Tag Archives: neighborhood

Proposed interstate expansion prompts federal civil rights investigation

The U.S. Department of Transportation will initiate an investigation of alleged civil rights violations related to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s proposal to expand I-70.

The state DOT wants to expand the interstate through the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods in North Denver.

The federal decision is a response to a complaint filed Nov. 15 by Earthjustice on behalf of the Colorado Latino Forum, Cross Community Coalition and Elyria and Swansea Neighborhood Association. The complaint alleges the plan to triple I-70’s width would result in “disparate and severe environmental and economic impacts” on the predominantly Latino communities.

CDOT committed to moving forward with the expansion plan in May, but has yet to issue its formal record of its decision.

The agency, which receives federal funding for the I-70 and other projects, is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from taking actions that have even an unintentional discriminatory impact on citizens on the basis of their race, color, or national origin.

“We are looking forward to making the case that CDOT’s proposal magnifies the already discriminatory impact that I-70 has had on these neighborhoods for decades, leading to reduced life expectancies and the highest rates of pollution-related illnesses in the city,” said Heidi McIntosh, an attorney at Earthjustice who represents the neighborhood advocates.

Interstate 70 was built through the area in the 1960s over the objections of neighborhood organizations and business owners.

Fifty years later, the neighborhood is the most polluted in Colorado.

Residents have significantly higher rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and asthma-related emergency room visits than the rest of Denver, according to EarthJustice.

The expansion of I-70, adding toll lanes and eliminating access to the highway from the neighborhood, would worsen environmental and health consequences for this community, the EarthJustice complaint states.

It would result in:

• Increased exposure to freeway-related air pollution and expose residents to airborne dust from existing Superfund sites that are contaminated by lead and arsenic.

• Disruption to the social fabric of the neighborhood and its economic vitality by destroying at least 56 homes, 13 commercial buildings and the Swansea Elementary School playground. About 200 people would be displaced by the expansion.

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.

Zillow poll: Taylor Swift welcome to the neighborhood, Donald Trump can move on

Americans would most like to be neighbors with the singer-songwriter and pop sensation Taylor Swift, according to the ninth annual Zillow Celebrity Neighbor Survey.

Republican presidential candidate and business mogul, Donald Trump, was named the least desirable neighbor of 2015.

The annual Zillow survey asks U.S. adults which celebrities they would most like to be their neighbor and with whom they wouldn’t want to share a fence.

Most Desirable Neighbors in 2016

Taylor Swift was the top choice for a celebrity neighbor, earning 12 percent of surveyed adults’ votes, up from her third place finish last year. The popstar was especially favorable among millennials, receiving 17 percent of their votes. 

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and comedian Amy Schumer rounded out the top three positions, earning 11 percent and 9 percent of votes, respectively. All three women were equally as popular among male and female voters.  

Thirty-four percent of surveyed adults said they would not want to live next to any of the celebrities listed in the poll.

Worst Neighbors for 2015

Republican candidate Donald Trump tops this year’s list for worst neighbor, moving up three positions from his fourth place finish in 2014. Trump earned 24 percent of total votes for worst neighbor, but was especially disliked by females (27 percent) and millennials (33 percent) polled. 

Kim Kardashian and Kayne West came in second with 22 percent of the votes, narrowly defeating last year’s worst neighbor, Justin Bieber, who ranked third this year (18 percent). Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, finished fourth with 11 percent of votes. 

“2015 was a landmark year for Taylor Swift, from her highly successful 1989 World Tour, to being named the youngest female ever on Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list – it’s no surprise America picked the down-to-earth singer-songwriter as 2016’s most desirable neighbor,” says Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow chief marketing officer. “Donald Trump on the other hand, is frequently in the limelight for his polarizing comments and non-apologetic attitude which some may see as unattractive qualities in a neighbor.”

Public art project gives voice to historic Mitchell Street

A few years ago, visual artist Sonja Thomson and storyteller Adam Carr teamed up for a temporary public art piece called Here, Mothers Are, which relayed in words and installations the stories of families in the neighborhood around 24th and Locust streets. The project was a precursor to their latest endeavor, Listening to Mitchell. This time, they recount the memories and testimonials of historic Mitchell Street.

Beginning in October 2012, Thomson and Carr approached neighborhood organizations, receiving particular assistance from the neighborhood business improvement district. They forged connections with area residents to uncover the often hidden experiences of the street and its surroundings. The result is a project that begins with a storefront at 723 W. Mitchell, where 18 channels of recorded audio mix the voices of interviewees with a display of pictures that reappear throughout the installation on Mitchell between Fifth and 12th streets. Though the sound installation in the storefront is currently only open by appointment, it will be part of Doors Open Milwaukee on Sept. 21.

The most significant parts of Listening to Mitchell are viewable on the street in the form of printed photographic images. Some are the size of large posters, others are small pieces approaching postcard size. By calling 414-921-2622, the visitor can listen to the 20 audio clips drawn from numerous interviews with area residents. This brings a virtual media component to the physicality of place. A printed brochure, with succinct descriptions of the participating locations and businesses, is like a conversational guide, placing the visitor between art viewer and local tourist. 

