Never, never on a Sunday

August 1, 2010

By Katherine Keller

Milwaukee’s 5th of July celebration arouses ire

When the fourth day of July falls on a Sunday, Milwaukee schedules its community celebrations on Monday, the fifth of July. That’s what happened this year and it aroused the ire of at least one Compass reader.

The reader commented that he was offended the holiday was celebrated on the fifth and finds “the whole matter creepy and unpatriotic.” He asked, “What is next, Thanksgiving on a Monday?”

Since his post, various opinions and pronouncements have come my way, which speculate about why the holiday was celebrated on Monday, including those from former Bay View resident John Manke. He speculated that there were old “blue laws” in Milwaukee that prohibited the sale of beer on the Sunday. Manke also stated in a post to the Compass website that, “the city of Milwaukee, by law, does not celebrate Independence Day on Sunday. That is why all the celebrations were held on Monday, July 5th.”

I was not aware of that ordinance so I decided to find out why Monday, and not Sunday, was selected for the city’s Independence Day celebrations this year.

I contacted Gary Petersen at Milwaukee’s Department of City Development. His duties include providing staff support to the city’s Fourth of July Commission, which sets the date of the city’s community Independence Day celebrations.

Petersen explained that celebrating Independence Day on Monday, the fifth of July, in years when the holiday falls on a Sunday, is a long-standing tradition in Milwaukee.

In some neighborhoods, Petersen said, community parades are staged in or near church parking lots. And “back in the day [when the city had to decide when to schedule its celebrations],” he said, “some of those schools were parochial schools.” That set up a conflict: Should the parishioners attend church services or ditch church and participate in the parades? The city played it safe and decided to celebrate the holiday on Monday, not Sunday.

When Fourth of July Commission considered the date this year, they decided to leave things as they were and scheduled the community celebrations for Monday, July 5th. Petersen said that’s because there are still parochial schools with parking lots where the parade starts, or very close to where the parade starts.

Petersen also said he doubted that there was an ordinance that prohibited the celebrations being held on Sunday.

Eileen Lipinski of the city’s Legislative Reference Bureau confirmed that there is no such ordinance. However, she said that Independence Day is a paid holiday for state and city employees, and that is likely so because these governmental entities follow federal policy.

Independence Day has been a legal federal holiday since June 28, 1870 when Congress passed a law to that effect, according to Amy E. Hefter, a legislative fiscal analyst employed by the city. In an email to 14th District Alderman Tony Zielinski that was forwarded to me by John Manke, Hefter wrote, “Federal law (5 U.S.C. 6103) establishes public holidays for federal employees. Most federal employees work on a Monday through Friday schedule. For these employees, when a holiday falls on a non-workday—Saturday or Sunday—the holiday usually is observed on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).”

The Fourth of July Commission doesn’t avoid Saturdays, just Sundays.

The heat will be off the commission for 11 years. The next time the fourth of July lands on Sunday is 2021.

Ahoy! June 2010

June 2, 2010

Last month I was in Norton, Va. Travel guides bill Norton’s location as the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s in Wise County, in the far western part of the state, just 62 miles from Maces Spring, Va., where the Carter family is from, and about 85 miles from Butcher Holler, Ky., where Loretta Lynn was born.

I was impressed by a number of things about Norton, population 3,702. The first was the striking beauty of its location, tucked at the base of one of the thousands of valleys in that part of the world. Another was the musical quality of the  residents’ spoken English.

Another is pace. In Norton, the pace of life jumps up and makes itself known as one registers at the hotel desk. It is evidenced in the 25 mph speed limit on city streets, the speed, in fact, that people drive. They stop for pedestrians crossing their streets and they don’t exhibit signs of annoyance about doing so.

In Norton, I witnessed a rare quality of politeness among the local people. There was no expression of impatience or disapproval about the friendly pace that groceries were rung up at the cash register. When I was collecting local papers, I stopped at a gas station in Norton, where I waited 12 minutes, or longer, for the person in front of me to conclude her chat with station’s attendant. No sighs, no admonishments from me or from the man in line behind me, even though, frankly, after five minutes, I found I needed to dismiss impatience when I felt it arise in myself.

The most striking of many enviable qualities of Norton and its inhabitants, however, was the downright authentic friendliness they offered me. People in small communities know who is and is not local. Almost without exception, I was greeted with direct eye contact and unhurried hellos and how-are-you’s, to me, an obvious stranger in their midst. I admit that it took some getting used to on my part but by day three, I found I’d let down my guard. I rediscovered that that is a good way to conduct oneself in the public sphere, free of those defenses.

I wondered what they think of us Northerners because I think we must seem hurried and abrupt and guarded in contrast to their norm. Since it was work, and not a leisure excursion for me, I didn’t have much opportunity to mingle and talk with the area residents; however, I did talk briefly with an electrical contractor who was working in Norton, a native and resident of North Carolina. When he heard how I spoke English, he asked me “where up north” I was from. When I told him Milwaukee, Wis., he rewarded me with a warm, broad smile. He told me that one of his buddies had worked in Wisconsin for a few months and said “that people were really friendly up there.”

I agree, we are pretty friendly up here, but not like people are in Norton. Conduct yourself in a big city practically anywhere in the United States, as people conduct themselves in Norton (and lots of other small towns all over this nation) and you are likely to be deemed “disturbed” and/or be preyed upon. It is not our way to be as open and warm as I have found people to be in the South, including big cities like Houston and Atlanta. We develop defenses for good reasons, like self-protection. But there is more to it than that. I think it’s just our way to be a little more formal and removed.

