Eric Griswold artist statement

April 30, 2012

Statement by Eric Griswold about his design Beacon.

The Bay View Beacon is a simple, iconic tower about three stories tall with a bus shelter in the base. It resembles a lighthouse. A rotating light in the top calls to people from far away to come to this corner. The lighthouse design symbolizes Bay View’s connection to the lake. The embedded trolley tracks symblolize the connection to public transit. The construction of bare steel girders recalls the steelmaking history of the neighborhood. The interactive light curtains in the first level look to the future–the interaction of art and technology.

The light curtains will show wisps of changing color; growing plants, snowstorms and many other things. You will be able to sit and watch it for hours from Alterra, Stone Creek, Lulu’s, or any surrounding place. You don’t actually have to cross over the busy streets to appreciate it. But if you do, and go into the bus shelter, sensors will see you and special images will form and play with you. It is a kind of playful interactivity we have designed for the Burning Man Project before, but as far as we know it will be a first for Milwaukee.

When we first saw that intersection we realized it was already visually cluttered with all sorts of poles and traffic signals and boxes. We didn’t want to clutter up the view any more, or block the view of drivers and potentially create a safety hazard. So instead of sprawling all over the site, we went straight up with a simple, clean, iconic tower that is only 14 feet wide.

The Beacon will meet State standards for a windpower installation. Distance to all neighboring buildings must be at least 1.1 times the highest bladetip height. Sound levels must be less than 45 decibels at the base of the nearest buildings. This is less than the sound of normal conversation at three feet, which is about 60 decibels.

The Beacon will produce more green energy than it uses. The wind generator alone will harvest 50 kilowatt-hours per month. The solar panels will be on top of the structure where they will not be shaded and blocked by the shadows of the surrounding buildings in winter when the sun is low. We hope to produce a surplus of 20 kilowatt-hours per month to be returned to the grid.

The Beacon will be designed to meet 50-year wind standards as per City code. This means it must be able to withstand the highest peak winds one might expect over a 50 year span. We note that the year 1984 saw a peak gust of 81 MPH in Milwaukee. We have to design for things like that. That is why most of the height of the Beacon is empty space where the wind can pass right through.

Free genealogy research

April 30, 2012

Urban Anthropology, Inc. offers genealogy services to Milwaukee residents at no cost. Research is limited to gathering information about ancestors who lived within the borders of the United States.

To begin learning about your forebears, pick up a form at 707 W. Lincoln Ave. You will be asked to give the names of your parents and grandparents on the form. The information that the research staff finds will be provided to you within two weeks, according to Rick Petrie, one of the genealogical researchers.

You may also acquire a form via email. Write to

Fare thee well Cindy Flechner, heart of Humboldt Park School

April 30, 2012

By Sheila Julson

Cindy Flechner in hallway of Humboldt Park School, April 2012 —Calfa Photography

Cindy Flechner is just weeks away from her final day of employment at Humboldt Park K-8 Charter School after serving its students, principals, teachers, and staff for 30 years. Faced with the anguishing choice of early retirement with full benefits, or employment under a new contract with reduced benefits, she chose retirement. With great sorrow.

For the past fifteen years, Flechner has been employed full-time as general assistant at Humboldt Park School (HPS). Prior to 1997, she worked part-time and volunteered at the school.

Flechner’s roots run deep in Bay View’s Humboldt Park School neighborhood. Her childhood home, 3041 S. Hanson Ave., was eleven blocks from HPS. She was Cindy Berka then. She is a lifelong member of Unity Lutheran Church, located halfway between her childhood home and the school.

She carried her books through the halls at HPS, wrote on its blackboards, and romped on the playground from kindergarten through sixth grade before moving on to Fritsche Middle School and then Bay View High School.

Later she and husband Jerry Flechner settled on Logan Avenue, a little more than a mile from HPS. She enrolled her daughters Alica and April in HPS. Alica met her future husband, Ian Magolan at Humboldt Park School—when they were both in first grade.

Humboldt Park School Second Grader Cindy (Berka) Flechner, 1963

In 2005 Alica was a student teacher at HPS, working with children in the rooms where she spent her K4 and K5 years. The following year she was hired at HPS and taught third grade until 2009 there.

Before beginning her career at HPS, Flechner was employed as a pharmacist’s assistant. In 1982, when daughter April was diagnosed with leukemia, Flechner left her pharmacy job to attend to her daughter during her three-plus years of treatment. During that period, Flechner began working at HPS one hour per day when MPS introduced the school breakfast program. She also began volunteering in her daughters’ classrooms.

