How 414 Life works to prevent Milwaukee gun violence

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Radio Milwaukee was on site at the Heal the Hood Block party in July and spoke with dozens of attendees, organizers and community groups where were there. In this segment, we hear from 414 Life Director Derrick Rogers about how his organization is actively working to prevent violence in Milwaukee.

414 Life organizers, dressed in orange, at Heal the Hood.

Listen to the audio story or read the transcript below.

“Particularly from the Black and Brown communities, there’s even embedded in our DNA, a sense of connectedness, a sense of interdependence. And when that’s fractured, everybody’s less healthy.”

Derrick Rogers is the director of 414 Life. It’s a public-private partnership between the City of Milwaukee, The Medical College of Wisconsin, and many other community partners. In 2017, it developed a Blueprint for Peace, a “comprehensive and community driven agenda for addressing the complex factors that drive violence in Milwaukee,” according to a press release.

Since then, Derrick and his team have been showing up at community events to spread the word, like today, at the Heal the Hood Block Party on 9th and Ring. They’re trying to talk to people who may be aware of or caught up in violence.  

“I have a team of individuals that came from this. They were some of the ‘destroyers’ at one time out here in the community, and now they’re on the other side in a very redemptive fashion. So they have an ability to analyze and detect potential violence. Get in front of it, deescalate some of the situations that are going on out here working with high risk individuals who have the potential for committing acts of violence,” Rogers says.

Derrick and I talk around the corner from his table at Heal the Hood. You could still hear the vocals provided by Ms. Lotus Fankh on stage. I was struck by the contrast here. The richness of the block party and the artist’s performance, but also the weight of this conversation with Eric, literally life and death happening at the same moment. 

“A lot of trauma. The people have been hurt. We have a community that is in a very anxious. A lot of anxiety, dread and despair is beginning to become the norm,” Rogers says. “There’s a lot of retaliatory violence that goes on the community, and because of the networks, we’re able to get in touch with people and at the very least try to get in front of the next act of violence that may occur.”

That’s why you’ll see the 414 Life team out and about at community events, because the more people they can connect with in person, the more chances they’ll have to recognize violence before it happens.  

“People are ready to do something, they’re ready to change some things. I don’t think it’s all just a fad. I think deep in people’s hearts and consciousness, they’re ready for change,” Rogers says.

The next Heal the Hood Block Party is set for Aug. 28 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Running Rebels Community Organization. The theme will be “back to school” and will offer free school supplies and backpacks, plus music by Homer Blow.

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What kind of healing does Milwaukee need most right now? We asked Heal the Hood

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Heal the Hood’s 9th semi-annual block party was held last weekend at 9th and Ring.

After being forced to take a pause last year due to Covid-19, organizers say the street festival and resource fair was sorely missed. It brought nearly 50 vendors and organizations together in support.

“That’s a great thing to circulate money back into the community in an immediate way,” says Jessica Butler, operations manager for the Heal the Hood.

In addition to live music and food vendors, there were also numerous community organizations on site, offering resources for healthcare, childcare and education. I asked Butler what kind of healing the city needs most right now.

She explains in the audio story below.

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Artists transform three Moody Park basketball courts into active mural

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Moody Park.

Near 22nd and Burleigh, there’s a park called Moody Park. It’s plopped right in the middle of the Amani neighborhood. And that park, in particular, is a real magnet. There’s a new splash pad, a playground and picnic areas, plus the COA Youth and Family Centers programs lots of activities there.

But two years ago, a shooting shook Moody Park and its neighbors. Artist Jamahl Turner takes us back to 2018.

“Two summers ago Quanita ‘Tay’ Jackson was unfortunately, innocently shot by a stray bullet, by two cars coming down Burleigh. She just got done putting together a basketball tournament. It was a three-on-three tournament, and it was the second day of it in which this unfortunate event happened.”

Jamahl says Tay was a freedom fighter, an activist who organized and spoke out against the very violence she fell victim to.

