Milwaukee All-Star: UW Credit Union's Howard Goldstein
Every week in 2015 (and the first few weeks of 2016), OnMilwaukee and local design company Too Much Metal join forces to introduce the latest member of the Milwaukee All-Stars – a team of unfamiliar winners living in the city who consistently and diligently make it shine. Each week, a new member will join the team – based on your recommendations – and at the end of the year all will come together in a Rally of the Raddest Milwaukeeans. We're not sure what that means quite yet, so for now, meet …
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: How long have you worked at your job?
Howard Goldstein: This requires a two-part answer:
I work as a teller for the UW Credit Union, specifically the branch in the Student Union at UWM. I have worked there for almost 22 years. UWCU is a terrific organization. Employees are treated exceptionally well and it puts its values into practice and truly acts in the best interests of its members. Also, being on campus, I have the privilege of interacting with people from all walks of life, and from all over the world.
The second part of my answer has to do with my avocation, that of playwright and actor. I have worked mostly for the smaller theater companies in town, especially the Boulevard Ensemble and Windfall Theatre. Both have been very supportive of my work as both an actor and a playwright. I am like the majority of theater artists in town: We don't do theater for the money – which is good, because we make very little money doing it – but because we relish the opportunity for creative expression.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What time of year / season is your favorite?
Goldstein: Although its duration is somewhere between short and non-existent, I'm a big fan of spring. We finally begin to experience some warmth after the endless deep-freeze of winter. I love the spring flowers – even though I can't smell them (see below). There's more daylight and the prospect of a long, glorious summer lies before us. Spring is full of promise and hope.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What's your favorite or least favorite smell in Milwaukee?
Goldstein: Unfortunately, as the years have passed, my sense of smell has almost disappeared. I can stick my nose right into a lilac flower and, forget it, nothing. One smell that still registers undiminished is cigarette smoke. Cheap perfume and cologne also come through pretty strong. That acrid and noxious odor, representing so much misery, loss of health and life, not to mention money …. Yes, I would definitely say that cigarette smoke is my least favorite smell in Milwaukee – or anywhere else.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What's your hope for Milwaukee?
Goldstein: My hope for Milwaukee is to see a great reduction in poverty. This is a stain on the soul of our city. I believe that so many other problems – crime, schools, even segregation – would be greatly eased if we could alleviate poverty. I can only imagine what it's like to live that spirit-crushing grind of an existence: to work two jobs and still be barely able to make ends meet, let alone get ahead; to be one medical emergency away from having one's life completely unravel; to be one of the "working poor," a shameful phrase that reflects a reality that shouldn't even exist. To see this hideous beast tamed is my hope for Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: When / how did you fall in love with Milwaukee?
Goldstein: For a long time I didn't realize that I was in love with Milwaukee. It sort of snuck up on me gradually. I mean, it's just ... Milwaukee, right? Yet there's something that keeps people here. I mean, yes, we have the lake. And there's some really cool architecture and some great neighborhoods. But ultimately, I think it's a deep appreciation of family and friends. People have roots here and they go deep. The arts community is a great example. It's easy to point to wonderful musicians who probably could have more material success elsewhere, but they stay here and they in turn contribute to the vital heart of the city. That's love, baby!
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: Why do you do what you do?
Goldstein: Now there's a question that could send a person into an existential tailspin. I try to live each moment in a way that answers the question, "What kind of world do you want to live in?" Naturally, I fail at this regularly, but it's something to strive for.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What's your one guilty pleasure?
Goldstein: Cowboy music.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: Name a Milwaukeean you would like to high five.
Goldstein: I'm going to cheat a little and name a category of people, rather than an individual. The Milwaukeeans I would like to high five would be everyone who works in the non-profit sector. This includes the often underpaid staff, as well as the many, many people who volunteer their time to make this city a better place. There are so many ways that people give of their time and energy – whether it's working with at-risk youth, volunteering to improve our parks or libraries, providing services for veterans, helping out at a food pantry. It's really heartening. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the performing arts, where often the whole enterprise is created by volunteers, including the performers.
OnMilwaukee / Too Much Metal: What neighborhood do you live in ?
Goldstein: The Lower East Side, an area with a great vitality, a great diversity of people and a Great Lake – where I can be seen running a couple times a week. The Lower East Side feels like it's at the center of the action. From where else in town can you leave your house 20 minutes before the July 3rd fireworks begin, and just walk down and watch them, as a friend and I do every year? Gotta love the East Side!
Do you know a Milwaukee All-Star? OnMilwaukee.com and Too Much Metal are looking for true-hearted folks living in the city of Milwaukee who love what they do – and do it with zest and style. Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org with recommendations.
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