Jane’s Walk MKE

Join us for the Jane’s Walk MKE kickoff, Seeding Grassroots, which marks the beginning of an extraordinary month of Milwaukee, bringing together Milwaukeeans to walk, talk, explore, and reimagine our city.

The kickoff starts with a free community meal with community organizations highlighting projects and initiatives which promote community building, healthy living, and all things that make Milwaukee a great place. The evening culminates with a panel discussion by Milwaukeeans who embody Jane Jacob’s grassroots spirit and have been involved in projects to revitalize Milwaukee at the neighborhood level. Each panelist has made a tremendous mark on the city and community – we can’t wait to see what they do next!


5:30-6:20pm: Enjoy a piping hot bowl of Jamaican stew and conversation. In an expo style, you can learn about community organizations and their placemaking and community- and neighborhood-building projects. Learn more about Jane Jacobs through video clips and a library of books to kickstart your reading list. Learn about the wealth of citizen-led neighborhood explorations planned throughout May – explore your own neighborhood and visit others! You’ll receive a Bingo card when you arrive and are sure to be a Jane’s Walk expert by the time you leave.

6:30-7:30pm: Panel discussion and talkback

Visit the Facebook event page for more information

Turner Bylaws

Turner members: here you will find the newly revised Turner Bylaws, which will be voted on at the May 21st Turner Board meeting.

Join State Rep. Evan Goyke and the Milwaukee Turners for an important community conversation:

Converging Crises in Wisconsin Adult and Juvenile Prisons.

Sunday, Jan. 21, 3 p.m.
Turner Hall Palm Garden
1040 N. 4th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Prison overcrowding and justice reform in Wisconsin will be the subject of State Rep. Evan Goyke’s Jan. 21 Turner Hall presentation, Inmate 501: Converging Crises in Wisconsin Adult and Juvenile Prisons.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Milwaukee Turners’ continuing Confronting Mass Incarceration community conversations.

Goyke was an original proponent of the idea, recently adopted by Governor Walker, to close the troubled juvenile Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons and open five smaller, regional juvenile institutions. The existing compound would be repurposed as a badly needed adult treatment center.

But there is so much more that must be done!

Wisconsin spends more on its prison system than it does on higher education.

Reducing the state’s burgeoning prison population would have positive impacts on families, poverty, economic growth and civic fairness. Doing so would require new approaches and innovative ideas from affected communities, including those with first-hand knowledge – inmates, prison staff, and the formerly incarcerated –of prisons in Wisconsin.

Three former inmates – James Cross, Daniel Monge and Minister William E. Harrell – will join Goyke for his presentation and to discuss the issues and needs of the corrections system and how it must be changed to drive down the prison population and reduce the community-to-prison cycle.

Panelist Bios:

Representative Evan Goyke is a graduate of St. John’s University in Minnesota with a degree in Political Science. In 2009 Rep. Goyke graduated from Marquette University Law School. Following graduation Rep. Goyke practiced law in Milwaukee as a trial attorney in the Office of the Wisconsin State Public Defender and worked as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Marquette. In 2012 Rep. Goyke was elected to represent the 18th District in the State Assembly. The 18th District includes Sherman Park, Washington Heights, Near West Side, and other great Milwaukee neighborhoods.

William W. Harrell is board treasurer and property manager of
Table of the Saints’ family house. The house is a Sober living reentry facility that was a goal in 2012; it became a reality in 2015. Table of the Saints is a interfaith outreach organization that helps formerly incarcerated people overcome addiction and become contributing citizens. Harrell started drinking and doing drugs during college at age 18; he later became addicted to crack cocaine and lost his job. He then worked as a “keeper of a drug house” and was arrested, convicted and sent to a prison in Wisconsin, then transferred to one in Oklahoma. This prison offered a rehab program, Applied Basic Life Principles (ABLP), which used the Bible as a textbook. He took a mail-in course to become a licensed minister and became a founding member of the Table of the Saints.

James Cross has worked hard to make positive change in his life and is proud of the fact that he has not had contact with law enforcement and the judicial system since 2007, when he was released after 9 years of incarceration, which began when he was 14. He is one semester away from earning his degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. In February he will join the staff of the Alma Center as a Peer Guide who will offer pre- and post-release reentry services to help others who are in similar situations to those he experienced at a young age.

Daniel Monge did not let his intermittent encounters with the criminal justice system – which resulted in him being incarcerated on and off for about five years – get in the way of achieving his goal of attaining an education. He received his bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee with double majors in Math and Physics, then went on get a Master of Science degree in Physics from Indiana University. He will become a Peer Guide at the Alma Center in February and will work with incarcerated men a year to release and then assist them when they return to ensure successful transitions.



Please join the Milwaukee Turners’ community conversation about mass incarceration, its impacts, and what the public can do about it. The book talks are co-sponsored with Boswell Books and all book talks and panel discussions are free and open to the public.