And that, in a way, brings me round to this issue and the news of this neighborhood, its residents, and the communities within this Northern city. I will highlight some of what you will find our talented, dedicated writers bring you this month.

You will find a progress report of the dynamic garden project at the corner of Burrell Street and Deer Place. There’s news about the TIN program in the northwest corner of Bay View. You’ll find a brief about the Bay View High School students who are helping clean and spruce up the Humboldt Park pavilion. There’s a story about the beginnings and development of Humboldt Park itself, which celebrates its 120th “birthday.” You’ll also learn of the fate of the park’s playground. (Many of you have called or emailed to ask why the playground equipment was moved.)

You’ll also learn about unwelcome guests in our area and all over Wisconsin, the botanical invasives thriving in our state’s wetlands. For balance, you’ll read about the Vogelmanns, small-scale farmers who are growing basil, salad greens, and strawberries (and more). The couple sells their produce at the South Shore Farmers Market, which begins its 10th season this month. Hue, a new restaurant, is introduced in this issue, and a movie that many are talking about, City Island, is reviewed. The Lilies, a local band, is profiled, too.

Don’t miss page 16 where you’ll find the schedule for this summer’s Chill on the Hill concert series.

It’s good to be in Milwaukee. And while most of us will never speak as lyrically and musically as they do in Norton, Va., and while I suspect most of us, if forced to choose, would elect to pay higher taxes than to drive 25 miles in Milwaukee, there is much to celebrate in Bay View. There is a spirit about this community that is distinctive, and to many outside its borders, much that is enviable.

Have a good summer, all y’all,

Katherine Keller

Ahoy! February 2010

January 31, 2010

Asian carp has been a big story recently, locally, regionally, and nationally. We’ve got two angles this month. The first is by new contributor Kathleen Schmitt Kline who discusses methods that have been and may be deployed to avert the fish from invading Lake Michigan, and the feasibility of success. We have expanded our water science web, which in addition to the work of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER institute, now also includes the UW Sea Grant Institute in Madison. Michael Timm tackles the Asian carp policy disputes that have emerged pitting the Great Lakes states against Illinois, and which have reached as far as the Supreme Court and the White House.

Sheila Julson profiled Captain Luann Brandt, the first female commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. Welcome to Bay View, Captain Brandt!

The new Bay View Hide House Community Garden is in the planning stages, as Jason Haas reports. The garden will be located in the land bordered by Deer Place, and Greeley and Burrell streets.

Another water-related story is Anna Passante’s account of three ships that were wrecked in the 19th century in the waters near St. Francis.

Cara Slingerland outlines the goals and strategies of the MPS Action Teams for Partnerships. Jay Bullock, penned a letter full of advice and encouragement to those about to enter a noble profession.

We continue to expand our new Arts & Entertainment section, which frankly could be many pages. That can happen, but we need local and city entertainment venues to support us with your advertising. It will happen! Cara Slingerland noticed that there’s a good amount of permanent art in Bay View bars and pitched that story idea. Mary Vuk Sussman contributed a review of the film Crazy Heart, and I introduce the food and chefs at the new Café Tarragon inside Future Green, and a photography exhibit, Foundry Work, at the Grohmann Museum.

The new Kinnickinnic Avenue BID #44 board nominees were selected last month, and we also note that the plug was pulled for the Eco-Bay development formerly planned for Logan Street on the site of the old Army Reserve base.

Michael Timm reports that 56 additional parcels were approved by MMSD for public acquisition related to the KK River reconstruction project in the corridor that borders Lincoln Village.

Senator Plale discusses a company’s efforts to convert fly ash from the We Energies plant in Oak Creek into bricks in nearby Caledonia. Fly ash is a byproduct of burning coal that contains toxic heavy metals. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been debating whether it should be labeled a hazardous substance.

I welcome Dan Gray to our group. Dan is a writer and will be contributing a story next month. In recent years, after his work at the Urban Ecology Center, he took a job managing one of the border collies who make Canada geese fret.

I also want to introduce you to Emily Bertholf, our new sales representative. Emily is a Bay View native. She attended Trowbridge and Bay View High School, and now lives with her husband and three children in nearby Cudahy, but she wants to move back to Bay View. Emily is a strong advocate of public education and Bay View, so she will fit right in.

Keep calling and writing with your suggestions for stories and your feedback about the paper and website, the pols, the community, and other things you share with us. I really like hearing from you, but to whomever you are, you, who calls me on occasion to ask for the phone number of the Journal Sentinel classifieds, I say, next time try the Riverwest Currents. Ask for Jan. She probably knows their number, too.

Katherine Keller


Ahoy! January 2010

January 3, 2010

We had fun reading the nominations you sent us in the past couple of months. Thank you for participating in the 2009 Person of the Year award selection.

Twenty-one people were nominated, although one nomination was a two-for-one.* Our evaluation panel members were Compass contributors Jay Bullock, Jason Haas, Sheila Julson, Jill Maher, Anna Passante, Michael Timm, and me.

This award represents “the spirit of Bay View” defined by three key qualities: contributes to the spirit and to the material well being of the community, exhibits good neighborliness (to those next door and the larger neighborhood of Bay View), and is active in civic engagement.

There are hundreds of others in Bay View who merit the nomination and award, which is one of the reasons that Bay View is exceptional. It is distinguished by the sheer number of community service groups, and the dedication of so many volunteers, who do what people do wherever they feel a sense of place and belonging and ownership and pride. And love!

