Bublr to add hundreds of electric bikes to its fleet this summer

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Exploring Milwaukee by bike is about to get easier this summer. Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s nonprofit bike share, is aiming to add 225 electric bikes to its fleet and introduce 26 new stations across the city.

If all goes well with fundraising, the stations will be installed by “mid summer,” according to Bublr Executive Director James Davies.

“It’s our goal and hope and mission to serve all of the city, but each expansion takes time and we have to expand sort of out concentrically,” he says. “It is a network.”

Ten new stations are to be installed on the Northwest side of Milwaukee, and 10 more are planned for the Southwest side of the city. Both are areas where Bublr previously did not have a presence. The remaining six stations will fill in other gaps in the system.

The electric bikes are “responsive,” meaning the faster you pedal, the more e-assist the motor provides. They cap out at 17 miles-per-hour before the motor shuts off, and provide enough of a boost to climb hills more easily or simply ride longer.

The bikes and stations will be purchased through a combination of public and private dollars. Bublr is working to secure government Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grants, as well as private, local funds, according to Davies.

On May 19, Bublr is hosting a fundraiser in partnership with Indeed Brewing and its “Indeed We Can” program. Davies says a few e-bikes will be available on site for people to check out. Find details on the fundraiser on its Facebook page.

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Milwaukee LGBT Community Center offers free virtual mental health support groups

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Our understanding of mental health is an ongoing study. Scientists are always finding new information about how the brain works and how that impacts a person’s overall health.

However, mental health is more than complex than our brain chemistry; there are also cultural considerations that intersect with mental health, as well as sexual and gender identity. That’s on top of a stigma around mental health treatment, one that advocates are actively working to combat.

That’s why May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and one organization actively working to tamp down that stigma in Milwaukee is the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center.

It offers an array of free counseling and support groups to the community, each one with a different focus for LGBTQ+ individuals. One group is specifically geared toward youth mental health and offers professionally facilitated peer support. A trans umbrella group also meets regularly, providing peer support to the gender non-conforming, genderqueer, non-binary and trans community.

The center also offers one-to-one counseling, as well as mental health services for couples and families, both in English and Spanish. All support groups are held virtually right now, and are free to attend.

Sandra Zapata, clinical director at the Milwaukee LGBT community center, joined me to discuss the great need for these services in Milwaukee.

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This rare photo set shows 1920s MATC, downtown Milwaukee

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On this week’s episode of Urban Spelunking, OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo and I stumble upon an impressive collection of archive photos of Milwaukee Area Technical College, dating back to the 1920s.

Photo courtesy of Adam Levin, via OnMilwaukee / Bobby Tanzilo

The photos were digitized by Adam Levin, a Milwaukee history enthusiast, archivist, sign collector and occasional guest of the podcast. He purchased them at the estate sale of former MATC President John R. Birkholz, who retired in 2001 and passed away last year.

The beautifully preserved photos, taken by G.S. Carney Photographic Studio, show both exterior and interior views of MATC’s main building, inside classrooms, hallways and in the auditorium.

Below, you can see a moment inside a masonry classroom where students are putting the finishing touches on project fireplaces.

Photo courtesy of Adam Levin, via OnMilwaukee / Bobby Tanzilo

In another photo, inside an automotive lab, a row of early cars are shown in various stages of assembly, their frames supported by wooden sawhorses, while students work in groups under their hoods.

Photo courtesy of Adam Levin, via OnMilwaukee / Bobby Tanzilo

The set also shows the later construction of the present-day adjacent “M” building. They offer unexpected glimpses of downtown Milwaukee, including homes and buildings no longer there.

Photo courtesy of Adam Levin, via OnMilwaukee / Bobby Tanzilo
Photo courtesy of Adam Levin, via OnMilwaukee / Bobby Tanzilo

Listen to this week’s podcast below for much more history, and visit OnMilwaukee.com to view the complete set.

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Invasive or not, there are good uses for garlic mustard

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With spring comes new bugs, flowers… and garlic mustard. The plant is part of the brassica family along with kale, broccoli and collard greens. It’s called “garlic mustard” since it has a garlicky flavor to it. 

Kyle Denton, owner of Tippecanoe Herbs located in Bay View, explains that garlic mustard thrives in Milwaukee, perhaps a little too much. It’s considered an invasive species by some as it tends to spread.

“It was first brought over to this area from people that were settling and looking to plant their crops that they like to grow from other parts of the world,” says Denton. “It really liked the soil here and the habitats so it’s been thriving here. It kind of escaped to the gardens, I guess you could say.”

