The following ideas were selected as finalists by a panel of experts and community activists and the Greater Together Coalition Leadership. These individuals and organizations will present their ideas before a public audience at Turner Hall on Oct. 13. The public will vote on a winner, who will receive a $5,000 cash prize, to seed their project and move it forward. The Greater Together Coalition is dedicated to finding funding for many of these ideas and others that have come to light because of the public call for ideas to dismantle segregation in Milwaukee. Nearly 130 ideas were submitted.
(1) Universal Drivers Education
Nichole Todd, Center for Driver‚ License Recovery & Employability, a partnership between Wisconsin Community Services, Legal Action of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Area Technical College, and the City of Milwaukee.
Research shows that a driver’s license means opportunity for many and, in turn income, mobility, stable communities and a greater quality of life. This project would find funding to implement free drivers education courses in the Milwaukee Public Schools, which are often too costly for low-income students to obtain at about $400. Providing this crucial education in the schools also creates incentives for improved attendance and performance.
(2) MKE 2040
A sustained, two-year filmmaking and digital media campaign to highlight the interconnectedness and divisions in Milwaukee. This project, led by emmy award winner Brad Pruitt, will leverage some of the city’s best filmmakers, including Xavier Ruffin, one of the creators of the popular web series “Mad Black Men.” The project will engage through ongoing social media, print and video campaigns and culminate in a feature-length documentary film. The initiative will begin by examining Milwaukee’s racial and economic disparities and culminate in challenging Milwaukee’s leading entrepreneurs, thinkers, and leaders to share their approach to making Milwaukee a showcase for prosperity and diversity Milwaukee by 2040.
Emilio De torre
This project will create intergenerational workshops to engage Milwaukee’s youth, adults and elders through photography, spoken word and printmaking projects. One of the goals will be to capture visions of diversity, inclusion and collaboration and juxtapose them with visions of segregation, divide and blight. The resulting works will then be exhibited in strategic venues throughout the city, where people of diverse ages and backgrounds can come into dialogue.
Through the use of technology, art, and social activism, a diverse group of youth will conduct several community social disruptions to increase awareness about the effects of the social and economic disparities in Milwaukee. Social disruptions are an alteration or breakdown of social life in a community setting.
Tapping into youth’s creativity and strong sense of fairness, the idea is to validate their realities and to help them, as a creative community, overcome obstacles to successfully implement disruptions of their own design.
Armed with Greater Together’s report card, some examples of age appropriate social disruptions that youth might implement are: Vine Battles, Activist Street Art on YouTube, Twitter Takeovers, Neighborhood Crawl vlog, Hashtag Wars, Young Humans of Milwaukee, etc. As an initial step for nurturing social entrepreneurs, Disruptors will explore innovative solutions to social problems and share their process online and in real-time.
(5) Music Commons
Francesca Kempfer and 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Radio Milwaukee will launch a music project in collaboration with local musicians to create original music around themes of social justice and diversity. The station will encourage musicians to partner with others keeping various forms of diversity in mind, sonic, ethnic and otherwise. Genre blending and stretching would become a metaphor for diversity. The resulting songs will be shared live on air and via social media. A CD and concert are considerations.
(6) What’s Important to Me?
This project will pair two 5th grade public school classes, one from the central city and one from the suburbs. It will ask the students, and by extension their families, to ask themselves: “What’s important to me?” The project will utilize photography and essays to spur dialogue among the two classes. The 5th grade is an important time in adolescent development, when young people are beginning to question the world around them and explore life beyond their immediate context.
(7) Open Streets
Jessica Binder and Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin
This project would break down barriers for people afraid to go to Milwaukee’s central city and diverse neighborhood through monthly “Open Streets” rides during the summer of 2015. Streets would be temporarily closed and opened to people walking, jogging, biking, dancing, playing and socializing. The routes would cross otherwise invisible social barriers and neighborhoods in an exercise in community building and social engagement. Community organizations such as Walnut Way or the Fondy Farmers Market may create events that people can visit along the route. The streets would become like temporary paved parks, places where Milwaukeeans of diverse experiences could engage. The specific route, activities and frequency are yet to be determined.