This year Kathy Mulvey is the recipient of the award, pg. 6. The runners-up were John Ebersol, and the double-nominees, Patty Pritchard Thompson and Carol Voss.

Congratulations, Kathy, and each of you who was nominated. It is an honor to recognize you and your contributions.

Let me conclude with pointing out our school section, pgs. 8-9 and other school-related content about some of the superb students, educators, staff, and events in our local schools. Don’t miss the notification of the new library hours, pg. 1, where you will find Bay View is now closed Fridays and Tippe is closed Saturdays.

I also want to congratulate Sweet Water Organics for progressing to the stage where they are currently “selling fish futures,” pg. 1. I sincerely thank those of you who responded to the charity wish list we published last month, especially Andrea and Mike Kosinki of Bay View Bowl, and Dave Marks, owner of Dave’s World Bowling Pro Shop, who gave a tremendous amount of food, pg. 7, to the food pantry at Bay View Community Center.

Have you noticed? The days are getting longer. And the seed catalogs are arriving.

Happy 2010-a great year to volunteer,

Katherine Keller

*We’ve published text of the nominations on our website: Nominations are published as received.

Ahoy! December 2009

November 24, 2009

What do turkeys in space say?

Hubble, Hubble, Hubble.

That joke is for the young-uns. And so is Historic Bay View this month, page 11, which is Anna Passante’s account of a steam locomotive that was formerly on display in Bay View. Also page 11, Jill Rothenbueler Maher recounts the terrifying story of a recent trip to the ER with her toddler and the concomitant sensitivity to a world infested with viruses and germs that she, as Mom, copes with to protect her daughter. This issue includes a short essay, page 6, by St. Thomas More student Natalie Schmidt, about a Veterans Day ceremony at STM where four WWII vets, David Wick, Francis Schouster, Bernard Perszyk, and Bob Makowski, recounted their roles in this nation’s armed services.

Our news and business brief section, pages 4-5, is full of information, as always, and this month includes news about a new café under construction inside Future Green, further city budget reductions that will affect the Humboldt Park Fourth of July, Anodyne’s connection with a Wisconsin family farm, and a new dance studio on Kinnickinnic Avenue.  »Read more

Ahoy! November 2009

October 30, 2009

It’s that time of year, time to dig the red wigglers out of the outdoor compost bins and establish them in their indoor digs. I did that Sunday. Last year I purchased a bin with a hinged cover. That means I can simply flip it up and drop in the contents of my kitchen compost jar, then drop the lid.

Mrs. Schmeling and Mrs. Reid’s K4 students at Humboldt Park School, Oct. 8, Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Day. Earlier this month I was very lucky! I was asked to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the K4 class at Humboldt Park School. There are few things that I enjoy more than reading a picture book to a child. It was a pretty stressful morning that day until I sat down to read to the kindergarten class and all the discomfort evaporated. Thank you, Cindy Flechner, HPS general assistant extraordinaire, who invited me to participate in Read for the Record.

This year I lined the indoor bin’s floor with golden maple leaves that had fallen at the base of the red maple on my street. One must provide a carbon source for the worms. Newspaper is recommended but I used dried leaves-I also toss in unbleached coffee filters and spent coffee grounds. Worms need a certain degree of moisture so the damp grounds and filter are a triple benefit for them.

I stopped counting after about 100 as I tenderly extricated worms from the rich, dark compost, because I like to know how many I start with in fall. By spring, there will many more, as well as egg capsules, plus all the nutrient-rich compost they made. I’ll use it when I plant herbs, chili peppers, tomatoes, chard, cucumbers, green beans, and Delicata squash. I put the worms back in their outdoor bin for the summer.

The difference in the rate of transition from vegetable and yard waste to compost is significantly greater, I have found, when red wiggler earthworms are part of the equation. I’ve been using the worms since the ’90s, always with good results. I recommend asking Mr. Claus for indoor composting equipment and red wigglers. One never outgrows the quest for a good science project, right?

Before leaving the subject of invertebrates and the household, I want to share a natural and utterly effective ant-riddance solution I found this spring. Every few years, little brown ants invade my kitchen. I have not been able to detect exactly where they’re coming in but I can tell it is in the general area of a paint-sealed, never-opened kitchen window. Because I don’t like to kill them or use toxic chemicals, I don’t buy the ant-murdering kits. I jumped on the web to look for natural alternatives. The first one I tried was absolutely ineffective-sprinkling their path with Ajax or Comet. The next method I tried employed mint extract. I had a little vial of oil-based, organic mint extract among my baking supplies so I dabbed it near their path and along the exterior edges of the sash. I probably dipped the Q-tip in the oil three or four times and sparingly applied it. The ants were gone within hours, there were no ant corpses, and the ants didn’t return. Commit this advice to memory and try it yourself.

Flailing about for a segue from worms and ants to this issue’s content, I find that I must forego the creatures and go with the kitchen instead.

After years of trying to find a way to include a food or restaurant column in the paper, we’re finally debuting Bay View Bites this month (page 2). The column will be more of a sampler than a traditional restaurant review column. That’s because there are not new restaurants each month in Bay View. But there are new people moving to Bay View each month and there are people who don’t live in Bay View who read this paper. We want to make certain everyone knows what’s on offer. I am happy to introduce Chris Christie, who will be writing Bites. Chris and I both survived waiting on tables for one of the most notoriously difficult restaurant owners in Milwaukee. Trial by fire can create bonds and it always reveals character. Some of the traits I discovered in Chris were humor, independence, a sense of justice, generosity, and a passion for food, which I expect will be infused in her column.

