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Photo Essay: Detailed patchwork shows patterns of community

As someone who has driven and walked more miles of Milwaukee streets over the past year, as part of the photographic community engagement organization called ZIP MKE, than he had during his first 22 years as a Seattle transplant, so much of this Walk Across Milwaukee with was familiar.

But, as with any purposeful walk on which someone looks left, right, up, and down with intention – in this case, to document the current state of North Avenue – many things I saw anew.

Interesting details in East Side benches, fancy alley fences, red brick crosswalks, and large planters in Uptown Crossing and Lindsay Heights. Peaceful scenes through windows of the newish East Branch library, and dated dining room sets set behind bars at the Milwaukee Mall. Sunshine parks for resting and a new, ecologically friendly park adjoining a popular farmer’s market. The glaring vacancy of lots that conjured up visions of pocket parks with paths, vegetable gardens, and swing sets. A newly opened market with a window already the victim of a round hole, and a coming-soon restaurant and nightclub on the west end of our journey. Messages of hope scrawled into bridge railings, under which a lone fly fisherman patiently cast his line. Messages of inspiration on a pay-as-you-can cafe further west.

Spaces of revival and vibrancy. Spaces of emptiness and potential.

Those of us who participated on the long walk on October 6, spoke of the importance to develop hubs of the former so that the spaces of the latter could start to be filled in.

Walking 84 blocks and 5.5 miles was hard on the feet and hips, but made it easier to see the progress and potential of North Avenue and, therefore, easier to imagine what still needs to be done.

About The Author

Dominic Inouye

Teaching for over twenty years, Dominic Inouye helps students develop their unique voices. He was appointed as The Pfister Hotel Narrator, is the co-City Organizer of Jane's Walk MKE, and currently manages the ZIP MKE photo project that promotes cultural understanding.

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