Ammar Nsoroma, a local artist who recently won a public art contest in Bronzeville, led a one-mile community bike ride to kick off Walnut Way’s 16th annual Harvest Day. The event took place Saturday and included live performances and food vendors, as well as art and other activities for children.
“We were looking for a way to engage the community a little more,” said Trenell Henning, neighborhood engagement specialist for Walnut Way. “We thought, ‘what is more proactive than having a bike ride with the community?’”
Nsoroma, who works for Red Bike & Green Milwaukee, noted, “It’s not a usual sight to see a large group of African American adults riding together.” He said the organization focuses on educating people and creating a sustainable environment around improving the health, economy and local environment of African Americans through bike riding.
Before they took off for the ride at 12:30 p.m., participants were able to get their bikes fixed by members of DreamBikes, a nonprofit that places used bicycle stores in low- to moderate-income areas. It provides teens with paid job training, teaching them how to refurbish bikes.
“I just like to do what I can and see everyone smiling,” said DeAndre Lee, a mechanic who helped at the DreamBikes stand.
Multiple activities were set up to keep children entertained.
“We wanted to give the kids an opportunity to make something,” said Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra, Walnut Way’s neighborhood education and outreach specialist. “We tried to keep the activities art- and environment-focused.”
Teachers from Milwaukee Public Schools and art students from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Madison supervised painting stations.
“I really like what the organization [Walnut Way] stands for, especially teaching people to grow their own food,” Corrine Davis, teacher at Carmen Middle/High School of Science and Technology’s Northwest Campus. “This is my second time coming to Harvest Day and I brought some of my students.”
According to Lynn Woehrle, a community member who said she has attended Harvest Day for many years, “It’s a great place for the kids and a good way to get the neighborhood together.”
Dan Shine and Cora Lee Palmer from the Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District set up activities to teach kids not to litter and pollute water. For example, they brought a model of Milwaukee’s water system with clean water and then let kids add pollutants to see how dirty the water can get.
Walnut Way’s mission is to promote civic engagement, environmental management and continued success in the community. Nsoroma is currently helping Walnut Way form its own bike club.
“Harvest Day is just another way of showing people our mission to have a connected and resourceful environment,” said Sharon Adams, Walnut Way’s director of programs. “We started the organization because we saw a call to improve. This is one way we can show that there are talented people in the community.”