Flechner’s hours gradually increased over time, leading to full-time employment in 1997. As a general assistant she has been responsible for recording attendance, breakfast and lunch duty, keeping track of the honor roll, performing clerical tasks in the school office, and giving directions to substitute teachers assigned to HPS.

Each day she shows up at school at 6:30am, although she officially punches in from 7:30am-3pm. From 3-6pm, Flechner works at Journey House Community Learning Center (CLC), located in HPS.

During her three decades of service, she has been a friendly face trusted day by day, year after year, by thousands of HPS students, many of whom she knew from their first kindergarten days through eighth grade. Whether a child wanted to share an accomplishment or needed advice to deal with the emotional bumps of childhood, Ms. Cindy was there for them, patient and warm-hearted.

Mary Bergeson, CLC director at Humboldt, speaks warmly of Flechner.

“I have worked with Cindy for over 10 years and she is a huge influence on the Humboldt Park K-8 School community. She is amazing. After all the years she’s been here, she continues to learn every student’s first name and is warm and caring to each of them, no matter what she is dealing with in her own life,” Bergeson said. “Cindy is also the prime person older students come back to see after they graduate. I can’t imagine a bigger influence this school has had.”

“Every child is special to Cindy. She did unique things,” said Kristi Cole, HPS principal from 2000-2007. “She always remembered the kids’ birthdays and gave each of them a birthday treat. She was also always willing to help a child in need.”

—Calfa Photography

Cole stressed the importance of the educational assistants’ role. They are responsible for ordering supplies, creating newsletters, helping plan events, assisting with after-school programs, and lunch duty. “They do many things that help the teachers do their jobs,” Cole said. “Cindy was my right-hand man.”

Flechner speaks warmly and highly of the HPS staff and administration. “We have been blessed with many great principals and staff over the years,” she said. “I feel as close to them as my family. It takes all of us to make Humboldt Park what we are.”

Flechner leaves HPS with a heavy heart with good reason given her long history and deep personal ties to the school.

In truth Flechner’s decision to take early retirement had much to do with retaining her health insurance benefits. These were a crucial factor in her decision. Two years ago her husband was seriously disabled by a stroke. The dramatic changes caused the family to make many adjustments and reassess their financial future. “We’ll have to just see what happens,” Flechner said.

She gazed out the large office window by her desk, and smiled. “As it gets closer to the end of the year, it gets worse,” Flechner sighed.

There is much that she dreads as she faces the end of her career at HPS but more than anything she will miss the students. “Missing the kids. Definitely that’s the hardest part right now for me to face,” she said.

But she will retain some contact with the students and her colleagues. She is keeping her part-time CLC job, and she will volunteer 10-15 hours per week at HPS.

At home she will provide care for her husband. She will have more time for her garden and plants.

Flechner said she offered to volunteer full-time the first two weeks of each new school year when the challenges are greatest for new students and their parents. And she will still manage the honor roll and help out with making copies or whatever is required to assist the teachers and principal throughout the academic year. She’ll be helping out in the office, doing what she used to do, but this time ’round with no pay.

Humboldt Park School —photo Ken Mobile

Flechner voiced no bitterness about leaving her beloved school. Instead, she spoke about rewards. “I am so grateful to have been able to work at the school that I attended,” she said. “To have the chance to be involved with so many wonderful families—whether they be staff or students—has been such a wonderful opportunity. My heart bursts with pride for Humboldt Park School.”

Daughter Alica and husband Ian Magolan live next door to Cindy and Jerry Flechner. Their
daughter April, considered to be 99% cured of leukemia, is an optometrist’s assistant in Reno, Nev.


Stop Bay View Art Stop, some say

April 30, 2012

Alderman Tony Zielinski talking to Patty Pritchard Thompson at April 12 Bay View Art Stop public meeting. —photo Gretchen Theisen

Dissatisfaction and frustration with the site, project, and process behind the Bay View Art Stop project were expressed by a vocal group of critics at a public meeting April 12 at Bay View High School.

About 55 people attended the gathering organized by District 14 Alderman Tony Zielinski to allow members of the public an opportunity to view the work of and pose questions to the three finalists of the Bay View Art Stop public art competition.

