Every week in 2015, OnMilwaukee.com and local design company Too Much Metal join forces to introduce the latest member of the Milwaukee All-Stars – a team of unfamiliar winners living in the city who consistently and diligently make it shine. Each week, a new member will join the team – based on your recommendations – and at the end of the year all will come together in a Rally of the Raddest Milwaukeeans. We're not sure what that means quite yet, so for now, meet …
Photo: Royal Brevväxling
Sarah Berg is a former office manager, massage therapist, retail buyer, sign language interpreter, tour guide, costume shop intern, metal shop intern and social worker.
Currently, she is retired – she was able to cease working last year at the age of 55 – and spends her time motorcycling around the country (her goal is to hit all 48 contiguous states), spending time with her wife in their Bay View abode and giving money to causes she believes in like a scholarship program through the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s LGBT+ Alumni Association.
Earlier this year, she offered a challenge grant of $5,000, meaning if the organization could raise that amount, she would match it. The group is about $600 short, but Berg believes the challenge amount will soon be met.
"The reason I did this is because I’m on the board of directors for UWM’s LGBT+ Alumni Association and someone told me that the intramural disc golf club gives away money to students every year and I thought, ‘OK, if the disc golf people can give money to students, the queer people should step up our game.'"
Best of all, Sarah is great energy, has a contagious laugh and brightens the space she takes with confidence, thoughtfulness and humor.
OnMilwaukee.com / Too Much Metal: Why do you do what you do?
Sarah Berg: Why am I retired? If you can retire by your mid-fifties, do it. Why do I give money to scholarships and organizations? I believe everybody does better when everybody does better. If somebody helps me do better, I will help someone do better and they will help someone do better. It ripples down the line.
OMC / TMM: What is your favorite Milwaukee season?
SB: I like spring. I think it’s a "thank God winter’s over and there’s hope" kind of thing, but I also really love an event that takes place in winter – on January 1 – in our neighborhood. Every year, one of our neighbors puts on a barbecue at noon on New Years’ Day in South Shore Park and I get to see neighbors that I never see – all bundled up. We have champagne and hot dogs and we freeze our butts off and I really like that.
OMC / TMM: What neighborhood do you live in?
SB: Bay View. The '207 is my 'hood.
OMC / TMM: What is your favorite or least favorite Milwaukee smell?
SB: My least favorite smell used to be Red Star Yeast, but now that it’s gone, I miss it in a weird way. What does that say about me? My absolute favorite is the lilacs in the spring. It’s so brief, and then it’s gone, but I can’t get enough of it.
OMC / TMM: When and how did you fall in love with Milwaukee?
SB: I realized I loved Milwaukee while in New York, where I lived for eight years. I was watching the national news and I saw a story about a helicopter with a giant air conditioner dangling from it that was trying to install the unit on top of a condo in Bay View, but it had a problem and had to emergency land half in the lake. My dad was living in Bay View at the time, and it wasn’t that I was worried if my dad was OK or not – I knew he was fine – but I realized that I really care about Milwaukee and I really needed to talk to someone about this bizarre event. I love New York, and I loved living in New York, but Milwaukee is my home.
OMC / TMM: What is your hope for Milwaukee?
SB: That we secede from the state of Wisconsin. Kidding. My real hope is we have more equality. Not just racial, but also economic, and fewer feelings about "the others." "They" are not that different from you. People in the central city have the same hopes for their kids as the people in Mequon and Waukesha. People in the city are no different from the people in suburbs.
OMC / TMM: What is your guilty pleasure?
SB: Hot fudge sundae at Leon’s. Wait, wait, wait … My biggest guilty pleasure – and I only indulge once a year because I want to avoid a premature death – is a Solly’s burger. Come to think of it, I’m about due for my once-a-year visit ….
OMC / TMM: Name a Milwaukeean you would like to high five.
SB: Oh crap, there are so many of them. Most of the people I want to high five I don’t even know their names. There are so many cool people in the city that people don’t know about. I don’t remember her name, but I read about a woman in the central city who took in people who were homeless and often with a mental illness and took care of them. Also, I’d like to high five anyone who starts and maintains a small business. It’s so hard to keep going and you have to be both very creative and a very hard worker.
As for dead people I’d like to high five? Dick Bacon. Absolutely.
Do you know a Milwaukee All-Star? OnMilwaukee.com and Too Much Metal are looking for true-hearted folks living in the city of Milwaukee who love what they do – and do it with zest and style. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with recommendations.