Who’s your farmer?

July 31, 2011

By Sheila Julson

Photos by Joel Jaecks & Katherine Keller

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Chia Xiong gives photographer Joel Jaecks a bag of snow peas.

On a sunny July morning at the South Shore Farmers Market, Hmong farmer Chia Xiong (she-AWNG) sliced through a tiny dark potato, exposing the vibrant purple meat for a curious onlooker not familiar with the spud variety.

Xiong’s children were also under the canopy, and stood behind the long tables that displayed carefully arranged produce such as peas, potatoes, onions, and lettuce.

The children greeted customers, and held the tops of the plastic bags open for one another as they packaged their vegetables for the shoppers to take home.

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Youa Xiong adds more beets to the Xiongs’ produce display at the South Shore Farmers Market.

Behind the scenes, Xiong’s wife, Youa (YOO-ah), sat among large storage totes of assorted produce as she shelled sugar snap peas.

Xiong, one of several Hmong farmers at the South Shore Farmers Market, has been farming in the United States for 10 years, and is in his eighth year at the popular lakefront market.

“What I like is that there are lots of people,” he said. “The market also focuses on organic produce. That’s what I do.”

Xiong said he does not use any pesticides on his produce. He also sells at the West Allis market.

A first-generation immigrant from Laos, Xiong brings a rich agricultural heritage from his homeland. His family had farmed for generations in the mountainous countryside of the Southeast Asian country, where crops such as rice and corn are common. Upon arriving in the United States, Xiong worked in manufacturing for nine years as a machine operator in Menomonee Falls, and then began farming again because he wanted to include his family in his work and leave something for his children.

In addition to the traditional offerings at most market stands such as cilantro, lettuce, basil, onion, beets, spinach, sugar snap peas, and colorful floral offerings, Xiong grows and sells Asian produce. Chinese broccoli, a deep green leafy vegetable with very small flower heads; bok choy, also known as Chinese white cabbage, a nutrient-dense vegetable with white stems and dark green leaves; and squash leaves. The choy sum, Xiong said, wasn’t ready to harvest until mid-July.

A typical day on his farm is eight to 10 hours, six days a week, but Xiong said he enjoys the job.

He explained how his agricultural techniques are unique. “In the U.S., whole fields are plowed and tilled, but I farm by sections, and set a deadline for each section,” he said, forming his hands into loose squares as he spoke, “the produce is not too young, and not too old, and is always fresh for the customers.”

Xiong leases 44 total acres of farmland on two separate plots in Oak Creek. Much work is done by hand, but he also uses a tractor. He lives in Milwaukee with his family on a slim profit margin of $8,000-$10,000 dollars a year. “During the summer, I save for the winter months. I save money for heat, electric, and the mortgage. During winter, I help people in my community.” He has also traveled to Laos and Thailand for missionary work.

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Seven-year-old Kabbou (Kab-BOO) is the youngest of Xiong’s children, and wearing a red jacket and a shy expression, stood alongside her siblings as they bagged produce for their customers and made change. The camaraderie of close-knit family helping one another is common among the Hmong culture, and Xiong said he wants to keep the kids involved. “My goal in summertime is to not have the kids wander, and get into the farming business so they all can help.”

While the children laughed and joked around during a rare moment of downtime, Xiong explained that it takes about 10 hours to pick, pack, and prepare for the market.

Will Hmong youth remain interested and continue the farming traditions? “I don’t know if they will like it or not,” Xiong said, “but I want to train them so they know how to operate.”

Zongcheng Moua (MOO-ah) of Moua Consulting Group, LLC served as the translator for Sheila Julson and Chia Xiong. Moua, along with his wife, Mayhoua Moua, own and operate the firm and provide cross-cultural training, interpretation, and translation services in Hmong and Lao languages.

Not that innocent?

July 31, 2011

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

On me, a turtle-appliquéd shirt or a Scottie-adorned sock would raise eyebrows.

On a child, I think it’s something to relish. When our daughter gets excited about animals on her clothes, I say Carpe diem. I hope little-kid styles keep delighting our daughter for many years.

Clothing manufacturers and many consumers clearly have a different philosophy. Most mainstream stores sell clothes for kids, especially young girls, in smaller versions of styles popular for 20- to 30-year-olds.

Designs and cuts of little sizes seem to be getting more and more skimpy, even sexy. The teens and 20s are prime time for short, tight denim skirts and skimpy shorts, but toddlers and grade school kids should wait for these trends. I have heard other parents muttering the same thing in children’s stores and at clothing swaps.

