Strategic Actioning Session Recap

Riverworks Development Corporation is collaborating with the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Harambee Great Neighborhoods Initiative, MKELAX, the city of Milwaukee, and arts and cultural leaders on a creative placemaking project involving the Beerline Recreational Trail. The trail traverses the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods and connects to the Milwaukee River. This project is supported by the Kresge Foundation, as well as the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative and other local support.

On February 25th and 26th, 2015, we held a two-day Strategic Actioning Session (SAS) at the Holton Youth and Family Center. Over 60 stakeholders participated including residents, business owners, government staff and officials, artists, foundation and non-profit staff, and other community leaders. This intergenerational group represented a broad range of cultures present in the Riverworks area. The SAS was an opportunity to imagine the possibilities of neighborhood development in connection with the Beerline Recreational Trail including a park in the former railyard, currently referred to as the artery. Last summer, art installations, performances, and design-build workshops for youth and adults were held at the artery to activate a new public gathering space. The SAS explored amplifying the identity of Riverworks as a creative district for artists, makers, and creative entrepreneurs, with active support for small business development through a collaboration with WWBIC.

The SAS started with an invigorating performance by the local Ina Onilu Drum and Dance Ensemble. Alderwoman Coggs and Alderman Kovac shared their perspectives about how to grow this neighborhood development project sustainably. Next steps will include mapping and supporting existing community assets, and developing more decision-making processes including residents and business owners. Identified initiatives will be explored around neighborhood engagement, neighborhood wellness and safety, youth programming, housing, an economic development incubator, and public space design.

Contributed by:
Sara Daleiden 
Director for MKELAX, Consultant for GMC Creative Placemaking Initiative