Walnut Way is committed to building community and removing barriers that prevent Lindsay Heights neighbors and residents throughout Milwaukee from realizing their potential to create the quality of life that they deserve. That’s why we are creating spaces for residents to lead from where they live.
Community Wellness indicators show that of the 29 zip codes in Milwaukee, Lindsay Heights has the lowest. Obtaining family sustaining Work near home is difficult! Today, 55% of retail storefronts along North Avenue, our main commercial corridor, are currently boarded up and vacant.
Simultaneously the economic development needle is moving and investments are being made in neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Milwaukee, like Lindsay Heights. Walnut Way is sustaining community transformation by helping Lindsay Heights residents increase their capacity to influence public and private sector systems, absorb capital and build community Wealth.
Together we are advancing strategies that protect our environment, drive equitable economic inclusion and provide advocacy for residents being outpaced by socio-economic forces, gentrification or the presage of displacement.
Please enjoy our look back at 2018! We are grateful, together with Lindsay Heights residents, key stakeholders and partnering organizations from across Milwaukee, that through Civic Engagement, Environmental Stewardship and Catalytic Development, we will continue to sustain transformation and have a positive impact on several of the most pressing quality of life dilemmas we face as a community.
Executive Director, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation
“I really grew this summer restoring the Caring Neighbors Mural. It was a huge learning opportunity for me.”
– Qamaar, Boys 2 Leaders Member and ArtWorks for Milwaukee Intern at Walnut Way
Qaamar is in the Boys 2 Leaders Program where he gains valuable mentorship from men from the community. He was employed in an ArtWorks for Milwaukee internship, to restore the iconic Walnut Way Caring Neighbors Mural.
Stepping into Leadership
The Walnut Way Center was active this year with adults and youth leading wellness and civic engagement programs, strengthening social connections and empowering one another to identify and address issues in the community. We kicked off the year with young people responding to violence in the neighborhood. They held space for one another to heal from trauma through the arts. 60 youth gathered at the center to listen to one another’s poetry at our first Neighbor Night of the year.
Youth continued to display their desire to be active in the community. Eight ArtWorks interns gave life to the iconic Caring Neighbors Mural by restoring it to its original vibrancy. Four teens spent their summer as Community Mobilization Workers, knocking on 2,600 doors to listen to community voices and recruit Lead from Where You Live block captains. Four Growing Youth Leadership interns spent 692 hours farming the Walnut Way gardens.
The Healing Circle, now in its sixth year, met 24 times, with women volunteering their time to lead groups and empowering one another to remove barriers to well-being and goals.
The Men’s Wellness Program, which works to reduce isolation of African American men, offered peer-support to face life’s challenges and celebrate accomplishments. A select group of men from the program are paying it forward. They have begun training to better serve as mentors in our youth program, Boys 2 Leaders (B2L). Men attended trainings in mental health, first aid for youth, conflict resolution, trauma-informed care, and a Milwaukee Bucks led physical education workshop.
B2L met weekly in the summer of 2018, connecting 18 young men to jobs and offering important developmental trainings to youth. The program provided a new individualized back to school success track to support the young men throughout the school year.
Leadership and Education Through Certification: Walnut Way faces pressing issues like stormwater pollution by engaging, educating, and employing community members to take leadership roles in conservation strategies.
In 2018, Blue Skies Landscaping Employees took part in several trainings including a 35-hour Green Infrastructure Training (Water Environment Federation approved) and the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP).
Green Jobs and Clean Energy Mean Stronger Communities
For 18 years, Walnut Way has been exploring ways to combat environmental challenges and improve economic stability. Our workforce development program, Blue Skies Landscaping, achieves both goals by employing and training residents in green infrastructure installation and landscaping maintenance.
In 2018, Walnut Way was chosen as one of two national partners by the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) to install demonstration projects in clean energy (solar) and green infrastructure (stormwater management) in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. In addition, Solar For Good, funded solar installations at the Walnut Way Center and The Innovations and Wellness Commons. The Walnut Way Center is now a producer of electric power using the sun’s energy…clean, renewable, and free to us from mother nature.
These partnerships allowed our Blue Skies Landscaping program to increase its capacity and serves as a powerful vehicle for individual and community transformation and leadership. Collectively we can continue to tackle stormwater pollution by increasing our ability to mitigate urban flooding in Milwaukee’s combined sewer system and increase community access to green spaces.
In addition to providing stable employment to 10-12 adults, Blue Skies has partnered to develop pocket parks, streetscapes, and other amenities that beautify and protect the environment. Check out the 2018 Solar and Green Infrastructure Installations installed at community sites funded by Institute for Sustainable Communities and Solar for Good. Walnut Way hired Arch Electric to install the solar systems to enhance community sites. Photo Credit for IWC: Arch Electric.
Greater Galilee – Rainwater Capture System
Alice’s Garden – Rainwater harvesting for agriculture, solar installation
Fondy Park – Stormwater Capture and Solar Installation
The Griot | Garfield – Complete Green Infrastructure Installation
Innovations and Wellness Commons – Solar Installation
Walnut Way Center – Solar Installation
Awards and Recognition
Walnut Way has garnered recognition for its green infrastructure and urban agriculture. This year, The City of Milwaukee designated Walnut Way (and Lindsay Heights) as the first Eco Neighborhood. Visit our campus to see our new Eco Tour signage.
In addition, MMSD awarded Walnut Way a Green Luminaries Award which recognized our innovative approach to protect our rivers and Lake Michigan through green infrastructure installations and maintenance that reduce stormwater pressure on Milwaukee’s sewers.