Carr enthusiastically described the responses elicited from visitors. Some adults noted the subtle insertion of the pictures into the urban street scene, but children proved to be the most observant. Perhaps this reflects the way that grown-ups view the thoroughfare in utilitarian terms, a way of moving from point A to B. The project encourages a slower pace in order to consider the lives lived among those points.

Placemaking is a term that has been popping up in the vernacular of art-speak lately, and this project is one that is inseparable from its physical place. The cultural background of the neighborhood is a mix of Latino, Asian, African, Native American, European and American influences, woven together. The highlighting of personalities and personal stories is a move toward mindfulness that applies not only to Mitchell Street but to any locale. The practice of living and looking is a complex one, and while most stories of the people and places around us will never be fully known, the project is a gesture one that broadens awareness of the layers of lives so close to our own.

On the Street

Listening to Mitchell is installed in various places on Mitchell Street between Fifth and 12th streets. It will be part of Doors Open Milwaukee on Sept. 21. Sonja Thomsen will lead a one-hour tour that day beginning at 4 p.m. The tour will begin at the Modjeska Theater and tickets are required. For more, go to listeningtomitchell.wordpress.com.

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Go For the Food: Walker’s Point in Milwaukee

Drive south from downtown Milwaukee into the Walker’s Point neighborhood, where you can enjoy some of the best farm-to-table food in a city that prides itself on being the heart of America’s Dairyland.

Your first stop should be La Merenda, a tapas bar where farmers and artisanal food producers vie to get on the menu. With so many restaurants naming their suppliers these days, serving local food seems unremarkable and increasingly faddish. But Peter Sandroni and a growing group of like-minded chefs have demonstrated the power of buying locally.

When Sandroni opened La Merenda in an old woodworking shop seven years ago, Walker’s Point had only one truly notable restaurant, Peggy Magister’s Crazy Water, a pricey-by-Milwaukee-standards bistro with a quietly loyal clientele.

Today, its neighbors include Braise, run by James Beard nominee Dave Swanson; c. 1880, operated by Thomas Hauck, the former executive sous chef at Citronelle in Washington; and Blue Jacket, a Great Lakes-themed restaurant that’s rapidly making a name for itself after opening last summer. Magister has opened a second restaurant in the area, called All Purpose, or AP.

The restaurants are within blocks of some of the city’s most acclaimed artisanal producers, including the cheesemaker Clock Shadow Creamery, Purple Door Ice Cream, Atomic Chocolate Co., Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. and Great Lakes Distillery, which makes small-batch spirits. Sandroni has made a point of buying from these companies and encourages other chefs to do so as well.

He knew the dark, dead-end street where he opened La Merenda on Valentine’s Day in 2007 was a gamble. Customers were afraid to walk too far in a section of the city with few street lamps _ a problem that remains. But the artsy and upscale neighborhood to the north had no space left for a newcomer, and the neighborhood just south was rapidly filling with hipsters.

Sandroni’s menu has a few staples — ravioli and empanadas stuffed with seasonal vegetables, meat and sometimes fruit. The ravioli on the current menu — filled with winter squash and soft quark cheese from Clock Shadow Creamery — comes in a brown butter that is swoon-worthy. Later in the year, the squash may be replaced with mushrooms or spinach.

Another mainstay is patatas bravas y chorizo, a dish of fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce with Spanish pork sausage. The potatoes cut the heat in the sauce, leaving the dish sweet and tangy.

A similar dish with a Wisconsin twist features LaClare Farms goat cheese curds melted on garlic crostini under a tomato and chorizo cream sauce. You might want to order a side of Rocket Baby Bakery bread to wipe up the extra sauce. Or, order the bread just to taste Sandroni’s homemade jams and butters flavored with garlic, herbs or spices.

Most La Merenda small plates run $7 to $10 and are designed to be shared among four people. With a group of six to eight, it’s possible to order much of the menu and still walk away with a bill of $20 to $25 per person.

The restaurant’s top seller also is its most expensive, a $15 Argentinian-style grass-fed beef marinated in chimichurri, grilled and served with mashed sweet plantains. The beef is fork-tender, and the plantains put mashed potatoes to shame.

The cost of the dish reflects Sandroni’s recent switch from a national meat supplier to a farm north of Milwaukee. Knowing the cows are treated right, he says, is worth the higher price.

If You Go . . .

LA MERENDA: 125 E. National Ave., Milwaukee, 414-389-0125, http://www.lamerenda125.com/index.html

CLOCK SHADOW CREAMERY: 138 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee, 414-273-9711, http://www.clockshadowcreamery.com/ .

PURPLE DOOR ICE CREAM: 138 W. Bruce St., Milwaukee, 414-231-3979, http://purpledooricecream.com/

ATOMIC CHOCOLATE CO. (inside Times Square Bistro and Pizzeria): 605 S. First St., Milwaukee, 262-384-1236.

GREAT LAKES DISTILLERY: 616 W Virginia St., Milwaukee, 414-431-8683, http://www.greatlakesdistillery.com/