The installation is planned for the triangular traffic island bounded by Howell, Kinnickinnic, and Lincoln avenues and will combine a bus shelter with a sculptural work. The project was led by District 14 Alderman Zielinski and a handpicked committee, whose members where charged with shepherding it from writing the request for proposal (RFP) to the selection of the winning design. The winner will work with a budget of up to $150,000, according to Zielinski, that will cover, materials, fabrication, and installation, and a $1,000 honorarium that each of the finalists received. The winner receives no extra remuneration, Zielinski said.

The finalists, Kevin Grabowski (with Chris Hewitt), Eric Griswold, and Román Montoto, were each given 45 minutes to present his project and to field questions about it from the audience.

Early on it became clear that a significant number of those in attendance had questions that were beyond the scope of the finalists’ designs, but there was no provision in the evening’s agenda for them to pose them. Consequently they jumped at any opportunity to pose their question or comment.

Art Stop committee chair Kerry Yandell (BYO Studio co-owner) was about to introduce the second presenter, when someone called out, asking Yandell if bus riders were surveyed to get their input about the shelter. She replied that they were not. Another comment was made, critical of Zielinski for having made too much mention of the Art Stop project during his run up to the District 14 aldermanic election (April 3).

Zielinski intervened, advising that the meeting’s purpose was to look at and consider the finalists’ designs. Ignoring those who still attempted to ask him more questions, Zielinski introduced Eric Griswold.

Public art, public space, public outcry

Near the conclusion of his presentation, Griswold was interrupted by Bay View resident Paul Shinkle, who began reading an eight-page document he’d prepared that detailed his objections to what he described as the secretive, undemocratic process by a “committee of career politicians.” He lamented that the public-art committee didn’t include the public, and did not include people who were neighborhood art students, sculpture students or teachers, or bus commuters. He demanded that the project be stopped “dead in the water” and started anew in a democratic fashion that was transparent and open to the public.

Zielinski took the room’s only microphone from Griswold, unsuccessfully attempted to silence Shinkle, and with microphone in hand, left the room to retrieve two Milwaukee police officers stationed outside the auditorium. Some audience members cheered Shinkle, others jeered. Shinkle read about two pages of his document, he later said,  before he ceded the floor.

Shinkle made a similar appeal Feb. 12, by email to Alderman Zielinski; County Supervisors Marina Dimitrijevic and Jason Haas; Jan Pierce; (and the Compass), where he called on them “to direct that the committee working on the KK/Lincoln bus shelter immediately suspend all further efforts, until such time as that committee is fully open to press and public.” (Shinkle was a member of Jan Pierce’s campaign team.)

Kerry Yandell brought the meeting back to order, asserting that the designers deserved audience members’ respect and must be permitted to make their presentations and field questions. Because his 45-minute segment had elapsed Griswold, appearing somewhat dejected, stated that he was willing to terminate his presentation despite the time that he lost during Shinkle’s protestation.

The third presenter Román Montoto made his presentation without incident.

Shinkle was not alone in voicing grievances about the formation and actions of the Bay View Art Stop committee, or calling for openness and public involvement the project. Some have complained that the committee violated the Wisconsin open meeting laws. “Badger Watch” blog author Christopher Rick opined April 13, “The thing is that, taxpayer money is being used to fund the project and that means the meetings need to be open to the public as they involve a government appointed committee.” He cites part of the statute and writes that “it sure looks like the [Bay View Art Stop committee] falls into that category” that is covered by the open meetings law that defines governmental bodies that are subject to the law.

The definition of “governmental body” includes a “state or local agency, board, commission, committee, council, department or public body corporate and politic created by constitution, statute, ordinance, rule or order[.]” Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1). This definition is broad enough to include virtually any collective governmental entity, regardless of what it is labeled. It is important to note that a governmental body is defined primarily in terms of the manner in which it is created, rather than in terms of the type of authority it possesses. Purely advisory bodies are therefore subject to the law, even though they do not possess final decision making power, as long as they are created by constitution, statute, ordinance, rule, or order. See State v. Swanson, 92 Wis. 2d 310,
317, 284 N.W.2d 655 (1979).

The Compass originally learned that the committee meetings were not subject to the open meetings law in February of this year when reporter Michael Timm, who had been invited to the Art Stop selection committee meeting by Zielinski, was blocked from the meeting by the alderman. Zielinski later admitted that he had in fact invited Timm to the meeting, but that the committee members had since advised him that they preferred to meet privately.

