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North Division Visioning Session Two – Thriving Communities

North Division Visioning Session Two

By December 14, 2020North Division, Updates

On June 29, 2019 the second North Division Neighborhood Visioning Session took place at Coffee Makes You Black. The event was hosted by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and facilitated by Piper Anderson, founder and president of Create Forward. 

This session featured 19 residents and key stakeholders who gathered to discuss possible solutions for the betterment of the North Division community. With the smell of coffee and delicious food wafting through the air, the session began with introductions and beautiful conversations. Although each person entered individually as a resident, business owner, and/or stakeholder, each of them left as a fortified piece of a community ready to continue to grow and flourish in new ways. Over the course of the three-hour session, the community reminisced, laughed, shared, challenged, and shared their hopes with each other. 

“I want to be a part of a community that wants to be a part of their own change.” 

-Dorothy Williams, Saving Ourselves

Each person was given two minutes to share stories filled with all of the love and emotions they have for their community. 

After Neighbors shared their fond memories, they engaged in a discussion focused on community concerns. From this, North Division residents and key stakeholders were able to identify six major categories and their associated challenges and opportunities. 




Economic Development

  • Home ownership
  • Neighborhood owned businesses
  • More opportunities for youth to participate in internships, job shadowing, and mentorship
  • Changing perceptions
  • Education
  • Acknowledging skills/talents/ gifts that already exist
  • Keeping money in the community

Perception of the Neighborhood/ Beautification

  • Home ownership
  • Stacking resources
  • Tear down, rehab, and/ or build new houses out of

abandoned/city owned lots

  • One sided negative coverage and media perception
  • Absent landlords

Youth Engagement

  • Communicate in new ways
  • Mentorship between adults and youth
  • Involve youth in planning and deciding processes
  • Reaching youth
  • Childhood trauma
  • Actually LISTENING to youth and children
  • Lack of understanding

Equality in Education

  • Collaborate with partners in new, innovative ways
  • More community activity at schools
  • Involve parents
  • High teacher turnover
  • Lack of resources
  • Burn out

Community Building

  • Bring arts organizations in for partnerships directed at community needs
  • Find ways to work together
  • Leverage communities
  • Generational transfer of trauma
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of support for community visions/goals


  • Entertainment
  • Change the way we communicate
  • Build relationships with MPD
  • Build relationships with neighbors
  • Drug dealing
  • Drive by shootings
  • Prostitution
  • Carjackings/reckless driving

In small groups, residents discussed

the issues that were close to their hearts. Each individual shared their hopes and fears, dreams and visions Every idea presented something new. Information and contacts

were exchanged to collaborate in new and existing programs that contribute to helping the area thrive. Each person, young and old, was given a chance to claim a seat at the table and engage in robust discussion.

This gathering was truly a testament to the fact that people have the power to change their community and that we have to create spaces that invite them to share their solutions.

“North Division is a resilient community. The adaptability is proven. This idea of being a survivor is proven. So it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, people are going to be resilient, they’re going to be adaptable, they’re going to adjust to the changes” 

– Antonio Butts, Walnut Way

Cara Shih

Author Cara Shih

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