By Jason McDowell Creative Director Published Nov 13, 2012 at 8:15 AM

The folks behind Beintween have a way with words, and according to them Matireal is a win-win-win-win-win situation.­

Between being an artistic installation, a hazardous waste removal system, a provider of measurable carbon offset, a funder of manufacturing jobs and a catalyst to help integrate the city, Keith Hayes and Rob Zdanowski, founders of and the brains behind the ARTery, have lofty goals for their new project, Matireal, a "creational" trail. But now they need your help.

First, let’s define some of that:

  • Beintween: A social and special network started in 2010 dedicated to improv(is)ing spaces to build community, whose agenda is to make the most of leftover time and space. You may be familiar with Beintween's last project, the pop-up tire swing park under the Holton Street Bridge.
  • Matireal: A geo-textile made up of local flora, stone and discarded tires that can transform an environmental nightmare into an ecological dream and inspired a new park called the ARTery.
  • the ARTery:  A linear park project being planned by beintween for the old rail corridor between East Townsend Street and Capitol Drive, in the Harambee neighborhood of Milwaukee. "We see this as a creational trail, not a recreational trail," says Hayes, who asks, "What sort of things can we create to stitch these communities together, which right now are terribly segregated?"

Simply put, Beintween wants to see Matireal laid as the surface of the ARTery recreational trail.

Got it? Good.

The city and many private property owners have been very cooperative with the project so far. The owner of the rail land, Brian Monroe of Earthbound Development, has been including a plan to integrate neighboring school LAD Lake into the ARTery while Mayor Tom Barrett is working with the city to acquire land use before the year's end. Even the Department of Natural Resources is interested in seeing where the project goes. "I thought they would require 10 years of research," Hayes joked. Riverworks, a business development group, declined interest until property negotiations began.

For the most part, the ARTery has moved forward through the dedication of members of Beintween and outside volunteers. This summer the group took advantage of the Riverwest 24, whose racers helped to dismantle 200 tires in short order.

"Unfortunately," says Hayes, "this is the most we were allowed to store on site for the event. They were reduced in less than 45 minutes of the two-hour checkpoint."

Shortly after, they received a grant from Youth Council of the City of Milwaukee to continue to bring programs to Groundwork Milwaukee’s Green Team, a partner with Beintween.

"This grant for programs was originally intended to fund a shipping container to get us started in early fall of 2012, but due to the nature of this funding, it may not even be available until 2013," says Hayes.

This is where their Kickstarter enters the picture. In order to create the unique paved trail, they need to gather and store discarded tires. Lots and lots of discarded tires.

"We're required to have a shipping container to store and reduce tires on site.  We also need to make a few modifications and purchase our own Milwaukee power tools and several hundred blades to make the local reduction of tires more efficient."

You may think a Kickstarter to fund the purchase of a shipping container sounds pretty boring, but as you could expect from a group that is trying to waste less and make the most of their environment, this shipping container would become integral to the project.

According to their Kickstarter page, "Elevated above such a well-traveled road, a shipping container has the capacity to become a functioning billboard as well, which we refer to as a 'fillboard.' We will ask the community to assist us in collecting tires and filling full the inside, then outside, fulfilling an immediate goal of the ARTery, to create circumstances for improvisational engagement." It goes on, "Our fillboard will become the first of a series of 'temporaneous,' interactive art pieces 'improv(is)ing' this leftover corridor to build community."

I told you these guys had a way with words.

Beyond paving the trail, Beintween has other lofty goals to continue to improve the area, from a safer way for residents to cross Capitol Drive to helping to stitch together extremely segregated tracts within the city.

"Locals have confirmed that a park would benefit the area," says Hayes, "and have offered their help as well as their tires.  Neighbors passing by on Richards at the southwest end are usually curious what the ARTery is. Residents at the Williamsburg Heights block club expressed the current danger in getting to the east side of the Capitol overpass without descending a hazardous incline.

"They are equally as eager to see some of this illegal dumping taken care of. More than a couple youth have suggested an area for live performance or a stage."

Still not enough for you? I’m gonna let Keith talk a little bit more on the project, but first, here is how you can help support this project. At two weeks to go, the Matireal project is still not funded and, as of this writing, needs about $5,000 more to purchase the shipping container. If they don’t reach their goal of $10,000 they’ll get no money. On Kickstarter it’s all or nothing. 

Be sure to click through and watch the video to more fully understand what this project entails, and consider supporting the project.

OK, take it away, Keith:

"Beintween's goals beyond paving the trail are to collaborate with local Harambee organizations and local urban gardening initiatives to create interactive opportunities for art and culture along the path, as well as edible landscapes. 

We also plan to create a cross axial path that would connect Vienna across the ARTery to provide neighborhood access from the east and the west. More specifically, we are planning an amphitheater made from tiered tires, as well as two sculptural light elements that would illuminate the beginning and end of the two-third of a mile along phase one of the ARTery, one called
"Polarize" at the end of the existing Beerline trail which would employ a field of perforated PVC poles that would shed light on the census data tracking residential density, racial makeup and growth from 2000 to 2010 within a one-mile radius.

A second is called 'type lighter' atop the Capitol overpass which would employ supersized typewriter hammers (or arms) with the letters s-t-e-r-e-o, casting light not only on the path, but as a subversive message speaking of segregation and ensuing stereotypes that exists east and west of this corridor.

Further, shipping containers used initially used on site for tire collection and storage will be modified, converted and equipped with tools to create kinesthetic workshops/classrooms. Separate funding is being sought for these amenities, with a portion of this budget being available to the development of elements and amenities designed by and for the local residents."

Jason McDowell Creative Director

Jason McDowell grew up in central Iowa and moved to Milwaukee in 2000 to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

In 2006 he began working with OnMilwaukee as an advertising designer, but has since taken on a variety of rolls as the Creative Director, tackling all kinds of design problems, from digital to print, advertising to branding, icons to programming.

In 2016 he picked up the 414 Digital Star of the Year award.

Most other times he can be found racing bicycles, playing board games, or petting dogs.