On Thursday, May 12, Milwaukee Water Commons is hosting its Confluence Gathering, an event to launch a series of bold water initiatives for the city of Milwaukee under the banner of the "Water City Agenda." Leadership for the effort comes from across the city and from many organizations and sectors collaborating to make these initiatives a reality in Milwaukee. The agenda includes significantly increasing green infrastructure throughout the city, ensuring safe drinking water, expanding water recreation for all and restoring and naturalizing our three rivers.
The event will be held at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, at 901 E. Juneau Ave. on Thursday, May 12, and run from 5 until 8 p.m.
"We know it’s a tall order, and we’re aiming big because it’s what the people want," said Ann Brummitt, Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons. "We’ve spent two years engaging over 1300 Milwaukeeans from every part of our city to put these initiatives together, and we heard the message loud and clear – we’re ready for big change. We’re excited to work with so many partners to make these things happen for our water future. This is incredibly hopeful work."
The UWM School of Freshwater Sciences and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District are two of the institutional partners participating in the launch.
"The science is there, the tools are available, and our water policy researchers are ready to help turn these transformative ideas into reality," said Jenny Kehl, Director of the Center for Water Policy at UWM.
Kevin Shafer, Executive Director at MMSD, agrees. "MMSD works every day to bring innovative, sustainable infrastructure to more neighborhoods across our region. The work we’re doing with Milwaukee Water Commons is a perfect complement to this, and we’re always working to take on bigger challenges, to make a bolder difference."
The Confluence Gathering will also spotlight some of the wonderful community water leaders emerging in Milwaukee. Alice’s Garden, a nonprofit community garden in the Johnson’s Park Neighborhood, will also be present on May 12. Venice Williams is the director of Alice’s Garden and has worked with Milwaukee Water Commons to engage community and garden members on an innovative larger scale water project in the garden.
"When I am in my communities speaking about the value of our water, and how we must honor and respect it, my words are often dismissed and challenged," said Williams. "We have taken it for granted and misused it for so long. The work Milwaukee Water Commons has taken on is some of the most important work this city will do. It is about preserving the dignity of the ancestral waters of Lake Michigan. It is also about helping every human being who quenches their thirst, bathes their body, rinses their clothes, mops their floors, enjoys their cup of tea to understand one cannot exist without water."
The Confluence Gathering is a chance for leaders from across the city to come together, learn what’s already happening and decide how to grow these practical steps into paths forward. There’s room for every type of leader at this table, and the event is free of charge. "Milwaukee has the needed ingenuity, creativity and expertise to become a model water city and we believe everyone, everywhere has a vital role to play in this effort," said Brummitt.
While it’s a serious topic and charged with big goals, participants should expect to have a good time at the May 12 event, said Brummitt. "There will be arts and music, video and presentations, hands-on activities and delicious food in a historic and absolutely gorgeous setting. You know, just in case you need a few more reasons to come out and change this corner of the world."