Tag Archives: community

RESISTANCE: List of protests against inauguration of Donald Trump

The number of protests before, during and after the inauguration of Donald Trump continues to increase.

More than 30 groups have applied for permits to protest in Washington, D.C.

Protests also will be taking place in cities across the nation, including in multiple sites on multiple dates in Wisconsin.

A look at protest plans…

Women’s March on Washington

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department has issued a permit for the  Women’s March on Washington, which takes place Jan. 21 — the day after the inauguration.

Police expect 200,000 participants for the event, which will start near the Capitol. Marchers will walk along Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue — and more details are being worked out.

Roundtrip bus rides to and from the event are available, including from  Madison, Green Bay, Stevens Point and Eau Claire. Coaches from Milwaukee also were booked.

Here’s the statement from the march organizers:

On Jan. 21, we will unite in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice.

For more information about the Women’s March on Washington, go to womensmarch.com.

Sister solidarity marches

Women’s marches on Jan. 21 also will take place in many other cities in the United States, including in Madison.

The Madison action will take place noon-5 p.m., with demonstrators gathering at Library Mall and marching to the state Capitol.

For more on the Women’s March on Madison, go to facebook.com/events/361478110866299

Women’s March on Chicago

In the Midwest, the largest women’s march will take place in Chicago on Jan. 21.

March organizer Liz Radford, in a release from the ACLU, said, “We are marching to voice protests and concerns because our rights, safety and values are at stake. The mission of this march is to connect, protect and activate in our communities. … We are varied races, ethnicities, ages, religions, sexual identities, economic situations, politics and countless other diversities, and we will share space on Jan. 21 to protect our rights and our humanity.”

The march is expected to begin at about 10 a.m. in Grant Park.

For more about the Women’s March on Chicago, go to womens121marchonchicago.org or facebook.com/womensmarchonchicago

Earth2Trump roadshow

TheEarth2Trump roadshow kicked off on the Pacific coast earlier this month and the two-route, 16-stop tour moved eastward, building a network of resistance againstTrump’s attacks on the environment and civil rights.

The shows feature live music, national and local speakers and a chance for participants to write personalized Earth2Trump messages that will be delivered to Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

The Center for Biological Diversity is organizing the shows in coordination with groups around the country.

For more on the tours, see a map at www.Earth2Trump.org or follow the tours on social media at #Earth2Trump.

Occupy the Inauguration!

At 2 p.m. Jan. 20, demonstrators in Madison will stage Resist Trump—Occupy the Inauguration! at Library Mall in the 700 block of State Street on the UW campus.

An announcement said demands include “No border wall. Stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants. Tax rich millionaires like Trump. Fund health care for all. Make college free. Black Lives Matter! End rape culture. Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline! Green jobs now!”

The demonstration is sponsored by the Madison Socialist Alternative.

For more details, email madison@socialistalternative.org.

Candlelight vigil

Activists are organizing a candlelight vigil for 7 p.m. Jan.  20 at the intersection of Lake and State streets in Madison. Plans include a march and a program. Organizers ask people to bring flashlights for the vigil, called to denounce “despicable acts of bigotry, hatred, prejudice and xenophobia.”

Immigration prayer vigil

An immigration prayer vigil will take place in Juneau on Jan. 20, which is Inauguration Day.

An announcement to WiG invited people to attend and “stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

The vigil will take place at the Dodge County Detention Facility at 3 p.m. The facility is at 216 W. Center St. in Juneau.

Organizers expect more than 100 people to attend the rally coordinated by WISDOM, a faith-based organization and affiliate of Gamaliel, which also will be present.

For more information, including car pool opportunities, call contact organizer Bernie Gonzalez at 262-443-7831 or .

No Nukes! No Trump protest

A “Homes Not Bombs” anti-nuclear protest and concert are being organized in Washington, D.C, in advance of the inauguration.

John Penley of North Carolina and Bruce Wright of Florida are organizing the protest Jan. 19 in Washington’s Franklin Square. The organizers have secured a permit for the event in the park and hope to secure permission for overnight camping.

Speakers will include Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin, Col. Ann Wright, attorney Stanley Cohen and others.

Room Full of Strangers will perform.

Looking to spring

Organizing also is taking place for the People’s Climate Mobilization, a major march in Washington, D.C., set for April 29 — the week after Earth Day.

350.org holds a leadership post in organizing the march.

For more about the march, go here.

Editor’s note: This list will be updated as we collect additional information or as more details are provided. Please check back.

If you have details about a protest or other related event, please post a comment to this page or email Lisa Neff at lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

RESISTANCE: List of protests against inauguration of Donald Trump

The number of protests before, during and after the inauguration of Donald Trump continues to increase.

