On Sept. 15, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation hosted its second Neighborhood Visioning Session at Ascension-St Joseph’s Hospital. The event was facilitated by Piper Anderson, founder and president of Create Forward, and featured a number of residents and key stakeholders who gathered to discuss possible solutions for the betterment of the Sherman Park community. Over the course of three hours, participants identified the following five major categories as focus areas: homeownership, community building and relationships, youth engagement, employment and safety.
Throughout the session, residents expressed heartfelt testimonies and developed practical and wild solutions to address challenges in Sherman Park. One particular testimony touched on relationships between the youth and elderly. It not only sparked a meaningful conversation, but also forced residents to look at the challenges from multiple perspectives. The youth representative in the room offered insight on the lack of understanding that youth and elderly have about each other due to different generational values. These differences are what make a community, and the group concluded that Sherman Park has the spirit and perseverance to thrive by coming together as one.
The act of coming together as one sparked a conversation that involved a plan on how to build the community by offering residents more access to wealth. Participants proposed the creation of a centralized career center that would cater to Sherman Park residents and provide resources like transportation, child care and housing to help overcome barriers. It would also offer training and development opportunities geared toward promoting entrepreneurship, which would create an environment for more local businesses. Though this idea was wild and elaborate, it showed cohesion among residents.
Homeownership was a topic everyone agreed needs to be addressed in Sherman Park. Collectively, participants came up with three ideas – something practical, something bold and something wild – to support the issue.
- Practical: Create a pool of resources for credit, homeownership, rent-to-own programs and counseling to increase homeownership in Sherman Park.
- Bold: Create a list of reliable, affordable contractors to share with residents
- Wild: Employment – increase wages and income. We need to employ people because if they are not employed, they can’t afford a home. Residents can’t buy homes if they can’t afford them.