Garlic mustard | flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors

But in the process of thriving, garlic mustard takes over the habitat of native plant species. Trillium — a three petaled flower —  not only fights for the same resources as garlic mustard, but deer also love to eat it, which contributes to its dwindling numbers. 

“Like a good competitor, it also makes the ground a little bit more difficult for these native plants to propagate because it puts in some chemicals into the soil through its phytochemistry that make it less likely for other plants to propagate except for the garlic mustard,” says Kyle. “It’s kind of like when you’re in a race, and you put a banana peel and throw it over your shoulder, and somebody slips onto that kind of thing.”

While native plants struggle, Kyle says, it’s not entirely garlic mustard’s fault. Over the course of years, the soil has become less suited for native plants.

“I think it’s a generational thing. I think it goes back for many, many practices of soil management, since the Industrial Revolution perhaps,” says Kyle. “Moving forward it is wondering, ‘Why is it capable of thriving in this habitat and the native plants are not?’ That’s the question.”

Picking up excess garlic mustard is one way to combat its so-called invasiveness. There also can be a benefit to doing so — that is, if you eat it. Kyle says garlic mustard can help our bodies adjust to the spring and summer seasons.

Kyle says garlic mustard helps the lungs “move the mucus of the body and to aid and warm up the digestion and improve our metabolism which is a something that our bodies naturally tend towards in the springtime, as we hold on to things in the winter and we let go of things in the spring.

So if you find some garlic mustard in a friend’s yard and they’re thinking of throwing it away, try making a pesto out of it or cooking it with other greens. Kyle says to keep in mind that it’s tastier in the springtime. By summer it has been stressed out and takes on a bitter flavor. But at least it’s in abundance to enjoy.

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Milwaukee’s mental health treatment court could see an expansion

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Judge Cynthia Davis runs Milwaukee’s mental health treatment court. It operates differently than your typical court. Instead of sentencing people with serious mental illnesses who have committed nonviolent crimes to prison, it pairs them with medical treatment plans and community resources that can help them avoid committing crimes again.

“We are dealing with people, oftentimes, who have a history of not complying with medications, not complying with mental health treatment. Not staying in communication with their community case manager, not following through on housing that has been set up for them often leaving them homeless,” says Davis.

The court meets with participants every two weeks and assesses with volunteer medical professionals, defense attorneys and prosecutors if participants are complying with treatment plans and if those plans are working.

“It’s been amazing to see the transformation before my very eyes, as they are involved in the program,” says Davis. “As they avail themselves of the resources that we connect them with, in some situations gains employment and just leads a productive life. It’s one of the most satisfying things that I experienced as a judge.”

Currently Milwaukee has one mental health court and it holds up to 10 cases at a time. There’s now a budget proposal in the state senate that would expand the mental health court, potentially allowing for more participants. The proposal would give additional funds to “treatment alternatives and diversions,” or TAD, programs like substance abuse courts and the mental health treatment court.

Image reads: “We continue to put people with mental health issues in prison and incarceration, which is the last thing that they need. It’s counterproductive in terms of community safety.” Quote by Pastor Joe Ellwanger, founder of Project RETURN | Image Credit: Kaitlyn Bross

“What we could certainly use the money for is to create a formal role of a medical director for the program” says Davis. “We currently have a psychiatrist who volunteers his time and we are really just so grateful for that, but it’s very important to have a medical professional on our team who can do mental health assessments of a proposed candidate to the court.”

While Davis works with participants on sticking to their mental health guidelines and plans, one of the organizations that works with the mental health court, Project RETURN, wants to see the court expand. Project RETURN works with people involved in the mental health court offering participants substance abuse and mental health counseling, food and shelter connections and offers employment services. 

“There is some pushback from people who have a kind of as the saying goes, ‘If you do the crime, then pay the time,’ mentality,” says Pastor Joseph Ellwanger, a board member of Project RETURN. “If you have that mentality this appears to be letting somebody off the hook of responsibility and accountability but the drug treatment courts and the mental health treatment court really keeps people accountable. They have to come and report to the judge on a regular basis, whether they are maintaining their journey of recovery or not.”

Judge Davis says that the court works because it provides not only accountability and supervision but also community resources that can help keep people out of prison and reduce recidivism. 

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‘Get involved’: a message about sexual consent to bystanders on college campuses

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Sexual violence is a major issue in our community that needs to be addressed. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Radio Milwaukee will be sharing Community Stories with experts in this complex field. We want to let you know up front that this story covers the difficult topic of sexual violence.

pixabay.com

Perhaps one of the most important messages to communicate during Sexual Assault Awareness Month is the importance of consent. Consent, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, is an unambiguous “yes” or “no,” both in the moment, and on an ongoing basis.