More than 30 groups have applied for permits to protest in Washington, D.C.

Protests also will be taking place in cities across the nation, including in multiple sites on multiple dates in Wisconsin.

Civil rights attorneys in Washington on Jan. 5 declared victory after the National Park Service announced it would be issuing permits soon, particularly for the Ellipse near the White House.

The park service typically reserves space on and around the National Mall for use by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. But attorneys representing protesters said the agency went too far this time in blocking access to public space. And they had threatened to sue if permits weren’t granted.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard called the park service announcement “a significant victory for free speech.”

A look at protest plans…

Women’s March on Washington

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department already has issued a permit for the  Women’s March on Washington, which takes place Jan. 21 — the day after the inauguration.

Police expect 200,000 participants for the event, which will start near the Capitol. Marchers will walk along Independence Avenue to Constitution Avenue — and more details are being worked out.

Roundtrip bus rides to and from the event are available, including from  Madison, Green Bay, Stevens Point and Eau Claire. Coaches from Milwaukee also were booked.

Here’s the statement from the march organizers:

On Jan. 21, we will unite in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us — women, immigrants of all statuses, those with diverse religious faiths particularly Muslim, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native and Indigenous people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished and survivors of sexual assault. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

We support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities. We call on all defenders of human rights to join us. This march is the first step towards unifying our communities, grounded in new relationships, to create change from the grassroots level up. We will not rest until women have parity and equity at all levels of leadership in society. We work peacefully while recognizing there is no true peace without justice.

For more information about the Women’s March on Washington, go to womensmarch.com.

Sister solidarity marches

Women’s marches on Jan. 21 also will take place in many other cities in the United States, including in Madison.

The Madison action will take place noon-5 p.m., with demonstrators gathering at Library Mall and marching to the state Capitol.

For more on the Women’s March on Madison, go to facebook.com/events/361478110866299

Women’s March on Chicago

In the Midwest, the largest women’s march will take place in Chicago on Jan. 21.

March organizer Liz Radford, in a release from the ACLU, said, “We are marching to voice protests and concerns because our rights, safety and values are at stake. The mission of this march is to connect, protect and activate in our communities. … We are varied races, ethnicities, ages, religions, sexual identities, economic situations, politics and countless other diversities, and we will share space on Jan. 21 to protect our rights and our humanity.”

The march is expected to begin at about 10 a.m. in Grant Park.

For more about the Women’s March on Chicago, go to womens121marchonchicago.org or facebook.com/womensmarchonchicago.

#HereToStay immigrant rights actions

Nationwide rallies in support of immigrant rights will be staged in more than 20 states Jan. 14 in a show of resistance against Trump’s harsh rhetoric about Mexicans, Latin Americans, Muslims and others.

Organizers describe the rallies as “a mass mobilization of allies set to build community, celebrate our immigrant heritage and defiantly pledge to protect immigrants, Muslims and refugees from hateful attacks and policies.”

As many as 5,000 people are expected to participate in the Milwaukee action coordinated by Voces de la Frontera .

Protesters will gather at about 11 a.m. Voces de la Frontera, 1027 S. Fifth St., Milwaukee, and then march to the Milwaukee County Courthouse, where a rally will take place.

Buses will bring demonstrators from Madison and Racine.

Participating groups in Milwaukee include United We Dream, Center for Community Change, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, Service Employees International Union, America’s Voice Education Fund, American Federation of Teachers, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood, Color of Change and National Domestic Workers Alliance.

For more about the march and the rally, go here.

Earth2Trump roadshow

Hundreds of people in Oakland and Seattle this week kicked off the cross-country Earth2Trump roadshow.

The two-route, 16-stop tour is building a network of resistance againstTrump’s attacks on the environment and civil rights.

The shows include live music, national and local speakers and a chance for participants to write personalized Earth2Trump messages that will be delivered to Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day.

The Center for Biological Diversity is organizing the shows in coordination with groups around the country.

The central tour travels by train. One stop, in Portland, Oregon, featured Portland singer Mic Crenshaw and American Indian storyteller Si Matta, who was part of the water-protector occupation at Standing Rock.

The southern tour that began in Oakland will be in Los Angeles on Thursday from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. at Global Beat Multicultural Center. The show features Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez and musicians Casey Neill and Allyah.

For more on the tours, see a map at www.Earth2Trump.org or follow the tours on social media at #Earth2Trump.

Occupy the Inauguration!

At 2 p.m. Jan. 20, demonstrators in Madison will stage Resist Trump—Occupy the Inauguration! at Library Mall in the 700 block of State Street on the UW campus.

