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North Division Visioning Session One – Thriving Communities

North Division Visioning Session One

By December 14, 2020North Division, Updates

On June 1, 2019 the first North Division Neighborhood Visioning Session took place at North Division High School. The event was hosted by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, and facilitated by Piper Anderson, founder and president of Create Forward. This session featured 21 residents and key stakeholders who gathered to discuss possible solutions for the betterment of the North Division community. Although each person entered as an individual, each of them left as a stronger piece of a community dedicated to growing into the best possible version of themselves, together. Over the course of the three-hour session, the community reminisced, laughed, shared, challenged, and shared their hopes with each other.

Our story session featured the best parts of the community; the parts individuals have loved and the moments they felt proud to be a part of a strong community.

“I want to be a part of a community that wants to be a part of their own change.”
-Dorothy Williams, Saving Ourselves

Greater Milwaukee Foundation 3 Starting from a place of hope, we discussed community concerns. From this, North Division residents and key stakeholders were able to identify six major categories and their associated challenges and opportunities. 




Community Building

  • Monthly community meetings
  • Block parties
  • Housing
  • Family nights
  • Seminars
  • Generational differences
  • Quality of life
  • Feeling equal

Community Policing

  • Bike patrols
  • More liaison officer engagement
  • Partner with grassroots to support MPD
  • Increase access to MPD
  • Community security
  • Police aren’t engaged
  • People believe stereotypes
  • Police are scared of the community and vice versa

Civic Engagement

  • Education-related government services
  • Understand areas around the neighborhood
  • Voter education
  • Gaining trust from the youth
  • Voter suppression


  • Community activities
  • Home improvements
  • Partnerships with construction programs
  • Integrate use of space
  • Underutilized space
  • Cost of maintaining programs
  • Vacant lots and houses
  • Communication


  • Playground safety
  • Education
  • Less gun violence
  • Life-skills trainings
  • Drugs
  • Guns
  • Afraid of retaliation
  • Lack of engagement

Exposure to Professional Trades

  • Local businesses
  • Career pathways
  • Livable wages
  • Life-skills development
  • Opening doors
  • Meeting people where they’re at
  • Parent involvement
  • Funding
  • Lack of awareness

In small groups, residents discussed the issues that were close to their hearts. Each individual shared their hopes and fears, dreams and visions. Each person, young and old, was given a chance to claim a seat at the table and engage in robust discussion.

Through a beautiful display of support and community, every voice was uplifted.

“If you want the community to thrive, then you have to really hear what the people are saying they need and deliver that if you can or show them how to do it themselves.”

-Andre Lee Ellis, We Got This Community Garden Owner

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.

“We have the people, we have the love, and the energy. It’s just about finding a way to connect the dots.” 

-Deonte Lewis, LaVarnway Boys & Girls Club

Cara Shih

Author Cara Shih

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