The Magnet Factory

January 7, 2017

By Sheila Julson

Wood and metal repair, restoration, conservation

Owner Mike Brylow named his Bay View building, 2424 S. Graham St., The Magnet Factory, a nod to Dings Magnetic Separator Company that once operated there. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

After a century-plus of Industrial Age manufacturing, its vestiges are everywhere — from museums to landfills. While much of the output from decades of manufacturing eventually winds up in a landfill graveyard, people like Mike Brylow seek out our civilization’s discards and gives them new life.

Brylow offers a range of services including the repair, restoration, and conservation of wood and metal antiquities in the Bay View building he’s named The Magnet Factory, 2424 S. Graham St. There he builds custom furniture from reclaimed material, but he also services and repairs vintage automobiles. Air-cooled Volkswagens are his specialty.

Mike Brylow offers a range of services including the repair, restoration, and conservation of wood and metal antiquities in the Bay View building he’s named The Magnet Factory, 2424 S. Graham St. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Brylow, who has lived in Bay View for most of his life, worked as an auto mechanic for 30 years when he sustained his second severe foot injury. The injury knocked him back for four months. While he recovered, he reevaluated his direction and path and led him to the decision to pursue his interest in restoration work.

From his teens on, he had a strong interest in automobile repair. His neighbors were car guys, and he was the curious boy who often rode his bike to watch them work and ask what they were doing. He learned more from a friend’s father who let him watch as he worked on cars and occasionally allowed Brylow to help.

Later a friend got him involved in restoration work. “During the 1980s and 1990s when the antiques business was thriving, I got to work with him. It was fun to take something that exists or is ready to be thrown away and turn it back into the world again,” he said.

When he decided to pursue a new direction, he looked for a building. He had always been intrigued by the “mystery building” on Graham Street. He discovered it was owned by James Zvonar. Prior to Brylow’s purchase, the building served as a warehouse for Industrial Machinery Corporation, a company that buys, sells, appraises, and auctions metalworking equipment.

Zvonar had received offers from others who wanted to purchase the building, Brylow said, but he was never able to make a deal. But the timing was right for Brylow and Zvonar and everything fell into place. He purchased the property from Zvonar in 2012.

Brylow noted that King Lofts owner Scott Genke, a good friend, also contacted Zvonar about purchasing the building, but two days after Brylow. “Had I not taken action when I did, he would have bought the building,” he said.

Thus began a two-year long renovation process that involved acquiring special permits for his restoration work, as well as constructing living quarters in the building, where he and his wife now live.

Mike Brylow’s Magnet Factory office is furnished with antiques and heated by a wood-burning stove. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

“It was in horrible shape,” Brylow said. “Windows were boarded up and were either smashed out or rotten.”

Brylow’s knack for finding the unusual led him to windows from an old East Side apartment building that he purchased for $15 apiece. “They originally mounted vertically, but we turned them sideways and they fit perfectly,” he said.

His passion for unusual automobiles is obvious while strolling through his shop.

Brylow pointed out a turquoise-colored 1947 Crosley once owned by the Madison Shrine Club. The Shriners, who used it as a clown car for parades, modified it by adding an extra exit. Brylow is restoring the vehicle to its original condition “from the ground up, every nut and bolt.”

Crosley automobiles were manufactured in Indiana on and off between 1939 through 1952.

The Shriners used this 1947 Crosley as a clown car for parades. They modified it by adding an extra exit. Brylow is restoring the vehicle to its original condition “from the ground up, every nut and bolt.” PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

He’s currently working on a 1950s GMC tow truck for a friend. Brylow said rumor has it the truck was an Indy 500 vehicle, but he has to research that claim. “It’s much more ornamental than your average tow truck,” he said.

He recently restored a step van for Chris Keidel of Mobile Bike Werx, a Bay View business that offers onsite bicycle repairs. Brylow sandblasted the vehicle to a raw, shiny aluminum. “You’ll definitely notice it when he’s out and about,” Brylow laughed.

Another project on Brylow’s shop floor is a 1972 2-door Honda 600. He said it’s one of the very first Hondas that was imported into the United States. He’s also working on a 1973 Volkswagen van.

Brylow is a skilled woodworker who crafts objects from salvaged materials but also makes custom builds. He’s often worked with wood from bowling alleys, transforming the sturdy wood into tables and countertops.

Some of his repurposed bowling alley wood can be found in Scott Genke’s King Lofts building.

One of his treasures is a railroad stationmaster’s desk that he estimates is from the 1880s, the height of the steam railway era. He left the original teal paint in place and reglued and reclamped it, making it structurally sound. He noted that painted furniture is hot these days. “In the past, I would have stripped it and refinished it. There’s beautiful oak under there, but painted furniture is the trend right now, so painted it is.”

Brylow also uses his Magnet Factory to host events. He’s participated in pop-up art shows and Bay View Gallery Nights.

He recently partnered with From Here to Her, an alliance of Milwaukee-based female artists. “When we bought the place, we knew we wanted to share it with the community,” Brylow said.

He will also use the building to host his daughter’s wedding this spring.

Despite the many projects he’s worked on over the years, he has no favorites. “It’s fun to just open the door every day and see what’s here,” he said, “You really can’t have a bad day in this place.”

The Magnet Factory’s name is a nod to the heritage of his building. Situated on an unassuming end of a very short street, the building once housed Dings Magnetic Separator Company, now known as Dings Co. Magnetic Group, located in West Milwaukee.

Currently, Brylow has about 5,000 square feet of workspace for his projects.

Brylow said his business has always been generated by word-of-mouth and is by appointment only.

The Magnet Factory
2424 S. Graham St.
(414) 412-7293 + Facebook

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the  Bay View Compass. 

Bay View High School preps student chefs

December 1, 2016

By Sheila Julson


From left: Sonya Gordon, Chef Dane Baldwin, Esmeralda Vieyra. The Bay View High School Culinary ProStart curriculum includes both textbook and hands-on lab instruction. PHOTO Steve Vande Zande

On a recent November morning a group Bay View High School students donned in chef coats enthusiastically prepared collard greens, turkey giblet gravy, and whipped cream. They were working under the guidance and direction of ProStart teacher Annmarie Sims and chef mentors Dane Baldwin and Jarvis Williams.

ProStart, new to Bay View this academic year, is a two-year program with a curriculum designed to prepare students for culinary arts and hospitality careers.

Bay View is one of four MPS high schools participating in the pilot. The other three are Washington, James Madison, and Vincent. The nationwide program was developed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation in 1997.

Isiah Wright, a junior, watched Chef Baldwin demonstrate making turkey giblet gravy. Wright said he was always interested in his family’s Southern cooking traditions. He had heard his grandmother talk about the ProStart culinary arts program, and when he heard it was coming to Bay View, he signed up.

“It gives you a brighter eye about being in the kitchen, especially regarding safety and other regulations,” Wright said. “I learned a couple of things that I would have done are wrong because of the safety hazards. I brought those skills home and helped my mom become safer in the kitchen.”


Juniors Michael Kinjorski and Isiah Wright are gaining work experience and honing their cooking skills through the ProStart Culinary Arts Program at Bay View High School. PHOTO Sheila Julson

Michael Kinjorski, also a junior, has been cooking since he was seven years old. Now he cooks dinner for his family and said that he has always wanted to open a restaurant. “We learn a lot about knife cuts and safety that I didn’t know about,” he said. “The class made me more comfortable working with knives because I was worried about cutting myself.”

ProStart operates in over 100 high schools throughout Wisconsin and has been in existence for 19 years, according to the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Bartolotta Restaurants was an instrumental partner in establishing ProStart in a workforce development format for MPS. Husband and wife team Jennifer and Joe Bartolotta, owners of The Bartolotta Restaurants group, are enthusiastic supporters of urban education.

Other partners include SURG Restaurant Group, Hospitality Democracy, Honeypie, and the nonprofit Arts@Large.

Program funding is provided by Milwaukee Public Schools. Bartolotta Restaurants sponsored a fundraising gala this past September at Discovery World, said MPS communications spokesperson Amy Kant. Jennifer Bartolotta said that $307,000 was raised at that gala to implement ProStart at MPS and that some of those funds will also pay for the cost of establishing an authentic restaurant-style commercial station in each one of the schools.

The district originally borrowed money to get ProStart rolling, Bartolotta said. A portion of the gala funds was also applied to repaying that loan.