An announcement said demands include “No border wall. Stop the deportations of undocumented immigrants. Tax rich millionaires like Trump. Fund health care for all. Make college free. Black Lives Matter! End rape culture. Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline! Green jobs now!”

The demonstration is sponsored by the Madison Socialist Alternative.

For more details, email madison@socialistalternative.org.

Candlelight vigil

Activists are organizing a candlelight vigil for 7 p.m. Jan.  20 at the intersection of Lake and State streets in Madison. Plans include a march and a program. Organizers ask people to bring flashlights for the vigil, called to denounce “despicable acts of bigotry, hatred, prejudice and xenophobia.”

Day Against Denial Rally Milwaukee

On Jan. 9, demonstrators will gather at 5:30 p.m. the federal courthouse, 517 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, for the Day Against Denial Rally.

Actions are taking place across the country to protest Donald Trump’s cabinet choices — specifically Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator, Rick Perry for energy secretary and Ryan Zinke for the Interior Department.

An announcement for the Milwaukee protest said, “The climate is changing and anyone who denies it shouldn’t be in the White House cabinet. It’s up to the Senate to stop these nominations — and up to us to show up in person to tell our senators to fight Trump’s climate-denial cabinet.”

For more information, email organizer Mark Haag of 350 Milwaukee at marklhaag@yahoo.com.

Day Against Denial Rally and March Madison

In Madison, the rally and march to protest Trump’s cabinet choices will be at 4:30 p.m. beginning near the old MATC building, 200 Wisconsin Ave.

After the action, activists will gather for a potluck supper at the Friends Meetinghouse, 1704 Roberts Court.

For more, email Nick Berigan at nberigan@gmail.com.

Coast to Coast ‘OurFirst Stand’ protests.

UPDATED: More than a dozen rallies have been scheduled from coast to coast on Jan. 15 — and more are being planned — in a major show of grassroots support for critical health care programs under assault by Republicans in the new session of Congress.

The nationwide day of action — “Our First Stand: Save Health Care” — is being organized by Senate and House Democratic Leaders Charles E. Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Bernie Sanders, the leader of outreach efforts for Senate Democrats.

Schumer and Sanders will speak at a major event at a United Auto Workers hall in Warren, Michigan. Pelosi will speak at a rally in San Francisco. Other events are set for Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities nationwide. More rallies will be announced in the coming week. (To see the list, click here.)

“The American people will not allow Republicans to throw 30 million Americans off of health insurance, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts in Medicaid, raise the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and, at the same time, provide massive tax breaks to the top 1 percent,” Sanders said.

Despite campaign promises by  Trump not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, Senate and House Republicans began in the opening days of the new Congress to take away health insurance for more than 30 million Americans, end Medicare as we know it, threaten nursing home care for seniors, choke off support for Planned Parenthood and jack up prescription drug prices.

“If Mr. Trump allows the Republican Party to go ahead with its plans, it will dismantle the health care system and jeopardize the economic security of millions of Americans,” Sanders said. “Our message to the Republicans is simple and straightforward. You are not going to get away with it. You are not going to punish the elderly, disabled veterans, the children, the sick and the poor while you reward your billionaire friends.”

Health care activists, trade unions, senior citizen groups and others are working to coordinate the rallies on Jan. 15.

No Nukes! No Trump protest

A “Homes Not Bombs” anti-nuclear protest and concert are being organized in Washington, D.C, in advance of the inauguration.

John Penley of North Carolina and Bruce Wright of Florida are organizing the protest Jan. 19 in Washington’s Franklin Square. The organizers have secured a permit for the event in the park and hope to secure permission for overnight camping.

Speakers will include Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, Code Pink activist Medea Benjamin, Col. Ann Wright, attorney Stanley Cohen and others.

Room Full of Strangers will perform.

Looking to spring

Organizing also is taking place for the People’s Climate Mobilization, a major march in Washington, D.C., set for April 29 — the week after Earth Day.

350.org holds a leadership post in organizing the march.

For more about the march, go here.

Editor’s note: This list will be updated as we collect additional information or as more details are provided. Please check back.

If you have details about a protest or other related event, please post a comment to this page or email Lisa Neff at lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Milwaukee ranks No. 4 among best cities for trick-or-treating

Milwaukee came in at No. 4 on the Trick-or-Treat Index for 2016, which identified the best cities and neighborhoods for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

The list, published by Zillow, put Philadelphia in the No. 1 spot.

How were the ratings compiled?

 

Zillow, in a news release, said it “set out to find the cities where kids can get the best and most candy in the shortest amount of time and have other kids to trick-or-treat with.”