(8) The NOW Graphic Image
Artist and activist Nicolas Lampert would create a graphic campaign that visually asserts the urgency of the segregation issue and the need for the broad community to engage in dismantling economic and racial inequality. The image, based on an iconic social justice graphic by Danny Lyon and a photograph taken during the March on Washington in 1964, would be produced on billboards, three-story murals on the sides of buildings, large-scale screen prints, offset posters, T-shirts, etc. Lampert would reproduce the iconic photograph and reframe its slogan from “Now!” to something like “Desegregate Milwaukee Now!” The idea is to produce a single, powerful, unimpeachable image that people can rally around and that can produce constructive dialogue.
(9) Greater Together Stories
Megan McGee and Ex Fabula
Ex Fabula, Milwaukee’s public storytelling organization, will host workshops to draw people into a project that would highlight the resilience of people of color in Milwaukee through shared, personal stories. The group would leverage its sizable existing audience while also reaching out to the wider community and the Greater Together Coalition’s network. Our goal would be to produce stories around themes of privilege and oppression and to contrast stories and pairs of storytellers that benefit from the juxtaposition.
(10) Raising Anti-racist Children
Jeffery Baas, Milwaukee Center for Teaching, Learning, and Public Education
This project acknowledges several points: 1) the need for anti-racist education throughout the metropolitan area; 2) that unless educators examine their own biases and prejudices they will not be able to effectively teach in an anti-racist manner, 3) school districts have not adequately prioritized anti-racist multicultural education, 4) outside assistance is needed.
We will create a committee of educators and community leaders from the four county area and develop and oversee the implementation of a long range plan to provide educators with the necessary “training” to teach in an anti-racist multicultural way. We will get assistance from an experienced group such as the National Coalition Building Institute to implement a “trainer of trainer” model so that such work can ultimately become self-sustaining in school districts through the area.
COALITION LEADERSHIP SELECTIONS
The following five submissions have been singled out by the Greater Together Coalition leadership and judges for their strength of ideas, potential impact and viability. Because of the overwhelming response to the Greater Together Challenge, additional ideas will be shared over the coming weeks.
(11) One Milwaukee
James Dallman and La Dallman Architects
This project will create a long-term plan for the city, a 2020-2040 Vision for Milwaukee. Through a collaborative process of analysis, problem solving and professional urban design, this plan would address the social and physical places of divide embedded in the city. Addressing the city in a holistic way, it will leverage a broad array of disciplines, including public health, education, entrepreneurship, economic development, city planning and urbanism.
The project will seek to traverse physical barriers such as depressed freeway corridors. It will reinforce a unified approach at every scale, including pocket parks, urban agriculture systems, home improvement programs, public transit, etc. It would explore the uses of underutilized infrastructure, including bridges, rail lines and empty lots. It will create higher densities, while increasing the green spaces that create a sense of ownership and neighborhood pride. The plan will be innovative in terms of sustainability, technically sophisticated and culturally inclusive.
As a non-partisan architectural proposal, the 2020-2040 Vision will engage the community at every level, and will work to create physical and metaphorical bridges. The plan gives Milwaukee an opportunity to reflect on itself. La Dallman brings great experience to the table in successfully executing ambitious, public projects.
(12) Precious Lives
Brad Lichtenstein and 371 Productions
Precious Lives is a 100-part, two-year weekly public radio series and community engagement campaign focused on youth and gun violence. It will be hosted by former WMCS-AM 1290 host Eric Von. It will air weekly on the WUWM show Lake Effect, reaching 95,000 listeners per week. With PRX (Public Radio Exchange), we’ll distribute the show beyond Milwaukee on other public radio stations and through third party apps.
These deeply human stories can serve as jumping off points for community discussions, presentations, curriculum and any other uses our many partners and collaborators imagine. Gun violence is an urgent, high-stakes issue that is directly related to the city’s segregation, black poverty, high incarceration rate among young black men, racial gap in education, and black unemployment. Beyond that, the series gives voice to a largely voiceless population, people who suffer most in our community and who rarely have input on the decisions that affect them.