The district and its partners also worked with Colder’s Furniture to acquire new refrigerators and stoves at a discounted rate. Milwaukee-based Boelter food service and equipment company donated chef’s knives, cutting boards, graters, sifters, and Vitamix blenders. Bartolotta said, “We gave them an order for about $150,000, and they sold it to the district for $49,000.”

Mentors Make It Happen

ProStart curriculum includes both textbook and hands-on lab instruction. Chef Baldwin works at Mr. B’s Steakhouse, part of the Bartolotta restaurant group. He grew up in Milwaukee and through the Chapter 220 program, an MPS program that promoted school integration, Dane attended Whitefish Bay High School. After working as a cook, Baldwin decided to pursue a career as a chef. Now he wants to share his knowledge with others, and he’s seen enthusiasm for the program grow. “You can see a graduated interest every week and it has spiked,” Baldwin observed.


Chef Jarvis Williams observes student Derion Ashford who is deftly practicing his knife skills dicing an onion. PHOTO Steve Vande Zande

Jarvis Williams is a corporate chef with SURG. He’s been with the restaurant group for 10 years, and he’s also a Bay View alum, Class of 1999. Since the program began, he’s seen the students become creative and not only prepare foods they like, but also try different foods and various ways to present the foods.

Williams said students made coleslaw and miniature sliders. “The students have ideas about what to cook or have been exposed to things at home,” he said, “They come from different cultures and backgrounds and have different ways to prepare food and bring it to the table.” He said they enjoy eating what they prepare.


From left: Ms. Annmarie Sims, Chef Jarvis Williams, Adrianna Flowers, Dezarae Moore, Chef Dane Baldwin, Michael Kinjorski, Sonya Gordo, and Isiah Wright. PHOTO Steve Vande Zande

Sims comes from a cooking family. She has worked in customer service and business, volunteered with her church for a hospitality team, and operated her own cake baking business. She also taught an adult version of ProStart Culinary & Job Readiness Program through HeartLove Place. Sims enjoys working with teens and seeing their engagement in the program. “It piques their interest and gets them thinking more positively about their future,” she said.

Some recipes used for the ProStart cooking labs are traditional but with a healthier twist. Sims says they use no pork when preparing greens. Instead, they use herbs and garlic for flavor. Sims, Baldwin, and Williams also alter recipes and class structure to accommodate food allergies.

Team Atmosphere Emphasized

ProStart classes draw students with diverse interests — academics, sports, and arts, including football players and cheerleaders. But in ProStart classes, Sims says everyone is equal and there’s no special treatment for popular students. There are four students on each team. Each team member rotates through four different positions — head chef, sanitation chef, organization chef, and assistant chef.

Sandra Peterson, Bay View High School principal, said the students love working with Baldwin and Williams. Recently the students prepared appetizers and mini desserts that were served at a community meeting. “I was so proud of them,” Peterson said, “They were so professional in their presentation of the hors d’oeuvres.”

There is a waiting list for ProStart and many other students have already expressed their interest in signing up with their guidance counselors.

Arts@Large has been working with kids in ninth and tenth grades, exposing them to culinary arts through a partnership with Honeypie, Peterson said.

From left: Chef Jarvis Williams, Chef Dane Baldwin, Adrianna Flowers, Dezarae Moore, Michael Kinjorski, Isiah Wright, Raivianna Johnson, Sonya Gordon, Marques DeVaughn. PHOTO Steve Vande Zande

From left: Chef Jarvis Williams, Chef Dane Baldwin, Adrianna Flowers, Dezarae Moore, Michael Kinjorski, Isiah Wright, Raivianna Johnson, Sonya Gordon, Marques DeVaughn. PHOTO Steve Vande Zande

Jennifer Bartolotta helps with the ProStart classes and spends time at each of the four MPS high schools where the program is offered. “After two years working with these chefs, these students will have the skills to walk into any restaurant in the city of Milwaukee, including our Bacchus or Sanford, on day one as an entry level prep cook,” she said. “That’s what Chef Baldwin and Chef Williams are bringing to this program. [If the] students decide if they want to do this as a career, we’ve positioned them to be successful on day one. We want our kids to enter up the ladder.”

ProStart students who successfully complete the program can earn up to 10 credits toward graduation in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s culinary arts program.

Sheila Julson is a regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.

New community garden takes root at Cupertino Park

July 5, 2016

By Sheila Julson

The 25 new community garden plots on the corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street are flooded with many hours of unobstructed sunlight. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The 25 new community garden plots on the corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street are flooded with many hours of unobstructed sunlight. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Those passing by the bluff of Cupertino Park on the northeast corner of Shore Drive and Ontario Street will notice a bounty of vegetables and flowers flourishing under the summer sun.

Cupertino Community Garden, directly east of Bay View Terrace, consists of 25 four-by-eight foot raised beds. Five of those are approximately 30 inches tall, significantly higher than the others, to make those plots wheelchair accessible.

Bay View’s newest community garden was created in response to the desire of residents in the vicinity of Cupertino Park to have a garden space. The project’s leaders partnered with Groundwork Milwaukee, UW-Extension, and Milwaukee County’s Sowing, Empowering, and Eliminating Deserts of Food (SEED) program.

Cupertino Park is a 7.5 acre Milwaukee County Park on the bluff between Russell Avenue and Ontario Street that spills down along the waterfront on Lake Michigan. Bay View Terrace resident Joe Walsh spearheaded the idea for the Cupertino garden. He observed that the south end of the parkland on the bluff was very advantageous for growing because it benefits from many hours of direct sunlight. Another benefit is water access. There is a fire hydrant on the east side of Shore Drive at Ontario. Fire hydrants are fitted with adaptors by the Department of Public Works to provide tap/hose access to community gardens.

Last fall Walsh began asking his neighbors if they’d be interested in a small community garden.

Walsh reached out to Antoine Carter, program manager of Milwaukee Urban Gardens (MUG), a program of Groundwork Milwaukee.

Groundwork Milwaukee is part of Groundwork USA, a network of independent, not-for-profit environmental businesses called Groundwork Trusts. These trusts are locally controlled and offer cost-efficient project development services designed to improve the health and economy of its communities.

There are 90 community gardens under Groundwork Milwaukee’s purview, Carter said. His organization advises and assists garden organizers in other ways, such as obtaining fire hydrant permits, liability insurance, and providing workers to help community gardens with large projects such as distributing mulch or soil.

Other Groundwork Milwaukee community gardens in the Bay View area include Village Roots near Beulah Brinton Community Center, and the Hide House Community Garden at Greeley Street and Deer Place.

“Groundwork Milwaukee’s role is to be a first point of contact for any group looking to start a community garden,” Carter said, “What we do is provide a fast track to activating a space. Because we have a leasing agreement with the city, we lease lots from the city and then lease those to garden groups. That allows us to also provide insurance. While we’re providing insurance, we also like to stay involved with any technical support for growing and community engagement.”

Carter met with the Cupertino project’s leaders to assess their needs and overall goals. “Because they were interested in using county park land — most of our gardens are on vacant lots owned by the city or private owners, we decided it would be good to partner with UW-Extension and the SEED program to assist with design and help with logistics for the garden,” he said.

Walsh and Ryan Schone, food system coordinator for UW-Extension, canvassed the Cupertino Park vicinity to gauge interest in a community garden. Schone emphasized the importance of community engagement. He said that means gathering opinions and keeping residents involved, versus a top-down approach where an organization just comes into an area and builds garden beds with the hope that residents will support the new garden.

Approximately 35 to 40 people attended a forum in January at South Shore Park Pavilion. Not everyone supported the garden. There was some pushback from residents who objected to using Milwaukee County Park space for the gardens or who worried community gardens might not be well-tended and would become unsightly.

“The response was quite positive,” Schone said. “There were some concerns, but we overall addressed that. It was very evident that the community was getting behind it, with no major red flags.”

He noted that the area in Cupertino Park where the garden is located isn’t as heavily used as some parks, South Shore, for example, but despite that, he said they left a large portion of space north of the new garden plots open for recreation.

SEED funding covered much of the costs, Schone said. Other costs are covered by support from community partners such as Groundwork Milwaukee and by garden plot rental fees.

Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic helped sponsor the three-tiered SEED (Sowing, Empowering, and Eliminating Deserts of Food) resolution that was adopted last year. The goals of the program are working with community partners to eliminate food deserts by growing produce in neighborhoods with little access to fresh vegetables and fruit, increasing the number of community gardens, and planting fruit orchards.