“Consent means granting permission for something to happen or agreeing to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Nonconsensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission,
is sexual assault.”

That clear-cut standard applies to all situations, even when drugs or alcohol are involved. Thus, when one or more parties are intoxicated, “clear consent is not possible.” NSVRC also points out the absence of a “no” does not mean “yes.”

These seemingly simple facts are often twisted and, especially when intoxicants are involved, can lead to unwanted or forced sexual activity. In a city like Milwaukee, where college campuses abound, it’s even more important to understand how consent must be granted for every sexual encounter.

Dori Zori (left) and Samantha Collier

Radio Milwaukee Program Director Dori Zori discusses consent and the charge for bystanders to “get involved” on college campuses with TeamTeal365 founder Samantha Collier in this segment. Listen below and share.

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The Daily Bird community coffee shop nests itself in Riverwest

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Early this winter, signs with bright yellow striping resembling the rays of the sun started popping up at the corner of Center Street and Fratney Street in Riverwest. The signs read “you are loved,” “ride bikes,” and “have fun.” They also painted the way to The Daily Bird, a pop-up coffee shop nested in Centro Cafe.

Olivia Richardson The Daily Bird | Photo credit: Olivia Richardson

Artist Dan Zwart runs the shop, which opened in early April. Dan is a Milwaukee transplant with a love of painting — hence the signs. He also loves biking and of course Riverwest.

It took a little bit of neighborly love to get The Daily Bird running. For starters, Dan couldn’t get a bank loan to open up the shop. He says it took months of asking friends and family to get the money he needed to start the business.

“I was hitting up all my friends being like, ‘I got this idea. I think we could do a coffee shop,’” says Dan. “I put a lot of research into it. It took me six months of calling so many people being like, ‘Hey, you think you could help me out with this? I really think this will work.’”

Also integral to opening up the shop was Dan’s sobriety.

“The only reason all this is happening is because of my sobriety,” says Dan. “I wouldn’t have been able to pull all this off because it took a lot of work to get to this little point. It took an obscene amount of work.”

Olivia Richardson Dan Zwart sitting outside the future site of The Daily Bird | Photo credit: Olivia Richardson

Dan’s sobriety is reflected in his paintings, too. The paintings that point to and surround the shop are outlets for Dan. Dan’s paintings have received love and attention on Instagram, where he creates supportive messages and also updates on what’s happening around the neighborhood like neighborhood cleanups.

Dan has plans to expand The Daily Bird outside of its current location into a building he’s helping fix up with the owners of Centro Cafe. The new space will serve as part coffee shop and part event space. 

Olivia Richardson Patrick Moore installing flowers on the curbside of Center and Fratney | Photo credit: Olivia Richardson

“It’s amazing what Dan’s doing,” says Patrick “Pat” Moore, owner of Centro Cafe. “His character is showing through his efforts with his signs and his promotion of his coffee shop. It’s more than coffee. It is the type of community you want.”

The Daily Bird is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Stop by and grab baked goods from Honey Bear Baked Goods and perhaps in addition to coffee and tea.

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Milwaukee Rep presents the songs of Ella Fitzgerald sung by award winner Alexis Roston

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Alexis Roston says she started singing right after she was born.

“My mother claims that when I was born and the doctor slapped me on the tail and said, ‘It’s a girl,’ I was already wailing. Let her tell it.”

Alexis will be performing Ella Fitzgerald’s songs at the Quadracci Powerhouse in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater production “First Lady of Song.”

She has studied Ella’s vocal style, improvisation, tonality and essence. Alexis says she’ll bring the stories and personality of Ella to the stage, but that she’ll be singing Ella in her own way.

“I do add a little bit of what Ella went through but overall her songs are joy personified,” says Alexis. “People will come and have fun. It was smart of Milwaukee Rep to open with something that was fun, as opposed to hitting you in the face with something tumultuous.”

Jim Obos JaROPhotoMan@aol.com First Lady of Song: Alexis J Roston Sings Ella Fitzgerald
starring Alexis J Roston |Photo credit: JPM Photography

Alexis trained in musical theater at Howard University then built her career in Chicago, singing in the city for roughly 17 years. She’s performed Billie Holiday’s songs in Milwaukee Rep’s “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” winning numerous awards for her performance. She’s also won awards for her performances in national productions like “Don’t Make Me Over— A Tribute to Dionne Warwick.”

