Stuck in the '60s
Forty-four years after the Kerner Commission, we are still dealing with the same race issues.
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The audacity of hope has become the hypocrisy of our elected officials.
In any recounting of failed promises one must remember the hollow promises made to the Native Americans.
When you lose hope and can no longer dream of a better future anarchy is often the result.
-Richard Kanak | Cherry Valley, Illinois | August 11, 2011
Ed, unfortunately, your analysis is totally accurate. Here's an "outside the box" idea. Recently, I was camping at Richard Bong, State Recreation Area, near Burlington. As you probably know, this area was scheduled to be an Air Force Base in the early 1950s; but, plans changed and it was returned to its native prairie and eventually a multi-use State Rec. area with camping, hiking trails etc. (This required action by the Wisconsin State Legislature-working with the Feds.)
Here's the idea: (1). Turn Milwaukee's industrial wasteland, Menomonee Valley back to a green zone: prairie, river and green space. And, (2). On every block in Milwaukee's Core (Ghetto) have a green space; put up a greenhouse on every block. Teach every young child about the beauty of plants, about the cycle of nature. put a "mini" prairie into a vacant lot. Turn every brown field into a green field. You will need police protection to get these projects established; but a child who has the love of nature in his/her heart; who has what Rachel Carson called " A Sense of Wonder" will carry that every day for the rest of their lives. They will want to grow things. These green spaces would provide jobs and training. In addition to the Greenhouses; provide a computer lab attached to the greenhouses so that every child can upgrade their skills in the computer age.
How to pay for it: since State and Federal dollars are unlikely to flow to such a project, the private sector may hold the key: Give a tax credit to each corporation that spends money on the Milwaukee Core Revitalization Project. For $100 million, I think you could build 50 block greenhouses and computer labs and reestablish a prairie in the Menomonee Valley. As Henry David Thoreau said, "In wildness, is the preservation of the world."
You would need special allocations for the Milwaukee Police to protect these projects. You would need State action on the tax credit. And, if any State or Federal grant money could be found all the better, but that is unlikely.
How can we as a society claim to be just when Milwaukee has one of toughest Ghettos in the country within a few miles of the large estates in River Hills, and Waukesha County.
Maybe this is a project where U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, and long-time friend Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig could ask some of their rich friends and acquaintances to "chip in" a few million, here and there. Maybe, Menomonee Valley Partners, a non-profit group already established to revitalize the Menomonee Valley could be a partner.
-Steven A. Anderson | Appleton, Wisconsin | August 11, 2011
Great idea Steve. I have lived in Appleton for the past 25 years, but grew up in Milwaukee during the 60's & 70's. I go back occasionally and routinely watch programs on WPTV that highlight stories about urban agriculture in Milwaukee. These programs give me hope for Milwaukee and I think your ideas would be a great addition to what is already starting to happen. How do we start this? In addition, tie this in with public school system...linking members of the community with students and urban agriculture.
-Craig Koch | Appleton, WI | August 11, 2011
Steven Anderson, in his letter comment on the article has, IMHO, an excellent idea to ameliorate the problems of the Milwaukee ghetto
by turning the industrial wasteland of the Menomonee River valley into a green space.
If we could get Milwaukee philanthropist and Herb Kohl friend Sheldon Lubar on board it would help raise the private money needed.
-Happy Clam | Mellen, Wisconsin | August 11, 2011