The Kinninkinnic River flows through this issue, in a sense. We’ve been following the plans to dredge it for years and it’s satisfying to report that the project is complete (page 14). The next story we’ll follow, and it begins with Michael Timm’s report in this issue (page 1), is MMSD’s reengineering project to restore a more naturalized river. If the outcome performs as designed, it will result in reduced flood risk and increased public safety. We’re fortunate to have an abundance of creeks, streams, and rivers in our city. A cleaner, de-concretized KK River? Yes, please!

I’ve received a few calls recently asking me or telling me about a house restoration project on KK. That’s the Eschweiler house on KK & Wilson. Bill Doyle is restoring it. Anna Passante reveals its history, page 15. It’s interesting to note that it housed a succession of three physicians who practiced medicine within its walls, and that it’s just a a block north of Dr. Lewis’ house, 2519 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Lewis also practiced medicine in his home.

The Lewis house is two homes north of the Bay View Brew House (KK & Otjen), new venue of Cream City Swing. Want to learn to dance like Zelda and F. Scott? See Sheila Julson’s story, page 1.

The Hide House underwent dramatic change last month. The demolition on the north-end buildings is nearly finished. The project update, page 14, focuses on the recycling aspect that helps mitigate the destruction and landfill detritus.

Speaking of constructive, I have been impressed with the work of Bay View Neighborhood Association as I watched them develop over the past five years. They, all volunteers, have contributed greatly to this community in a few short years. Michael Timm profiles BVNA, page 1.

The first signs of the forthcoming holiday season emerge in this issue. Jill Maher decodes that curious parental behavior sure to be observed by friends and family at holiday gatherings, page 9. Randy Otto recommends local concert highlights, page 13, plus he penned a truckload of CD and DVD recommendations. Those appear only on our website. And last and certainly not least, I want to notify you that our December issue will feature our Celebrate Independents Holiday Shopping Guide. (We’re championing localism, here at the Compass.) The guide will be a pullout section in the center of the December issue. Localism includes ad dollars. Business owners, spend some of yours here. The Compass is local. And independent. And supports the community that supports you. (Readers, please thank the advertisers you find among our pages for their contribution. There would be no Compass without their investment in this endeavor.)

I close with my wish that you enjoy a cozy Thanksgiving redolent with comfort food and surrounded by people who don’t make you uncomfortable. To all of you who are planning and executing the feast, I say, bravo…and save the best leftovers for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Katherine Keller

Ahoy! June 2009

May 28, 2009

A few days ago this nation commemorated Memorial Day. In small towns across Wisconsin, Legionnaires-veterans of war and service representing three, or sometimes four generations, still march in parades on Main Street. Afterwards, locals and family members, who drove back to their old hometown for the day, gather at a cemetery to honor those who served in the military. Some of the graves of those who died in service are marked with a special medallion. Some with a patriotic wreath. All are marked with a miniature version of the Stars and Stripes. Sometimes a band plays. Someone gives a speech. There are prayers, there are tears. Taps is played. Then the peaceful solemnity is shattered by the terrifying sound of the gun salute that marks the conclusion. Afterwards, people walk to the graves of family members to tell youngsters about their forebears. Others tend a gravesite by planting cheerful annuals, or putting fresh flowers in vases.

On the maternal side of my family, I am told, four boys, brothers, from one Wisconsin farm family, served in the Civil War. One was a drummer boy, and in his early teens when he left home. Three survived, including the drummer.

On my dad’s side, two of his older first cousins were World War II aviators in the Pacific. Both survived, neither wounded nor shot down. Other family members served-both grandfathers, my dad, brother, three of five uncles, and several cousins, but were all spared combat. However, my grandfather was in France in WWI and although he didn’t directly participate in combat, my grandmother told me he was never the same after the war. He suffered clinical depression for decades; he lived into his 80s. I have a photograph that was taken of him in his military uniform not long before he shipped out. He was so young and possessed highly sensitive eyes and a gentle looking demeanor, a contrast to the angry, critical man who chastised the grandchildren who were forced to whisper and tiptoe around his house to avoid his aggravation and rebuke. I wish I could have known the creative, funny, sociable man that people tell me he was, those who knew him in his youth. We grandchildren cannot fathom that those traits and that sunny personality were once those of the dark, troubled man we knew.

Compared to millions of other American families, ours is fortunate. We lost only one member, generations ago, in the Civil War. No limbs or lives were lost beyond that one life. There are no MIAs in our family. I am glad for that, and grateful that I spent childhood days in those solemn ceremonies among the dead. They teach history. They allow participants to directly learn about the sacrifice and loss sustained and suffered by military personnel, their families, neighbors, and community.

That connection to history, as I often note in this column, is one of the distinctions of Bay View. And although we didn’t set out to make this a history issue, a significant amount of this content is about Bay View’s history, or capturing and preserving it. A photo from the 2009 commemoration of the 1896 Rolling Mill Massacre is featured on page 5. This month’s Meet Our Writer profiles Anna Passante, who enriches our publication and her community with her thoughtful, well-researched contributions to our Historic Bay View column. This month she writes about Lenck’s Hardware store, located in the building now occupied by Delaware House on the northwest corner of Russell and Delaware. The building will receive historic landmark status on June 27 in a ceremony and presentation by members of the Bay View Historical Society. About six inches below this sentence, our Q10 column features BVHS, organized 30 years ago in the fall of 1979. It is rare for a city neighborhood to have its own historical society as Bay View does. Support it! Use the archives. Learn about the remarkable Beulah Brinton, whose home is now the site of the society and its archives. (You can support them by attending their wine and beer tasting benefit July 25.) Matt Sliker profiles Cream City Real Estate’s new digs in the little red brick building on Pennsylvania at Morgan and KK. His aunt, Joan Sliker, who owns the building and the business, is a longtime collector of antiques, including artifacts of Bay View’s history, some of which will be on display in the offices. The grand opening celebration is June 18 and open to the public.