“Kids getting older younger” describes this trend in clothing plus toys and entertainment. The thinking leads to aberrations like thong underwear in children’s sizes and pushup bikini tops for 7- to 12-year-olds.

From what I can tell, shopping for age-appropriate clothing will only get harder as our daughter gets older. Parents and preteens or teenagers shopping at the popular stores are challenged to find clothes which don’t show lots of skin.

Fathers often draw the line against provocative clothing but many children are being born into families without a strong male presence. In fact, 23 percent of American children today are living with their mother only, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Without dads, kids may be winning more of the clothing debates.

To me, too many kids clothes proclaim, in the words of Britney Spears, “I’m not that innocent.”

Each of these skimpy items represents a bit of lost innocence. They change how we all view children and how they view themselves and their peers, prodding them toward earlier sexual behavior.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at jill@bayviewcompass.com.

Mini-grants for water quality

July 31, 2011

On July 19, the Southeastern Wisconsin Watersheds Trust announced a program to provide mini-grants of $1,000-$4,000 to established nonprofit organizations and community or civic groups to benefit local water quality.

This year Sweet Water Trust (not to be confused with Sweet Water Organics, a separate and unrelated business entity) is targeting only projects located in either the Kinnickinnic or Menomonee River watersheds. With this 2011 focus, Sweet Water hopes to advance work in watersheds with adopted watershed restoration plans and implementation plan priorities. Private businesses and units of government are not eligible for 2011 mini-grant funding.

The program’s goal is to support local, grassroots efforts that employ green infrastructure and water quality-related activities.

The request for proposals and the grant application can be found online at swwtwater.org. Applications are due Sept. 15. Mini-grant award winners will be announced by December. For more information, contact Jeff Martinka at martinka@swwtwater.org.

The 2011 Water Quality Mini-grant Program is funded through the support of the Fund for Lake Michigan, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District, and the Wisconsin Energy Foundation.

Companion Art Gallery

July 31, 2011

After a long day of dog-walking, pet sitter Sandy Sykora stopped in for some food at No. 1 Chinese Restaurant, next door to Joyce Skylight Court, 2680 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

Joyce Parker owns the property and was there inside her boutique, Alana Women’s Apparel, so Sykora dropped in to learn more about the suites for lease in Joyce Skylight Court.

Sykora, a Bay View resident who with her husband Dan owns and operates the pet-sitting business Bay View Pampered Pets, had an idea two and a half years ago to open a gallery devoted to pet art. She’d been looking for a space in Bay View and Joyce Skylight Court’s 700-square-foot Suite 1 seemed perfect.

Sykora plans to open Companion Art Gallery Monday, Aug. 8. The business has a year lease.

Dog- and cat-related art will be for sale on a consignment basis. Featured artists include Wauwatosa photographer Stephanie Bartz, Shorewood photographer John O’Hara, and Milwaukee-area visual artists Lesley-Anne Raven and Kathryn Ryan. Bay View artists include photographer Elizabeth Manley and visual artist Cynthia Schroeder.

“This gives them an outlet for their art where the population coming to see it is appreciative,” Sykora said.

It’s also an opportunity for featured artists to connect with new clients interested in pet portraits or photoshoots.

The gallery will be managed by Bay View resident Mary Schultz, one of Sykora’s longtime pet-sitting clients, whose pet art—including two concrete sculptures of her old dogs—caught Sykora’s attention.

Schultz, who has a background in floral design, said she hopes to offer jewelry and smaller items.

Companion Art Gallery will also carry handmade greeting cards, as well as mass-produced cards featuring dogs and cats. It will also carry pet art and T-shirts by Missouri-based artist Marie Mason.

Sykora also wants her gallery to host events and fundraisers for animal organizations and is open to adding more local artists.

Sykora said she’s launching the new business with her “tiny little pot of retirement” from working for the state of Wisconsin Department of Corrections as a teacher.

Companion Art Gallery

2680 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Suite 1

(414) 744-6211

M-F 11am-6pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 12-4pm

Rhiel PC Repair and Sales

July 31, 2011

By Michael Timm

Benjamin Rhiel, 25, is launching his first computer repair business just south of Bay View at the corner of Howell and Van Beck avenues.

Rhiel formerly worked as IT supervisor for Custom Cuts Fresh LLC, before the diced produce distributor at 2842 S. Fifth Ct. went out of business in July.

The grand opening of Rhiel PC Repair and Sales is Friday, Aug. 5. Rhiel offers services like basic virus removal, memory upgrades, hard drive removal, and Windows reinstallation. He also offers in-home PC, printer, and wireless setup.

The business sells refurbished PCs, which are restored to factory settings, on consignment. Rhiel also offers one-hour training classes, including introduction to Microsoft Office software and basic internet.