Author of “College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration”

Co-sponsored by Cardinal Stritch University and Boswell Books
Thursday, October 26 at 7:00 pm – Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

4:00 pm panel discussion: “Is Doing Time a Waste of Time and Money?” Compare to Malcom X on reading in prison – “I had never been so truly
free in my life.” Location:  MATC, 700 W. State St, Milwaukee 53233 Rm S120

Featured panelists:
Darren Wheelock, Associated Professor of Social & Cultural Sciences, Marquette University
Attorney Larry R. Coté, Jr., Secretary of Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board
Kim Donald, 9 to 5 Wisconsin, EXPO (Ex Prisoners Organizing) Leader
Moderator: Daniel Karpowitz, Author of “College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration”, Bard Prison Initiative


Author of “Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America”

Co-Sponsored by Boswell Books                                                                                             Monday, October 30 at 7:00 pm – Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave.

4:00 pm panel discussion: “Pushing Racism for Political Power: What Can
Be Done?” – Location:  MATC, 700 W. State St, Milwaukee 53233 Rm S120

Featured panelists:
Julilly Kohler-Hausmann, Author of “Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America”
Fred Royal, Volunteer President of NAACP Milwaukee Branch
Robert Smith, Professor of History, Marquette University
Dee Hall, Managing Editor, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Moderator: Michael Morgan, Retired Senior VP for Administration & Fiscal Affairs with the University of Wisconsin System, WI Secretary of Revenue, Secretary of Administration, Commissioner of Milwaukee Department of City Development.


The Milwaukee Turners, the Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture Committee, and Boswell Books are pleased to present the 2017 Frank P. Zeidler Memorial Lecture featuring Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Heather Thompson on Monday, November 6th 2017 in Turner Hall Ballroom. Dr. Thompson is the author of “Blood In the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising and its Legacy“, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and was included on 13 Best Books of 2016 lists; she has also written extensively on the history of policing, mass incarceration, and the criminal justice system.

The event will include a talk by Dr. Thompson at 7 pm, followed by an audience Q&A.

November 5 panel discussion, 3:00 pm: “What the State Hides: How Can Democracy Work Without the Facts?” Location: Turner Restaurant, 1038 N. 4th St, Milwaukee, WI 53203

Panelists featured:
Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Professor of History, University of Michigan
R.L. McNeely, Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board Chairperson, Author of Race, Crime & Criminal Justice, Retired Attorney, Professor Emeritus of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Attorney Jerry Buting, Defense Counsel in State vs. Avery, Author of Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken System
Attorney Walter Lanier, Director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement and Men of Color at MATC, UWM Lecturer on Race and Constitutional Law, Senior Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church
Moderator: Dr. Robert S. Smith, Marquette University Harry G. John Professor of Urban Studies and Director of the Center for Urban Research


Nearly 100 third graders from Golda Meir School were enthralled by a presentation of athletic prowess and artistic grace in the historic Turner Hall Gym last week. The event brought together experts from the Turner Hall climbing gym and modern dancers from the Danceworks Performance Company (DPC) to entertain and educate third graders from nearby Golda Meir School.

The children were rapt and delighted as DPC performed two contemporary dance pieces from its Dance In/Take Out series, a community give-back project that is part of the company’s 20th anniversary season. Dancers also held Q&A sessions with the children, and engaged them in exploring their own poses. The children were also left breathless by a demonstration of expert rock climbing skills by the gym staff and manager Kim Kosimitis.

Introducing the event, MTI Board Member Stewart Ikeda spoke about the Turner Society’s longstanding commitment to young people’s fitness, as well as the Turners’ emphasis on fostering a Sound Body for a Sound Mind. A school for gifted and talented students in the MPS system, Golda Meir School has, like other MPS campuses, seen an attrition of resources in areas related to arts, cultural and physical education. Also a parent of a Golda Meir student, Ikeda praised the role civic and educational resources such as Milwaukee Turners and leading cultural institutions such as Danceworks can play in bolstering the well-rounded education of Wisconsin’s young people.


England’s BBC TWO returns to America with series 2 of its popular “Great American Railroad Journeys,” commencing the week of February 6, 2017 at 6.30pm. This season, host Michael Portillo visits Milwaukee, including a stop to tour historic Turner Hall and speak with  members of Milwaukee Turners’ Ladies Auxiliary Exercise Class and MTI Board Member Aims McGuinness.



On WPR’s Wisconsin Life, a new segment zeroes in on the contributions of Milwaukee native, UW-Madison alum, and prominent Milwaukee Turners pioneer who helped the resistance fight against the Nazi regime during World War II. For her courage, she had the sad distinction of being the only American woman to be beheaded by the Nazis for being part of the German Resistance.  Among those contributing to the feature was current Board President of Milwaukee Turners, Art Heitzer. Listen to the Mildred Fish-Harnack segment here.


Despite torrential downpours on the evening of Sept. 19, organizers at Turner Hall are thrilled with the enthusiastic turn-out for the 2016 Reel Rock screenings held in in historic Turner Hall Ballroom on Milwaukee’s 4th Street.

The popular film event showcases the biggest stories and athletes in the burgeoning sport of rock climbing. The event featured five adventure-packed films, screened in the multiuse Turner Hall, which is also home to the Milwaukee Turners rock climbing facility and gym–one of the oldest, continuously operating gymnasiums in the world. The event also featured thousands of dollars in prize giveaways include climbing gear and daypasses to the gym.

