The main message of the recent semi-annual Report to Community meeting in Lindsay Heights was “take ownership and engage in your neighborhood or community,” according to Christopher Boston, director of sustainable communities at LISC Milwaukee.
About 70 community members attended the meeting at North Division High School. Its purpose is to keep the community updated on the Lindsay Heights Neighborhood Initiative, funded by the Zilber Family Foundation. The initiative’s Quality of Life Plan has eight strategies: Academic Achievement, Youth and Families, Lifelong Learning, Housing, Commercial Corridors, Public Safety, Healthy Food, and Health and Wellness.
“Today was about how to strategize on taking action, and trying to get people to take the lead,” said Genyne Edwards, a project consultant to Walnut Way.
Safe and Sound staff members Norma Balentine, director of safe places, and Michael Totoraitis, community partners program supervisor, joined by Pat Kirby, project coordinator at Milwaukee Public Schools, participated in a panel discussion moderated by Boston.
The event continues to attract more participants, said Boston. “I’ve seen more people come; it’s not the same usual suspects.”
The number of residents attending increased from 13 at the last semi-annual meeting, to 16. “That’s a big deal, depending on what those residents do and how they get involved,” Boston noted.
Kirby emphasized the importance of community involvement on students’ education.
“Students are not going to learn if they don’t feel safe, and having the community involved is vital because what goes on in the community affects the children,” she said.
Also addressing public safety during a break-out session, Bently Turner said, “If you see something, say something.” Turner is the block watch captain in the Johnsons Park neighborhood and coordinator of the Lindsay Heights public safety initiative.
Dana Wilson, a community health worker who works at Hopkins Lloyd Community School, said this was her first time attending a Report to Community session, but it won’t be her last.
“It takes people to come together to actually push things forward and to get the ideas on the table,” Wilson said. “This was a beautiful display of that, and I feel like I have some homework as far as better ways to improve the community I serve.”
The next Report to Community meeting will be May 20, 2013.