As hundreds of people went to the courthouse to embrace their right to get married and I see the efforts Pride Milwaukee has gone through to make sure we have this right, it makes me think of the pride that Milwaukeeans have in their city.
You are a proud people.
You tattoo your state, city and even your team on your body. My recent favorites is the tat Kent "The Colonel" Knapp has on his forearm that reads "Milwaukee Feeds and Supplies The World."
My pal Billiam (although I call him "Billing-Ham") has a tattoo of the state of Wisconsin with a baseball mitt on Milwaukee. It’s a double whammy – he loves Milwaukee and he also loves the Brewers.
When you are asked where you are from, you say you are from Milwaukee! You don’t say Grafton, Racine, Third Ward, etc. – you say "Milwaukee."
You are a hearty bunch that deals with extreme temperature changes. (Hello, polar vortex!) Does this stop you? No, you go ice fishing. You don’t ride just any motorcycle, you ride a Harley. And you know why? 'Cause you are the home of Harley-Davidson.
Living in New York City there wasn’t a pride, but an air of coolness about where you lived. You didn’t say "New York City" you said Chelsea, Upper West Side, or like me, the East Village.
Because when I moved to the East Village (in the early ‘90s), it was still full of artists, musicians, punks and drug addicts. I loved it. Patty Smith, The Cro-Mags, Allen Ginsberg, The Stooges and Richard Hell called it home.
It was not the "pretty part of NYC" – it was the gritty part. Now, through gentrification and rents, I don’t know how anyone can afford it. The old East Village is gone, only to be replaced by glass and concrete buildings, 7-11s and high-end restaurants.
In a way, Bay View is very similar.
I did not grow up in Bay View but I do know some locals who were born and raised here. They refer to a time where crime was up, prostitution and drugs at an all-time high. Like anywhere though, rent was cheap and people took advantage of this, but they also took action to make Bay View a better place.
I am no expert on the area and there is still crime here – my bike just got stolen out of our garage – but it’s manageable crime. There are no shootings, there have been a few break-ins but there is also a very vigilant community that will keep their eye out for their neighbor.
There are so many examples of Milwaukee pride. Art Milwaukee uses local artists for giant public art installations – check out what they are building at the Moire Pavilion. Growing Power started 20 years ago before CSA’s were the in thing and their motto is "to grow food, to grow minds and grow community."
Solar Bay View worked with the community to work on group buy-ins for solar panels, which included tax credits and financing, all under the Milwaukee Shines initiative.
I am sure we are not the first city to do all of these things, but we do it with pride – pride in our artists, our future thinkers and in our people. Let your light shine, Milwaukee!
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