On the sidewalk outside of the February meeting, Zielinski called city of Milwaukee Attorney Vincent Moschella and asked him to explain the open meetings law to Timm. Moschella in turn advised Timm that the open meeting laws did not apply to the Art Stop committee meetings. (After the call to Moschella, Zielinski told Timm he could attend the meeting but not participate in the selection. Timm showed up at the meeting to cover it for the Compass. It was not his intention nor understanding that he was invited to the meeting to participate in the selection process. Rattled by the call to the attorney’s office and uncomfortable with the vacillation on Zielinski’s part, Timm decided not to observe the committee’s meeting.)

The legal advice Moschella gave Timm was echoed last week by two officials in the city’s attorney office who spoke on background. One of the officials cited the state statute that applies to public meetings, and where to find it on the internet. The other official discussed the law, explaining that Bay View Art Stop is not subject to the open meetings statute because the committee was not created by “constitution, statute, ordinance, rule, or order,” which the state law provides. Although committee members include elected officials Alderman Zielinski and County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, their membership does not constitute the committee as a governmental body or entity. Had the committee been created by an act of the Common Council (or Milwaukee County Board), it would be subject to the law.

Likewise, blocking or interrupting a project like Bay View Art stop cannot be achieved by citing violations of public meeting laws, the official explained, but through other means such as posing objections or appeals to the project funders.

Pegi Christiansen, chair of the IN:SITE temporary public art committee that installs impermanent art works in Metro Milwaukee, expressed her concerns about the project via an email to the Milwaukee Arts Board (MAB) April 13. MAB is contributing $15,000 to Art Stop; their board member Laura Ashleigh King is a member of the Art Stop committee.

Referencing the April 12 Art Stop meeting on the previous evening, Christiansen wrote that she “never heard so many people express dissatisfaction with the process and lack of enthusiasm for the outcome.” She indicated that two of the three finalists had no experience installing permanent public art, that she felt all three projects presented safety issues, and that their designs were inappropriate for the site. She urged MAB members to address the community’s dissatisfaction “in some way, especially since the funding secured to date is primarily taxpayer sources.”

Similar opinions and sentiments were expressed by Bay View residents on Facebook and blogs over the past four or five months.


Following Montoto’s presentation, Zielinski responded to a few questions from the audience, with thinly disguised irritation. Someone asked him if the Art Stop committee members coordinated their work with the Southeast Side Area Comprehensive Plan. He said that there was no coordination of Art Stop plans with the comprehensive plan because the latter was about business, not art.

Another attendee questioned the scale of the project, referencing the relatively small footprint of the triangle and suggesting that Zillman Park would provide more space. Zielinski responded with a sort of non sequitur declaring the Bay View BID (Business Improvement District on Kinnickinnic that stretches from Becher Street south to Morgan Avenue) “oversaw the proposal.” He said that $75,000 had been secured to fund the project and that he expected to access some of the funds bequeathed to the city’s Department of Public works by the late John Dombrowski. The RFP stipulates that the budget would be “up to $150,000.”

In the midst of another’s question, Zielinski glanced at his watch and abruptly cut off the questioner stating that it was just past 8pm and he’d promised Jesse Mazur, Bay View High School principal, that he’d clear out the auditorium by eight o’clock.

Despite Zielinski’s advice, audience members did not vacate the auditorium. They stayed for another half hour or so, to examine scale-model designs and pose questions and comments directly to the designers.

At the same time, Pegi Christiansen informally polled 30 members of the audience members to garner their opinions of the three designs. Eleven said “start over” or rejected the all three designs. The remaining 19 responses ranged from approval of a design or designs, an appreciation of the designs, criticism of the way the project was handled, to simple ambiguity about the designs. One respondent asked why none of the designs included bike racks. Another commented that there was rude behavior at the meeting that was inconsiderate to the finalists.

The Art Stop committee distributed a survey at the beginning of the meeting that was collected when the meeting adjourned. Kerry Yandell reported the results of the survey April 23: 14 votes for Montoto’s Urban Counter-Pose; 10 votes for Grabowski’s Synergy; and 4 votes for Griswold’s Beacon.

The Bay View Art Stop Committee announced April 25 that Montoto’s design won.

Public outcry; designers’ reactions

Kevin Grabowski, the first presenter said, “As far as the ‘statement/manifesto’ that was read, I could not disagree with the content of the gentleman’s message. It was a carefully worded and well-thought-out appeal to keep the ‘public’ in public art. I felt bad for the artist/presenter who was speaking at the time, in that it did take away some of the time available for him to present his project and answer additional questions.