Zillow assigned a team of economists to look at home values, single-family home density, crime rate and the share of the population under 10 years old to determine the list.

Single-family homes are especially dense in Philadelphia, pushing the city to the top of the list, up 12 spots from 2015. San Jose, California, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Los Angeles round out the top five.

“The national ranking is a fun way for trick-or-treaters and their parents across the country to assess how their city compares to others this Halloween season,” said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. “But what’s really important are the local hot spots, which is why we also identified the five best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating in each of the top cities. For candy hunters in cities not on the list, look for areas with lots of decorated homes and neighborhoods with other kids running around in the holiday spirit.”

Other cities that made big jumps were Seattle, up nine spots, and Portland, up eight. Austin makes its first appearance on the list, while Baltimore and Washington, D.C., return after missing the list in 2015.

To see the complete rankings, including the best neighborhoods to trick-or-treat in each city, go to http://www.zillow.com/blog/trick-or-treat/.

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Best Cities for Trick-or-Treating in 2016:

  1. Philadelphia
  2. San Jose, Calif.
  3. San Francisco
  4. Milwaukee
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Phoenix
  7. Denver
  8. Portland, Ore.
  9. Seattle
  10. Columbus, Ohio
  11. Las Vegas
  12. Baltimore
  13. Dallas
  14. San Diego
  15. Charlotte, N.C.
  16. Austin, Texas
  17. Albuquerque, N.M.
  18. Chicago
  19. Nashville, Tenn.
  20. Washington, DC

Video: Celebrate National Coming Out Day

 

Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, celebrates National Coming Out Day by releasing a new video highlighting actors, athletes, musicians, and others who are helping to advance equality by coming out and sharing their stories.

HRC is also featuring guides and resources that are part of its National Coming Out Project.

“Coming out — whether as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally — is incredibly important in our fight to advance LGBTQ equality,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC senior vice president for programs, research and training. “Research proves that when people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support equality. It takes bravery and courage to come out, and by speaking up and sharing our stories, we are helping to make the world a better place by changing hearts and minds.”

Every year on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day promotes a safe world in which LGBTQ people can live truthfully and openly.

In honor of the important annual event, HRC’s new video highlights actors, athletes, musicians and YouTube sensations who have helped advance the movement for equality by coming out over the past year. Numerous celebrities and public figures have come out for equality in 2016, including Sara Ramirez, Marcelas Owens, Stefanie Dolson, Bill Kennedy, Michael Angelakos, Amandla Stenberg, Charlie Carver, Rowan Blanchard, Gus Kenworthy, Rayvon Owen, Brendan Jordan, Colton Haynes, Lilly Wachowski, Trey Pearson, Keke Palmer, Mara Wilson, Aubrey Plaza, Alexis G. Zall, Stephanie Beatriz, Claire Kittrell, Bella Thorne, Eva Gutowski, Ricky Dillon, Reid Ewing, Shawn Balentine, Nyle DiMarco, Rebecca Sugar, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brian Anderson, and Holland Taylor.

And here is a link to HRC’s resources:

  • A Resource Guide to Coming Out
  • A Resource Guide to Coming Out as Bisexual
  • Transgender Visibility Guide: A Guide to Being You
  • A Resource Guide to Coming Out for African Americans
  • Religion and Coming Out Issues for African Americans
  • Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans
  • Family and Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans
  • Religion and Coming Out Issues for Asian Pacific Americans
  • Coming Out Issues for Latinas and Latinos
  • Family and Coming Out Issues for Latinas and Latinos
  • Language and Coming Out Issues for Latinas and Latinos
  • Guía de Recursos Para Salir Del Clóset
  • Religion and Coming Out Issues for Latinas and Latinos
  • Coming Out to Your Doctor
  • Coming Out at Work
  • Coming Out at Work as Transgender
  • Coming Out as a Straight Supporter
  • Find other coming out guides and resources

Surfrider-Milwaukee celebrates ‘Great Lake’ with art show

As part of its 30 days to Celebrate Our Great Lake event, Surfrider-Milwaukee presents Contained in Water, a mixed media art exhibition at Colectivo Coffee in Shorewood.

An opening reception is 8-11 p.m. July 22 at Colectivo Coffee, 4500 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood.  The show runs through Aug. 28.

Curated by surfer and psychologist Kenneth Cole and environmental artist Melanie Ariens, Contained in Water reflects a love of the Great Lakes.

The show features tiki artwork by Dave Hansen, prints by Tamir Klein, sculptural video projection by Adam Kuhnen, paintings by Jarka Sobiskova, canvas prints by Bodin Sterba and photographs by Ryan Bigelow and Terri Hart-Ellis, as well as work from the show’s curators.

