Tia Richardson is a Milwaukee-based community artist who provides visual arts programming as a tool for community-building for young people and adults, focusing on how community art reinforces empathy and cooperation with one another. She met Davita and I at Menomonee Valley one afternoon to share how she became a member of the Urban Ecology Center about two years ago, and how membership continues to provide her with an essential extension of her community and her home.
Pat Mueller and Roger Coleman are two of the most familiar faces at the Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center, each one sharing a history with the Center that goes back nearly two decades and an appreciation that persists to this day. You’ll find Pat volunteering behind the reception desk every Thursday morning and Roger back in the office 5 days a week completing his Volunteer Program internship. They met with us at Riverside Park one afternoon to tell us their thoughts on nurturing, growth, and taking care of what you have.
Steve & Barb Weinstein have lived in the Riverside Park neighborhood since 1978. Steve bikes the Oak Leaf Trail every day, at times stopping to rest and take in the sounds of children playing in the park. He strolled into Riverside Park one evening after work and told me about his history with the Center; thinking back to when this building was nothing but a dream and his daughter was too young to work, he spoke of the Center’s growth with a strong sense of pride and a hint of nostalgia.
Michelle Young is an MPS teacher and proud mother of two extremely bright girls, Jada & Kennedy. She’s been nominated for Teacher of the Year for the past 3 years, but has yet to accept the award: “When you teach from the heart, you don’t get your validation from adults; you get it from the kids." Her family signed up for membership soon after Jada and Kennedy joined the Young Scientists Club in 2010/2011, and they’ve been actively involved in our educational programming ever since. She met Davita and me at Washington Park to tell us about her profound appreciation for what she’s learned here and how it shaped her life and career.
It was the best “wild ice” for skating that I have found in years. A vast expanse of smooth-as-glass clear ice made not by a Zamboni, but by Mother Nature herself. And perhaps the biggest surprise of all? This “secret gem” wasn’t some hidden lake up state, but it was right here, in the shadow of the US Bank building downtown. I’ve been here over 20 years now and I still keep finding the unexpected. This is why I LOVE living in Milwaukee.
Whenever I talk about my job at the Urban Ecology Center, I always mention three things:
Last summer, my eight year old son Benjamin and I borrowed a tandem kayak from the Urban Ecology Center for an overnight camping trip on the Wisconsin River. Thanks to a shuttle service through the Wisconsin Canoe Company, we were able to park our car 18 miles downstream from our starting point. Our goal was to stop at one of the many sandbar islands on the Wisconsin River to pitch our tent and finish the trip in two days. In order to pump Benjamin up for the trip, I talked about our awesome adventure for weeks in advance… little did I know just how exciting it was going to be!
Autumn is upon us, but that doesn't mean you have to stop borrowing summer equipment from the Urban Ecology Center. Members of the Urban Ecology Center have unlimited access to a variety of tools and games to help keep you active all year round. Take advantage of the beautiful weather while it's still here!
On a line of rope tied between two trees in Washington Park, six brown paper bags jumped in the wind. Two-year-old Lilli Morby stood with her father, Josh, and watched with wonder as a member of the Urban Ecology Center’s Citizen Science team took down one of the bags, put in a hand and pulled out a calmed songbird. The researcher weighed and banded the bird, identified its gender and a new family memory was made.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Jozlynne Zbichorski (pronounced Spee-or-ski), learned about the Urban Ecology Center several years ago. Both of her parents are public school teachers at Milwaukee Public Schools (Jozlynne is also going to UW-Milwaukee for a teaching certification) and she had lived next to Riverside Park for several years. However, she had never considered becoming a member of the Center until this summer when she and her boyfriend tried to plan a kayak trip down the Milwaukee River.