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Celebrating a Summer of Green Talks at the Lounge in Muskego Way

by Elisabeth Gasparka on Nov 7, 2022
Celebrating a Summer of Green Talks at the Lounge in Muskego Way

This summer, the “Plazita,” a once-vacant lot at the busy intersection of 16th Street and Forest Home, turned into a Green Lounge, filled with creative expression, knowledge building, and community dialogue. As part of a coalition of organizations including Muskego Way Forward, Data You Can Use, Safe & Sound, Inc., and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, Imagine MKE was proud to host this series of creative events in Muskego Way, merging arts activations with community health and wellness concerns. This ranged from a natural dye workshop led by Shannon Lee Molter paired with a talk about food as a source of wellness from Rae Friedman, to print-making led by the Walker's Point Center for the Arts in response to the League of Women Voters talk about using our voices through voting. 

The topics for the Green Talks at the Lounge series centered on the community’s concerns and aspirations for the space.  

All the events were built around a topic related to environmental health and the connection to human beings. Alison Henderson, Program Coordinator from Muskego Way Forward said, “Our goal was not only to activate the lot, but to re-imagine the space in a way that improves the quality of life for people that use it—advocating for long term change.” 

Throughout the summer, we invited partner organizations from all over the city to lead workshops, give talks on the themes, and share snacks, beverages, and resources with residents. A print-making workshop from Walkers Point Center for the Arts, a beat-making workshop from Your Move MKE were just a few of the offerings at events. Many other partners also engaged with residents, including the Milwaukee Rep, Ex Fabula, and even the City of Milwaukee.  

Over the summer weeks, these events became a tradition for families in Muskego Way. Attendees from multiple generations came together with neighbors and guests from the supporting organizations to explore creativity and civic engagement and cultivate pride of place. The hope, according to Yesi Perez, the Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator from Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, is that from these events, residents would be “empowered with information gained—and ready to mobilize, socially, civically, or creatively.” 

By the time September rolled around, the Green Talks at the Lounge events had produced an amazing array of artistic objects by children and adults. A pergola was installed at the Plazita, complementing the little library that has already been established. And from these gatherings, the community was more connected to each other and to artistic organizations and resources from all over the city of Milwaukee.  

To celebrate and memorialize all the positive creations and experiences that came from Green Talks at the Lounge, host organizations threw a Gallery Night Celebration at the Mitchell Street Arts Collaborative on Sept 30. We invited resident friends—and many of the partners who contributed to the events-- for a night of creative activities and merriment. At the event we also debuted a video, produced by Samer Ghani for Imagine MKE, which documented the event series, displayed artworks created, and a wall of photos captured. Watch the video here.  

Attendees of the celebration got to participate in Your Move MKE’s chess and hip hop workshop and a terrarium-making activity hosted by Unforgettable Moments Flower Shop, and enjoyed snacks and beverages from Urbal Tea and Charlie’s Catering. Regular attendees of the Green Talks events received special gift packs to take home with them, which included sketch pads, a box of tea, and bicycle safety lights. And all event attendees took home art packs that included pollinator flower seeds, boxes of crayons, markers and colored pencils, and a coloring book from Milwaukee Fire Department. We hope these supplies will spark continued creative expression in Muskego Way throughout the months ahead.  

Imagine MKE and our collaborators are grateful to the many partners who made the Green Talks at the Lounge event series a great success, and to Northwestern Mutual Foundation for their support.  

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