Alexis says that returning to the stage after the pandemic halted performances is a bit daunting.

“Coming back into it, I have to build up,” says Alexis. “When it comes to Ella’s music, I try to hydrate as much as possible. I physically start exercising while I’m singing because she has some very airy, breathy things to her style.”

(C)2014 {your name}, all rights reserved First Lady of Song: Alexis J Roston Sings Ella Fitzgerald
starring Alexis J Roston |Photo credit: JPM Photography

The production is a concert with elements of musical theater where Alexis speaks to the audience about Ella’s life and experience as a singer. Alexis may share stories like how Ella’s manager advocated for fair pay for not just Ella but for her entire band — something artists of color still have to advocate for today.

“You would think, in 2021, that those racist things that she had to endure, we wouldn’t,” says Alexis. “But it’s just in a different way, if you will. Racism is still alive and breathing. Unfortunately, we are still facing the same trauma that Ella may have had to face.”

While the audience will see the struggles Ella went through, Alexis emphasizes the joy that Ella brought to her songs. Alexis says that Ella had a playfulness with her singing style. Alexis thinks it’s because she enjoyed singing and performance to a point that it was her lifeline. 

Hear Alexis sing songs like “Summertime,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” at the Milwaukee Rep from April 27 to May 23.

The show will operate at reduced capacity and the Milwaukee Repertory Theater will be taking temperature checks and providing sanitizer. Masks are required and seating will be socially distanced.

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‘We believe you.’ TeamTeal365 supports sexual assault survivors throughout the year

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Sexual violence is a major issue in our community that needs to be addressed. In conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Radio Milwaukee will be sharing Community Stories with experts in this complex field. We want to let you know up front that this story covers the difficult topic of sexual violence.

TeamTeal365 empowers and educates sexual abuse survivors to encourage dialogue about sexual abuse and prevention. Founded in Milwaukee, the organization was recently officially designated as a nonprofit and works with survivors throughout the year, particularly with education efforts.

It uses the color teal — the official color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month — in all its outreach and branding as a way to honor and empower survivors though visibility.

88Nine Program Director Dori Zori sits down with founder Samantha Collier for an insightful conversation on the facts around the scale of sexual assault, definitions of consent and when it’s appropriate for parents to begin having conversations with their children on these topics.

Listen to the complete conversation below, and visit our dedicated resource page offering links to 24/7 help.

Dori Zori and Samantha Collier
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A newbie’s guide to biking in Milwaukee

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Last weekend, right before the April showers, I bought a bike. I haven’t had one in a while, so it’s been fun getting out in the peaks of sun and even some of the misty rain when I have.

But as a newer Mliwaukee bike rider I feel a bit lost wandering around the city on my own. There’s actually quite a lot to explore and for all the joys of jumping on a bike and heading anywhere you want, I imagine there’s things I should consider.

So I wanted to feel out biking around Milwaukee. I reached out to Jake Newborn of Wisconsin Bike Fed. He says I’m not alone in starting this adventure. There was a huge spike in bike sales last summer as people sought ways to get outdoors and have fun safely during the pandemic. When scouting a bike for myself, a few bike shops said they were experiencing a lot of demand again. So maybe don’t hold out if you’re thinking of buying a bike.

Photo credit: Michael Anderson

One thing Jake and I talked about was finding a bike for yourself. I asked whether it’s best to buy a mountain bike or road bike.

“You don’t need a big suspension bike or big knobby tires,” says Jake. “Or necessarily even road racing bikes with those skinny tires. It’s getting something that you’re comfortable on to ride and the roll is pretty smooth.”

When out riding, Jake brought up that people should bring spare tire tubes and pumps or even screwdrivers on their trips. You never know when a tire will pop or you might see someone stranded who needs a little help if their chain fell off or a screw came loose.

Photo credit: Michael Anderson

Jake recommended four trails to start on: the Oak Leaf Trail, Kinnickinnic River Trail, Hank Aaron State Trail and Beerline Trail. In particular Jake recommends the Oak Leaf Trail.

“It goes through parks, it’s got beer gardens along the way if you want to stop and make an afternoon of it,” says Jake. “I love stopping in Cedarburg for coffee and lunch. It’s probably the most popular but I think there’s a reason why; it’s nice and long. You can go as far as you want or as short as you want and there are great steps along the way.”

Some local resources

Bike mapshttps://city.milwaukee.gov/dpw/infrastructure/multimodal/maps
Eventshttps://wisconsinbikefed.org/events/
Trail etiquettehttps://www.tmj4.com/shows/the-morning-blend/how-to-share-the-trail-with-bikers

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