A BLOCK PARTY IN A BALLROOM?
JANE’S WALK MKE KICKS OFF A MONTH OF CITY EXPLORATIONS
By Dominic Inouye
On May 1, almost 300 people gathered in Turner Hall Ballroom for the 4th annual Jane’s Walk MKE kickoff celebration. The Ballroom Block Party was a free, three-hour event inspired by the Project for Public Spaces' Power of 10 concept, which argues that "places thrive when users have a range of reasons (10+) to be there.” Attendees experienced music, Milwaukee trivia, food and drink, fun photo opportunities, giant Tinker toys and games, and “sidewalks” lined with organizations dedicated to making Milwaukee better for all through neighborhood- and community-building efforts.
In its fourth year, Jane’s Walk MKE encourages people to walk, talk, explore, and reimagine our city together during the month of May. So far, they have scheduled more than 40 free, community-led walks, bikes, and paddles to engage people in exploring their own neighborhoods and others around the city. More than 1,000 people have registered for these tours. This is already up from last year, when about 900 people laced up their shoes and hit the streets on 36 tours. In 2017, there were 6 walks. In its inaugural year, three. This year, Jane’s Walk MKE is even featuring screenings of the Citizen Jane: Battle for the City documentary as well as 88Nine’s Invisible Lines.
To register for tours and film screenings, visit JanesWalkMKE.org/calendar.
Spinning tunes from the stage were DJ Nikki La Bomba and DJ Honeypot of No Stress Collective, a “party collective” that works to strengthen the community by centering “the creative expression of women, people of color, and trans and queer people.” Behind them, the Turner screen flashed images of gratitude to the 2019 Organizing Committee and the more than a dozen Community Partners, reminders about upcoming events, and photographs from last year’s Jane’s Walk MKE. And at the foot of the stage, Joe Kaltenberg from the City’s MKE Plays initiative filled the floor with the Imagination Playground, bright blue foam shapes that could be connected or stacked to build whatever guests’ minds could muster (mainly child guests, but some adults, too, which was the point!).
In addition to music, guests at the Ballroom Block Party enjoyed a gallery of 500 photos from ZIP MKE, a major partner of Jane’s Walk MKE that collects photographs of the faces, places, and experiences of all 28 ZIP Codes in Milwaukee. They strolled down the “streets”--taped in black and yellow--to visit with community partners like 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, HOME GR/OWN, the Milwaukee Downtown, BID and Northwest Side Community Development Corporation, Program the Parks, Voces de la Frontera, and Vulture Space.
To see a complete list of our Community Partners, visit JanesWalkMKE.org/community-partners.
On hand to capture guest’s stories were Jane’s Walk MKE partner Safe & Healthy Streets, who collected reflections on what their name means to individuals, and Ex Fabula, who collected “UltraShorts” about neighborhood memories. Guests tested their knowledge of Milwaukee with Quizmaster Trivia, the Milwaukee Public Library provided a vast array of books for young and old about Jane Jacobs and city-building, and organizers sold the official 2019 t-shirt sporting Jacobs’ iconic owl-eyed glasses on the front as well as a special “OurWaukee” light roast from MKEing Coffee, which partners with Sharehouse Goods on 55th & North.
A block party wouldn’t be complete without food: food truck pupusas from Cielito Salvadoreño, Jamaican stew by Annie Minga, and falafel and hummus from Casablanca. Turner Hall was transformed into a neighborhood with so many opportunities to observe and interact, nourish and connect, play and learn.
T-shirts and coffee will be for sale at multiple walks and events. To reserve yours for pickup, complete the order form: forms.gle/CiEaaHiaNRkrL4Ni6.
Over a dozen walks, bikes, paddles, and film screenings have already happened! Here is a listing of the remaining ones this May:
Tuesday, May 7: Citizen Jane screening (Villard Square Library)
Friday, May 10: ZIP MKE’s 28 in 28 Tour: 53202
Saturday, May 11: BID #19’s Back Down Memory Lane (Villard Avenue)
Saturday, May 11: Hike the Gorge!
Saturday, May 11: Connections and Reconnections: Lakefront Brewery and Brady Street
Saturday, May 11: A Walk with Neighbors from Lindsay Park to Nash Park
Saturday, May 11: Jones Walk (on Jones Island)
Saturday, May 11: Citizen Jane screening (Mitchell Street Library)
May 11 & May 12: Milwaukee's Vanishing LGBTQ Landmarks (Walker’s Point)
Sunday, May 12: Welcome to Forest Home Cemetery
Sunday, May 12: The Menomonee River Wilderness
Monday, May 13: 20 Years of Creative Transformation in the Menomonee River Valley
Wednesday, May 15: The hidden beauty of Milwaukee River Greenway
Wednesday, May 15: Jane’s Walk - Bay View
Friday, May 17: ZIP MKE’s 28 in 28 Tour: 53203
Friday, May 17: What’s cool and new in Riverwest
Friday, May 17: Bike-In Movie Series Kickoff - 88Nine’s Invisible Lines
May 18 & May 19: Through a glass darkly - Hike the Milwaukee River Trails
Saturday, May 18: Bike the Brown Deer Trail
Saturday, May 18: Wisconsin Ave to New State Theater - Transforming a Commercial Corridor
Saturday, May 18: Westown Walking Tour - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Sunday, May 19: Poetry WALK in Juneau Park
Sunday, May 19: Westlawn Gardens - Building a Healthy, Sustainable Neighborhood for All
Sunday, May 19: Milwaukee's Women in History at Forest Home Cemetery
Sunday, May 19: The Hartung Park Story: From Quarry to Landfill to Urban Park
Sunday, May 19: Lindsay Heights - Economic & Green Renewal
Thursday, May 23: Discover the Kinnickinnic River!
Thursday, May 23: KK River Trail Gap
Thursday, May 23: Yield Tosa - Crosswalk Audit of North Avenue
Thursday, May 23: Safer Passages: Hawley Road Diet Post Walk/Bike
Friday, May 24: ZIP MKE’s 28 in 28: 53204
Sunday, May 26: Urban Food Roots Walk
Wednesday, May 29: Milwaukee's RiverWalk (downtown)
Wednesday, May 29: Citizen Jane screening (Washington Park Library)
Thursday, May 30: Westlawn Gardens - Building a Healthy, Sustainable Neighborhood for All
Friday, May 31: ZIP MKE’s 28 in 28: 53205
Friday, May 31: Finale picnic (Paliafito Eco-Arts Park)
To create and lead your own Jane’s Walk, visit JanesWalkMKE.org/walk-ideas to learn more!
A program of Milwaukee Turners, Jane’s Walk MKE is part of a worldwide movement of more than 200 cities hosting free, resident-led walking tours, inspired by urbanist, writer and activist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006), who championed the voices of everyday people in neighborhood planning and city-building. She is the author of the classic Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jane’s Walk MKE’s mission is to organize free, resident-led neighborhood explorations and building community connections that embody urban activist Jane Jacobs’ legacy through observing and dialogue, education and storytelling, and collectively reimagining and changing the places in which Milwaukeeans live, work, and play. We believe in building a “walkable and talkable” city, planned for and by citizens. We envision a Milwaukee that has, to borrow from Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities,“ the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, [it is] created by everybody.”
If you have any questions, please contact Dominic Inouye at contact@JanesWalkMKE.org.