In keeping with Milwaukee Turners’ longstanding mission of maintaining a “Sound Mind in a Sound Body,” the educational gym runs classes year-round for children and adults in rock climbing, gymnastics, yoga, cross-training and other areas.  Learn more about Turner Hall Gym.


Milwaukee Turners Executive Director Katharina Hren had an opportunity to share her reminiscences inspired by Turner Hall as a storyteller at ExFabula‘s special Doors Open Story Slam on the evening of Saturday, 9/17.  The focus of the non-competitive StorySlam, which took place at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society and Museum, was to collect and share great stories about Milwaukee neighborhoods and spaces, in concert with with the citywide Doors Open celebration.


December 22, 2015, Milwaukee, WI. Milwaukee’s oldest civic organization cited the early settlement of Milwaukee by refugees from Germany in support of a public statement calling on the U.S. and Wisconsin to welcome their proportional share of Syrian and other refugees. The Milwaukee Turners was founded by refugees who fled Germany after the failed democratic revolution in 1848, the same year Wisconsin became a state.

Noting the significant support that these German immigrants provided to the early years of the Republican party, including the election of Abraham Lincoln, the statement also briefly cites examples of fear and prejudice in the U.S. against German Americans during World War I, the denial of rights to newly freed African-Americans starting right after the Civil War, and the exclusion of Jews and other refugees from Europe during the Holocaust.

The statement contrasts the current position of Germany, which has welcomed one million refugees this year, including many highly educated Syrians, with the “the unconstitutional and xenophobic pronouncements which are being accepted as part of mainstream U.S. political dialogue.” It cites the powerless pledges of numerous governors including Wisconsin’s, to block refugees from Syria, and the fact that “multiple leading presidential candidates—not just one–have suggested a religious test” to exclude Muslims “or admit only those who can prove themselves to be Christian.”

Turner Board President Art Heitzer noted reports showing a sharp rise in attacks on Muslims in the U.S. as one reason the statement was important. “I am gratified that the Board passed this unanimously,” he added, “including our commitment to support the full civil rights of all of our neighbors.”

The statement concludes, “We call on all Wisconsinites, including the vast majority of us who are of immigrant stock, to support humane and safe admission of our proportional share of refugees from Syria and other nations. They will make our nation stronger, and to do otherwise is to play into an atmosphere of fear and isolation, and to fuel the flames of intolerance both at home and abroad.”

The full statement is below, and can also be seen at the Milwaukee Turners website, www.milwaukeeturners.org.


As the oldest civic organization in Milwaukee, founded by progressive German refugees escaping from repression in the late 1840’s, the Milwaukee Turners can no longer ignore the unconstitutional and xenophobic pronouncements which are being accepted as part of mainstream U.S. political dialogue.

Our founding members, along with many other German Americans, were early supporters of the Republican Party of the U.S.; they helped elect Abraham Lincoln, and pushed him towards abolition of slavery. On the landing up to our historic ballroom at Turner Hall, there is a monument to over 20 members of the Milwaukee Turners, Gentile and Jew, believers and freethinkers, who gave their lives to defend this republic and to abolish slavery once and for all. At least six American Turners served as Generals in the Union army, including Carl Schurz who later headed a commission investigating the plight of newly freed African Americans; its findings that their rights were consistently being denied in the former Confederacy was a key justification for continued U.S. military occupation as a necessity to protect the rights of all citizens under Reconstruction.

During the WWI era, U.S. citizens of all nationalities questioned that war, which led to massive attacks on our civil liberties, and even the refusal by the U.S. Congress to seat Milwaukee’s twice-elected U.S. Representative, Victor Berger. From the renaming of private clubs and foods like sauerkraut, to the suppression of multi-language education, xenophobia and hysteria dominated and distorted our popular culture.

With the rise of the Third Reich in Germany, the Milwaukee Turners opposed Nazis and their anti-Semitism, while some Americans who claimed to be more “patriotic” actively opposed allowing Jewish and other refugees from the Nazis to reach safe haven in the U.S.  The passenger ship St. Louis was refused docking rights and over 200 of those would-be refugees later became victims of the Holocaust after it returned to Europe.

Today, Germany has both humanely and wisely welcomed some one million refugees in 2015. The largest number are from Syria, many of whom are highly educated and English speakers, including lawyers, doctors and scientists. Yet our governor has become one of many who claim they will stop even 20,000 refugees from entering the U.S., though they lack legal authority to do so. Multiple leading presidential candidates—not just one–have suggested a religious test, either to block all Muslim refugees and visitors, or admit only those who can prove themselves to be Christian.

These positions are both dangerous and repugnant to what America is supposed to stand for. We are committed to supporting the full civil rights of all of our neighbors, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Christian or other believers and nonbelievers. We call on all Wisconsinites, including the vast majority of us who are of immigrant stock, to support humane and safe admission of our proportional share of refugees from Syria and other nations. They will make our nation stronger, and to do otherwise is to play into an atmosphere of fear and isolation, and to fuel the flames of intolerance both at home and abroad.

Unanimously approved by the Board on December 21, 2015