This week a new movement, called How to Be Heard, officially launches in Milwaukee with a series of County Parks clean-ups on Saturday.
How to Be Heard is the brainchild of two area businessmen – Nathan Harris and Graham Kessel – who wanted to find a way to help give voice to people who feel that they aren’t being heard.
In advance of the clean-ups, slated for Saturday, June 20, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., we caught up with Harris, who is VP and Partner at Uncle Buck’s and Red Star on Old World 3rd Street, and CEO of Ease, an AI-assisted platform that connects freelancers with companies.
He explains the idea behind How to Be Heard, how it plans to achieve its goals and the impressive list of partners already on board to help.
A community effort that brings us all together to clean our parks, to express ourselves, and support our youth in need. Sat. June 20, help clean MKE's parks! #HOWTOBEHEARD. https://t.co/5w9KWrbUJB pic.twitter.com/CdCo8OyL3Q — Milwaukee Pride (@mkepride) June 15, 2020
OnMilwaukee: Tell me about how the idea for How to Be Heard sprouted and what it is.
Nathan Harris: The idea came from a deep discussion with my dear friend Graham Kessel around how we could work together to create a voice for those who feel as if they don't have one. There are so many people struggling in this country and within our community and we can't help them if we don't give them a voice to explain what those needs are.
We created How To Be Heard to be that voice through a social campaign and series of community events that provide education, awareness and support for those in need and for those looking to support them.
What is the mission of How to Be Heard?
Our mission is to grab the joint energy of our community and direct it into a series of efforts that will help bring us all together to clean our streets, provide support for our youth and educational resources around ways to dismantle systemic oppression that holds our underserved community members back.
In what ways to do you hope to achieve that?
Our first event takes place this Saturday. We will have a number of captains spread across 15 County Parks, where they will lead clean-ups and raise awareness around the mission of our #HOWTOBEHEARD campaign.
Throughout the campaign, we will also be raising money for The Big Brothers Big Sisters of Milwaukee so that they can provide more opportunities for the youth in need. Ninety-nine percent of the kids they've helped stayed out of the juvenile system, 100 percent did not become pregnant, 100 percent graduated high school on time, 73 percent attended post-secondary education.
These are the types of organizations that create a future for the best and brightest that sometimes just get lost in the system that was designed for them to fail. With the support of our community, we can stop this and provide more opportunities that tip the odds from against them to in their favor.
Have you had partners and others show interest already?
We had some amazing early partners that truly rallied to bring this all together quickly and to build early momentum: Marcus Hotels, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Pride, Uncle Bucks on Third, Ease, Yelp Milwaukee, artist and activist Lex Allen and "Manitowoc Minute" host and comedian Charlie Berens.
Every day more people continue to join the movement that we are creating and it's just been very inspiring and refreshing.
What's your ultimate goal?
Our goal is to mobilize our community for good, make people aware of how they can take action beyond the marching. We want to grab the attention of local leaders and connect them with the people so that they need to make a lasting change in the lives of those in need.
We also want to change the perspectives of those who may not have as open of a mind. It is never too late to change people from hate to love and that's what we hope this campaign will do.
How can people take part in the event on Saturday and be a part of it moving forward?
We are still looking for more park captains to help us with coordination this weekend.
People can join us on Saturday and RSVP here.
People and companies can donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters so that more kids can gain access to a better future through the program.
Companies can reach out to us to sponsor our future events that will take place throughout the summer. Each event will have a different role in the movement for change and we are open to new ideas from all members of our community. We want to know how we can help you and others.
Those are just a few ways that we encourage people to support not us but their neighbors and friends in this mission to create a more equal opportunity community.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.