Through the SEED program, Milwaukee County will partner with the Hunger Task Force, Growing Power, and UW-Extension. Hunger Task Force will operate a Mobile Market within the county to serve residents who live in food deserts and coordinate with the existing Stockbox delivery program to seniors. “Our goal is to create a million square feet of community garden space throughout Milwaukee County,” said Ryan Schone, food systems coordinator for UW-Extension. They’re working on eight new garden sites this year, but two of those may not launch until next year.

The raised bed gardens were installed shortly before Memorial Day weekend. Approximately 15 to 20 volunteers performed the work, Carter said. Bliffert Lumber and Hardware donated some of the boards that frame the plots. Soil was purchased from Blue Ribbon Organics.

No gardener has more than one plot this year, Schone said. Each paid $20 for the plot and the price included water. There were five people on the waiting list who did not receive a plot this year.

“Cupertino has an active group of people dedicated to the overall success of the garden,” Carter said. “Urban agriculture has really grown in the city and because there are so many vacant lots, it provides a great space for change. We’re happy to be a part of it and help people transform unused space into something they really want to enjoy.”

“The garden is not exclusive to Bay View Terrace residents,” Walsh emphasized. ‘It’s a community garden and for use for some people from the Terrace, but it’s also for the community.”

 Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to the Bay View Compass.

South Shore Park Earth Day turns 20

May 1, 2016

By Katherine Keller

When the six-foot bull snake was brandished above their heads, horror and alarm registered on some of the young faces. Other faces shone with curiosity, delight, and wonder.  St. Thomas Aquinas Academy students were captivated by Troy Abuya’s Wisconsin Snakes presentation at the 2016 South Shore Park Earth Day event that marked its 20th anniversary on April 18.

Recoiling from Bull Snake

Naturalist Troy Abuya taught students about Wisconsin snakes. No one was bored during his presentation. PHOTO Katherine Keller

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy students were captivated by Troy Abuya’s Wisconsin Snakes presentation at the 2016 South Shore Park Earth Day event that marked its 20th anniversary on April 18. PHOTO Katherine KellerIt cannot be said that boredom characterized the experience of the 530 students who participated in the 11 different natural science presentations in the pavilion or outdoors among the trees.

Bull Snake Horror and Delight

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy students learned about Wisconsin’s snakes, including this bull snake. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Students from Burdick, Clement Avenue, Fernwood Montessori, Lowell, St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, Trowbridge, and Woodlands elementary schools participated in science activities that ranged from viewing water organisms through microscopes, to designing a sewer system, to learning how to identify the park’s trees. Students in grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 attended.  Students from Lowell and Woodlands picked up litter in the park.

Dr. Carmen Aguilar and Camila De Vincenti at the Mussel Beach laboratory in South Shore Park Pavilion. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Dr. Carmen Aguilar and Camila De Vincenti at the Mussel Beach laboratory in South Shore Park Pavilion. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Clement Avenue student Camila De Vincenti said she liked discovering how invasive mussels affect Lake Michigan. “I saw the more mussels there were in the cup, the cleaner the water became. They are where the colder water is,” she said. The experiment that demonstrated cold water is heavier than hot water was also compelling.

Dr. Cuhel and student

Dr. Cuhel of the UWM—Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science is in the early stages of an experiment that demonstrated cool water is heavier than warm water. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The mussels and water temperature experiments were part of the presentation, “Mussel Beach—the crushing weight of invasive species,” by Dr. Carmen Aguilar and Dr. Russ Cuhel of the UWM—Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science.

Celebrating Bea Reinders

Bea Reinders was honored with a cake during the adults’ lunch break. She is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service.

Reinders played a key role since 1997 in the South Shore Park Earth Day. The first year she assisted by helping prepare lunch, but because she was retired, she realized she could do more work behind the scenes to help those organizers with full-time jobs. In the following years she contacted and scheduled presenters.

Bea Reinders, who was presented with a cake, is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service on behalf of South Shore Park Earth Day.

Bea Reinders, who was presented with a cake, is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service on behalf of South Shore Park Earth Day.

Bea Reinder's Cake

“Bea arranges all the presenters and the food for the luncheon. Bea has gotten monetary donations to pay for the luncheon…Bea knows how to make something wonderful with no money,” said Diane Piedt.

Diane Piedt is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service on behalf of South Shore Park Earth Day. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Diane Piedt is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service on behalf of South Shore Park Earth Day. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Like Reinders, Piedt is retiring after 20 years of volunteer service at the event. She was teaching at Trowbridge the first five years, helping arrange her school’s participation. For the past 15 years, she coordinated the schools and set up workshop rotation schedules. “Two Fernwood teachers started [the South Shore Park Earth Day] event, who at the time were part of a group called the Coalition of Bay View Schools. It began because the two Fernwood Elementary School teachers wanted children to get initiated to South Shore Park, which is what they did the first year,” Reinders said recounting the event’s history. “The mission is to educate children and inspire them to pursue careers in science and environmental studies.”

The teachers who established the event were Teri Rudolph and Patti Sorano. At that time, their school was still Fernwood Elementary, not yet a Montessori program. The principal was Dennis Schumacher.

The first year the only activity was strolling through South Shore Park.

“The second year the teachers wanted to enrich the experience of walking in the park, and that year, the first presenters were included in the event. They were located in the park. The children stopped at an exhibit to learn about recycling—how to make paper out of garbage, for example,” Reinders said.

“There would be no Earth Day (at the pavilion) if it were not for the support of the principals,” Reinders said. The principals allowed their students to attend the event.

The presenters, also volunteers, don’t charge for their service. Schools pay no fee or admission to participate in the event.

“Once the presenters came, they were sold. They wanted to come back again the following year,” Reinders said. “I’ve had a passion for this and the people who present. They have a passion for passing their knowledge down to children. You have to have passion.”

Reinders said that each year some of the children make a special effort to thank the organizers.

“One year a boy said me, ‘You do this because you love us.’ That will bring a tear,” she said.

Wonders of Water Organisms

With the aid of microscopes, students had a look at the microorganisms found in water. The workshop was presented by the Riverside Urban Ecology Center.














Designing a Sewer

Students in the midst of designing a sewer system. PHOTO Katherine Keller

2016 Earth Day South Shore Park Presenters

Mussel Beach—The crushing weight of invasive species
UWM—Milwaukee School of Freshwater Science

Drs. Carmen Aguilar and Russ Cuhel

A Walk in the Park—Identifying trees in South Shore Park
Frank Mulvey

Lora Loke and Wolfgang Siebeneich

Hawthorn Glen Outdoor Education Center

Creatures of the Water—What creatures are in the water?
Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center

Develop a Sewer System
Susan Coyle and Cari Roper, MMSD

Rescuing Wildlife
Joyce Konkol

Slither, Walk, Hop—Meet Wisconsin snakes, a turtle and a toad close-up
DNR Havenwoods

Snakes of Wisconsin
Troy Abuya, Naturalist

Water and Air Pollution
Samm Posnanski, Water Resources Management Specialist, Wisconsin DNR

What Is the Buzz about Bees?
Charlie Koenen, Apiarist 

Wonders of Wetlands
Lynne E. Whelan, U. S. Army Corps of Engineer

If you would like more information about sending your students to the 2017 South Shore Park Earth event or if you would like to present, please contact Frank Mulvey,


Creators, tinkerers thrive at Milwaukee Makerspace

April 30, 2016

By Sheila Julson

The construction of a wooden boat is one of the projects underway at Milwaukee Makerspace in Bay View. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

The construction of a wooden boat is one of the projects underway at Milwaukee Makerspace in Bay View. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

There is a hive of creative activity inside an inconspicuous red brick building on Potter Street near the library. Budding metal workers, woodworkers, ceramics artists, electricians, garment makers, silk screen artists, and others are intently at work. They savor the challenges of problem solving, the joy of accomplishment, and the teamwork required to bring projects to fruition. In short, they are satisfying our deep human desire to tinker and create.

Milwaukee Makerspace (MM), 2555 S. Lenox St., is a not-for-profit social club that provides shared workspace for creators, inventors, and tinkerers,  encompassing all ages and skills. It is a place to access tools, machinery, materials, and most importantly, knowledge and experience shared by other members. The 16,000-square-foot space, open to the 200-plus members 24/7, provides access to equipment and space that one may not have in a home or garage.

