By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Oct 19, 2012 at 4:29 PM

There are several big ideas out there on what's best and next for greater Milwaukee. Fresh water, metro government, Streetcars, technology, creative industry incubators. The list – a solid one and ever changing – goes on and on.

Here at we've been pushing the Milwaukee envelope and building community for nearly 15 years. We're proud of the media we make, businesses we help build, stories we share and ideas we help promote.

Yet, it's the small stuff that we all do that can truly help transform a community. Allow me, please, to offer 12 simple ideas on how to make positive change in Milwaukee.

Enjoy, get off the sidelines, dig in and please share this list with friends and family.

Become a mentor
Even if you have children of your own, we should all find time to mentor a child. Even a college student. It's easy, fun and you'll learn more than you give. Call Boys and Girls Clubs, a local university or your neighborhood school.

Champion an idea
We all want stuff to happen. From fixing a crack in a sidewalk to having more shopping options Downtown or, of course, bigger wishes like better schools or lower taxes. Whatever your hot-button issue is, own it, use it and champion it relentlessly.

Buy a membership or season tickets
From a membership to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum to Milwaukee Bucks season tickets, there are plenty of ways to support Milwaukee's entertainment and arts scene. Pick your passion, and support it. Unlimited annual admission for two to Discovery World is only $50. Several other venues and organizations have similar pricing structures. Can't afford a full season to your favorite theater? Share season tickets with friends. Support our area's entertainment for it's an incredible driver for our economy.

Randomly buy the next person in line coffee
Hat tip on this tip to my friend and former boss Joe Sweeney. Do this one regularly. You're in line at your favorite coffee place. Turn around and say, "what are you having, I'm buying." It costs maybe $2, but buying a stranger coffee creates smiles all day long.

Send Milwaukee gifts
I have nothing against sending flowers or balloons. But, the next time you need to send a gift, send the gift of Milwaukee. Usinger's, Sprecher, Lakefront Brewery, a Brewers or Bucks T-shirt, picture of your favorite Milwaukee place. Do this and you'll become a part of the viral marketing that our area needs.

Change your media habits
Don't read the same feeds, sites and columnists every day and week. Sample other media. Listen to Mark Belling even if you "hate him." Sample community radio. Read Tweets from opposing views. We all get in our media funks. Break out and explore the amazing variety that's out there. Of course, always read  

Meet your Alderman and ask questions
You should know your alderman. If not, call him or her. Ask questions, ask about policy, ask why you should vote for them next time. Be an informed citizen.

Work a job you've never had
This one's random, and maybe not feasible for us all. Sample job switches, though, can help us all better appreciate the jobs and tasks of others. Never been a waiter or waitress? Take a shift at Webb's for a night. Ride along with your letter carrier. Shadow a student. Learn from work you don't do. It's rewarding and helpful in building better communities.

Go to another place of worship
If you're Catholic, go to a Lutheran parish. Not religious? Sample a service anywhere. Why not? Miss Temple today, go to a mega church in Brookfield for a change. We all worship differently, but there are more similarities than we usually admit. Seek them out.

Go out of your way to talk positively about the Milwaukee area
I've always said that a city is only as good as the stories it tells. Tell more good Milwaukee stories. And be diligent about it. You're a Milwaukee ambassador.

Recruit people and places you like
We all have friends and businesses we'd like to see in Milwaukee. Recruit them. Use social media, send links to houses for sale, tweet that retailer you'd love to see in the Third Ward. Use your voice and sell Milwaukee.

Wear Milwaukee gear
Finally, wear your Milwaukee pride. Teams, T-shirts from Etsy, MilwaukeeHome, Brew City and others. We all are Milwaukee champions.  Wear Milwaukee stuff and others will notice.

That's all. Onward and On Milwaukee!

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.