Last year Rhiel attended a six-month program at PC Pro School in Brookfield. He said he is a Microsoft-certified desktop technician. He’s been working on computers since he was 15.

Rhiel lives in Butler, Wis. He grew up in West Allis. His parents used to live in the Bay View area. He said he found the 1,000-square-foot storefront space with hardwood floors, formerly James Overland Reality, on Craigslist. Rhiel said he’d eventually like to move to the Bay View area, where he said the people are friendly.

He said he wants to focus on reliable customer service and “try to be the cheapest in town.”

“I’ve seen places that offer the same services for $150-200,” Rhiel said. “I’ve done it so many times I can charge less.” He plans to charge about $50 for most house calls.

Rhiel hopes to make this business his full-time gig but said he may need a part-time job.

Rhiel said he was already planning to open his business, but the closing of Custom Cuts accelerated his timeline. He said it’s 90-percent his own investment, with one other investor.

Rhiel PC Repair and Sales

3946 S. Howell Ave.

(414) 988-9117



M-F 10am-7pm, weekends 10am-5pm


City’s first consumer-supported restaurant

July 31, 2011

Chef and Bay View resident David Swanson is set to open Milwaukee’s first “Consumer Supported Restaurant” or CSR this fall in Walker’s Point, following the principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm shares.

Members will buy shares in Braise Restaurant and benefit from rewards such as dinners or cooking classes.

“The goal is to let members have a culinary experience they enjoy while learning more about local food systems along the way,” Swanson said in a release. Memberships will support some of Braise’s sustainable systems such as composting, vermiculture, rain barrel and water conservation measures, rooftop gardening, and a solar hot water system.

In 2008, Swanson established Braise RSA, or Restaurant Supported Agriculture, which currently supplies over 20 area restaurants with goods from more than 60 local farmers and purveys.

“All of the Braise businesses—the restaurant, the RSA, and the culinary school—strive to reconnect people with their food by supporting the community and improving the local food system,” Swanson said in a release.

Braise Restaurant

1101 S. Second St.


(414) 241-9577

Bay View Books & Music

July 31, 2011

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Bill Frickensmith owns Bay View Books & Music at 2653 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., in the space formerly occupied by Matamoros Jiu-Jitsu. Frickensmith and Dan Dehling pose in the children’s section of their bookstore. On the stepladder, Frickensmith holds Alvin & the Chipmunks; in front, Dehling holds Organ Grinder’s Circus. ~photo Michael Timm

1. Where was your business located before you moved to Bay View?

We started in Riverwest in 1988, then Prospect Mall, and then Cudahy.

2. What caused you to get into the used books trade?

Love of books. And Dan’s experience with running rummage sales. Dan’s been selling things since he was 5 years old.

3. Do you find that there’s an upsurge in people’s interest in and purchase of vinyl 45s and LPs?

Yes. They are making a huge comeback and are the majority of our in-store sales.

4. From where do you acquire your inventory?

Estate sales, house calls, customer drop-offs, and an assortment of friends who sell on consignment.

5. What do you think about electronic books? How are they affecting your business and our culture?

They are telling us that it is the future, but they also said the same thing about CDs.

6. Have people followed you from your previous location on the east side of KK to your current location on the west side?

Yes, many have.

7. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading?

Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Charles Dickens, Philip K. Dick.

8. What is the most unusual book title you’ve had in your inventory?

Topplistan: The Official Swedish Single & Album Charts.

9. What are some of your favorite bookstores that you’ve frequented?

Renaissance, Constant Reader, Martha Merrell’s, DCS Trading.

10. What is the most rare or valuable book in your inventory?

It was a signed first edition of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, which sold for $1,000.

Bay View Books & Music

Bill Frickensmith & Dan Dehling

2653 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.



Up Periscope!

July 31, 2011

By Anna Passante

Submarines in Bay View
For a number of decades sailboats, ferries, submarines and other watercraft have been moored along Bay View’s beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Hold on a minute! Submarines? Yes, submarines! During the 1950s and 1960s the Bay View shoreline was host to two submarines, the USS Tautog and the USS Cobia. They were docked at a pier located at the foot of E. Russell Avenue and served as training ships for the U.S. Navy.


