I'm an evangelist for Milwaukee. I make no apologies for it. I work hard, have fun and live with optimism knowing that our fine city has opportunities and challenges that are exciting and daunting.
How can we all do just a little bit more to become better Milwaukeeans? Allow me to offer 11 quick ideas. I'm not breaking any new ground here, but presenting some thoughts and concepts that I think are simple and easy to implement.
We're all in this thing we call Milwaukee together, so why not make it as good as it can be? Have additional ideas? I want them. Please use the talkbacks.
Contact and get to know your alderman.
If you don't know who your alderman is, look him/her up now. And, make a point to write him or her a note, ask a question or be bold and ask him/her to go to lunch. Why not? Your alderman is your representative on the most hyper-local level and you owe to yourself to be a part of the legislative process. Plus, admit it, you have a beef or two to share with the city. Right?
Make a restaurant list.
Create a "need to go to restaurant list." This is easy -- just a list of places, in and around town, that you'd like to hit in the coming months. We often fall "victim" to going to the same old places. Not that these places are bad, rather they are usually easy, reliable and for the most part convenient. So, making a list and using it helps fight the sameness and gets you to go to new places more often. Do the same for retail. You may even help save a local restaurant or retailer.
Compliment media on a job well done.
See a story that you love from a local media entity? Tell the reporter. E-mail the editor. Send a Tweet. Media have a responsibility to tell accurate and entertaining stories. So when you love what media does in Milwaukee let them know.
Criticize media when you disagree.
On the flip side, if you see something that you disagree with or don't like you have every right to call a reporter out. Media is a conversation, not a sermon. In Milwaukee we all need to be a part of the talk.
Buy a "season pass" or membership.
I take great civic pride in renewing my Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum, Discovery World and Milwaukee County Zoo memberships. You should, too. For the price, they can't be beat. The benefits are good, too, above and beyond the "free" admissions. Log on to the sites or just stop in at one of these Milwaukee jewels, and sign up for a membership today -- it pays for itself pretty quickly. Another easy way to do this is to buy a season ticket to a local theater company. So many options at very affordable prices.
Talk positively about Milwaukee.
I believe that you need to love where you live. If you don't, move. Sure there are things we'd all change about Milwaukee but leading with the positives when we talk about our hometown helps shape perception and realty. Love Milwaukee and it will love you back. Talk about the city with pride and optimism. Be proud and let others know that Milwaukee is home to your business, your family and your life. Stand up for our city. We know that a city is only as good as the story it tells. And we have a great story to tell. Tell it.
Explore, or at least, drive through one "new to you" neighborhood per month.
Get out of your box and step into other boxes. This isn't my phrase; I borrow it from David Zach who firmly believes that we all need to "think into other boxes." As a part of this we, as Milwaukeeans, need to explore areas of the city that we usually don't frequent. Do this. It's so easy to fall into the trap of driving the same city streets day in and day out. Take the back roads or a new, exciting route to work and you just might find something you didn't know existed in Milwaukee. Heck, you might also meet someone new, too.
Attend a sporting event or concert that you typically wouldn't.
This isn't going to change the world, but it may open your eyes to the incredible breath and depth of music and professional, collegiate, high school and youth sports that our market supports. It's amazing. So, if you're a Brewers fan hit a women's tennis match at Marquette. Or try women's soccer at UWM. Maybe a curling game in Tosa or finally take your kids to a Wave game at the Cell. Same with concerts. Go to a new venue, see a type of music you don't "like" or attend a show in an area of the city you normally don't hang out in.
Get off the sidelines -- Find a cause, small or large, and stick with it.
We all have a cause that we love and have passion for. Support it. Get off your butt, volunteer, call an organization and ask what it needs. Or, just write a check. No one gives you the right to just stand on the sidelines. Milwaukee needs your help.
Update your company's "About us" section and presentations.
Add the name "Milwaukee" to your presentations and make sure that, if your employer or business is in greater Milwaukee, that it says so on its company Web site and materials. Showcase the city on your site with photos, links and video. Kohl's may physically sit in Menomonee Falls, but it's in Milwaukee! Your company is, too.
Spend a few hours at the Milwaukee County Historical Society
Finally, get to the Milwaukee County Historical Society (when it reopens later this summer). Spend an hour looking at the photos, reviewing the exhibits and taking in our city's history. You'll be amazed, enriched, saddened about some stuff and hopefully exited to be a part of your city's future. I suggest first starting with John Gurda's "The Making of Milwaukee" at least until the Historical Society completes its renovations.
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.