The building was constructed in 1962 for a Krambo Food Store and later housed DataShield, Inc. It is divided into several well-organized work areas, each resembling mini-industrial shop floors.  There are computers, 3D printers, a table saw, a welding equipment; a metal forge and casting area. There are mills and lathes and a room dedicated to computer numerical control (CNC) machines. “CNC machinists work with computer numeric controlled (CNC) heavy machinery from setup to operation to produce parts and tools from metal, plastic or other materials. Computer numeric controlled equipment is precision machinery that cuts, grinds, or drills into the material,” according to

There is a ceramics section with potter wheels and a kiln and a section where T-shirts are printed by silkscreen. In a separate dust/grease-free section of the building, there is a sewing lab.

Countless tools, supplies, and spare parts abound, supplying makers with elements they need to transform projects from an idea to reality.

Part of MM’s mission is that its members bring in their machinery and tools to share with other members. “Almost any tool you can think of, we have here at Makerspace,” said Carl Stevens, communications director and MM member. Some tools and supplies have been donated to MM.

Each work area has a “champion,” a member who stepped forward and volunteered to be the leader of that area. Champions ensure the area stays clean. Many have professional experience in their craft—the welding area champion is a welding inspector by trade.

“Champions are also in charge of checking people out when they use tools in their areas,” said Stevens. “For every tool that plugs into a wall, there’s a checkout process.” Champions make sure other members who wish to check out a tool are trained and capable of using the tool safely.

Introductory classes are also offered for the work areas.

During the weekly Tuesday evening meetings, there is show-and-tell session and a tour of MM that is open to the public. The tour offers a view of members’ projects. The night the Compass toured, there was an in-progress meticulously handcrafted wooden canoe; metal trivets and knives forged from scrap metal, robots and other radio-controlled vehicles with different functions, restored vintage Girl Scouts uniforms, mobile phone stands, a concrete and metal end table, and a poker chip wheel.

“The forge is a really active area, with people becoming interested in blacksmith art,” said Stevens, as he pointed toward neatly arranged railroad ties and scrap metal that would be transformed into makers’ projects.

Lance Lamont is Milwaukee Makerspace president.

Lance Lamont is Milwaukee Makerspace president.

MM president Lance Lamont said he has a smattering of skills. He showed the Compass an MM sign he crafted from metal and wood, using a CNC router and welding to make it. Lamont first became aware of MM in 2011 and has been actively involved since 2013. He’s in his second term as president and enjoys the interaction with members and educating those interested in joining.

Lamont explains that MM has a loose organizational structure, with a seven-member board of directors. Membership dues are $40 per month, which entitles the member to a key fob so that they may come and go as they please. “We have a very trust-based culture,” he said. “We trust you to be safe and understand the proper operation of a tool before you use it.”

Lamont added that MM values transparency. It posts its member handbook and rules on its website.

MM’s big event, Milwaukee Maker Faire, is held annually at State Fair Park on the last weekend in September. They partner with the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and other sponsors to showcase members’ creations and explain how the items were made. The fair is not exclusive to MM members. Any individual is welcome to show off projects.

Members also volunteer for other maker fairs in Wisconsin and the Midwest and at community events such as Bay View Gallery Night and Doors Open Milwaukee.

Beware! The Daleks have invaded Bay View. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Beware! The Daleks have invaded Bay View.
PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

The Members
The camaraderie among members is evident as they joke around, give advice, and applaud each other’s accomplishments in a noncompetitive atmosphere. Members sometime use their skills to help one another if someone’s car or bike breaks down.

MM members have backgrounds in computers, electronics, machining, fabrication, theater, and design. There are many jacks-of-all-trades who want to learn new skills.

Jon Hughett is champion of the jewelry-making area. He began a long-term project to break the Guinness World Record for the highest numbers of Daleks together in one place at one time—in Milwaukee. The British currently hold the record. Daleks are the fictional extraterrestrial villains from the Doctor Who television series. There are three nearly completed robotic Daleks in Hughett’s MM Dalek factory.

“Before I started making these, I had none of the skills that went into this,” Hughett said. He and others in his club, Dalek Asylum Milwaukee, used the CNC machine to make the fiberglass resin casing. The built the motorized controls found inside each Dalek that allow users to move them around.

Stevens said other groups have also formed within MM to collectively focus on a project.

Karen Pauli, the sewing guru, folds a garment in the sewing area. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Karen Pauli, the sewing guru, folds a garment in the sewing area. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Karen Pauli has a degree in theatrical costuming from UW-Milwaukee. She works on several types of sewing projects, including restoring historic Girl Scout uniforms for local troops, for display and Scout fashion shows. She will also help out MM members whose backpacks split or who need to repair torn garments.

“People join Makerspace for the equipment and the workspace, but then they discover the brain trust they have bought into,” Pauli said. “It is a collaborative mindset. I have a sewing area with all the tools and facilities I need at home, but I didn’t realize that I missed being around other people.”

Tom Gralewicz, a co-founders of Milwaukee Makerspace, was a member of robotics clubs throughout the country. His education and background lie in computer science and physics. When he lived in Dallas, Texas, he was a member of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, where he enjoyed its casual, social ambiance. When he moved back to Wisconsin, he wanted to join a robotics club but the closest one was in Illinois. He and some fellow Wisconsinites made the drive, and they eventually decided to start a club in Milwaukee.

Gralewicz said the club members originally met casually at his home. Royce Pipkins, another MM co-founder, eventually discovered the NYC Resistor hackerspace (a term often used interchangeably with makerspace) in New York. Gralewicz and Pipkins were led to that provided advice about starting a makers club in one’s own city. In 2009, MM was born.

They met at Culver’s restaurant in West Allis for a year and brainstormed about how to attract more members. To get the word out, the club built motorized pot-of-gold parade floats for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2010, Gralewicz said. Soon another project developed that converted toy Power Wheels cars into racing vehicles.

That same year the group leased space at Chase Commerce Center. In 2011, its growing membership and other reasons prompted the group to look for a new location. Eventually Gralewicz’s real estate agent discovered that the Lenox Street building was for sale. Some of the members invested in the purchase of the building, forming the Milwaukee Makers Investors Group. MM moved into its current space January 2013.

“Within six months of moving into this space, membership grew to 140 members,” Gralewicz said. The move to a larger, cleaner space also attracted a new demographic to the group—women. “Until then, we had no women members,” he said.

He noted that while some MM members are aspiring entrepreneurs, most don’t aim to become millionaires or change the world. “They have a passion. It doesn’t matter what you want to do, Gralewicz said. “If there’s a skill you want to learn, and somebody here knows how to do it, they’ll do it with you.”

Other Creativity Hubs
The concept of a makerspace is international. “You can find makerspaces in most cities that are university related, or large enough,” Lamont said. “Some have fun names—Arch Reactor, and some are just Makerspace, but the common thread is an interest and passion for creativity.”

Makerspaces are independent of each other, with no overarching organization that controls them. They vary in size and uniqueness.

Milwaukee Makerspace
2555 S. Lenox St.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and contributor to the Bay View Compass.

Emerald ash borer damage in Milwaukee County Parks

April 30, 2016

By Sheila Julson

Green Emerald Borer (insect) PHOTO Zerene Stacker/U.S. Geological Society

Green Emerald Borer (insect) PHOTO Zerene Stacker/U.S. Geological Society

Nearly 3,000 trees have been removed in Milwaukee County Parks since 2009 because they were infested with the invasive emerald ash borer. Others were cut down as a prophylactic to prevent further infestation, said Gregg Collins, forestry supervisor for the Milwaukee County Parks system. The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive, wood-boring, metallic green beetle (Agrilus planipennis) originating in eastern Asia. It was first discovered in Wisconsin in August 2008.

The effect of the EAB is apparent in the defoliating Green Ash tree. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

The effect of the EAB is apparent in the defoliating Green Ash tree. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

“We are actively removing Green Ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), which are certainly infested and already debarked, and completely dead,” Collins said. “At the same time and often in the same park, we will remove Green Ash, which do not exhibit outwardly visible symptoms. We do this with the understanding that when EAB has infested an area, 100 percent of the remaining ash trees will become infested during the population explosion if not chemically treated with a pesticide.”

Lead Photo Culled Green Ash in HP

Two Green Ash trees were culled in Humboldt Park this spring. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Trees have been culled in many parks throughout the Milwaukee County Parks system, including Humboldt, South Shore, Bay View, and Sheridan on the South Shore. Collins noted that while they haven’t seen full infestation at Humboldt Park like in other parks, they did find EAB feeding galleries and the D-shaped exit holes in several trees near the tennis courts during the winter of 2014-15.