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USS Tautog docked on the Milwaukee River near the Broadway Bridge.
 ~photo courtesy the Milwaukee Public Library Historic Photo Collection

The USS Tautog was one of the most famous U.S. submarines in World War II, sinking 26 Japanese ships. Its first action was the shooting down of a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbor. When the Tautog was decommissioned in December 1945, plans were to use the sub as a target for atomic bomb testing at Bikini Atoll. That plan was cancelled. Instead in December 1947 the Tautog arrived in Milwaukee and was docked at the Marine Terminal on the Milwaukee River near the Broadway Bridge, where it served as a training ship for the Naval Reserve. At the time, the Milwaukee Naval Reserve Center administrative offices were located on N. Water Street. In 1953 the Reserve Center moved to a new building in Bay View at 2401 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr., and the Tautog was towed (minus its propellers for safety reasons) to the Russell Avenue pier.

Two Subs

By September 1959 the Naval Reserve decided to replace the Tautog with the Cobia, which had more modern equipment. The two vessels were docked side by side at the Russell Avenue pier and a brief ceremony celebrated the transfer of training duties from the Tautog to the Cobia. “Symbolizing the transfer was the formal lowering of the colors on the Tautog and raising of the colors on the Cobia,” reported the Milwaukee Journal.

Postcard image of the USS Cobia docked in Manitowoc. ~image courtesy the Milwaukee Public Library Historic Photo Collectio

Attempts were made to preserve the Tautog, but failed due to the Milwaukee’s Common Council’s refusal to allocate city funds for such a project. The Tautog was sold to Bultema Dock & Dredge Co. of Manistee, Mich. and was scrapped. However, some parts were salvaged, including the Tautog’s periscope, which is on permanent display and in working condition in the Little Lakefarer’s Room at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wis.

Like the Tautog, the Cobia saw much action during World War II, destroying 14 enemy vessels. The Cobia was decommissioned in May 1946 and was placed in reserve, but in July 1951 it served as a training ship in New London, Conn. In September 1959 the vessel was transferred to Milwaukee’s Naval Reserve Center in Bay View. According to a 1963 Milwaukee Sentinel Jaunts with Jamie column, the Cobia “was equipped to train men for undersea warfare…simulating dives and other maneuvers required of active units of the fleet.”

Violent Storm

In February 1960, the Cobia and the Tautog made the news. Both subs were moored at the Russell Avenue pier when a snowstorm with 60-mile-per-hour gale-force winds partially tore loose both subs from their moorings. Reservists rushed to the scene. Eight pilings had been ripped loose and the cables holding the subs snapped like strings, according to the Milwaukee Journal. Two regular Navy trainers and a Naval Reservist onboard the Cobia were stranded with no heat or light. No one was on the Tautog, which was awaiting its final journey to be scrapped. A Coast Guard tug stood by, ready to rescue the stranded men if needed. The three men had telephone communication with the shore until the cable broke. “We do not believe we are in any danger,” said Quartermaster William Floyd in a Wisconsin State Journal article. “If we did, we’d jump off when the wind rolls the ship against the finger pier.” Floundering in 24 feet of water, both subs were in danger of being smashed onshore. The Cobia’s generator finally started and light and heat were restored. Ten men boarded the Cobia using a ladder and secured the subs. There was little damage to the subs, but much damage to the mooring dock.

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Postcard image of the USS Cobia docked in Manitowoc. ~image courtesy the Milwaukee Public Library Historic Photo Collection

New Digs

By the late 1960s, the city of Manitowoc was on the prowl for a Manitowoc-built submarine that would serve as a museum and memorial dedicated to the people who built, sailed, and lost their lives on ships. The U.S. Navy offered Manitowoc the USS Redfin, built in Manitowoc, but the city couldn’t afford the towing cost of $75,000. When the Navy offered them the Cobia (although built in Connecticut) for free, they accepted. The Cobia was struck from the Naval Register and towed from Bay View to Manitowoc, arriving there in August 1970. It is now part of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum of Manitowoc, docked on the Manitowoc River on permanent display. Daily tours are given. The museum boasts that the Cobia houses the oldest operating radar set in the world. To add to its glory, in 1986 the Cobia was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Appetizer enigma at Lulu’s

July 31, 2011

By Linda Fausel, Photos by Sandy Dean

Chips vs. Slaw

The Contenders:

Asian Slaw
Red and green cabbage and carrot chopped wispy thin, delicate ramen noodles integrated with tiny bits of scallion and savory peanuts, infused with rice-wine vinegar and sesame oil—wholesome, aesthetically-appealing goodness in a sweet little dish for $2.50.

Potato Chips

Thicker than average, beautifully-browned, jumbo-sized sliced spud, a satisfying crunch of decadent potato pleasure for $2. Dip in ketchup, or bleu cheese for $.50 extra.

Both appetizers have strong followings, according to the waitress, and many customers order one-half of each to avoid choosing.

Which do you prefer, chips or slaw?

