Hip Hop at the Urban Ecology Center?

Written by Glenna Holstein
    Friday, 03 May 2013
Hip Hop at the Urban Ecology Center?

If you walk into the Menomonee Valley branch on a Wednesday evening, you might think you’ve stumbled upon a party — resonant beats and fast moving lyrics emanate from the Valley Room, along with the sound of voices and moving feet. But what’s going on is more than a party: it’s a hip-hop class that teaches movement, confidence and teamwork. The class is being offered free of charge at the Center through a partnership with Above the Clouds, a non-profit, faith-based creative arts program dedicated to bringing art experiences to children in marginalized communities in Milwaukee.

“Ok, but what on earth does this have to do with urban ecology?” you might be wondering. I asked myself the same question when Above the Clouds first pitched us the idea. I was tremendously excited about the opportunity to provide something so unique and positive for our kids, but I wasn’t quite sure how it fit. But as I’ve thought about it more and more, I realized it actually makes perfect sense!
First of all, one of the top ten issues we’ve identified as a focus for our programming at the Center is “healthy living.” Many schools are having to cut arts and physical education; this class provides a way to get both, which undoubtedly contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Secondly, I think that one of the best things about the Urban Ecology Center is that we try to meet people where they are — you don’t have to be a total eco-geek to be here! You can be any race, religion, or political affiliation and anywhere on the ecological literacy spectrum. Regardless of who you are you have a place at the Center.
This class gets people to come through our door who might not have found us otherwise. Our hope is to engage them while they’re here, and to eventually get them to walk back out that door and into the park! We’re even exploring the possibility of holding some future dance and theater classes outside — a perfect synthesis of art and nature!
More importantly, as ecologists we know that the health of our urban ecosystem is dependent on the health of each living thing within it. Healthy kids are happy, they learn better and they are empowered to make healthy choices for themselves and their environment as they grow up. So, if hip hop helps kids be healthy, then it helps our whole ecosystem -- bring it on!

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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