The other theme that characterizes this issue is the greening of Bay View. At a more general level, we’re delighted to be able to report that the county buses will finally sport bike racks. Jill Rothenbueler Maher’s report details the cost and issues associated with implementing the racks, and shows how late Milwaukee was to adopt the racks. Better late than never.

Also on page one is Michael Timm’s news feature about the innovative rooftop garden installed on top of Lisa and Swee Sim’s building, where their business Future Green resides. We note that St. Thomas Aquinas Academy received a grant for its fourth grade environmental improvement project. There’s a photo of the new trees that were planted in holes dug into Sven’s parking lot’s pavement. We spotlight the greening project at Clement Avenue School. On page 11, Jay Bullock notes MPS green initiatives and focuses on the significant projects at Humboldt Park School, including transforming some of the pavement to grass. They also installed a rain garden that will serve as an outdoor classroom, in addition to reducing runoff and providing habitat for beneficial insects and other creatures. Michael Timm covers the dissent about the proposed Eco-Bay development for Bay Street. The net-zero project would be an innovation for Milwaukee and should establish a precedent for alternative energy sources and conservation.

We finally brought back our intermittent feature, Mystery Building, that’s on page 2. We received some of the most robust, postive responses to the first installment in this promised-to-be-ongoing-vignette, when it debuted in October 2008. Please, if you love something about the Compass, don’t tell us. Apparently we have a lot of Lake Woebegon in us and were so ashamed of ourselves for drawing positive attention to our work that it took us eight months to recover and to follow up. I wonder how many of you have seen the building that we ‘de-mysterytize’ this month.

Three more stories that I want to draw your attention to are Matt Sliker’s feature about a few of Bay View’s most winning dogs, page 1; the proposed dog park for Bay View Park, page 6, and the funding cuts that drove a stake in the heart of a long July 4th talent contest tradition that will no longer take place in city parks, page 12.

I look forward to seeing Bay View gather very soon at the glorious South Shore Farmers Market and all the other events that grace summer and fall here along Milwaukee’s stunning South Shore.

Happy long days of sunlight and bird-song garlanded mornings,

Katherine Keller

Ahoy! April 2009

March 31, 2009

By Katherine Keller

We finally were able to publish an April Fool’s issue, now that we’re printing on the first of each month rather than the 15th, which had been our custom for our first four years. I wish that we could do it each month. We had fun brainstorming content for the satire pages-1, 2, and 15. I suspect we’ll get a few calls or emails from discombobulated readers.

Brainstormers for this issue were Greg Bird, Jay Bullock, Sheila Julson, Jason Haas, John Manke, Jill Maher, Ken Mobile, Anna Passante, Matt Sliker, Michael Timm, and me.

In the not-fooling part of the issue, pages 3-14, you will find Sheila Julson’s profile of Fasten Co-op, where do-it-yourselfers have fashion, jewelry, and accessories for sale. Much of the merchandise is crafted from recycled materials.

Jill Maher addresses the diaper-station status in bathrooms of local eateries, page 10. It’s easier to change a baby in a restaurant bathroom that has one, she observes, than the alternatives, either kneeling on the bathroom floor or dashing to the car, not so much fun, in snow or rain.

Anna Passante introduces Ken Keltner, page 5, in this month’s Historic Bay View. Many of you will know who he is but probably more will not. He was a Bay View native, born 1916, who made it to the Big Leagues and is famous for snapping Joe DiMaggio’s 56-straight-game hitting streak in 1941 when Keltner played for the Cleveland Indians.

The local Humboldt Park pond hockey team, the Pincherry Lake Loons, took the silver this year at pond hockey national championships in Eagle River, page 7. Go Loons!

Jay Bullock talked with Jackie Laber to get Dover’s take about the failed Tippe/Dover merger, page 11. We also learn about Dover’s academic successes, which Laber attributes to the Direct Instruction method they employ. If you haven’t visited Dover, or any of the local elementary schools, I hope you will. I predict you will discover the embarrassment of riches here in Bay View when it comes to our schools. Then sign your children up for these schools!

Humboldt Park School sent us a few photos from their multicultural spring program, page 7. We were in deadline mode on Feb. 26 when the program took place and I regret that I couldn’t attend. I can tell from the photos that I missed a very special event.

Q10, page 14, profiles a busy convenience market on the south side of Bay View. Matt Wyland told me he sells a lot of newspapers there. He has both Chicago papers and a few others, including the Journal Sentinel. You will find the Compass there, too.

Michael Timm tackled two stories for this issue, the first, an update about the proposed expansion of Cardinal Stritch University to St. Francis, page 13. They’ve decided not to acquire the We Energies land. What will be the status of that land now?

His second story, page 3, chronicles the beleaguered quest of Sven’s owner, Steve Goretzko, to get a shot at bidding on MMSD’s pump house property on Lake Drive, currently leased to Alterra. That property is the cream in any café tenant’s coffee and for the foreseeable future, that coffee is Alterra’s.

For a look at some of the federal money coming Milwaukee’s way via the stimulus package, see this page. And for a look at business news in Bay View, see Ebb & Flow, page 9.