“We have confirmed EAB is present not only in our parks, but throughout the city of Milwaukee, other municipalities, and Milwaukee County in general,” said Guy Smith, chief of operations for the Milwaukee County Parks. “We have educated staff who know the signs, symptoms, and decline stages of trees that are victims of EAB infestation.”

An article published by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources states that “EAB larvae live underneath the bark of ash trees, feeding on the layer of the tree’s trunk that lies just below. When they do this, they cut off the flow of water and nutrients in the tree. Most trees die after about 3 years of infestation. The top of the tree begins to die first.”

When EAB symptoms are detected on ash trees in any region, they are subject to rapid decline. Because EAB larvae live and feed on the inside of ash tree bark, it is difficult to detect their presence until symptoms of damage occur.

Smith said Milwaukee County Parks prioritized park land into zones based on highest concentration of park patron use, focusing on playgrounds, picnic areas, and sections along roadways and bike trails. The practice of preemptive ash tree removal in high patron-use areas is a means to keep people safe from the falling limbs or trees weakened by the rapid desiccation caused by the EAB.

Green Ash trees. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

Green Ash trees. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

The staff of the Land Resources Division of Milwaukee County Parks also removes other tree species for specific safety or maintenance reasons. Some trees were removed recently along the west side of Lincoln Memorial Drive because they either possessed a defect that was going to lead to certain failure, were an undesirable species, or had a growing habit that was affecting vehicular, bicycle, or pedestrian use along the drive.

Green Ash tree leaves. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

Green Ash tree leaves. PHOTO Wikimedia Commons/Bugwood Network

“The Land Resources Division of the Milwaukee County Parks Department puts a high value on trees and the benefit they are to each and every one of our parks and our environment overall,” Smith said.

During spring and fall, Milwaukee County Parks replants trees throughout the system, depending on available staffing and budgets. Smith said they try to replenish areas with trees where they would be most appreciated. “We plant a very diverse group of native tree species,” he said.

The mild 2015/2016 winter allowed the forestry staff to begin planting trees in February this year. The parks department partners with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to plant donated trees, along with Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, the Park People of Milwaukee County (Milwaukee County Parks’ overarching friends group), and park friends groups for reforestation efforts. Smith added that Friends of South Shore Park and Humboldt Park Friends have been valuable partners helping with planting trees, organizing clean up projects, and other projects in natural areas.

How You Can Help Prevent the Spread of Emerald Ash Borer

Do not transport firewood across county lines. EAB can hitchhike on firewood and invade trees in EAB-free counties. Buy firewood near your planned campsite and from state-approved vendors. For a list, consult

Report ash trees showing signs on infestation to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Email or call 800-462-2803. Learn the signs of Emerald Ash Borer infestation at

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.

Ever hear of a memory café?

February 29, 2016

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Reassurance can come from being with others who are in the same boat. That’s true for people dealing with early-stage Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive impairment, or other types of dementia.

People can find others who know their struggles at the monthly “memory café” held in the Bay View United Methodist Church.

The casual group doesn’t specifically discuss religion and is not a support group. Instead, it’s a meetup of mostly seniors and their loved ones—a social outlet for sufferers and exhausted caregivers.

Memory cafes meet around the world. The Bay View location formed in March 2015 and currently attracts around 10 attendees plus volunteers and Pastor Andy Oren. He and associate pastor Kelly Fowler have been formally trained to lead these groups.

The volunteers, like Valanee Schmitz, a member of Bay View United Methodist Church, offer coffee, hot tea, water, and perhaps a cookie. She and others lead activities and group conversation, sometimes punctuated with a group song.

Combats Isolation

Unbridled isolation can be a big problem for both sufferers and their caregivers, so free, low-key meetups help lift their spirits.

“We’ve heard it over and over again that this is just a great outlet for them,” said Oren. “We get people talking about, What do you remember about this from when you were a kid?’ or whatever, to trigger memories.”

Carl and Carol Kucharski moved to the area in August from West Virginia, after Carl’s diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia, to be near their daughter and her husband. The two couples live in neighboring condos.

“[The memory café] doesn’t make you feel so isolated. It’s something different every time we meet. We have learned a lot about the area and people really welcomed us… I was a schoolteacher and this isn’t what I intended for retirement,” Carl said.

The couple said they view his diagnosis and their relocation as a new adventure. After coming to the church for the memory café, they eventually joined the congregation.

Chris and Laura met on seven years ago and had their first date at Starbucks. After being together for only a few years, Laura began suffering from primary progressive aphasia, a degenerative brain condition. They’ve enjoyed the memory café; other social groups have been awkward since Laura has difficulty speaking.

“It’s a good program. It’s a place Laura can feel very comfortable sharing, even though it’s difficult to talk,” Chris said. She works from home and adjusts her hours to attend the group with her wife.

 Pastor Andy Oren, Bay View United Methodist Church, was instrumental in establishing the Memory Café at Bay View United Methodist Church. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Pastor Andy Oren, Bay View United Methodist Church, was instrumental in establishing the Memory Café at Bay View United Methodist Church. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse


Pastor Oren was inspired to create the memory café at his church from a July 2014 M magazine article about former Wisconsin Governor Martin Schreiber’s difficulty coping with his wife Elaine’s Alzheimer’s disease. Schreiber was honest about the challenges of taking on the cooking, cleaning, errands and other chores and losing time for his work and exercise. The article was accompanied by a mention of memory cafés and Oren realized there weren’t any in the Bay View area. His father had dementia so Oren has a personal connection to the project.

Upcoming meetings are March 21 and April 18 from 1pm to 2:30pm at Bay View United Methodist Church, 2772 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. (

For more information about Alzheimer’s or to RSPV a meeting at BVUMC, contact Wendy Betley of the Alzheimer’s Association, 414-479-8800.

Stately companion of grace and grandeur

December 31, 2015

By Katherine Keller

 With a girth of 16 feet, this silver maple dwarfs Gladys Vaught’s home on Griffin Avenue. It is estimated that the tree is about 120 years old.     — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

With a girth of 16 feet, this silver maple dwarfs Gladys Vaught’s home on Griffin Avenue. It is estimated that the tree is about 120 years old. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

About two months ago I met Gladys Vaught. I went to her home to pick up photographs and news clippings of the Quonset and Wingfoot homes that she and her family lived in after World War II. As I walked toward her front door, I was awestruck by the enormous silver maple tree that stands next to the house.

Gladys and her husband Harlan bought their house, 3410 S. Griffin Ave., in 1961.

After looking through her collection of clippings and photos, we talked about the tree, a silver maple. She told me of her love and admiration for the tree and of her attachment to it.

The silver maple in 1961. COURTESY GLADYS VAUGHT

The silver maple in 1961. — COURTESY GLADYS VAUGHT

This photo from the 1920s shows the silver maple as a ‘mere sapling’ compared to its present height and girth. — COURTESY GLADYS VAUGHT

This photo from the 1920s shows the silver maple as a ‘mere sapling’ compared to its present height and girth. — COURTESY GLADYS VAUGHT

Referencing a 1920s  picture of her home, Gladys told me, “The maple is in that photo and it was already a big tree back then,” she said. The house was built in 1910.

I think that maple is one of the biggest trees I have seen in Milwaukee, although the Copper Beech in South Shore Park is nearly as large in girth, if not height. I decided a story about the tree would be of interest to our readers, and I wondered if we could determine its age.

I asked John Ebersol to measure the circumference because that is the starting point when calculating the age of a living tree. He did. He said it’s 16 feet.

I found two websites that each provided metrics to estimate the age of a silver maple but they produced conflicting results. So I turned to an expert, here in our backyard, for advice.

FUN FACT On March 26, 1895, King Alfonso planted a pine sapling near Madrid and started Spain’s Arbor Day.

“A 16-foot circumference would equal about a 61-inch diameter,” said Dave Sivyer, City of Milwaukee Dept. of Public Works Forestry Services Manager. “The silver maple is a fast growing species, so if it averaged 0.5 inches diameter growth annually, it would be no more than 120 years old.”

Gladys Vaught said her tree’s roots run under her house and extend far and wide beneath most of her lot.   — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

Gladys Vaught said her tree’s roots run under her house and extend far and wide beneath most of her lot. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

That means the giant maple tree sprouted about 1895.

“Still, that’s quite old for an urban tree,” Sivyer said. “The American elm, another fast growing tree in our area, averages about 0.4 inches diameter growth annually. So 0.5 inches, while it doesn’t sound like much, is probably the maximum average annual growth rate for the silver maple.”