(13) Economic Impact Study of Wisconsin Marijuana Legalization
Michael Dresher and Okanjo
According to a 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wisconsin leads the nation in racial disparity in incarceration. In addition, over the past several decades, police enforcement of marijuana laws has disproportionately affected persons of color.
The experience of Colorado and Washington are demonstrating to Wisconsin and the rest of the country that marijuana legalization will and can benefit our economy and society. Clearly the country is moving towards decriminalization and legalization. In addition to the substantial cost savings of not policing marijuana use, this project promises a critical look at the potential economic impact of legalization and possible appropriation of tax income to central city development.
This project proposes a research study that will measure and analyze the economic and human impact of legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin. This feasibility study and plan will provide a clear and concise picture of how marijuana legalization and production can both reduce the incarceration rate and provide long-term growth and opportunity for the city.
(14) Marketing and Communication Planning for Evidence to Action Program
David Riemer and Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
Unemployment in Milwaukee’s inner city is reportedly as high as 50% for black males. Indeed meaningful employment opportunities are critical to dismantling social and economic disparity.
This program focuses on the development of marketing, and communications support for an well researched and proven policy to reduce unemployment in Milwaukee. This program developed by a team that has focused on poverty issues for over two decades, has the potential to rejuvenate the whole of the city.
A four-pronged strategy for reducing poverty that includes transitional jobs, a higher minimum wage, a stronger EITC and help for poor people with disabilities and seniors is a hard “policy package” to sell. It is complex. It is technical and depends on numbers, formulas and statutory cross referencing.
This project seeks to overcome the fatalism associated in any discussion of poverty by making complex ideas accessible to broad audiences, press and policy makers. The plan includes a web site, videos and public relations expertise. Addressing Milwaukee’s most pressing issues, including racial and economic inequality, requires heavy lifting in terms of communication.
(15) Designers Talking
With the belief that the design industry needs some of its cherished traditions challenged, this already robust lecture series is the antithesis of the standard design lecture model. It not only will bring nationally recognized designers of color, queer designers and women designers to Milwaukee, where the design community is very white and very male, it will create an open engagement between that designer and the local community.
Designers Talking is more akin to a day-long residency that results in work, a gallery exhibition, an opening event and rapid-fire dialogue. The series encourages risk, visual play, conceptual experimentation, irreverent exchanges and honest, unadulterated exchanges about the profession.
The following three ideas warrant honorable mentions. The panel of judges and the Greater Together Coalition leadership want to recognize these ideas, which were in contention in our discussions. While these individuals and organization will not make public presentations on Oct. 13, we wanted to recognize their initiative, leadership and to support them.
(1) Design Responsibility
2015 Racial Inequality Awareness Campaign
Maggie Jacobus and Milwaukee Creative Alliance
A digital billboard project that seeks to put works for art related to Milwaukee’s racial divide in some of the more visible, inescapable locations around the city. The project, originally the brainchild of In:Site founder Pegi Christiansen, puts artworks on digital billboards donated by Lamar and Clear Channel Outdoor in the area for a 10-day period. In 2015, the project would shift focus to the theme of racial inequality. Nationally recognized artist Anne Bray of Freewaves has agreed to guide the project.
(2) Industry Initiative
A More Diverse Future for Milwaukee’s Creative Economy
Erica Conway and Eisner Creative Foundation
This project will provide curriculum and career development programs with a focus on providing exposure and opportunity to under-privileged students. This program will expose young people to the huge array of career opportunities in todays creative economy and help to establish a paths in an industry that is traditionally white and lacking in diversity. The foundation is made up of a wide range of dedicated professionals and has experience in working with college level students. This project would extend the approach for students in middle and high school, when they are just considering their career path and making goals for their higher education.
(3) Student Initiative
All for One!
A straight-forward proposal from a high school junior at Shorewood High School to get Milwaukee’s schools to form partnerships around programs such as drama and sports. The project would begin by bringing teachers and students from different schools, some primarily white, some primarily with students of color, together.