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Washington Park Wins MANDI Award!

Written by Willie Karidis
    Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Washington Park Wins MANDI Award!

This past March both our Menomonee Valley and Washington Park branches were nominated as finalists for a MANDI Award! WOW!

Fantastic! Wait, what’s a MANDI?
The Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation (MANDI) recognize efforts of those working to ensure Milwaukee’s central city is a great place to live, learn, work and grow.

The MANDIs are kind of like the Oscars for community building in that winners are selected by peers. A selection committee picked five winners from sixteen finalists. The winners were announced at an awards event held at the Pfister Hotel.

With over 700 people in attendance, the event even felt like the Oscars. Everyone was all dressed up. Oh yeah and the food, especially the desserts, were delicious! Lots of well deserved cheering and hoopla for all the nominees who all share one thing in common — the desire to make Milwaukee a better place to live and work.

The Urban Ecology Center’s Menomonee Valley branch was nominated for the State Farm Building Blocks Award which recognizes real estate that enhances the community. Talk about a perfect fit. Menomonee Valley’s video presentation was fabulous, highlighting not only the amazing repurposing of the bar into what is now the Center but also the superior Urban Ecology Center programming which the Menomonee Valley team has brought to the neighborhood. The vision, construction and opening of the Menomonee Valley branch has been a long and powerful journey of time, patience and extreme fortitude which continues to this day. Giant hand clapping, back slappin’, foot stompin’ and dancin’ in the streets to all who have made Menomonee Valley a tangible Milwaukee destination for years to come.

The Clock Shadow Building won the award, but it doesn’t realy feel like a loss. The Clock Shadow Building has an amazing story of its own and was recognized for its dedication to community and purposeful recycled architecture choices.

Our Washington Park branch was nominated for the Brewers Community Foundation Public Space Award which recognizes public space that builds the community. There are so many inspiring projects being done in Milwaukee and to be recognized in their company was truly a pleasure and honor.

Washington Park was fortunate to win! The award recognizes all the collective work done over the years by lots of wonderful people and everything we’re doing now to revitalize Washington Park. Through our work together, Washington Park has been activated in an incredibly positive way: crime has been reduced by 56%, and the park is alive with a variety of unique activities that is relevant to the park’s community. This is truly a collaborative award with Milwaukee County Parks, Washington Park Partners and the Urban Ecology Center all working with the local neighborhoods to bring a new direction and vision to our part of Milwaukee. High fives all around!

I am very thankful for the recognition--it is wonderful to hear people acknowledge Washington Park for the treasure that it is. But the thing about neighborhood development and innovation is that it’s an ongoing process — we still have more work to do! Please consider helping create our future, whether by volunteering or making a monetary contribution. It all is necessary in returning Washington Park to the historic Milwaukee landmark it deserves to be.

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis

Willie Karidis was born and raised in Milwaukee then took off for Denali National Park, Alaska, spending 25 years enjoying the wilderness of the Big Country. Gold mining in the bush, roofing in the Aleutian Islands and discovering the furthest inland whale in North American history were adventurous days. Working as the Executive Director of the Denali Education Center for 16 years was a time of wonderful exploration. 

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