And now two years later, Jamahl is working to honor Tay in the same park where she lost her life, by helping the community gather there once again, in peace. He and his art collective, Art Fu Young, are rehabbing three basketball courts in the park, transforming them into a colorful and active mural.

Three new basketball courts in the process of being painted. Court lines for games will be added soon.

“This is home. It’s basically getting rid of that tainted image [the youth] have of Moody Park being a war zone. And get it back to a safe haven that it once was,” Jamahl says, as he paints a purple border around a black accent on the court. “So right now, it’s just basically filling in the colors. Like it was one of those [paint by] numbers sheets. Purple is ‘one.’ Blue is ‘two.’ We’re at the final stages.”

Art Fu Young collective painted the court with help from the community, led by artist Jamahl Turner.

Chad Wleczyk is the co-founder of Activate Co, the organization that helped with visioning and project management. Chad is a man of faith and says he sees something more divine here, a basketball prophecy of sorts.

“We went to get paint and the receipt was 1-1-1-1 which is the address of Fiserv Forum. No change,” he says, leaning in and whispering slightly. “This project is to see community come together to see people’s passions, talents, gifts awaken, ignite.”


A divine day, indeed, but still bittersweet. I asked Jamahl how he feels having done this for Tay. He points to the baseline of one of the courts, which has been dotted with children’s hand prints in paint.

“We got to have the kids’ hands there, letting them know that, ‘We’re here with you, Tay.’ You know, so I think right now she will be looking down on us saying like, this is everything we needed. This is everything,” he says.

Jamahl says he and Chad will be there to keep the paint job up, moving forward, checking back often to make sure that it’s vibrant for years to come.

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This guide will help maximize your Milwaukee summer with kids

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For parents sending their kids back to school in the fall, this summer may represent a mix of feelings.

On one hand, many parents are welcoming a return to the school routine and in-person education, while kids are likely looking forward to seeing friends and resuming co-curricular activities. But on the other hand, especially for parents of younger children who have gotten quite used to having their kids around home much more often, seeing them go back to school might feel bittersweet, like the first day of kindergarten all over again.

But the good news: There is a lot of summer left. And if you’re looking to maximize the quality time spent with kids, a local website can help you find things to do in the Milwaukee area.

MilwaukeeWithKids.com home page.

MilwaukeeWithKids.com founder Calie Herbst began brainstorming for the site in 2013 with the idea of providing a hyper-local resource for parents.

“There was nothing that filled this need to just have everything in one spot for parents, like everything that’s going around on around the city in one spot,” Herbst says. So, the former Milwaukee Public School teacher and mother of three got the domain, then launched.

“I literally just made up a job,” she quips.

The site offers an interactive daily calendar of activities for kids that she, and a “small army” of other contributors, curate from a variety of locations and sources. It includes events, both free and paid, for kids of all ages. You can also filter by location to find things close to home, and Herbst also encourages parents to step outside their neighborhoods with their children.

“You probably have your playground that you always go to, you probably have your park that you always go to,” she says. “Go to a new park, go to a new playground. It just makes it, just shakes it up a little bit. Gets everyone out of their comfort zone for a little bit and makes it feel like a new adventure. And really you’re just at a park.”

Herbst joins me in studio and offers a few specific picks for activities with kids this summer. Listen below.

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This South Side ‘book fairy’ is keeping dozens of Little Free Libraries stocked

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Last summer Radio Milwaukee caught up with Barbara Cerda, who goes by “Barby the Book Fairy,” for a Community Story. We tagged along on a trip to a Little Free Library on 13th and Mitchell Street in Milwaukee she had been stocking up regularly with books.

At that time, she had collected more than 1,000 books for the community to share, spread across five little libraries she had been filling.

But she didn’t stop at a thousand books, and she certainly didn’t stop at just five libraries.

Now, almost one year later, we met back up with Barby during an event at Kosciuszko Park where she hosted what she called the largest Little Free Library event in Milwaukee. For two solid hours, she and a team of volunteers handed out countless books, both in English and Spanish, to neighbors on the South Side.