The annual commemoration of the Bay View Tragedy will be held May 3 this year. See page 7 for details. It’s so very Bay View that that sad episode in Bay View’s and working people’s history has been commemorated for the last 122 years, and again this year. If you have never attended the ceremony, consider it. It’s truly part of the warp and weft of Bay View.

Don’t forget to keep in touch with us between issues via Watch the bulletin board on the homepage. That’s what we update most frequently.

Thank you to all the new subscribers who responded to my appeal for reader support. Keep sending in those subscription forms. It makes the trip to the post office meaningful.

It’s April and besides the foolery, it’s Earth Day, which means opportunities to clean up the parks. See page 13 to pick the location where you and your family can join your neighbors that week making Bay View less littered.

Happy Spring,

Katherine Keller

Ahoy! March 2009

February 26, 2009

By Katherine Keller

Shovel-ready. There are some phrases in the language that lack music, poetry, romance. That is a good example. If you think of a better one, contact the White House staff. They seem like a group of people who are sensitive to grace and nuance with regard to language. I want a prettier euphemism to blunt the sharp edges of this dismal passage we are navigating.

As I listened to President Obama’s speech Tuesday night, I thought about Bay View and where we should start with our shovel-ready dollars, when they begin to flow our way. My vote is the parking lot shared by the post office and Bucky’s. Call me a shovel-ready literalist, but that hole is getting scary. I saw a small dog disappear in there last week. And a couple of days ago, a VW bug.

Hole and fissure in parking lot shared by Bay View Post Office and Bucky's Super Video. ~photo Katherine Keller

I called the post office and Bucky’s this morning to find out who owns that lot. The property owner is in New York, Bucky’s said, and although they said they informed the property owner about the need for a repair, there has been no response. Apparently Bay View is going to have to wait for New York’s shovel-ready dollars to be redirected to the disintegrating lot on Oklahoma and Brust.

The fate of Milwaukee’s murals is considered by Michael Timm, who reports about an ordinance that could regulate this public-space based art form. Introduced by Alderman Tony Zielinski, the draconian language of the first draft set off alarms in the public art/artists community. Zielinski, known for his desire to keep our neighborhoods free from gang tagging and vandalism-style graffiti, has backed down and put the ordinance on hold while he gathers more input from community stakeholders.

The much-monitored proposed-Cardinal Stritch development is also covered by Michael Timm. The public is clearly demonstrating their attachment to and desire to protect Seminary Woods, which abuts and overlaps the properties in question. Stay tuned.

Jill Maher considers the challenges for parents who want to protect their children from toxin-laden food and toys, and also writes about shopping options in Milwaukee for those with celiac disease.

Mary Vuk Sussman interviewed Pak-Rite owner Rick Blaha, this month for the Compass update. We introduced this Bay View business in our January 2006 issue. They’re doing well!

I hope you’ll read Q10, because it features an innovative business, The Elumenati, located in The Hide House.

As for The Hide House itself, Anna Passante researched the history of the massive brick buildings on Greeley and Dover.

We reference a 1940 decision of the National Labor Relations Board at the end of Anna’s article. If you are interested in labor history, I urge you to read it because it gives some insight into the first attempts by employees of the Greenebaum Tanning Company to institute a union. In my opinion, the tannery owners and management rather deftly compromised these early labor organizers.

We would like to do more about The Hide House in the future and are looking for photographs or illustrations of the structure, and for stories of those who worked there.

We profile Elaine Johnsen, who has volunteered at Unity Lutheran’s senior coffee hour for 40 years! That is what I call dedication. But there is no shortage of that kind of community spirit and work in Bay View.

Which leads me to my appeal to readers. We are in the early stages of a campaign to enlist readers’ support of the Compass via subscriptions to the paper. People want more of the Compass more often. While I don’t think that a weekly is on the horizon, I think it is possible that we could become bi-weekly. But we can’t do it without capital and I hope that we can raise that capital through subscriptions. There is always, always more content that I’d like to include in the paper each month but there are not the resources for us produce or print it. My goal is to talk 10,000 of you into subscribing to the paper this year. The price is $25. We mail it by First Class Mail. Subscribe via our website or by calling us. It’s getting more and more challenging to provide the paper to you for free.

I got a call yesterday from someone who lives south of Madison in Green County. He called to tell me a flock of robins arrived, and that he heard a sandhill crane calling the same day. That can only mean one thing. My garden, like yours, will soon be shovel-ready.

May March make you mad as a hatter,
Katherine Keller

Ahoy! February 2009

January 30, 2009

By Katherine Keller

This must be what it feels like when the sky is falling. If not the sky, then when one is in freefall. I’m talking about the feathers-in-the-solar-plexus sensation, as when one descends precipitously, on a swing or a rollercoaster or in turbulence 35,000 feet up.

Yesterday the Labor Department released its unemployment claims numbers. In the week that ended Jan. 17, there were 4.776 million active unemployment benefits claims, the highest number since 1967 when these data began to be collected.

Not too many months ago the White House and other optimists were loath to characterize our country’s economic state as a recession. The terminology was eschewed for a long time, long after, I thought, it was clear that the economy was in recession. Finally the White House said it considered recession a possibility, then abruptly, it seemed, President Bush was using the word in the present tense. Since then we have had varying assessments of the degree of its severity-not color-coded as were the post-9/11 security alerts, but parsed with adjectives that became grimmer and grimmer to the point, recently, when more and more news organizations and pundits are beginning to use the more dire term depression or depression-like.

