Thanks for the Love, MKE shares its love - and some advice - for the city
As with any great modern love story, it all started with a simple tweet. This isn't a love story between two people, however. It's between people and the city they call home.
On March 12, 25-year-old Waukesha native Dustin Zick tweeted "Every day I live in Milwaukee I become more in love with this city, and all of its potential." Barely a minute later, Joshua Arter, a child from all over the Midwest until he went to Marquette University and decided to stay put after graduating last year, responded in agreement.
"I was like 'Dustin … you and I. We should start this blog,'" Arter recalled.
One meeting at (what was then) Alterra and barely a month later, the two created Thanks for the Love, MKE, a Tumblr blog that collects and shares photos of Milwaukee as a tribute to the city. The site also collects short letters and notes about Milwaukee, including one from OnMilwaukee's own Molly Snyder.
Every day, Arter and Zick scour Tumblr for interesting photos or stories of Milwaukee to reblog for Thanks for the Love, MKE. Fans of the blog can now instantly contribute as well by taking a photo on Instagram and tagging it in the caption with #thanksmke.
"It's really interesting to see each individual person's slice of life in the city," Arter said. "It's really awesome to see that there are people in Milwaukee who love the city as much as we do."
It's an encouraging lesson that Arter also learned back at his time at Marquette University. While he was in school, he started another Tumblr blog called Dear Marquette, which featured shots of old, mostly black-and-white photos of Marquette's past juxtaposed against what the campus looks like now.
Though Thanks for the Love, MKE doesn't have the same time travel-esque concept, Arter said scrolling through the many photos of the city still provides a new way to look at the city he now calls home.
"Obviously, there are the usual sights to be seen," Arter said. "You know, the Art Museum and the Hoan Bridge. But there are some pictures of those classic Milwaukee spots that provide a different perspective on the location. Like, usually in the entrance of the Art Museum, people will get a shot of the gorgeous windows and the view of the lake. This (picture) was from the window, toward the entrance. I have never seen anyone take that picture, and it looked awesome."
For Zick, this sense of discovery and the amount of activity and excitement to uncover in Milwaukee is what helps give the city so much potential. Growing up in Waukesha and going to Carroll College, Zick experienced some people who he loosely called "afraid" of Milwaukee.
"People didn't want to venture out here," Zick said. "At Carroll, for being 20 minutes away from downtown Milwaukee, we didn't spend any time out here at all."
Despite being right next door to the city, Arter's alma mater Marquette is also notorious for its "Marquette bubble."
"If you look how the city is today and how much its changed in just a decade, I'd say we're in a renaissance," Zick said. "We're getting so much recognition as a city, nationally and even internationally. We're becoming an art destination. There's so much going on right now that's moving in a forward, positive direction that in ten, fifteen or twenty years, we're going to be on the cutting edge of things."
Despite their love for the city, Zick and Arter didn't shy away from discussing the issues Milwaukee has as well. Both agreed a boost to public transportation, such as a rail system, would greatly improve the city and its accessibility. Milwaukee's unflattering title as the most segregated state in the country was also mentioned as one of the city's worst attributes.
Despite these issues, however, Zick and Arter love their big city with small town charm and hope others will share in that love.
"You could spend your entire life, putting in a hundred hours a week doing whatever you're doing in New York, and it is more than likely no one would know your name," Zick said. "With Milwaukee, if you put in the time and the effort, you will be recognized. People will know who you are, and you'll be able to make your imprint on the city."
For Arter and Zick, maybe that imprint will be Thanks for the Love, MKE.
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