And now, thanks to another grant she has received, she’ll be adding ten more libraries to her lineup, in addition to the 17 she is stocking now:

  • 1st and Mineral
  • 6th and Grant
  • 6th and Chase
  • 7th and Lapham
  • 7th and Grant
  • 7th and Lincoln
  • 10th and Oklahoma
  • 13th and Forest Home
  • 13th and Cleveland (Community Garden)
  • 13th and Montana
  • 15th and Howard
  • 16th and Bow
  • 16th and Cleveland (Pulaski pool)
  • 24th and Rogers
  • 27th and Greenfield
  • 32nd and Orchard
  • 58th and Scott

Listen to our interview with Milwaukee’s only “Book Fairy” below, and find her on Facebook for the latest on the additional libraries planned for the South Side.

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Beyond Pride Month, here’s how you can support LGBTQ business all year

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You’ve surely heard the phrase “shop local” or “support small business,” perhaps to the point where they’ve lost their meaning. But those directives bear repeating, because the way we spend our money matters.

It’s a reflection of our values.

Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

If supporting LGBTQ+ businesses is important to you, there’s a statewide resource dedicated to that very idea, not only helping consumers connect with a statewide network for LGBTQ-owned or friendly businesses, but also giving owners the tools to thrive.

Jason Rae is the founder of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, and joins me in studio for an interview as we close out Pride Month.

In our extended conversation, we cover how the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce founded and how it has grown to nearly 700 partner businesses and organizations in less than 10 years. We also discuss the other half of the organization’s work which helps businesses and business owners to launch and stay in business in Wisconsin. Rae also shares labor statistics which demonstrate the work still needed to create an inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people.

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Tarik Moody speaks with panel of national healthcare experts on racial disparities

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Last year, as the nation was experiencing a racial reckoning, Radio Milwaukee released a podcast — By Every Measure — focused on the undeniable data of systemic racism. The Milwaukee Press Club recently awarded the podcast with a gold medal for Best Podcast of 2020.

In the six-part podcast series, hosts Tarik Moody and local research journalist Reggie Jackson examined issues such as criminal justice and policing, housing, the racial wealth gap, education and healthcare. Then, in every episode, Tarik spoke with local experts who are leading solutions in each of these areas.

National healthcare experts from Rush University join Tarik Moody in Radio Milwaukee’s “Ask the Experts” series.

But the topic of systemic racism is vast, far bigger than we could cover in just six episodes. We still had a lot of questions, and we were hearing them from our listeners, too. So we kept the conversation moving forward with a follow-up series to the podcast — By Every Measure: Ask the Experts.

For five weeks, we took an even deeper dive into each of the sectors we explore in By Every Measure with national experts in each field.

The conversation below is a follow-up to the extended, final episode focused on healthcare disparities across racial lines. In that chapter, we spoke with a panel of experts, and in our follow up “Experts” series, Tarik does the same. He hosts a conversation with Dr. David Ansel; Darlene Hightower, JD; and Ayesha Jaco from Rush University and the Center for Health Equity and Engagement. The Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement at Rush University helps Rush fulfill its commitment to improving the quality of life for people in its diverse neighboring communities, according to its website.

Watch the live stream and listen to the original podcast episode below.

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LGBTQ+ organizers call for ‘systemic change’ at second annual March with Pride

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For the second year in a row in Milwaukee, activists from the LGBTQ+ community — and their allies — flooded the streets in Walker’s Point for the March with Pride event Sunday.

The march was organized by a small and dedicated team, led by Montell Infiniti Ross, and drew hundreds of people to the main gates of Summerfest for a rousing rally. After several speakers addressed the crowd, the group then stepped off along the two-mile march route, winding through Walker’s Point, the Third Ward and downtown Milwaukee.

Elle Halo addresses the crowd at the pre-march rally held at Summerfest.