In addition to Contained in Water, Surfrider-Milwaukee’s 30 days to Celebrate Our Great Lake includes:

• A beach cleanup at Bradford Beach, July 30, 9-11 a.m.

• Surfcraft & Draft at Draft and Vessel in Shorewood, Aug. 6, 6-10 p.m.

• Surf @Water, Atwater Beach, Shorewood, August 20, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.. This event celebrates surf, sun and fun with a sunrise paddle, beach yoga, SUP and surf lessons and a surf film festival under the stars.

Surfrider-Milwaukee‘s mission is “to celebrate, protect, and educate the community about our Great Lake, Lake Michigan.” Local surfers Eric Gietzen, Ken Cole, Bodin Sterba, Hans Good and Ryan Bigelow lead the group.

Since 1984, Surfrider Foundation International has been working to protect waters across the globe.

Terri Hart Ellis, Feather, photograph. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee
Terri Hart-Ellis, Feather, photograph. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee
Jaroslawa Sobiskova, Luchador #1, mixed-media. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee
Jarka Sobiskova, Luchador #1, mixed-media. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee
Bodin Sterba, Surf@Water, digital print. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee
Bodin Sterba, Surf@Water, digital print. — IMAGE: Surfrider-Milwaukee

When billion-dollar companies buy out neighborhoods

Many of the single-family homes in the Piedmont Park neighborhood of Apopka, Florida, used to be owned by families — the Vargases and the Townes, the Pierces and the Riddles. Now, they’re owned by Blackstone, American Homes 4 Rent and Colony Starwood Homes, companies associated with big real estate investment firms.

And the occupants are tenants, not owners.

In the decade since the housing boom deflated into a bust, financial firms recognized an investment opportunity in hard-hit areas like this Orlando suburb. Single-family homes lost to foreclosure could be bought cheaply and transformed into rent-generating income streams.

The corporate purchases have spread through Piedmont Park and surrounding neighborhoods, where the percentage of renters rose from a bit over 10 percent to more than 35 percent within a decade. Piedmont Park homeowners complain that the result is more transient neighbors, less engagement at homeowners’ meetings and difficulties reaching absentee corporate landlords.

Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer regards the surge of renters in houses throughout central Florida as an unfortunate consequence of the damage this region absorbed from the Great Recession and housing bust.

“Having an owner-occupied house is better for a neighborhood and better for a community than a house occupied by renters,” Kilsheimer said. “They are invested in their children’s school. They’re invested the quality of life in their community.”

Claudette Guerrier, one of the original homeowners in Piedmont Park from its development in 1988, feels disheartened by the transformation. She said her four-bedroom, two-story house has been broken into twice recently

“It was better in the beginning; now it’s not so good,” Guerrier said.

In the aftermath of a housing crisis, metro Orlando suffered one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation. A few homes in Piedmont Park sat empty for months, attracting squatters who moved in and were hard to evict, said Karin Settle, president of the local homeowners association. One house of college-age renters, she said, threw fraternity-like parties with 20 or so cars parked outside and drunk men hanging out on the porch — something the neighborhood didn’t see in years past.

Several homeowners have said they’re considering selling their homes because there are so many renters now, she said.

“If these people come in and they’re out-of-state investors — some place in Canada or Arizona — you don’t really have a physical office or people to contact about when there is something going on with the home,” Settle said. “On the good side, they come in, renovate the house, typically gut it. They paint it, fix the fence and it looks nice from the curb. But then these companies don’t take a lot of pains in terms of who they rent to.”

Laura Smith, a resident for 17 years, was close friends with her neighbors in the house behind hers until they moved a couple of years ago. Since then, she said, it’s been one renter after another.

“They just come and go; you just see different cars,” Smith said. “I say to myself, ‘I should make a better effort to get to know them.’ But by the time I get around to it, they’re gone.”

The three-bedroom, two-bath home next door to Michelle Harner’s house was sold in March. She was hoping that owner-occupants would move in. But the telltale signs of a corporate landlord appeared within days.

“Somebody doesn’t buy a house like that and turn around and rip everything out and completely remodel the whole thing and put a new roof on it five days after buying the house,” she said.

Property records show that the house was bought at the end of March by Freo Florida LLC for $145,000. Freo Florida, part of Progress Residential Trust, which owns over 3,000 homes around the nation, listed the house on Zillow as a rental for $1,325 a month.

Some renters show pride in tending to their homes, Harner said, but it’s often easy to pick out which homes are rentals. Yards tend to be untended, cars are parked all over the street, “and you see one family a year come and go.”

