By Dean Amhaus & Dave Fantle Special to Published Feb 04, 2009 at 9:21 AM

Like many others, we typically solve the problems of the world (or at least our teeny world) over a cup of coffee or a favorite "refreshment."

How great was it when Jeff Sherman and suggested we start a monthly column and put our random "brilliant" ramblings down in virtual ink. Our special qualifications? The same as many people and for that reason we want to bring you into future columns for your thoughts and ideas as well.

Most of our blog's focus will be on items related to Milwaukee's image, especially as it pertains to attracting visitors and growing our economic base through new and expanded businesses, events and initiatives. We'll also pay close attention to growing the creative economy, a focus near and dear to us.

When undertaking this initiative we established one ground rule -- no whining! We're constantly barraged with negative messages and we decided you don't need to hear that from us.

Success will ultimately come from you by responding to our ramblings. While we know that talk backs allow for a certain degree of unanimity, we would hope that your responses heighten the discussion with constructive and civil replies. Think of this as an improvisational comedy sketch: don't walk on the punch-line, make a contribution that keeps the sketch going.

The one thing that we don't hear enough is a vision (or dreams) for Milwaukee. We don't hear these big ideas because some people:

1. Don't have any.

2. Are too often forced into being practical and falling into the status quo.

3. Don't feel like anyone would listen or ...

4. Are afraid of being called "whack" (lame)

As we enter into the Obama Administration, we're reminded of President Kennedy's challenge / dream to put a man on the moon and returning him safely before the close of the ‘60s (OK we are dating ourselves). We know what happened to that unimaginable dream. During these unsettling times, bold thinking and implementing these ideas could be the curative for bringing our country and cities back to a position of prominence and envy.

This column will attempt to come up with a dream or two for Milwaukee every month. Some of the ideas that we discuss may seem rather obvious, but others a bit more far-fetched. (The retractable dome over Milwaukee to deal with the nasty cold weather may be a little over the top but finally revamping mass transit in Southeastern Wisconsin may be more practical.)

Again, comment on our writings and post subject matters suggestions for us to take up in future columns.

Dave -- OK, let me kick things off with a topic that is appropriate for the season -- cool! I'm not talking about the weather, I'm talking about this feeling that (despite what some locals might think) Milwaukee is actually a pretty cool place. I define cool as a community that celebrates the many diverse attributes that define Milwaukee. Cool can be embodied in people, places and things such as our lakefront festivals. There can be classic cool such as represented by Harley-Davidson or new cool such as embodied in the Calatrava-designed addition to the Art Museum. Our RiverWalk is cool as is our Downtown and near downtown neighborhoods. We have a cool baseball stadium. I think you get the idea.

So here is cool idea No. 1 -- temporary bowling lanes in Pere Marquette Park. This would not only be fun, it would bring greater visibility to the sport and we could hold fun competitions with various age groups with prizes from downtown businesses. Dean, when you think of cool, what comes to mind for you?

Dean -- Dave, bowling in the park definitely ranks as one of those cool "out of the box" ideas. Sign me up and where do I go for my bowling shirt?

For my first stab at a cool idea I will look to the sky. More and more we are positively touting our close proximity to Chicago. If you are a business person that lives and/or works in the Milwaukee region it is a BIG plus to be so close to a major international airport that has direct flights to cities across the world. The hassle for some people working in downtown Milwaukee is very quickly getting back and forth from O'Hare.

How about this? Helicopter service from O'Hare to heliports on a building in downtown Milwaukee. Delta airline in New York offers helicopter service that gets you from Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport in 8 minutes and which includes security clearance from TSA! Imagine a heliport on top of the Manpower world headquarters which speeds you to your international flight. Cool!

Dean & Dave -- There you have it our first couple of ramblings. Next month we will dive in a little more on these ideas, surface another idea and, hopefully, build on some great ideas that you offer up. Remember, the only catch is that you have to build on the random rambling.

Dean Amhaus & Dave Fantle Special to
Dean Amhaus is president of the Spirit of Milwaukee, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing Milwaukee's image. Amhaus also has served as the President of Forward Wisconsin, the state’s economic development organization, and Executive Director of the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission. David Fantle is vice president of public relations for Visit Milwaukee and helps to coordinate the Milwaukee Film Office. He also sits on the board of Film Wisconsin, the statewide organization charged with marketing the state to the film, television and video gaming industry. is a promotional partner with both Visit Milwaukee and Spirit of Milwaukee.