“Some of the questions and concerns directed to the artists about the selection process were not ones we could fairly address. I think the committee members tried very hard to answer the questions and keep the dialog open. From our perspective, it was excellent to get such direct feedback and people were overwhelmingly kind and engaging as we stayed and answered questions following the presentations. They seemed very genuine in their input and interested in our ideas.”

Eric Griswold, whose presentation was interrupted by Shinkle, said, “We (the finalists) were part way through our question-and-answer period when someone asked a question, only it wasn’t a question, it was a long statement addressed to the committee. I wanted to explain that we were not the committee; we were a group of artists who heard about this project and wanted to bring something amazing to Bay View. I didn’t get the chance to say that. I hope we had the chance to answer most of the people’s questions.”

Román Montoto said, “With regard to the verbal exchange during the presentations to the public, I think it speaks to the independent mind-set of the Bay View community; passionate, caring, and critically thinking of what happens in their neighborhood. The passage that was read and overall trajectory of the gentlemen’s statement was a bit misplaced given the agenda of the meeting, to see and hear the proposals for the project.

“The artists/designers were simply caught in the crossfire, causing general disruption in what they needed to achieve.  Since that particular statement was not the only one of that nature, perhaps the meeting could have incorporated time to discuss those issues of participation and transparency before or after the proposal presentations…or have another meeting all together.”

A Sampling of Audience Questions and Comments

Synergy (Kevin Grabowksi/Chris Hewitt)

 Grabowski was challenged about the small scale of his project, given the RFP’s criterion that it was to be “monumental.” Art Stop committee chair Kerry Yandell interjected that there were two more presentations and advised that the question be held until all three designs were presented. Another asked if the honey locust trees, that Grabowski’s design incorporated, were salt tolerant. Grabowski said the trees would be elevated 18” above the triangle’s surface and would be protected. When asked if the shelter would protect people from cold winter winds, he said that the shelters would hold at least 12 people and that the walls on the east and west side would provide protection. Grabowski’s design incorporates cranks, that when turned, would make the LED lights in the design’s centerpiece change colors. The centerpiece represents a flame that symbolizes the old rolling mill’s forge. Someone expressed safety concerns, should children use the cranks. He said the cranks would cause no harm. Artist’s statement.

Beacon (Eric Griswold)

Griswold was asked if the photovoltaic panel would be the sole power source for his project, which incorporates hundreds of lights. He said that it would. All three designers noted that their designs called for electrical back up from the power grid.

He was asked how bus riders would fare if his design were inundated with snow. Griswold said he oriented the shelter entryways toward the sidewalks reasoning that city workers are quick to remove snow from public walkways. When asked if his design was stable enough support the wind turbine and the structure (crow’s nest) that the turbine is mounted on, he said that it would and that engineers had reviewed the design. He was asked how his design would cover up the large utility boxes that are positioned at the south end of the triangle. An artist would paint photo-realistic images of people, he said, that would disguise the unsightly boxes. He explained that the Plexiglas side panels of his bus shelter were removable, in response to a question about graffiti. He said that there was a component of the design (looks like a baffle) that would prevent climbers from accessing the crow’s nest, when questioned about its safety.

Urban Counter-Pose [Originally titled Urban Posturing] (Román Montoto)

When challenged that his design doesn’t reflect Bay View, Montoto responded that it is an “interventional” design, a reflection of Bay View’s open-ended future, and which “symbolically heals the urban rift.” Another questioned him about the security issues of the design citing the opaque concrete walls. He said that no areas of his structure were totally obscured from sight and that the design was open to its surroundings. When asked how the design reflects Bay View’s history, he said his design was more a response to Bay View’s uniqueness than a reference to its history. Montoto was asked where the steel and concrete would be fabricated if his design was selected. He said his intention was that it would be Milwaukee but the final decision would depend on pricing.