Tell us: elle@bayviewcompass.com

Lulu Café & Bar
Bay View


Future Green to close August 7

July 29, 2011

By Doug Hissom

 UPDATE: August 2, 20111
Lisa Sim called the Compass today to say that Future Green will be open till the end of August, contrary to the advice we received Friday, July 29th, from Swee Sim, co-owner.

Milwaukee’s first totally eco-friendly fair-trade shop, Future Green, which opened at 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in 2004, is closing Sunday, Aug. 7.

But this isn’t the usual story of some high-minded purists hanging a recycled fiber shingle on the door and going out of business because there’s no demand. Owners Lisa and Swee Sim said they’re leaving Milwaukee because of the climate—not the business climate.

Swee is from Singapore. Lisa said her parents are getting up in years and live in Melbourne Beach, Fla. She said they’re heading south to help her parents prepare for retirement.

Lisa plans to take a hiatus, and then go into green consulting. Swee is also a computer consultant, work he’ll continue in Florida. He also advises on photovoltaic installation and started the Milwaukee Biodiesel Co-op.

Lisa said she won’t miss the paperwork, but will miss the community’s charm, adding that one woman called her in tears after hearing of the store’s closing.

“Everybody’s dollar does make a difference and you decide where you put your money,” she said, noting that the more people agree with Earth-friendly concepts, the more stores catering to them will open.

She said last year was the first year they experienced a downturn in business.

Lisa was working at Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative when she got the idea to create the “one-stop” shop for the Earth-friendly crowd. Last year, she added Café Tarragon behind the store. “It’s a passion,” she said. “I’ve been green for 30 years.”

Lisa knows the stories behind all their stock, even the Slinky re-make from 100-percent recycled materials and bracelets made from can pull-tabs. The couple takes four trips a year around the world in search of goods.

They hope to sell their building and the business as a package, and Lisa said she also has to sell their “eco-threeplex” home on E. Lincoln Avenue.

The area around Future Green is somewhat devoid of retail outlets, catering more toward tavern and nightlift options, plus a few niche  stores and a tire store in a two-block stretch.

Tony Zielinski, the Bay View alderman who led the effort to name Milwaukee one of the nation’s first fair trade cities, said Future Green’s closing smarts a little, but that he’d like a similar store to remain at that location.

The alderman predicts the street will be a haven for retail once Alterra’s bakery and café  complex opens and a 70-unit apartment building is built just south of there at Conway and KK.

Zielinski’s aldermanic opponent, Jan Pierce, agrees. “My vision for KK is that of a vibrant, walkable neighborhood shopping district from north of Lincoln to south of Oklahoma—think of a ‘public square.’”

Pierce suggests looking into angled parking and wider sidewalks to achieve that.


Delicious cone of pomme frites corruption

July 29, 2011

By Linda Fausel


Dare to resist—salty and hot, slightly left of the center on the crispy meter, deep fried to an auspicious hue, with a kaleidoscope of delectable dipping sauces—the thin and seductively satisfying French fries (Frites—pronounced FREETZ) at Bay View’s Café Centraal are, says the manager, the bestselling item on the menu. I get it.

Despite my righteous (What do you have that’s healthy?) intentions, I devoured them all, and (disturbingly) could have eaten more. For $4.95 you get about a half-pound of these mouth-watering Idahos, served up Belgian-style in a paper cone.

A salad, (the Margherita, $8.95), helps legitimize the pick.

Café Centraal
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.



Solar financing public-meeting at South Shore pavilion tomorrow

July 27, 2011

Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing Community Kick-Off

Thursday, July 28

South Shore Park Pavilion (2900 S Shore Dr, Milwaukee)

4 PM – Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing Program Launch with Mayor Tom Barrett and Tony Zielinksi

4:30 PM – 6 PM – Connect and network with solar and energy professionals

More info here.

Making Solar a Reality in Southeast Wisconsin

Milwaukee Shines, the City of Milwaukee’s solar program, works to expand solar energy use through a comprehensive, citywide approach. Learn about solar technologies, available resources, and how to become a solar professional. A project of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, Milwaukee Shines helps create cleaner air for our community, and helps reduce energy costs for the City and the community at large. It is funded through an US Department of Energy Solar America Cities grant.

All are invited to the Milwaukee Shines Solar Financing Community Kick-Off Event featuring Mayor Tom Barrett and Alderman Tony Zielinski on Thursday, July 28 from 4-6 pm. The Community Kick-Off event is your opportunity to connect with local solar professionals, learn about this new financing program, and get information on the City’s energy efficiency program. Get more details on about SOLAR FINANCING here.


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