Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just Enough for the City

I love me some Milwaukee.
I really, really do.
Some people hate it here.
Some people think it's dirty.
Some people think it's racist.
Some people think it's lame.
Some people think it's stupid.

But to those people I say MOVE!
I love Milwaukee.
What I DON'T like about Milwaukee is everyone raking on it all the time.

This all began when I was watching a Bucks game.
Yep, it's true. Milwaukee has a professional basketball team.
And they're going to the playoffs!
A commercial aired for a summer basketball camp that the Bucks were putting on.
I thought to myself, "Well how great that the Bucks will be having something for Milwaukee's youth."
And then the location of the camp was stated: Mequon.
Mequon is a "suburb" of Milwaukee
Mequon is a good 30 minutes from Milwaukee.
Children that could really benefit from a skills building basketball camp most likely can't get to Mequon.
I'm not saying children who live in Mequon won't benefit from a basketball camp.
They will.
But wouldn't it make sense to at least hold the camp in the city. Where the parents of the Mequon kids commute to for their jobs.
I realize I'm speaking in sweeping generalizations here but here are some fun facts:
The median income in Mequon is $90733.
The median income in Milwaukee is $32216
The graduation rate for Mequon is consistently in the high 80s or low 90s percentage wise
The graduation rate for Milwaukee is in the mid to high 60s percentage wise (This is up from the low to mid 50 it was pulling in about 10 years ago!).
I guess I don't understand how anyone expects Milwaukee to get "better" if people keep leaving.
I'm not saying city living is for everyone, I get that it's not.
But I feel the people who do live in Milwaukee have to explain it to our suburban friends or relatives.

I have a bone to pick with the radio station 88.9 as well.
Radio Milwaukee it's called.
And I like it.
I really do.
Sometimes they play a little too much "A Tribe Called Quest," but whatevs.
And they do play local music, which I love.
And they do this neighborhood series.
About the different neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
I love this! The station reaches all over the place thanks to the internet it shows the world that Milwaukee is truly full of diversity and neat little nooks and crannies.
So as I'm tooling around on their website I peruse the upcoming neighborhoods that will be profiled:
The neighborhoods, in no particular order, are Lindsay Heights, Clark Square, Martin Drive, Havenswoods, Walker’s Point, Harambee, and East Tosa.

What the what? While I know where some of these neighborhoods are...East Tosa?
Wauwautosa is a SUBURB of Milwaukee.
It is NOT Milwaukee.
Not to mention if you look at this map of Milwaukee neighborhoods, there are clearly more neighborhoods to profile, before we get into the suburbs.
I suppose I could be, and hope I am, wrong about the name East Tosa, and I hope it signifies a hidden gem somewhere I have never been.
But the likelihood of that is slim, I'm afraid.
I think it's even a bit more disheartening because I felt this station championed Milwaukee, and here it is pandering to it's moochy suburban cousins again.

These issues compounded the other night at a board meeting for our little old neighborhood association:
After the meeting was pretty much adjourned, one of the board members decided to talk about their trip to Arizona. They commented that they've noticed in "the south" that gated communities are a way of life.
I commented I didn't think that was a southern thing as much of a classist thing.
They went on to say how concerned they were in our neighborhood that they couldn't let their 5 year old daughter play outside because their fence wasn't six feet high.
And that they couldn't work in their bathing suit because their fence/our neighborhood wasn't walled off.
I would like to note that we live IN the city. Some would even say central city.
We, well at least me, are not about gating ourselves off from the rest of the city or other neighborhoods around us.
We are about welcoming and improving.
Greening and cleaning.
Not Gating and Hating.
What my favorite part of this exchange was that they actually thought nothing was wrong with thinking we could/should gate Cold Spring Park off from the rest of the city.
OMFG is all I have to say to that.


  1. Good. I am a hater of the suburbs as well. I tried at one point to get 88.9 to feature good old CSP-no response though-so I am now a hater o both the suburbs and 88.9. We are samers!

  2. Also..the Bucks do do a ton of stuff in the city. AND generally inner city kids have LOTS of basketball stuff done because it is funded so well. Inner city schools generally have a hard time getting funding for non sports extracurricular least that is what my friend says who works for the WYCA...they are trying to get funding for clown activities-seriously.

  3. My name is Adam Carr and I am the producer at 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. First, let me tell you that I take every criticism of our station and my work very seriously. I never approach comments from a perspective of "why are they wrong?" but rather "what are they saying and what point do they make?" You make a number of good points. A full answer to your comments would probably be inappropriately long for a blog comment, but I just want to make a few remarks.

    -Directing that kind of derision towards the suburbs feels counterproductive to me. If we want to draw more folks and energy and money into the city, it will be by being inclusive, not by drawing a line in the sand. Our love of one thing need not become a categorical dislike for all other unlike things. I myself am not a suburban person myself, but I will not pass judgment on those who are. Community is not any less valid because it falls outside of the city proper.

    -To your point about East Tosa -- Very frequently, Riverwest is pointed to as Milwaukee's "diverse neighborhood." While Riverwest is a great neighborhood that works incredibly hard, there are phenomenally diverse neighborhoods all over the city that deserve such recognition. Particularly, if you flip yourself over to the west side of the inner city, Washington Heights and East Tosa are wonderful, diverse neighborhoods. Both of these family-oriented neighborhoods may not trumpet their accomplishments, but believe me, they are worthy of attention. And besides, this is East Tosa borders the city of Milwaukee -- it is far from a gated community.

    -Take a moment and check out the list of neighborhoods we're covering. When was the last time you got out of your car in Lindsay Heights? How about Havenwoods? When was the last time you heard about anything other than a shooting on "the North Side?" This is the city. We are giving every neighborhood we celebrate equal footing. Hearing Walkers Point and Lindsay Heights and Martin Drive and Harambee mentioned in the same breath might open a few minds.

    -Megan -- I work my fingers to the bone and beyond trying to cover this city as best as I can. Milwaukee is my city and there's so much good to unearth. I apologize sincerely if we have not yet worked with you, but we work in cycles. Hopefully, next time we will have the good fortune to cross paths.

  4. East Tosa is in Milwaukee county and the United States Post Office recognizes a 'Tosa zip code as Milwaukee. In fact, the region that I assume they will be covering is just next to the city proper's border, anyway. Just as people from Chesterfield are still from St. Louis, people from Wauwatosa are still from Milwaukee.

  5. @Adam:
    Thanks for responding! While I do realize we do need to be more inclusive for Milwaukee to grow into the city both you and I know and love, I just think before you jump into the land of the 'burbs you could focus more on neighborhoods within the city. I'm quite familiar with Washington Heights as I live in Cold Spring Park, a lesser known but equally diverse and family oriented neighborhood on the near west side.

    Like I said, I love that you do the neighborhood series and I think it's FABULOUS that you are giving voice to areas like Lindsay Heights and Harambee.

    @ pscrawfo: Thanks for reading and posting! I do, however, respectfully disagree with you. I have no problem with people saying, "I am from Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis." But claiming to be from an urban area, when in fact your from a suburban area is different, in my opinion.

  6. Agreed! I'm not a fan of people asking me what part of Milwaukee I'm from (South Side!! Not to be confused with South Milwaukee) only to respond by telling me they are from Milwaukee too..."Kenosha." Or my favorite, "Waukesha" What? Really! Really.

    Man, this makes me miss my city.

    And I L-O-V-E 88.9, and praise the Lord I am able to listen to it in lame-y Tomah where I am surrounded by crap radio stations.