Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
The email below landed in my inbox today. After getting sender South Milwaukeean Bobbie Groth's permission to post it on this blog, all I can say is, "Well said, Bobbie!"
I've heard park critics before -- people who's idea of enjoying the outdoors is probably to span the space between their house and car or car and office or who think tax dollars can be better spent on county cars for officials than parks for their constituients -- and I can only assume they've never taken advantage of the Milwaukee area's wonderful park system, something my entire family uses and that I proudly show off to all of my out-of-town guests.
Here's a link to the Milwaukee Magazine article in question, which is followed by Bobbie's email. (Reading this article, BTW, gave me whiplash. It whangs back and forth between the wonders of Chicago's nearly brand new Millennium Park full of man-made techno whiz-bang eye poppers, and the bedraggled, woe-begone cash-starved Milwaukee County Park system. The article talks about Millenium Park giving Chicagoans an "avant-garde meadowland" and other wonderful amenities, and the Milwaukee Park system's 25 years of budget cuts that have resulted in "$500 million of deferred maintenance." Then the article's author, Tom Bamberger, asks, "is it possible we don’t value the parks as much as we think we should?" That's like asking if the parents who have both lost their jobs and are supporting their family on umemployment if they don't value their children as much as people think they should because they don't buy their children the latest video games and most stylish clothes and feed them steak every night for dinner like good parents do. So, here's the link.)
And here's Bobbie's email:
I picked up Milwaukee Magazine's July issue at my favorite coffee shop because of the cover article on the Milwaukee County parks. Wow, was I disappointed! As a long-time resident of Chicago before becoming a now 18-year resident of Milwaukee, and an avid park-user in both places I'm wondering how the author could have come to the conclusions he did about Grant Park in South Milwaukee and Millenium Park in Chicago. Grant Park, which is one block from my home, has made our quiet residential street in South Milwaukee a major thoroughfare because of people coming and going--on foot and by car and by bicycle---into the park. In both summer and winter there are people to be found everywhere in the park, although the heavily wooded areas can make it deceiving unless you actually get out of your car and start walking the numerous trails along the bluffs and into the ravines. People--young, old, singles, families, white, African American, Hispanic, Asian---are all over the place, at all times. Summertime, the draw is the beach and picnic areas, and the mowed areas for sports. Whole huge extended families and employers and churches--you name it--all come out for group picnics in the pavilions, picnic areas, and playgrounds. Many leave their event and hike the trails. During the winter, you will find cross-country ski tracks spring up within minutes of a snow-fall. Comparing this natural areas park, supported and maintained by a very small and very dedicated parks employee group and literally hundreds of volunteers (I have seen upwards of 70 local high school kids spread out in the woods on a weekend WEEDING invasive weeds voluntarily!!) with Chicago's Millenium Park, placed in a tourist area of the city, promoted abroad, and renowned as a destination point for tourists because of its oddness, is a little silly. Especially if you don't go any further than the road-side of the picnic area to take your picture! I'm paranoid enough to see this article as one more attempt by Scott Walker to create the fiction in the public mind that Milwaukee's parks are unused, so they don't require upkeep, so eventually, he can sell them to his developer friends, just like he did with the natural areas green house, and attempted to do with Bender Park.