Volunteer performers and puppeteer-aides

April 30, 2012

People of all ages are sought to participate in the commemoration of the Bay View Tragedy Sunday, May 6 at the Bay View Rolling Mills historical marker near Russell Avenue and Superior Street. This event marks the 126th anniversary of the Bay View Massacre, a defining moment in the movement for worker’s rights and the eight-hour day. Volunteers may be asked to manipulate puppets or perform as marchers or speakers in period costume. The first rehearsal is Saturday, May 5, from 11am to 2pm at the City Housing Authority’s Lapham Park Community Building at 650 W. Reservoir Ave. Another brief rehearsal will take place on Sunday, May 6, at 1pm at the historical marker in Bay View. Volunteer reenactors should contact Milwaukee Public Theatre: (414) 347-1685 or

Román Montoto’s artist statement

April 30, 2012

Román Montoto’s statement about Urban Counter-Pose

The approach taken to design Urban Counter-Pose for the Bay View Art Stop Design Competition includes satisfying several design criteria.  One of the primary goals identified from the Request for Proposals asks that the intervention establish a northern entry into the Bay View District.  This inspired a design process that activates the intervention’s scale and proportion as “Urban Counter-Position” to movement and views around the site; a process of finding equilibrium to an imbalanced and ‘lost’ place.  The traffic island’s context of vehicular circulation results in an urban residue and rift at the cross-roads.  This scheme’s development  is accelerated by mending that rift and creating a highly visible and monumental sculpture emerging as a unique marker of Bay View while satisfying the functional requirements of the Lincoln Ave, Howell Ave, and Kinnickinnic Ave bus stops.  Approaching, waiting, moving, and gathering in and throughout the site and intervention unfolds into a sweeping experience of scalar variation from the intimate to the broad and gestural.  With this, Urban Counter-Pose responds to its position within the  city as much as its position within the district of Bay View, at the traffic island with adjacencies to evolving commerce and close proximities to dwellings.  It engages both the city and district communities through a series of unique visual, spatial, and experiential dynamics.  Bay View’s independent mind-set and industrial history are filtered into design sensibilities for this scheme by materials selection and composition.  A heavy concrete base eludes to the well-rooted and independent thinking community while the animated steel structure springing up from that foundation does so with a sense of industrious and creative resurgence, open-ended and optimistic for the future.  The Urban Counter-Pose establishes ‘place’ with compositions of space and materials that evoke a sense of ‘becoming’; becoming a celebrated gathering node for the community, becoming a stimulant for future commerce in the area, and becoming a marker and signifier of Bay View within the City of Milwaukee.

One year in, Holman looks forward

April 30, 2012

“Nothing in Milwaukee is simple and straight,” Meagan Holman lamented over coffee recently. “That’s part of what makes it so hard.”

“It” being to try to build successful Milwaukee public schools as a member of the MPS Board of School Directors.

Elected in 2011, Holman joined the board at a miserable time. Wisconsin had just slashed state funding to K-12 education and driven a teacher-shaped wedge between taxpayers and school boards. Even before that, MPS’s finances were hardly stable, with deficits to the horizon and layoffs inevitable.

MPS’s institutional momentum, too, makes major change nigh impossible—something that always seems to confound outsiders—Holman is a Boston native. Just ask Superintendent Gregory Thornton, of Philadelphia, about trying to change the way MPS does food service.

And there are the other fingers in the educational pie that is Milwaukee: charter schools from three different agencies, voucher schools that use public money and resources, suburban districts that snag Milwaukee’s children through open enrollment. No other public school district in the country sees such competition.

Holman said her first year, in a lot of ways, was getting to know Milwaukee’s schools and unique situation. “I’ve been focused on learning—getting to know who to go to get problems dealt with,” she said. “Getting to know the principals, in and out of my district, and the district as a whole.”

She needs to, because she has a vision for MPS. Like Thornton, who came to MPS with, in Holman’s words, “a bold agenda,” she wants to see MPS be better, soon. “We really, really want to see fast gains in the district,” she said.

There have been gains, she said. Eight-grade math scores, for example, were up six percentage points, and tenth grade reading scores were up eight, according to state figures. Suspension rates are down, too, according to MPS, and attendance rates are up over 90% for the first time in years.

Holman goes back to the state budget: “Without those cuts, even if funding had stayed level, imagine how much more we could have done. We could have started aggressively doing new things for the district.” For Holman, that means Montessori.

As a Fernwood parent, she knows what Montessori offers, and said that research suggests a Montessori education through at least third grade “is the ideal preparation for STEM,” classes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. “We have to have learners that are prepared,” she said, to fill the kinds of STEM programs popping up all over MPS, from freshwater studies to Project Lead the Way.