The silver maple is native to North America and is one of the most common trees in the United States. Its wood is used as pulp for paper, and for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments. Its sap can be used for making maple syrup but its sugar content is lower than that of the sugar maple, a close relative to the silver maple, which is the preferred source for syrup makers.

Gladys reveres the tree and said, with a twinkle, she tells it that she wants it to stay around longer than she does.

I asked her if she would share more of her thoughts and memories about the tree. This is what she wrote.

For 54 years I have been privileged to share my yard with Ms. Maple aka Her Majesty. She is not just a tree; she is a part of our family.

Through the years, four children, six grandchildren, and now six great-grandchildren, have enjoyed her many gifts. In the spring, her helicopter seeds rain down on them. 

Through the summer, they enjoy the shade she provides. In fall, they run through the blanket of leaves she lays out over the lawn.

In one of her huge arms is a hollowed out cavity that becomes the nursery for two to three baby squirrels, and then she’s their playground for the rest of the summer.

One year I saw a mother raccoon carry her two babies up into that cavity to keep them safe from danger. They lived there for two months, and when they left, the squirrels moved back in.

In heavy winds, her dead branches break off, which then are used for our many family bonfires.

Many species of birds can be seen and heard singing in her mighty branches and the woodpeckers enjoy the insects in her bark.

Her Majesty’s branches loom over my home and her vast root system runs under the house and lawn. She’s my air conditioning in the summer.

Family and friends come to sit on the patio under her canopy of branches and they tell me how they feel stress-free as they relax there.

If you lean up against her for a time, you may just feel her energy as I have many times.

No, she isn’t just a tree, she an old friend.

  —Gladys Vaught

Tippecanoe Library’s vibrant makeover dazzles

December 31, 2015

By Katherine Keller

More than 1,600 people toured the renovated Tippecanoe Library when it reopened December 12. — PHOTO PAT A. ROBINSON

More than 1,600 people toured the renovated Tippecanoe Library when it reopened December 12.    — PHOTO PAT A. ROBINSON

After months of operating in temporary headquarters in the Copper Kitchen’s banquet hall, Tippecanoe Library re-opened December 12, when more than 1,600 patrons were ushered through its shiny new front doors. The dramatic renovation transformed the former 1969 interior, a claustrophobic cavern that was illuminated with limp fluorescent lighting, to a warm, open space that gleams with natural light and razzle-dazzle.



“An interesting thing is that it looks so much bigger, more spacious,” said District 13 Ald. Terry Witkowski, whose district includes Tippecanoe Library. “There are more windows on the north side. It’s brighter, more open, and reeks of newness.” Witkowski credits residents in the neighborhoods who shared their ideas and suggestions about what they wanted in the redesigned library. The library held meetings during the planning and design stages of the project to solicit residents’ input.

The $4.5 million renovation focused on a new interior design and upgrades to the infrastructure including mechanicals and HVAC. With the exception of modifications to the north wall and a new entrance on the southwest corner, the exterior structure remained intact.

More bike racks were added to better serve patrons. The new entryway features a canopy that shelters the sidewalk approach. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

More bike racks were added to better serve patrons. The new entryway features a canopy that shelters the sidewalk approach. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

The redesigned entryway features an automated book return, and there is another on the exterior of the building, on the south wall, that is accessible 24/7. Tippe now offers express self-check-out stations, like those found in other MPL branches and libraries in metro Milwaukee.

A new perk, sure to please, permits patrons to purchase restorative brews from a “high-end coffee machine.”

There is an independent study room, a unique area for teens to meet and socialize, and a children’s area with early learning materials. New bumped out windows were added along Howard Avenue to provide expanded reading and studying space. The windows flood the space and adjacent stacks with light.

The northwest corner of the library serves as a multi-purpose area. At times it is an open space with tables and chairs, plus some upholstered easy chairs. At others, it is a meeting or conference room, when two sets of sliding glass panels are unfolded to enclose the space.

The new interior design illuminates the library’s vaulted wood ceiling and the vibrant Guido Brink sculpture. — PHOTO PAT A. ROBINSON

The new interior design illuminates the library’s vaulted wood ceiling and the vibrant Guido Brink sculpture. — PHOTO PAT A. ROBINSON

New light fixtures illuminate the vaulted wood ceiling, drawing the eye to a vibrant sculpture that’s suspended from the ceiling. The Spirit of the Manitou was created by Guido Brink, a German émigré who taught at the Layton School of Art from 1955 to 1974. Later, he was instrumental in founding the Milwaukee School of Art and Design, where he served as its first president. The sculpture was removed, cleaned, and reinstalled on the ceiling.

During construction, the Tippecanoe Library staff placed a time capsule filled with historical and everyday library items in the walls of the new library. The time capsule is registered with the International Time Capsule Society at Oglethorpe University.

The land around the building was not ignored during the planning sessions for the renovation. A number of green landscaping elements were incorporated. Witkowski said many members of the newly formed Airport Gardens Neighborhood Association and Town of Lake Neighborhood Association took an active interest in expressing their support for the library and voicing their suggestions about its design, especially landscaping and green and sustainable components.

The bioswales, located in the center of the parking lot, will host a rain garden that will slow and filter parking lot runoff water. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

The bioswales, located in the center of the parking lot, will host a rain garden that will slow and filter parking lot runoff water. — PHOTO KATHERINE KELLER

“There are bioswales and permeable pavers in the low spots of the parking lot to purify water, divert it to plants, and contribute to the reduction of pollutants flowing off the parking lot,” Witkowski said. “They kept the big trees by the parking lot.“

The bioswales, located in the center of the parking lot, will host a rain garden to slow and filter runoff water. There are also rain garden swales along the south side of the building. New trees and perennials were planted.

Raised beds for community gardens were made possible by private funding. A  secret garden was funded by Barbara Stein, a Milwaukee Public Library Foundation member, a tribute to Milwaukee Public Library Director Paula Kiely, who frequented Tippecanoe Library as a child.

Witkowski said that at the re-opening ceremony he watched people come and go and was impressed by how many arrived by bike, which he said was possible because of the unusually mild December weather. “More bike racks were installed with the renovation,” he said.

The project was funded by the City of Milwaukee capital projects fund. The Milwaukee Public Library Foundation funded additional features. A donor wall will be installed later this year to recognize those gifts.

Engberg Anderson designed the renovation project and the construction contractor was Creative Constructors.

The Tippecanoe collection contains over 50,000 items as well as full access to library materials from every member library of the Milwaukee County Federated Library System (MCFLS). The collection includes books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs and access to all library digital resources from free music and video streaming to e-books and digital magazines. More info:

The new building at 3912 S. Howell was opened for service November 17, 1969 and served the community until January 30, 2015, when it closed for renovation. During the renovation temporary quarters were established across the street at 3933 S. Howell, in the banquet hall of the Copper Kitchen restaurant.

The library’s name was derived from the area in which it is located. Research disputes any claim linking the Native American tribe or the famous historical battle of the same name to the local area. The most popular explanation of the name is offered in Paul Gauer’s book, The Gauer Story: A Chronicle of Bay View. According to Gauer, there was “…Tippecanoe where the Savelands and The Sandersons had a lake and the young swains of their day would go canoeing. That was how Tippecanoe got its name.” It would seem that the name Tippecanoe was derived from the fact the young men of the time could go “tippe” (canoeing) in the nearby lake.

The library boasts a large metal sculpture created by artist Guido Brink, which highlighted the modern industrial and computer technique of the late 1960s. The sculpture represents the ancient Indian god spirit Manitou as inspired by the Native American origins of the name Tippecanoe.

Guido Brink (1913-2003) settled in Milwaukee in 1953 following life and studies in Germany and Paris. He is known worldwide primarily for his metal sculptures, brightly colored abstract compositions of reds, yellows, dark blue and black, that decorate public and commercial buildings. Guido taught at the Layton School of Art from 1955-1974. He was instrumental in founding the Milwaukee School of Arts (now the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design), and served as its first president.

Source: Milwaukee Public Library brochure published in conjunction with the December 12, 2015 Grand Reopening

BOOK REVIEW — Finding Yourself in the Kitchen

November 30, 2015

Reviewed by Katherine Keller

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen Dana Velden Rodale Books, 24.95

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen
Dana Velden
Rodale Books, 24.95

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen Kitchen — Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook

Dana Velden’s new collection of essays has found its way into our culture amidst a cascade of cookbooks, blogs, podcasts, and television shows that accompany the Big Food Bang, the American food revolution that began in the 1960s.