The transient nature brings other challenges. At a recent homeowners’ association meeting to discuss installing a new playground, only nine homeowners showed up from a neighborhood with more than 400 residents. A decade ago, dozens would likely have attended.

“When you have a high percentage of renters, you end up having a low turnout at things like homeowners’ association meetings, when you do a community yard sale,” Harner said. “That collaboration sort of declines.

Ask the renters themselves, and some will say that very sense of community is what they value most about living there. Nicole Caverly, who began renting in the Piedmont Park neighborhood this year, doesn’t consider herself a disengaged neighbor. After having lived for years in an apartment building where people kept to themselves, she loves living where she can chat with neighbors during walks.

The previous owners had lost the house to foreclosure in 2015, after which it was bought by Freo. Caverly, a store manager, says the management company her landlord uses has been pleasantly responsive. It quickly fixed troubled locks on the front door after she moved in with her daughter and boyfriend.

She is saving for a down payment to buy a home. But she doesn’t yearn for the responsibilities of ownership — from having to fix appliances to dealing with insect infestations.

For now, Caverly observed, “It’s a renters’ market because nobody can afford a down payment.”

There are few signs that the real estate investment companies plan to sell many of the homes they bought. But the temptation to do so will keep rising if home prices do. In the meantime, the companies have scaled back their purchases — from 9 percent of all sales nationwide in 2013 to about 2.5 percent early this year, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac, which tracks housing data and trends.

The industry has been consolidating as companies try to create efficiencies of scale. Colony American Homes and Starwood Waypoint Residential merged this year. And American Residential Properties merged with American Homes 4 Rent late last year.

“It seems like the players who are still around are pretty committed to a long-term strategy of holding these homes,” Blomquist said. “You had a lot of investors jump on the bandwagon during the acquisition phase because honestly the easiest part of this strategy is acquiring these properties … Efficiently and effectively managing these properties is just harder, so there are fewer players who want to do that.”

Christine Anderson, a Blackstone spokeswoman, said in an email that the company has sharply reduced its acquisitions. It has bought nearly 50,000 homes nationwide.

Wynkoop, LLC, which owns about 1,000 homes in Arizona and Florida, including some in Piedmont Park, has been winding down its Phoenix acquisitions as the supply of low-priced homes has dwindled. But it plans to buy about 200 homes in central Florida this year to serve a still-growing population of newcomers who need homes to rent, said Brandon Jundt, who runs the Denver-based investment firm.

If builders start constructing many more homes, or if the homes become more profitable to sell than rent, it would create an incentive to sell off the portfolio, Jundt said.

Still, he added, the firm’s investment in single-family homes is a matter of “years, but not for decades.” As the number of home sales from the foreclosure crisis fades, limiting opportunities to buy homes at discount, and as rents peak, it will eventually be time to look elsewhere.

“At some point, you’re going to have a normalization between rents and home values,” Jundt said. “And once things get back to normal … I’ll probably move on.”

Community bulletin board: Energy fair, art grants, awards and more

Energized for sustainable future: The annual Energy Fair promoting sustainable and renewable energy takes place June 17–19 in Custer. The fair, presented by Midwest Renewable Energy Association, is in its 27th year, making it the nation’s longest-running energy education event of its kind. Attendees can expect more than 250 workshops, as well as entertainment and exhibit booths and food and beverage vendors. For more, go to theenergyfair.org.

For the arts: The Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission awarded 47 grants totaling $98,494 for community arts, cultural and history programs. The county dollars were combined with funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. For more, go to danearts.com.

Rummaging for improvements: The Milwaukee NARI Foundation Inc., the educational and charitable arm of the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Council, raised about $8,500 in May with the 11th annual Home Improvement Rummage Sale. NARI provides financial and educational support to students pursuing careers in home improvement and remodeling, while helping to reduce the amount of construction and demolition materials in landfills. For more, go to milwaukeenari.org.

PPAWI’s praise: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin is honoring state Sen. Fred Risser’s contributions to women’s health with a lifetime achievement award. Riser is the longest serving state senator in the United States and has been at the forefront of championing policies that women, men and families benefit from today, PPAWI said.

“From the repeal of Wisconsin’s Comstock Laws in 1976 that made birth control and information about contraception available to all Wisconsin women, regardless of their marital status, to enhancing rape victims’ access to birth control to prevent pregnancy and comprehensive sex education for youth in our schools, Sen. Risser has lead the way,” read a statement from the organization. For more, go to ppawi.org.

Wright way to summer: Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin presents in June a tour of 10 architecturally significant buildings in the Racine area, including several Wright-designed structures and seven sites inspired by Wright’s vision. For more, go to wrightinwisconsin.org.

