
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?
I moved here six years ago from Minneapolis because I wanted to figure out how to get involved in transforming a Midwestern legacy city. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that UW-Milwaukee has an excellent Urban Planning program. So I got my Master’s Degree at UWM and made a ton of new connections in government, non-profit, and planning organizations. Plus, I’m originally from northeast Wisconsin, so Milwaukee is the perfect place to enjoy big-city activities while being close to my family and friends.
What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it?
I stay in Riverwest now, and used to be in Bay View for a while. I love Riverwest because everyone is so community minded. There is a strong culture of knowing your neighbors, and supporting neighborhood businesses, including community-owned cooperatives. I can get just about anywhere I need to be in a 10-minute drive or 20-minute bike or bus ride. Plus, I’m just a 5-minute walk from the Milwaukee River, and I love to hike down there and be transported into nature. We’re also rich in Poke-stops and gyms, which really gets residents interacting with other Pokémon GO players.
Milwaukee has such a rich history. I love the concept of a meeting place by the waters. From the indigenous First Nations to European settlement, we’re a city built on gathering near the water. Early Milwaukee was as diverse in immigrants as was New York City, and economic opportunity draws people here. To this day, this is an affordable place to try out new ideas. But we all need to break down the immense barriers of segregation and the structural inequities in our community. We need to move from exclusionary zoning to inclusionary zoning, we need a regional transit system, and we need to build greater community ownership for the public services which ought to give every child a fair chance regardless of the ZIP code they were born into.
What is your favorite Milwaukee tradition?
I really love the Jingle Bus! I always go about twice each year, and try to bring family and out-of-town friends to experience it. You get the great guided tour, holiday lights, and the cookie and hot chocolate for only $1. What a deal.
What does your ideal Milwaukee weekend look like?
First thing’s first: most days start with coffee. Then maybe a bike ride to a new part of town, hit the Winter Farmers’ Market, circle around to the lakefront, and stop in at the Art Museum. Dinner with friends, especially a fish fry if it’s in season. And if we can make this my ideal weekend, then my sweetie and I are going to see either Mavis Staples in concert or the MSO. On Sunday I’m in church, then resting or finding some outdoor activity.
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
Well, I used to be very proud to know a secret way from the Newsroom Pub into the Safe House, but some years ago this particular route was nailed shut. Otherwise, I like to bike out to the port at night to look for foxes and coyotes and visit Kaszubes Park. Let’s call that a hidden gem, okay?