So a goal of hers is “rapidly accelerating the number of Montessori seats MPS has.” The district’s Facilities Plan, adopted earlier this year, includes a modest expansion of Montessori, including adding high school grades to the successful Golda Meir program, for example

She’s not just thinking big picture, though; she knows what is happening in the schools in her district. “There’s an embarrassment of riches of schools down here. You can’t really go wrong K-8. An important part of my job is saying that.”

Bay View Middle and High School (BVMHS) remains a challenge. But even there, she is proactive and optimistic, crediting the neighborhood itself for a renewed interest in seeing the school succeed. After a negative piece about BVMHS in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she took to Facebook to organize a community meeting to address neighborhood concerns and direct-interest parties into positive action.

That’s already worked once for Holman, with the group Parents for Bay View Schools last fall and the work they did to get SpringBoard, the official pre-Advanced Placement curriculum from the College Board, to Bay View this fall.

“SpringBoard wouldn’t have come in, if not for the efforts of the Bay View community. It’s not just that BVMHS is getting it, but that the boost is for that many schools,” she said, referring to the four other MPS schools that may have SpringBoard next fall, too.

“That’s exciting, that’s transformational work. The community can say, ‘We did this, for our school and for the ripple effect.’”

Holman likes that she has a good relationship with her colleagues on the board, “because I can’t do it all by myself,” she acknowledges.

As a long-time observer, I will admit that this year’s board is far less contentious than it often is. She and the board have taken some hard votes-—to freeze or cut employee pay and to radically change the MPS pension and health insurance plans.

More tough decisions are coming. Thornton’s 2012-2013 budget cuts $20 million and 400 positions, including 234 teacher positions. Knowing Holman, I have confidence she will approach the budget with care and caution, aiming to do what’s best for this complicated city, even though it’s hard.

Director Holman’s community meeting on Bay View Middle and High School is scheduled for Thursday, May 3 at 6:30 pm in the school’s
auditorium, 2751 S. Lenox St.

Jay Bullock is an English teacher at Bay View High School who blogs at Contact him at

Fair Trade Crawl May 12

April 30, 2012

World Fair Trade Day will be celebrated in Milwaukee with the Fifth Annual Greater Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl Saturday, May 12.

Locally owned fair trade shops and cafés in Metro Milwaukee are hosting special sales, tastings, and other activities during the crawl. In Bay View, Anodyne Coffee, Outpost Natural Foods, Stone Creek Coffee, and Sven’s European Café are participating. The event is sponsored by the Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition.

This year’s Fair Trade Crawl theme is “Know Your Producer; Know Your Product.” “The theme was chosen to encourage people to think about where their products come from and the human beings who made them,” said Gail Bennett-Christian, an event organizer and owner of Wauwatosa-based retail store Fair Trade For All. Although fair trade networks focus mainly on fighting poverty in developing countries, she said, the event aims to educate consumers about the importance of treating all workers with fairness, including those in the United States.

Crawl participants may start at any of the participating businesses, where they will receive a “crawl passport.” At each stop, crawl shoppers will be encouraged to look for that venue’s “featured product” and record the product’s name in their passport. Shoppers who find the featured products at six shops receive a fair trade prize at any of the three Outpost Natural Foods stores between 3 and 5pm that day. Prizes include Wigwam socks, coffee, soap, nut butters, towels, and more.

The Fair Trade Crawl was a marketing concept created by Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition volunteers in 2007 to promote Milwaukee’s Fair Trade City status and venues. Last year 800 shoppers participated.

According to Wikipedia, “Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as higher social and environmental standards.”

More info:

Bay View resident Relay Rides’ first

April 30, 2012

Bay View resident Chris Gross was the first Milwaukee resident to list his vehicle on peer car-sharing rental site Founded in 2010 in Boston, it opened a second operation in San Francisco, Calif., the same year. Last month the company expanded the business nationwide.

The service allows car owners to rent their vehicles for a day, week, or longer to members of the community.

At press time, Gross’ 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe rental fees were listed as $9.25/hour or $46.25/ day. Car owners set their own prices. More info:

Studio M Boudoir Photography

April 30, 2012

Melissa Yokofich opened Studio M Boudoir Photography in Bay View’s Hide House in April, lured by the generous 2,400 square-foot studio space, friendly neighbors, and sense of community among artists. Her specialty is the boudoir photography genre—tasteful, sexy fine art portraiture of women.