Get to the Big Gig: Pre-Fare digital ticket service is a simpler, cheaper way for Summerfest celebrants to get to the festival grounds this year. Plus, until June 24, people who purchase a Pre-Fare ticket can get a free weekday ticket to Summerfest. For more, go to ridemcts.com.

ART GUIDE: The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is offering a training course for docents on Tuesdays, Sept. 20–Dec. 13, at the museum. MMoCA docents conduct tours of the museum’s exhibitions to groups that range from school-age children to older adults. They also involve museum visitors in discussions that encourage them to look closely at and interpret works of art. For a position description and application, visit mmoca.org and click Support/Docent Program, or contact Sheri Castelnuovo at 608.257.0158 or sheri@mmoca.org. The application deadline is Sept. 9.

WIND ENERGY: Wisconsin Public Power Inc. plans to invest in wind power for its next electric generation need, according to a news release from Clean Wisconsin praising the development. WPPI recently issued a request for proposals for 100 MW of wind power, which is enough electric generation to power approximately 30,000 homes. WPPI is one of several utilities that met the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires that 10 percent of electricity come from renewable sources, several years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Send community announcements to lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Biggest PrideFest parties hard, grieves Orlando

PrideFest Milwaukee set an attendance record this year, as 33,438 guests streamed into the three-day event on the Summerfest grounds June 10–12.

That was a 2 percent increase over the prior record — last year’s total of 32,822.

People went to socialize, dance and hear a robust lineup of performers, including Sarah Silverman, Blondie and GGOOLLDD.

The festival began with a rousing speech by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, but ended on a somber note following the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, June 12. A 4 p.m. Sunday vigil on the festival grounds gave attendees a time to grieve, and a makeshift memorial on the lakefront offered a place to contemplate the tragedy.

Crisis counselors were made available for attendees struggling with their feelings.

“It was definitely a somber feeling on the grounds when people were specifically memorializing … what happened,” said Milwaukee Pride executive director Erib Heinritz. “But in general I didn’t feel that the patrons of the festival were letting this get them down. They came out not letting this experience silence them.

“We kept our message strong — that we don’t want the patrons of the LGBT community and allies to be silenced by this, but to come out and be proud.”

Patrons responded by making June 12 a record-breaking Sunday in terms of festival attendance.

Faces of Pride, images from PrideFest

Find more images on our Facebook page.

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The rainbow business, proud investments

It was the summer of 1975 when Milwaukee resident Paul Toonen attended his first gay Pride parade, a loosely organized protest meant to mimic similar happenings on the West Coast. About 20 to 30 people showed up in front of the courthouse, he recalls. So did the evening news cameras.

“As soon as their lights went on, everyone ran,” he says. “People were afraid of losing their jobs, afraid of being evicted.”

Today, that fear of losing a job has subsided a bit as corporate America embraces Pride.

Just look for the rainbow flag alongside such logos as Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Miller Brewing Company, United Airlines and Smirnoff. Case in point: It is entirely possible to attend PrideFest this year wearing an NFL Player’s Union gay Pride T-shirt, a Hillary Clinton gay Pride baseball cap, Converse rainbow sneakers and Burt’s Bees Rainbow Lip Balm from Target, while carrying an Apple iPhone 6 inside a gay PFLAG case. A gay Pride T-shirt also is available from Apple.

For provisions, there’s Burger King’s Gay Pride Whopper, launched in 2014, and Absolut’s rainbow vodka.

Corporate America, LGBT America

Corporate evolution on LGBT issues is on full display at Pride celebrations, says Wes Shaver, who’s served on the board of directors for Milwaukee Pride for the past three years and is currently its president-elect. “Gay Pride festivals and celebrations have become more and more attractive to national and larger organizations,” Shaver says, noting this year’s sponsors for Milwaukee PrideFest include Miller Brewing, Sky Vodka, Erie Insurance, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, BMO Harris Bank, Walgreens, US Cellular, and Doubletree Hotels. Over the past several years, the money from such sponsorships has dramatically changed the shape of PrideFest.

“Besides the fact that the presence of these sponsors drives more attention to the festival, the money itself has meant we’ve been able to grow the festival and offer more programming,” Shaver says. “What Walgreens alone has contributed as a sponsor this year has allowed us to build and grow our Health and Wellness area, where people can learn about everything from STD testing to healthy living.”

Corporate America was very different when Noonen was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995 and given five years to live. At the time, Noonen was delivering beer for Miller Brewing Co. He was lucky. Miller was a supporter of the war on AIDS and the LGBT community. According to Toonen, this was partly because Miller’s lead chemist was one of the first people to die of AIDS in Milwaukee, and his contribution to the company was remembered fondly.