Meditation began to make its way into our culture at the same time though it grew more slowly and with less glamor. The number of Americans exploring and practicing meditation has burgeoned, especially in the past 20 years.

As such, it seems a fitting time for the emergence of a book that teaches readers how to meld mediation with their experience in the kitchen.

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen — Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook is a collection short essays and 15 of the author’s personal recipes.

Velden, who grew up in Wauwatosa, is an Oakland-based food writer and Zen priest. She has written for the food blog The Kitchn since 2008, where her column, “Weekend Meditations,” has gained an enthusiastic following.

In the first essay, “On Why I Wrote This Book,” Velden spells out the theme that informs her essays. “There is a hunger today for a more considered life, one where our everyday circumstances are not a series of inconveniences to get through (or around) as quickly as possible but rather a source of our awakening and pleasure. …I wrote this book to take up this less examined side of cooking, to encourage and inspire a more deeply experienced life, and to help us discover that no matter what the circumstances, we all have the capacity to deeply nourish ourselves and those around us.”

The text is filled with Velden’s suggestions about how to practice mindfulness and receptivity in the kitchen, so as to open one’s self, as she explains, to intimacy.

For Velden, intimacy is openness to experience, an opportunity to “allow something (or everything!) to make contact with us, to touch and therefore change us, often in ways we cannot predict or control.”

There are benefits, she writes, to dropping one’s protectiveness and being available to something outside oneself and to new experiences and ways of perceiving and reacting.

Take the experience of a cup of tea. Velden starts her morning with a contemplative ritual. She spends about 10 minutes quietly sipping her tea, being present with that tea and those moments, watching whatever happens to wander into her mind, she says, rather than worrying about what needs to be done that day or ruminating on past hurts. Notice the light, she advises, the songbirds, the scents in the room.

“What burdens can be put down when we redirect our energies not toward the goal but into the process itself, into each moment along the way? What treasures are waiting there?” she writes.

Velden gently urges her readers to deepen their experience in the kitchen by illustrating the opportunities it offers for transformation. A deliberate, considered approach to kitchen tasks, she tells us, can develop deeper self-awareness and opportunities for personal growth as we navigate the banality, toil, frustration, skill, failure, triumph, discovery, and pleasure of the kitchen.

For me, one almost completely unfamiliar with the theory or practice of meditation, Finding Oneself in the Kitchen, is a series of lessons that provide an opportunity create devotional-like experiences as one works in the kitchen.

Along with Velden’s advice about using time in the kitchen for meditation and all that it confers are generous dollops of practical advice. Some of the fundamentals for happiness in the kitchen are, she says, a full pantry, pots of herbs, filling a basin with warm sudsy water as a preliminary to starting the steps called for in a recipe and washing utensils as one uses them, keeping knives sharp, a bowl full of lemons.

There was a question that niggled me as I read through Velden’s sagacious essays, and that was how would one practice these meditations with a toddler pulling at one’s apron? How would one find time to be alone in the kitchen, free of distractions of family members, their chirping and buzzing devices, of the natural needs and demands children have in what is often the dearth of time they have with a parent?

Velden’s easy, sophisticated prose comes with insight, great warmth, wisdom, chattiness, and good humor. As she reveals herself through the essays, one begins to feel this woman would be a most interesting dinner companion and probably a lot of fun to drink a little too much wine with.

Her recipes are appealing, straightforward, and uncomplicated. Following is one that is just right for this time when we move into the winter and relish the warmth of classic baking spices, especially when delivered in an easy-to-make cake.

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen
Dana Velden
Rodale Books, 24.95

Full Disclosure: Dana Velden and I were once colleagues at a children’s book publishing company in Milwaukee.

My Mother’s Spice Cake

My mother serves this with a classic cream cheese frosting but it is just as delicious, or maybe even more so, served plain with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. People who say they don’t like cake tend to like this one.

Makes two 8-inch round layers

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Butter and flour two 8” × 2” round cake pans

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

IN a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and salt so that everything is incorporated.

IN a large bowl or using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until fluffy, scraping the bowl, as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the vanilla and the sour cream.

ADD in the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl, as needed.

POUR the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides and the middle springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert each layer onto a rack and let cool completely.

WRAP one cake in double layers of plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze for up to 3 months. Be sure to label it with the date and contents. Wrap the other layer in waxed paper and store in an airtight tin for up to a week. It will improve with age.

Reprinted from Finding Yourself in the Kitchen by Dana Velden (Rodale Books).
Available wherever books are sold.

Saint Lucas students explore tomorrow’s careers through new STEM program

November 30, 2015

By Sheila Julson

Employment in occupations related to science, technology, engineering and math will grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to a 2014 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

To prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace, Saint Lucas Lutheran School, 648 E. Dover St., introduced STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in its sixth through eight-grade curriculum beginning in January. Over the summer, two classrooms were converted to a new STEM lab, complete with a large 3D printer, height-adjustable desks, Dell desktop computers, drill press, band saw, and more. A dedication ceremony was held Oct. 11.

Noah Geluk traces the Eiffel Tower with a 3D drawing pen. —PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Noah Geluk traces the Eiffel Tower with a 3D drawing pen.  PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Wendy Greenfield, spokesperson for Saint Lucas, said the project has been in the works for a few years. “We wanted a new science curriculum,“ she said. “We had a team that researched and looked at different programs at many schools. It became clear that Project Lead the Way was the way to go.”

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a national nonprofit that delivers STEM programs to public, private, and charter schools throughout the country. In January, Saint Lucas began PLTW’s Gateway to Technology program, which focuses on engineering, biomedical, and computer science for sixth through eight grades.

A display of objects printed in the Saint Lucas School STEM program lab with the 3D printer. —PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

A display of objects printed in the Saint Lucas School STEM program lab with the 3D printer.   PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

At the beginning of this school year, Saint Lucas added PLTW’s Launch, a program geared for kindergarten through fifth grade, which focuses on problem solving. This is the first year Launch has been available nationwide, Greenfield said.

“We wanted to ensure that our students are college- and career-ready and that they could develop 21st century skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration,” said Greenfield. “That’s what this program does.”

Saint Lucas’ $400,000 STEM lab was funded by grants from foundations, individuals, and businesses, including the Theodore W. Batterman Family Foundation, the Siebert Lutheran Foundation, and the Louis Calder Foundation, Greenfield said.

“We’re thankful and feel blessed to have this program here in our school,” said Mike Koestler, Saint Lucas principal. “The hands-on and project-based approach of PLTW is very engaging for the students, and they have fun learning.“

Teacher Andy Baxter and Manuel Bingenheimer. PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Teacher Andy Baxter and Manuel Bingenheimer.

Hands-On Experiences
Andy Baxter, middle school teacher and PLTW delegate, guided students as they took their creations from paper to reality. “They can see how engaging science is,” Baxter said. “Other teachers are now being asked (by the students), ‘When’s science?’ and not ‘When’s recess?’ or ‘When’s lunch?’ The students want to learn.”

This is Baxter’s first experience teaching a PLTW STEM curriculum. He said instructor training consists of a three-day period for the K5 through fifth grade level. The middle-school-level training is three to five days per course. There are six courses for STEM middle school grades.

Kindergarten students, after listening to The Three Little Pigs, discussed and built structures for houses that could protect the pigs from the huffs and puffs of the wolf. First graders experience astronomy by using the iPad app Star Chart to locate constellations. In second grade, students examined properties of matter and built coolers to slow the transfer of heat from an ice cube to prevent it from melting. Third graders began the year by studying aspects of flight including lift, weight, thrust, and drag. Fourth graders examined collisions, including safety restraint systems to keep their passenger—an egg—safe. The fifth graders delved into robotics and automation by designing, building, and driving robots, via remote control, to move hazardous material.

Kaysha Henry studying the contours of a nautilus shell. PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Kaysha Henry studying the contours of a nautilus shell.  PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

The Compass stopped by Saint Lucas to see some of the ongoing projects the sixth through eighth grade students are working on, which involve tools such as Autodesk Inventor, a program used by professional architects, and the 3D printer, to bring their projects to life.

Isabella Delwiche is standing next to the 3D printer where she printed a replica of a fossil skull. PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Isabella Delwiche is standing next to the 3D printer where she printed a replica of a fossil skull.  PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Seventh grader Isabella Delwiche, said her experience with STEM has inspired her to plan to pursue a career in computer technology. She is intrigued by the 3D printer. “I think it’s pretty cool because if you have an idea about something, you can actually make it and be able to hold it and not just see it on paper,” she said.