“We specialize in providing the ultimate boudoir experience in Milwaukee. All of our sessions include onsite hair styling and makeup application so clients feel pampered and look their boudoir best,” Yokofich said.

Melissa Yokofich —photo Gibson Bathrick

Clients receive consultations before their photo sessions where they receive advice about wardrobe and posing to flatter their body type. “Our photography results in beautifully sexy, tasteful, and intimate images that women can treasure for themselves or a significant other,” Yokofich said. Her clients book a session because they want a portrait to mark a special occasion like an engagement, special birthday, or to give as a gift.

Sessions start at $299 and range up to $795, though most clients upgrade their sessions, Yokofich said. Studio M offers a single portrait, customized photo albums, digital images, and framed images printed on canvas. Her services include professional photo retouching.

Another option that some of her clients elect is a calendar featuring a different portrait for each month of the year. She has clients who return each year to make another calendar, or to celebrate an anniversary. Some women do their boudoir sessions while pregnant and come back after they’ve lost the baby-weight.

A military brat, “Yokofich lived all over the world as a child. She said that her love for photography was born when she lived in Europe. “There’s so much amazing architecture and just, gorgeousness, to love and appreciate,” she said.

After graduating from high school in England, she moved to Omaha, Neb., where her extended family lives. She worked at a brokerage firm to pay for college. She met her husband there. They moved to Milwaukee in 2001 to be near his family, and where Yokofich worked at financial firms until 2010.

—photo Gibson Bathrick

Yokofich’s love of photography evolved into a passion after she had children. She began moonlighting as a photographer, shooting newborns, families, children, and on occasion, a wedding.

“I saw that boudoir was starting to come back in other parts of the country in early 2009, and I got a group of girlfriends together and started shooting. I absolutely fell in love. The images are artistic and beautiful, and more importantly, they allow women to see themselves as the beautiful sexy women they are.

“I love helping women feel beautiful and challenging the popular standards of beauty and sex appeal,” said Yokofich. “The majority of my clients are real women. They’re not Giselle-clones or Victoria’s Secret lookalike-types. They’re real people—they have kids… I’ve shot several women for their 50th birthdays, which I absolutely love. I love that women can be sexy and still feel sexy—it’s inspiring,” Yokofich said.

She left her job as a compliance consultant in 2010 and devoted herself to her photography business full-time. She worked out of a studio in Oak Creek before relocating to the Hide House.

Yokofich is considering throwing a grand opening gala to celebrate her new studio. If so, she plans to reveal the results of a secret project she’s been working on at the gala—a set of 21 photographs and interviews of clients who talk about their boudoir photo-experience.

—photo Gibson Bathrick

Yokofich hopes the interviews will dispel misconceptions or fears that someone considering a boudoir session might have. She is also planning a free, Friday night makeup application class to help market her business. The goal, she said, “is to get people into the studio…have them feel a little bit sexy,” Yokofich said. It will be an opportunity for women to come in, learn how to do their makeup, see the studio, meet me, meet my makeup artist, see how things look in here, and just kind of check the place out.

Boudoir is a woman’s bedroom or private sitting room, and comes from the French bouder, which means to pout. It has since evolved to describe sexy fine art portraiture for women. — From the Q&A section of Studio M’s website.

Studio M Boudoir Photography
(414) 467-8338
2612 S. Greeley Suite 230, Milwaukee + Facebook

Goodwill Store & Donation Center proposed

April 30, 2012

A Goodwill Store & Donation Center is proposed for the southwest corner of Chase and Oklahoma avenues, adjacent to the Piggly Wiggly Store.

The project consists of a newly constructed 20,000 square-foot Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center, including a 2,000 square-foot Goodwill Workforce Connection Center located within the retail store.

Along with the building permit process, submittals will be required to BOZA (Board of Zoning Appeals) for approval on the special use (selling used garments) required to operate a Goodwill Retail Store & Donation Center in the LB2 Zoning District. Goodwill plans to begin construction this summer and complete open in February 2013.

District 14 Alderman Zielinski is holding a public meeting about the development Tuesday, May 1, 6pm in the Ray Dietrich Auditorium, Bay View High School.

For details about the development see

Shoeology closed

April 30, 2012

Retail shoe and clothing business Shoeology, 2510 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., that opened in April 2012, has closed. Owners Gary and Jennifer Ford relocated to Texas. Building owner Steve Ste. Marie is seeking a new tenant for the boutique-sized space located adjacent to his Maytag Laundromat.

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