From Project to Park - A Year In the Menomonee Valley

Written by Glenna Holstein
    Wednesday, 16 July 2014
From Project to Park - A Year In the Menomonee Valley

One year ago, we were busily preparing for the grand opening of Three Bridges Park. So many people worked so hard leading up to that day: to design the park, to build it, and to create a celebration that we hoped would capture the spirit of creativity and invitation that we wanted Three Bridges Park to be for Milwaukee. As exciting as that experience was, it was also a daunting task. We had huge hopes for what Three Bridges Park would become, and though all of us working closely on the project were excited for the park’s potential, we just couldn’t know how people would respond to the park once it was actually open.

I can still remember how deeply nervous I was in the time leading up to the grand opening, and especially in the minutes before the opening procession was supposed to begin: as I walked toward the 37th street entrance from inside the park, I remember being terrified that no one would show up!

I also remember how quickly that nervousness melted away as the 37th Street Bridge came into view and I saw the hundreds of people gathered there, murmuring with excitement ready to come in and celebrate.  

That day (and really every day since then!) I got to witness something pretty magical: I watched this space turn from a project into a park.

Three Bridges Park Grand Opening
One year ago; the Three Bridges Park Grand Opening Ceremony. Photo: Jeff McAvoy

Every time I go out into Three Bridges Park (which I’m happy to say is almost every day!) I continue to see that process of becoming a park. I watch different parts of the green space coming to life under the nurturing hands of our stewardship crew, I see our educators helping kids experience a place in their neighborhood in a way they never have before, and I see all sorts of folks from many different neighborhoods just using the park, experiencing it in their own way and making it theirs.

And all of that is what we are celebrating this Saturday! Our Summer Celebration marks nearly exactly a year since Three Bridges Park has been open, and we want people to come see what it has grown into! The Menomonee Valley team has worked closely with lots of other individuals and organizations in our neighborhood to pull together a celebration of many different ways that people can and do use the park.

The Summer Celebration will run 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 19th, and will be based at our Menomonee Valley branch at 3700 W Pierce St. Here’s a sampling of what to expect:

  • Martial Arts Demonstration and Lesson with Rising Dragon Martial Arts
  • Art Activities with Arts @ Large & Native American Awareness Project
  • Fitness Activities with Latinos Por La Salud
  • Mobile Bike Hub and Bike Safety with the Bike Federation
  • Snake Show with Cheryl Sterrenberg
  • Hikes with Urban Ecology Center Staff and Volunteers
  • Menomonee River Studies with Urban Ecology Center Staff
  • Planting in Three Bridges Park with Urban Ecology Center Staff
  • Food from local vendors and music from local bands like Leana' Cristiana and Brian Harper!

Plus, if you want to start celebrating early, Latinos por la Salud is meeting in Mitchell Park at 9 a.m. to go for a bike ride through Three Bridges Park, and will end up at the festival around 10 a.m.

So, I invite you to come join us!

Summer Celebration Festival

Saturday, July 19th | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Urban Ecology Center Menomonee Valley

If you’ve never been here, then this is a great way to get your first experience in the park, and meet some of the incredible folks who work, live, and play in our neighborhood!

If you came to the Grand Opening and haven’t been back since, you will be amazed at some of the changes you’ll see in the physical character of the park, as well as some of the ways you’ll find people using the space!

And honestly, even if you’re like me and are lucky enough to get to go into Three Bridges Park almost every day, I guarantee you will find new ways to explore, experience, or enjoy this place.

Last year at the grand opening, I invited people to think of that day as a birthday celebration for Three Bridges Park. As I said then, birthdays are intended to celebrate not just what has already happened in one’s life, but also what is still to come. Saturday will be the park’s “1 year old” birthday, so come do some good solid rejoicing in the wonderful way it has turned from project into park, and then celebrate (and help shape!) everything it will become in the future!

Hope to see you there!

Photo Credit: Jeff McAvoy
Glenna Holstein

Glenna Holstein

Glenna grew up a mile up the river from the Riverside Park, so the Urban Ecology Center has always been important to her. Her studies and work have taken her all over the hemisphere, but her home has always been right here in Milwaukee. As Menomonee Valley Branch Manager, she is delighted to be part of the team that is working to connect a new community to the nature in their neighborhood. Her favorite things to do include hiking, exploring, cooking, singing, building forts, and trying to convince children that cockleburs are really baby porcupines!

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