Miller was at the vanguard. As recently as 2002, a mere 13 companies received a top score of 100 points on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates American businesses on their treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors. This year, more than 400 major businesses met the criteria to score 100, along with the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

These included Milwaukee companies Northwestern Mutual, Manpower Group, Foley & Lardner, Quarles & Brady, and Rockwell Automation. Other major businesses recognized as “Best Places” included General Electric, General Motors, AT&T, CVS, Fannie Mae, Ford Motor Company, Chevron, Apple, JP Morgan and Hewlett-Packard.

While there’s no doubt big business has changed and advanced the movement, in many significant ways, the movement has changed big business. In 2004, virtually no U.S. companies offered transgender-inclusive health care coverage. Today, two-fifths of the Fortune 500 and 60 percent of the “Best Places” offer it, according to data provided by HRC. Also this year, three-fourths of the Fortune 500 offered explicit gender identity non-discrimination protections in the workplace, and 93 percent of the Fortune 500 offered explicit sexual orientation protections, up 43 percent and 89 percent, respectively, from 2011.

Sincere commitment

Of course, supporting the community is good business. HRC projects that the buying power of the nation’s adult LGBT population will reach hundreds of billions of dollars in 2016. That’s a huge financial incentive for companies to position themselves as equality supporters. And repeated surveys have shown that LGBT people, along with their families and friends, go out of their way to be loyal to supportive companies.

Still, corporate America is aware that LGBT people today expect more than a donation. They want to see a commitment to equality.

Five years ago, corporate gay-friendliness might have been a marketing strategy, says Shaver, but a lot has changed since then. “Working with these large organizations and companies and establishing relationships with them, I think they’re really coming from a place of honest interest,” he says.

Working with PrideFest, Shaver has witnessed that corporate course correction in action.

“A lot of our sponsors now aren’t just on the ground to push products, sell services, or collect email addresses. They are here to help with the festival and participate. It goes far beyond just writing a check, and that’s been a huge cultural shift.”

According to Rena Peng, manager of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program, aligning corporate values with a company’s reputation as a champion of fairness and equality is just one aspect of that shift. The other aspect is a response to internal pressures.

“Companies engage in positive efforts with the LGBT community not only to appear gay-friendly, but also to attract and retain talent, create a welcoming and inclusive workplace so that their LGBT employees can bring their whole selves to work,” Peng says. By providing equitable policies and benefits across their entire workforce, companies position themselves to “be on the right side of history.”

‘Still puts a smile on my face’

While Pride events aren’t protests anymore, they’re not exactly trips to Disneyland. They’re celebrations, with a whiff of a painful history that makes them both emotional and personal.

This year, Toonen and his partner Jan are helping out Harbor Room bar to create a float for the Milwaukee Pride Parade. Plans include a hay wagon stocked with a crop of young men in tight jeans and cowboy hats. Noonen — now age 60 — will ride shotgun in a ’53 Chevy pickup that will be towing the urban cowboys past Milwaukee’s gay bars.

“Pride, to me, isn’t necessarily about Stonewall,” Toonen says. “It’s about my inner feelings, my refusal to hide, and my wish to express what still puts a smile on my face.”

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market to open 1st Wisconsin store

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a rapidly growing Midwest specialty retailer focused on healthy and organic products and groceries, will open its first Wisconsin store in Milwaukee’s North End.

The store is at 470 E. Pleasant Street and will first open at 7 a.m. Wednesday, June 8.

That morning, the first 250 shoppers in line will receive a free tote bag filled with Fresh Thyme offerings.

Also, at 3:45 p.m. June 7, the store will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony with city officials, including Mayor Tom Barrett and Ald. Nik Kovak, as well as Lakefront Brewery owner Russ Klisch.

“We’re thrilled to be opening our first store in Wisconsin and to fill a much needed gap in downtown Milwaukee. We love the city and look forward to serving the community,” Fresh Thyme CEO Chris Sherrell said in a news release. “The Fresh Thyme mission is to service our customers like family and to offer healthy good food at really good prices.”

As part of the grand opening, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market has scheduled a variety of family-friendly events on-site with local partners.

Fresh Thyme, in an announcement for the store, said it is passionate about connections to the local community, from stocking local products and produce to hiring local residents and partnering with nonprofit efforts that benefit the residents.

Fresh Thyme has filled 100 full-time and part-time positions for the Milwaukee store.

Local residents seeking employment opportunities are encouraged to view existing openings by visiting freshthyme.com/careers.