The sign outside “Metcalfe Movie in the Park” promised games, free food, community resources and “positive vibes.”
The event delivered, as more than 100 people from Metcalfe Park and surrounding neighborhoods packed an empty lot on 32nd Street and Garfield Avenue.
The film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, began at dusk.
Angela Pruitt, a Metcalfe Park resident and MPCAT member, said she was pleasantly surprised by how the event was received. “I thought that we couldn’t relate to one another,” she said, adding that she found people to be very friendly.
Mark Griffin, who attended after hearing about the gathering from family members, was glad he came. “As long as it helps the community, I’ll come,” he said.
Pruitt said she thinks it already has helped, but the team’s work isn’t done. “We still have a lot of work in our neighborhood,” she said.
Pruitt said that she enjoyed working with Safe & Sound, an organization devoted to reducing crime, over the past few months. “They have been so eager and willing to help us.”
Erin Dorbin, an event organizer and community partner with Safe & Sound, said that the event was meant to help revitalize the Metcalfe Park neighborhood, which has large numbers of abandoned houses. She said that the boarded-up buildings contribute to crime in the area. The movie night is an attempt to “take back the night” by local residents, she said.
Safe & Sound and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin have recently begun working in Metcalfe Park. Safe & Sound has partnered with the nearby Our Next Generation in the past.
Bregetta Wilson of Children’s Hospital is assigned to the neighborhood, working to connect residents to community resources.
“It was great,” she said of the evening. “It was exactly what we wanted. I’m happy people enjoyed the event.”
The movie night was the second of three summer gatherings. The first event was a resource fair, Dorbin said, with exhibitors chosen with the community in mind: organizations addressing health issues, offering help refurbishing houses and preventing domestic violence, among others. The fair also featured an opportunity for the community to rally against violence after three teens were shot nearby.
Dorbin said the experience of attending that night was personally moving. “I think it was one of the most powerful moments I experienced as a resident of Milwaukee,” she said.
DJ Bam, who once lived in Metcalfe Park, provided music and served as emcee for the first two events and plans to help at the third. He said that he hoped the gatherings would contribute to peace in the community.
“I’m kinda giving back to the neighborhood,” he said.