“I’m excited to bring a new business into the community. I’ll be on site to serve community needs like alterations and providing sewing classes. “
-Basia Spencer, Owner of Basia Rose Designs Boutique at The Commons
Collaborative Community Wealth Building
Local Businesses Shine at IWC
Supporting local businesses through collaboration was a key strategy in 2018. Local retailers set up shop at The Innovations and Wellness Commons (IWC) thanks to the Pop-Up MKE small business program. The public-private partnership focused on economic development and entrepreneurship, hosting local businesses for one month at a time on commercial corridors across Milwaukee. The project was coordinated by LISC Milwaukee in partnership with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), the City of Milwaukee, MKE United, and the Marketplace Business Improvement District. Outpost Natural Foods was an additional partner that hosted Pop-Up MKE in their rented space at IWC. This enabled a number of locally owned businesses to try a storefront in Lindsay Heights, including Basia Rose Designs, Asili Naturals, and Bella’s Treasures.
We’re excited to share that Basia Rose Designs is now a tenant of IWC. The fashion boutique features dresses and accessories.
The Juice Kitchen Reopens as The Shindig
Phase I of the Innovations and Wellness Commons continues to thrive. In 2018, thousands of customers visited The Juice Kitchen to enjoy fresh juice and their signature ginger shots. The Juice Kitchen has continued its momentum and is reopening as The Shindig, serving up their own brand of coffee, wraps, and fresh juice. They now have two locations: one at IWC and one at their Sherman Phoenix Market.
Fondy Farmers Market offices remain steadfast in providing healthy food access across the city at the nearby Fondy Farmers Market and the Milwaukee Winter Market. Milwaukee Center for Independence, who operates a commercial kitchen and job training, produced over 5,000 fresh meals a day for children at our local schools.
Framework for Inclusive Commercial Development
With a number of partners including LISC Milwaukee, Marketplace Business Improvement District, Zilber School of Public Health, and the Center for Urban Population Health, we are working collectively to create a framework for inclusive neighborhood-centered commercial development. The goal of this framework is a healthier built environment reflecting neighborhood priorities including thriving commercial corridors and increase in locally owned businesses. Actions include:
- Conducting door-to-door outreach and communication with neighborhood residents centered on commercial development opportunities.
- Providing capacity building opportunities for neighbors on civic engagement and economic and commercial development.
- Creating cross-sector convening spaces for key stakeholder groups around commercial corridor development.
- Mobilizing neighbors and key stakeholders to act on projects, practices, and policies that change the built environment along commercial corridors in Lindsay Heights.
Investing in People and Place
In 2018, Walnut Way allocated $102,000 to lift community assets by installing solar and green infrastructure at nearby sites and funding community capacity building projects with partner organizations.
Innovations and Wellness Commons
Phase II Highlights
- Community Courtyard
- Rooftop Terrace
- Wellness Studio
Tenants: Walnut Way is excited to have Milwaukee AHEC in Phase II working to fulfill their mission, which is to enhance access to health care for underserved populations in Southeastern Wisconsin through health professions education.
Phase II to Break Ground in 2019
Walnut Way will continue to advance neighborhood-centered commercial development as we gear up to break ground for Phase II in Spring 2019. Phase II will be built on historically important community space, a former natatorium where families across Milwaukee came to gather for indoor swimming. The property now sits as a parking lot, on the southwest corner of 16th Street and North Avenue (next to Phase I).
We will bring life back to the space by building a beautiful courtyard in between Phase I and Phase II, construct a rooftop terrace to host community events, and house tenants focused on employment and business development. Walnut Way will operate a wellness studio to increase access to health and wellness services to Lindsay Heights residents.
2018 Source of Funds and Use of Funds
in civic engagement (wellness), environmental stewardship (work), and economic development (wealth)
Thank You Donors, Volunteers, and Partners
Walnut Way would like to thank the hundreds of individual and organizational donors, partners, volunteers and supporters for advancing our mission to sustain economically diverse and abundant communities through civic engagement (wellness), environmental stewardship (work), and creating venues for prosperity (wealth).
You can be a supporter of wellness, work, and wealth programs! Thank you for considering Walnut Way when you give this year. Donate online at www.walnutway.org/donate or mail a check payable to Walnut Way: 2240 N. 17th St., Milwaukee, WI 53205.
88NINE Radio Milwaukee
American Cancer Society
Arzbaecher Family Foundation
Brewers Community Foundation, Inc.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Comerica Charitable Trust
Community Financial Service Center
Forest County Potawatomi Foundation
Fred Usinger’s, Inc.
Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin
Fund for Lake Michigan
George L.N. Meyer Family Foundation
Gorman and Company
Greater Milwaukee Foundation
Heil Family Foundation
Herb Kohl Philanthropies
Hood, Myron and Judy
Institute for Sustainable Communities
Kohls Family Foundation
Lynde B. Uihlein
M&I Foundation, Inc
Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba
Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative
Pieper Electric, Inc./Ideal Mechanical
Self-Help Federal Credit Union
Solar for Good
Survey of the Health of Wisconsin
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The University of Wisconsin Madison
Zilber Family Foundation
Thanks to the 100’s of Individuals that volunteer
Cardinal Stritch University
Department of City Development
City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office
Kick out the Jams, Christina Ward
Legal Action of Wisconsin
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council
Phi Beta Zeta Sorority
Teach for America
World Financial Group
Board of Directors
LaVonda Graham, President
Annie Robinson, Vice President
Monique Graham, Secretary
Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra
Tyler Weber, M.P.H.