Parallel to the alarming news about the deteriorating state of the U.S. financial state is the rate that newspapers and magazines are folding. Some have vanished, while others are cutting newsroom staff. Some are paring down hard copy or in many cases, completely abandoning their hard-copy editions.

The Compass is facing forward and trundling on with a distinct belief in the role of community journalism, buoyed by readers’ often passionate praise and compliments about our work, with an old-fangled commitment to hard copy, along with our web presence.

We print 15,000 issues of the Compass. Generally we have less than 600 copies left at the end of the month. I see people of diverse demographics reading the Compass in public venues that range from Laundromats to parks to cafes to the county bus and airport. That indicates we are playing a role in the community.

Recently a Bay View resident opined somewhat bitterly about those news organizations that make only part of their web content available for free. He said he disagreed with that and thought online content should be free. If only. If only web-hosting companies didn’t need or desire compensation; or city, county, state, and federal tax agencies; or publishers and their writers, photographers, editors, and web producers; or business and car insurance agents. (Millions of independent publishers, small business people, and freelancers can only dream about the possibility of being covered by health insurance.) Free of those pressing requirements, it would perhaps not be unreasonable to expect free online content from those who produce and publish it.

But even if their budgets no longer possess line items for hard-copy editions, publishers are required to pay bills to produce and publish web content.

Perhaps it is time for me, and other publishers like me, to start a conversation with you, readers and members of the Bay View and Milwaukee community, about community journalism’s role but also the role of its readers, who may have to begin to forego their expectation that our publications are free. The question many independent, small publishers here and across the country may pose is, Do you care and believe strongly enough about the role and service we provide to financially support our work and contribution?

This month’s contribution comes to you by way of the good work of the Compass talent. Sheila Julson reports about the evolution of Alchemist Theatre, a brightly faceted little gem on KK, and she also previews Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Ball at the Marian Center.

Bay View native and UWM journalism student Matthew Sliker makes his feature debut this month with his report about RDI Stages’ grand opening. (See News in Brief for information about Bay View Neighborhood Association’s annual meeting to be held at RDI.)

Kathy Mulvey, a former publisher and editor of a community newspaper, doppelgangs in this issue. She contributed a thoughtful editorial where she argues that the 84 acres adjacent to Seminary Woods should be protected. She provides an update about Bay View Historical Society’s successful fundraising last year. Their goal is to keep the Beulah Brinton House in the society’s possession and under its protection.

Jennifer Yauck introduces the aquaponics vision of Jon Bales and Leon Todd, and experiments that could be the beginning of transformative green technologies that enable cities to produce a great deal of food inside city limits. Popular columnist Anna Passante’s Historic Bay View topic is a brief chronicle of mass transit modes that once served Bay View. And Michael Timm reports about plans for a biodiesel plant in Milwaukee. He also updates the transformation of Broad Vocabulary bookstore to A Broader Vocabulary co-op.

On Jan. 1, we launched our online contest ( January’s winner is Mary Groppi of St. Francis, who won a pair of tickets to Bay View Community Center’s wine and art event. This month the prizes are two photographs by local photographer Josh Bollé framed by Shelly Lalonde of South Shore Gallery & Framing. You can enter the contest once per day and the contest is open from Feb.1 through Feb. 20.

Before I close I direct you to the subject of this month’s Q10, Franklin Di Vilio, proprietor and chocolate maestro of Franklin’s Fine Chocolate, and a relatively new member of the Bay View business community. Valentine’s Day is just two weeks away.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Compass to you!

Katherine Keller

Ahoy! January 2009

December 30, 2008

By Katherine Keller

New offices of the Bay View Compass in the Hide House, looking north.  ~photo Katherine Keller Greetings from our new offices in the Hide House. We’re in loft space in the eastern building of the complex, which, unlike the main building, hasn’t been renovated yet.

To green our space, I put giant sheets of window vinyl over our beautiful old factory-style windows, each bay six-by-eight-foot. That took some time to accomplish, but it significantly reduces the drafts, especially today when the north winds are brisk.

As some of you know, I try to promote a lifestyle that is respectful of the biosphere (or maybe better described as fearful of the fate of our biosphere if we don’t do something soon). That’s why the windows are insulated, the lamps have CFL bulbs, our office paper and Compass are recycled, cleaning products are biodegradable, etc. When I prepared to move to this space, I wanted to go with LED ceiling lighting but I discovered, through my own research and with confirmation from Focus on Energy, that not much is available now. But recent technological advances in LED design (silicone replaces lead or plastic in the housing of the LEDs) will bring many new products to the market soon.

While researching LEDs, I found a superb website that I want to share with you. It’s Here is how they describe the site, “Started in 2004, MetaEfficient was the first site to review efficient or ‘green’ products. Our focus has always been on anything that stands out as particularly efficient-be it humble or high-tech. We research and test different methodologies to determine the most optimal, and post our results here. We hope it will inspire others [to] seek out efficiency.” It’s really a good site! I urge architects to peruse it because there is good content in the Architecture section.

Recently I learned of a group of people in Bay View, who have a goal to live with less negative impact on Planet Earth, from Jill Rothenbueler Maher. She proposed a feature story about what may be Bay View’s first ecovillage. It makes sense to me to share cooking and appliances and utility bills. I often wish that our society was constructed so that we shared a lot more: lawn mowers, snow blowers, tree trimmers. Wouldn’t it be great to have little neighborhood co-ops where we could borrow (and return) some of this stuff so we didn’t all have to buy some of these things?

Jill’s Baby View column is about Bay View’s baby boomlet, which apart from being interesting, reflects her resourcefulness concerning research.