In addition to the usual calls for justice and calls for police reform, the activists also trumpeted an additional, more focused message from the LGBTQ+ community: trans lives matter, women’s lives matter and all Black lives matter.

Ross, speaking from atop a parked car, called for “systemic change.”

“Change has to now move to the next level of systemic change. That means showing up in uncomfortable situations to create change,” Ross says.

“The ultimate goal is to see systemic change actually be in effect, and really Black and Brown and marginalized populations can feel the change. Right now we talk about the change, but when we can feel it, that’s when we know that we’ve actually done a movement,” Ross adds.

The demonstration ran along the same route as the Pride parade, which was canceled for the second year in a row, and it stopped at multiple intersections to introduce additional speakers, lead chanting and give protesters a chance to grab water and snacks from volunteers. It ended in Juneau Park where attendees were invited to a free drag show and community resource fair.

Trained, uniformed observers from the ALCU were on hand, as well as an array of volunteer medical personnel and marshals. Pace cars protected protesters at the back and front of the crowd, while volunteers helped block traffic on surrounding streets. The demonstration was carried out without violence or disruption.

March with Pride organizing team, left to right: Elle Halo, Hugo Beam, Montell Ross, Kat Klawes and Angel Vega. Photo courtesy of Ross.

88Nine was on site and spoke with organizers and to protesters along the march. Listen to the audio player below to hear from Ross and Elle Halo, a prominent Black transgender activist who worked on the organizing team, on what “systemic change” means to them.

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Tarik Moody continues ‘By Every Measure’ podcast with national housing expert

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Last year, as the nation was experiencing a racial reckoning, Radio Milwaukee released a podcast — By Every Measure — focused on the undeniable data of systemic racism. The Milwaukee Press Club recently awarded the podcast with a gold medal for Best Podcast of 2020.

In the six-part podcast series, hosts Tarik Moody and local research journalist Reggie Jackson examined issues such as criminal justice and policing, housing, the racial wealth gap, education and healthcare. Then, in every episode, Tarik spoke with local experts who are leading solutions in each of these areas.

Tarik Moody and Jenny Schuetz, Ph.D. discuss housing policy in our By Every Measure: Ask the Experts series.

But the topic of systemic racism is vast, far bigger than we could cover in just six episodes. We still had a lot of questions, and we were hearing them from our listeners, too. So we kept the conversation moving forward with a follow-up series to the podcast — By Every Measure: Ask the Experts.

For five weeks, we took an even deeper dive into each of the sectors we explore in By Every Measure with national experts in each field.

The conversation below is a follow-up to the episode focused on housing. Tarik talks with Jenny Schuetz, Ph.D., from The Brookings Institution about the racial disparity in the home ownership.

Watch the live stream and listen to the original podcast episode below.

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Tarik Moody speaks with Dr. Howard Fuller about the ‘math problem’ public schools face

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Last year, as the nation was experiencing a racial reckoning, Radio Milwaukee released a podcast — By Every Measure — focused on the undeniable data of systemic racism. The Milwaukee Press Club recently awarded the podcast with a gold medal for Best Podcast of 2020.

In the six-part podcast series, hosts Tarik Moody and local research journalist Reggie Jackson examined issues such as criminal justice and policing, housing, the racial wealth gap, education and healthcare. Then, in every episode, Tarik spoke with local experts who are leading solutions in each of these areas.

But the topic of systemic racism is vast, far bigger than we could cover in just six episodes. We still had a lot of questions, and we were hearing them from our listeners, too. So we kept the conversation moving forward with a follow-up series to the podcast — By Every Measure: Ask the Experts.

For five weeks, we took an even deeper dive into each of the sectors we explore in By Every Measure with national experts in each field.

The frank conversation below is a follow-up to episode of the podcast focused on education. Tarik talks with Dr. Howard Fuller, Founder and Director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, about how schools are funded, the “math problem” behind the lack of Black and Brown teachers, and his personal drive to continue advocating for both equal and equitable solutions in education.

Watch the live stream and listen to the original podcast episode below.

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