Sixth graders Jordan Otto and Carmelo Ortiz partnered to design a Christmas tree-shaped switch plate. “You can change colors and textures, or move it to see the full image,” Ortiz said as he used the mouse to point to their design on the computer screen.

Jordan Otto, Carmelo Ortiz, and Gavin Wohlfard display their light switch plates—two Christmas trees and a cityscape. —PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Jordan Otto, Carmelo Ortiz, and Gavin Wohlfard display their light switch plates, two Christmas trees and a cityscape.  PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

The switch plate was originally sketched on graph paper. “It’s an asymmetric sketch to figure the different stages of the project,” Otto added. The pair took measurements from a real switch plate on the wall, and then used a caliper to measure the sketch and transfer the dimensions to the computer design.

“The tree with the triangle shape is more complicated because we had to make sure it covered all the wires, or else someone would get electrocuted,” Otto said.

Some students were using Autodesk to sculpt replicas of fossils. “It’s like they’re actually taking a piece of clay and molding it or modeling it,” Baxter said.

Student Kaysha Henry, who designed a bowl, said she enjoys art. Autodesk lets her choose the design material, colors, and sizes for her fossil.

Other students used the ROBOTC tutorial and VEX Robotics kits to make Clawbots—robots with a functioning claw. Baxter said their goal is to get the Clawbots fully functioning for upcoming robotics competitions.

Humbertos Pedroza, Jr., Corey Tipton, Jr., and Hannah Behroozi. —PHOTO JENNIFER KRESSE

Humbertos Pedroza, Jr., Corey Tipton, Jr., and Hannah Behroozi.

As some students test-drove their robots-in-progress, others used a 3D pen to create an image of the Eiffel Tower. A thick pen prints plastic lines by heating and melting a thin tube of plastic inserted at one end. A motor inside the pen pushes out a line of plastic onto the paper. The plastic images dry, are peeled from the paper, and assembled to stand upright.

Other seventh and eight grade students are working on projects related to flight and space, and energy, and the environment.

Baxter said Saint Lucas is working on networking with small businesses who would send representatives to the students about STEM-related careers. Greenfield added they welcome any business owners who may be interested in a potential partnership.

Saint Lucas has open houses throughout the year when STEM projects are showcased. Greenfield said members of the community who are interested in seeing the STEM lab should contact the school to arrange a tour.


Founded: Saint Lucas Lutheran School opened in 1872 shortly after Captain Eber Brock Ward opened the Milwaukee Iron Company in 1868. The Village of Bay View was incorporated in 1879.

Enrollment: 204 students in K3 – Grade 8

STEM: All student in K5 through Grade 8 participate in the Project Lead The Way or STEM program.

Choice School: Saint Lucas has participated in Milwaukee Parental Choice Program since 2007. According to Wendy Greenfield, school spokesperson, “The school’s financial aid program ensures that students from all backgrounds are able to take advantage of and contribute to the Saint Lucas community. Tuition is $7,750. Congregation members do their part to assist the neighborhood by making up the difference between what families can afford to pay and the actual cost to educate a student.”

MPS STEM Programs in Bay View

In Bay View, MPS schools that offer Project Lead the Way are Bay View Middle & High School and Humboldt Park School.

Trowbridge School of Discovery and Technology and Fernwood Montessori both engage in technology programming although neither school offers traditional STEM or Project Lead the Way programs.

Trowbridge is in the process of installing an aquaponics lab funded by a grant from the National Education Association. Trowbridge is one of only two MPS schools to receive such a grant.

Fernwood began operating its greenhouse and aquaponics system in 2007.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and blogs at

Out of the Darkness Community Walk Oct. 4

August 29, 2015

By Sheila Julson

Humboldt Park event promotes suicide awareness

A child drops flowers into the Humboldt Park Lagoon in a ceremony that was part of the 2014 Milwaukee Out of the Darkness event. PHOTO COURTESY GENA ORLANDO

A child drops flowers into the Humboldt Park Lagoon in a ceremony that was part of the 2014 Milwaukee Out of the Darkness event. PHOTO COURTESY GENA ORLANDO

Twenty years ago, when former Bay View resident Gena Orlando was 19 years old, one of her close friends, also 19, died by suicide. Two years later that friend’s brother died by suicide. The loss of the brothers left Orlando with countless questions and a gamut of emotions.

The experience led her to become a leader in the Wisconsin chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Orlando, who now lives in Theresa, Wis., is secretary of AFSP’s Wisconsin chapter and chair of the annual Milwaukee Out of the Darkness Community Walk.

This year the walk, which takes place in Humboldt Park, is October 4.

Founded in 1987, AFSP is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing suicide and does so through research, education programs, and advocacy. It also provides support for survivors of suicide. AFSP acts as resource, Orlando said, directing people to resources where they can find help.

AFSP is not a crisis center and doesn’t treat people, but they do fund some of those programs, Orlando said.

The Out of the Darkness Community Walk event began in 2005 and took place in 24 cities. Participants walked overnight from dusk to dawn, symbolizing walking “out of the darkness.” According to AFSP, the first year attracted 4,000 participants. This year, 350 nationwide walks are planned with the participation of an estimated 200,000 walkers. Orlando said the walks generate funding for AFSP.

Jessica Borkowski, AFSP Wisconsin board chair, organized the first Milwaukee walk in 2008 before Wisconsin had its own chapter. At that time, all money raised was given to the programs of the national office. Since the Wisconsin chapter was established in December 2013, half of all money raised from the Wisconsin walks stays in the state for its programs. The other half goes to AFSP’s national programs.

This year Wisconsin’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks will take place in Milwaukee (Humboldt Park), Madison, Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley, Wausau, Walworth County, and Antigo. Each walk has its own volunteer chairperson who organizes the walks on their own time.

Orlando said she’s looking for additional sponsors and in-kind donations for raffle prizes. She’d like to get more Bay View businesses involved. 88NINE Radio Milwaukee will sponsor this year, Orlando said, as will the Hupy and Abraham law firm, and the Bradley Corporation, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures in Menomonee Falls.

This year’s walk, approximately three miles, will be three laps around Humboldt Park. There is no charge to participate, but individuals and teams are encouraged to raise sponsorship donations. Dogs are welcome but there is a charge. People can register their canine companions for $10 each.

Honor beads are a big part of the walk. Each walker wears a string of beads of a color that signifies their loss—white for loss of a child; red for a spouse or partner; gold for a parent; orange for a sibling; and purple for a relative or friend. Green beads represent a personal struggle; blue beads show support of the cause, and teal indicates support of a family or friend who is struggling with depression.

There are also other gestures and ceremonies that take place during the event. Flowers are floated on the lagoon before the walk. There are children’s projects that are built around themes such as “picking up the pieces together,” where they draw on large puzzle pieces. Families often bring photos of loved ones who died by suicide. After the walk, raffle prizewinners are announced.

Orlando said suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and that 20 percent of suicides are military veterans. Yet research about suicide is one of the least funded. “There’s a stigma attached to suicide and mental illness,” Orlando said. “Like any physical illness, [mental illness] can be fatal if it goes untreated. We are trying to get rid of the stigma and get people talking. We want people who are facing suicidal thoughts and depression to know that they’re not alone.”

She recalls that it was uncommon to talk about mental illness in the 1990s when she lost her two friends to suicide. “It was really shocking. It was a blow to everyone they were close to. You go through different types of emotions, like ‘is it my fault?’ Dealing with any type of death is hard but with suicide we’re often angry with the person we’re mourning,” Orlando said. “There are different stages of feelings that we normally don’t go through when somebody dies of a heart attack. You can be angry at the heart attack, but if somebody hurts themself, dealing with that and the emotions that go with it is so complex.”

Orlando said AFSP strives to start the conversation, to be a voice for those suffering, and to support people who lost loved ones to suicide. The organization also holds International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

In attempt to bring more resources to rural areas, this year’s event is Nov. 21 at the Washington County Public Agency Center in West Bend.

Humboldt Park Oct. 4. Registration begins at 8:30am. Opening ceremony at 11am. Walk begins at 11:30am.

To donate $10 by phone, text AFSP MILWAUKEE to 85944.

Donations can also be taken by texting AFSP MILWAUKEE to 85944 (there must be a space between AFSP and Milwaukee).

More info:

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