Jay Bullock addresses MPS reform in his Hall Monitor column this month. I agree with his premise: MPS problems are not school problems as much as they are Milwaukee problems, and at the base of these problems is poverty. His column thoughtfully considers school reform.

The first of our biannual school sections is published this month. In my opinion, Bay View is endowed with a high concentration of exceptional schools. It disconcerts me when I talk to new residents who know nothing about our schools, and worse, have a negative opinion of them, and consequently will not send their kids to our neighborhood’s schools. To redress this, I asked each of the principals to tell readers about the strengths and unique aspects of their school or curriculum. If you are new to Bay View and haven’t taken time to visit the local schools, do so! You’re living in a part of the city with great schools. Find out for yourself. Schedule a visit.

Before I leave the school topic News & Briefs to read about and see photos of the skiff some of the students built at Inland Seas school. To the students who built that boat, the Compass gives you all mega props! And please note, we’d like a ride in it when warmer weather returns.

We’re introducing a new little element to Trade Winds, our business section, that we’re calling Ebb & Flow. (Last month it was named Movings & Shakings.) Ebb & Flow may not appear in each issue, but when it does appear, you’ll find it to be news blips about local business and other goings-on. I am thinking of it as stream-of-consciousness briefettes.

Hard to resist a segue from ebb and flow to Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat-one who could eat no fat, and the other, no lean. That’s how Jennifer Yauck introduces siscowet trout, the subject of H20 this month. WATER Institute research biologist Rick Goetz is studying them to discover why members of this species seem to develop in two forms: fat or lean. That is a siscowet trout in his arms. It’s huge.

Huge is the task a lot of local volunteers have taken on to preserve Seminary Woods. I’d like to draw your attention to Jacky Smucker’s editorial, which takes up the issue of a strip of land owned by We Energies that was to remain undeveloped but that now appears to be in danger of development.

Anna Passante covers the early days of St. Augustine of Hippo Church. The article includes some fascinating photographs. To get a good look at the photos, see our website where you can view them enlarged.

If you haven’t visited our completely redesigned website, take a moment to do so. Matthew Sliker, a journalism student at UWM who grew up in Bay View, writes, takes photos, and designs ads for us. He also designed the new website and updates and maintains it. If you have ideas about the site content or design, write to him:

We’re introducing a monthly contest on our website. Each month somone will win a different prize. This month the lucky winner will score two free tickets to the Bay View Community Center wine tasting event, their main fundraiser for 2009. Learn more about the contest at

The new year promises to be challenging but I think we’re at the threshold of a positive new era that the new president and his administration will help our society navigate. It appears that we’ll have a White House that is respectful of the very real crises that must be addressed: massive species extinction, global warming, a teetering economy, poverty, access to health care, the role of the United States in the global community, banking, investing, and election reform, and I hope, leadership that exemplifies civility and justice.

Happy New Year,
Katherine Keller
Publisher & Editor

Ahoy! December 2008

November 25, 2008

By Katherine Keller, Publisher & Editor

Season’s Greetings from the Compass!

This is the season to give and in this economy, there are countless charities where we can share our good fortune, but as you’ll learn in Michael Timm’s story, our local charities are requesting food, sleeping bags, and cash. Note: Bay View Community Center is specifically looking for jelly, in addition to their other needs. See why, page 1.

Understanding the pressure development places on wild spaces is part of the Green Revolution. The plans for Cardinal Stritch’s move to St. Francis are under scrutiny, especially concerning their potential impact on Seminary Woods. Michael Timm writes about the approval of these preliminary plans, page 6.

December in Bay View means a blizzard of entertainment events. One of those is the subject of Sheila Julson’s feature about the United Methodist Church’s handbell choir, page 5. Their concert, along with the Bay View High School concert, shouldn’t be missed. See our calendar, page 14, for details.

Supporting local business has long been an ethos in Bay View, but it’s catching on and rides the tail wind of the conservation and carbon-footprint reduction movements. Our Holiday Guide in the center of the paper offers an array of advertisements from local businesses that look forward to welcoming you at their door this season. Please support our advertisers!

The numbers, at least those that reflect enrollment data in Bay View schools, are captured in Jay Bullock’s column, page 11. Good reading.

Earnest young scientists at Trowbridge write about their work in Bay View Compass Kids, page 2. There’s a striking photo of a sea lamprey’s mouth that gives pause.

Running aground may be more of a problem as lake levels decline. It is the subject of H20 this month, page 12, in another lucid and interesting contribution from Jennifer Yauck, one of our finest writers.

Kevin Mundt, page 4, writes about the proposed veterans housing unit proposed for the empty lot on the corner of Lincoln and First. The site plan is on our website.

European and Japanese classic and vintage motorcycles are the specialty of The Shop, the subject of Q10 this month, page 15. For me, their business is just another one of the gems that lurks in Milwaukee, and lucky for us, is part of Bay View.

Library closings, which we covered last month, were considered a possibility because of budget woes. Tippecanoe will not close, but budget cuts will further reduce services. See our library update, page 4. It includes the new 2009 library hours.

This week we’re launching a new and totally revised website. The former version, for reasons mere mortals could neither fathom nor solve, was incompatible with certain versions of Internet Explorer. Matthew Sliker, our web producer, completely rebuilt it on a different skeleton and now it works with Internet Explorer. Take a look at the new site after Dec. 1. Let me know what you think about it. It is always good to hear from you.

The best of the season to you all.

Katherine Keller
Editor & Publisher

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