Social Circle: Is Milwaukee thriving or dying?
Welcome to a weekly segment called "Social Circle." It's truly a group effort between readers, social networkers and the OnMilwaukee.com editors. Every Monday, we ask a question via Facebook and Twitter and then post the responses from our Facebook "likers" and Twitter followers in this column. Well-known Milwaukee movers and shakers will contribute, too.
This week's Social Circle question is a vague one, and yet, people expressed strong opinions on the subject. Some folks are certain the city's on the up and up, whereas others are not quite as optimistic.
But what do you think? Is Milwaukee thriving or dying?
Marino Baca: "Thriving."
Paul Baumler: "The city itself hasn't shown any life for ages compared to the surrounding cities. It's been dying for years."
Mollie Boutell Butler: "Depends, in part, on June 5."
Jason Cleereman: "I am going down fighting."
Celesté Contreras: "THRIVING!"
George Darrow: "Thriving/striving."
Gretchen Fennema: "Thriving."
James J. Godsil: "Milwaukee is in transition from an industrial city to an organic information city. We have the cultural and spiritual capital to overcome today's challenges, drawing from the best of the old and discovering much of the best of the new. We, especially the best and the brightest of the new generation, are at the dawn of some kind of renaissance. Check out work of Riverwest folks, Victory Garden Initiative, Growing Power, Sweet Water, Walnut Way, Express Yourself, Riverwest Coop, among most inspiring new enterprises. Retiring boomers learning from and mentoring new generations to revision our fair city."
Jacent Jackson: "Neither. Milwaukee is not attracting new people. People do not leave Milwaukee, either. I have never lived in a city where the residents have such deep roots. This is probably the city's best asset and biggest liability. I think of Milwaukee as America's biggest small town. With all the positive and negative connotations that implies, of course."
Tif Koehler: "Areas have gone to hell in a hand basket."
Mike Koppa: "Doesn't it kind of depend on where you live and who you are? It's a pretty big and complex city."
Ed Makowski: "According to NY Times and Esquire: thriving, according to the Atlantic: dying."
Lisa Malmarowski: "Thriving."
Steven Morris: "A mixed bag!"
Andy Pagel: "Thriving."
Judie Papadakis: "Some are dying and some are thriving. We need to do more for the dying. It is a great city with lots of things to do. It needs to elevate all so everyone is invested in this city. We all then will take better care of it."
Cynthia Packersrule Porter: "Dying under Walker!"
Kristin Raymond: "Depends on what part of the city you're talking about."
Jason Snider: "Cut, cut, cut; cheaper, cheaper, cheaper; less, less, less. Race to the bottom. Wal-martization in city form."
Toni Spott: "Totally thriving."
Ellen Takerian: "We'll make it, at least, through the Mayan apocalypse."
Mary Thompson: "That depends on June 5."
Gary Tuma: "Demographics suggest death. Our spirit and enthusiasm suggest thrive. We must keep our young educated-creative people here."
Gary Witt: "Maybe the way to consider this is to compare Milwaukee in 2002 to Milwaukee in 2012. I say it has changed for the better in those 10 years. I also say the influx of new people to our city has helped to make it so. That did not seem to be happening prior."
Chris Zito: "Water Street is dying, unfortunately. Sad to return and find that area in such a state."
Here is my prospective. I lived in the Milwaukee area from 1986-2002 and recently came back. I drive between the Ohare area to Milwaukee all the time and here is what I see. The only change I see is more retail and office spaces for rent, abandoned restaurants, and no economic growth. I ran into old friends who are not working in regular jobs but have to resort to renting out their homes to travelers, working for temporary services when they can find work, and creating their own jobs. I have been watching the political elections and I do not see the current 4th district congresswoman doing absolutely nothing to court new businesses to the city but I do see her really into the grant writing, the constant voting on domestic abuse legislation. I do not think she even has a clue how to market her community which she represents. I usually have dinner with people at a local restaurant in Milwaukee and they feel that since the redistricting took place, they see that there has nothing special or economic growth in their city. I recently had lunch with a long time friend, we hadn't seen each other in 10 years but I sure recognized that voice and she is like nothing has changed here except there are no jobs anywhere. How can a city grow and change for the better if there is no economic growth. Everything is the same in Milwaukee, just more anemic.
Dying and it's almost entirely due to the "fear of change" that grips the city. Good ideas are quickly shot down and people cling to the traditions of their parents and grandparents. There is a an overwhelming feeling that it's "good enough" here. Sure, everyone knows there is better but refuse to work for it. Every project or proposal to move the city further is debated to death and then simply dies. And people who moved here are quickly moving out. Personally, I'm leaving after 8 years and look forward to a city with diversity that is moving forward. Not to mention a city that has a useful airport. The decline of Milwaukee will be evident as soon as the first big company moves out and it will be happening soon.
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