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A Decade of Protecting Our Waters: Ann Brummitt's Story

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Tuesday, 03 December 2013
A Decade of Protecting Our Waters: Ann Brummitt's Story

Eight years ago, Shorewood resident Ann Brummitt was teaching her 20th year of high school French, helping students conjugate verbs, and interpret French literature and history. While she enjoyed being an educator, she felt the need to make a change in her life and her career.

"I wanted to be an environmental activist."

After a long conversation with Executive Director Ken Leinbach about finding a project she could dig her hands into, Ann started volunteering at the Urban Ecology Center.


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Ann and Ken convened the first meeting of a group that came to be known as the Milwaukee River Work Group, which met to explore ways that they could protect the green space along the Milwaukee River. Shortly thereafter, Ann's leadership propelled her to become the coordinator of the group, which included representatives from the Urban Ecology Center, the River Revitalization Foundation, Friends of Milwaukee's Rivers (now Milwaukee Riverkeeper), the Department of Natural Resources, the National Park services, and neighborhood associations.

This grassroots collaborative worked to protect 878 acres along the Milwaukee River within the City of Milwaukee and nearby suburbs...and was met with success! The Village of Shorewood and the City of Milwaukee crafted protective ordinances which passed in 2006 and 2010 respectively that permanently protect natural areas along the river, limit building height and establish setbacks to reserve the scenic beauty of the river valley. Ann went on to become the Director of the Milwaukee Greenway Coalition as it evolved out of the Milwaukee River Work Group. She was determined to make environmental conservation her life's work.

Today, Ann steps into the role of co-director of a new effort called the Milwaukee Water Commons, a project that brings together community leaders from a range of sectors to explore how Milwaukee can become a model water city that fosters collaboration and broad community leadership on behalf of our waters.

"The Center was there when I was heeding my itch to become an environmental activist. And I think the Center is terrific at being that place where Milwaukeeans of all stripes can scratch that itch."

Ann has spent the last decade dedicated to environmental conservation and is excited about doing work that is most meaningful to her.

"We face daunting environmental challenges. It is reassuring to see so many people here in Milwaukee stepping in to do their part and the Urban Ecology Center is a huge part of that. We need to grow a generation of Milwaukeeans that will rise to the challenges ahead and the Center is central to that task."

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