"When I think of Milwaukee I think of the vibrancy, community, love, dedication, and perseverance."
Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My role is awesome, I seriously love my job for an abundance of reasons. One reason is that I meet fascinating people every day and each day is very different. I might have headshots of distinguished professors first half of the day, then capture students in action with their research, then happen upon students in the thick of an exciting debate, and end my day with a visiting artist in our union. That’s just an example of one day, and tomorrow will be completely different. I learn so much from these incredible and intelligent individuals, whether they are students or faculty. Sometimes I feel like I’m learning just as much as I did as when I was a student, and for that I am grateful. The perk of working with higher ed is the amount of knowledge gained.
How long have you lived in Milwaukee and what brought you here?
What do you love most about Milwaukee?
That is a very difficult question because it could go on for a while. This city and its residents are flourishing. It’s growing every day, in every capacity. When I think of Milwaukee I think of the vibrancy, community, love, dedication, and perseverance.
I would like to see more integration and more of the city’s residents leaving their comfort zones to explore and get to know the entirety of this place we call home. I am seeing more and more events that help implement this. I have been apart of the underwear bike rides and the people that plan the routes make sure we hit different neighborhoods and routes each month. It’s fun how people get excited and react on those trips. People will come out and wave and cheer on, and randomly join in too.
Another example I have been able to experience in the past are the Milwaukee Bus Tours NEWaukee does with Adam Carr. Via school bus, Adam Carr introduces Milwaukeeans to parts of the city they’ve never seen, or teaches them the history of a place they’ve been but never thought much about. It’s a fantastic opportunity to hear “untold” stories and connect. It’s an experience I can’t really explain but is so necessary for many individuals and truly enjoyable. We need more of that, more ways of seeing each other and relating to each other and building communities.
What is one word that you would use to describe Milwaukee?
Bound and determined. Not really one word but a phrase, but just determined was not enough for me.
Where do you see Milwaukee in five years?
Gosh, I don’t know how to answer this one. I’ve been living here for 24 years but I feel like the most change has occurred the past few years and it’s been so rapid. I am excited and hope that we support a lot of these newer endeavors through and through, and just in the beginning, to truly build. I aim my attention at the incredible Sherman Phoenix. I think that is the direction for Milwaukee, and it’s beautiful.
If you could create one thing in Milwaukee, what would it be?
Oh goodness, I am not sure I want to create anything other than photos and more relationships. I would not want to create anything but support what is already established and the new that is being put into place right now. More communal bike rides maybe!?
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
I have so many! I don’t like to confine myself to the same place because that’s boring. I am going to pick five at random that I have become to love. Bombay Sweets on South 13th Street is a low-key and homey, all-vegetarian Indian dishes, snacks & sweets on disposable plates. Since childhood, my siblings and I looked forward to the snacks and sweets! Dom and Phil DeMarinis Original Recipes. The DeMarini name has a long history in the Milwaukee-area pizza scene, over 60 years I believe. I have a ton of memories with the pizza and Fridays nights with my family. Alem Ethiopian Village. A cozy place serving seasonal, homemade African and Jamaican meals. Always great customer service and food. Since I moved close to Wauwatosa I have been visiting Lucky Joe’s in the Village. The food and cocktails are awesome and affordable, and I feel welcomed and relaxed every visit. Movida is an experience to be had. They serve a huge variety of tapas, classic Spanish dishes and cocktails. I could go on forever and that is one reason I love Milwaukee, you can always find something that suits your palate and diet.
What is your biggest hope for this city?
To continue to change the dialogue for the city because it is tired. We’ve become paralyzed by polarity and we’ve become content with division. I hope we are no longer indifferent to problems that persist. I hope and want funding for our public schools at every level so that every kid in our state has access to quality education—no matter what the zip code. My siblings and I went to MPS schools, my dad and friends work in MPS schools, and the teachers that shaped me and gave me support were MPS teachers. I love MPS and our public schools. These students and educators need more support. That is also more of a state issue as well but it is a big hope of mine.
What is your favorite Milwaukee tradition?
My favorite Milwaukee Tradition is Chill on the Hill. Several times a year to listen to the likes of the Bay View High School drumline, local bands and artists, and maybe even have the pleasure of hearing and seeing the Milwaukee Symphony orchestra. Believe me when I say the energy on Tuesday nights at Humboldt Park during this time is different and just amazing.
What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it?
I’ve lived in Cooper Park as of summer of 2017. I am still learning and exploring our home. It is a great neighborhood; active community, neighbors look out for each other and are friendly. It is 15 minutes to downtown, close to the Tosa village and freeway. Restaurants like Irie Zulu, Ono Kine Grindz, and coffee shops like MKEing Coffee/Sharehouse Cafe are nearby. Also, if you love dogs, this is a great neighborhood. There seems to be an irregularly large amount of dog owners here!