Dear Friends,

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.


Antonio Butts,

Executive Director, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation

Walnut Way's Executive Director, Antonio Butts


Civic Engagement

“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.

Growing Programs

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.


Environmental Stewardship

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

Alices Garden Rainwater Capture

Alice’s Garden – Rainwater harvesting for agriculture, solar installation

Fondy Park – Stormwater Capture and Solar Installation

The Griot Blue Skies Landscaping

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.


Economic Prosperity

“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)

Co-founders Sharon and Larry Adams


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 or mail a check payable to Walnut Way: 2240 N. 17th St., Milwaukee, WI 53205.

Major Donors

88NINE Radio Milwaukee

American Cancer Society

Arzbaecher Family Foundation

Bill Krugler

Bradley Foundation

Brewers Community Foundation, Inc.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Comerica Charitable Trust

Community Financial Service Center

DeAndre Levy

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

LISC Milwaukee

Lynde B. Uihlein

M&I Foundation, Inc

Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba

Milwaukee Valve

Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative

Pieper Electric, Inc./Ideal Mechanical

Ray Seaver

Self-Help Federal Credit Union

Solar for Good

Superior Foods

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

ACTS Housing

Anomoly Catering


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

Milwaukee JobsWork


Neighborhood House

Phi Beta Zeta Sorority

Teach for America

Urban Underground

Wells Fargo

World Financial Group

Board of Directors

LaVonda Graham, President

Annie Robinson, Vice President

Monique Graham, Secretary

Larry Adams

Sharon Adams

Heidi Moore

Jerrilynn Freelon



Antonio Butts

Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra

Worthington Hortman

Dannielle Ozier

Tyler Weber, M.P.H.


Timothy Allen

Marro Ceasar

Jeremy Davis

Aton Fox

Henry Hopkins

Carlos Lathan

Jacob Liptack

Jevon Prowell

Tony Velez

Derrick Williams

Jermaine Wilson


Terron Edwards

Angela Smith