John Gurda hosts virtual ‘story time’ on Facebook Live with Arts@Large

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With the statewide “Safer at Home” order in effect until April 24, Milwaukee nonprofits like Arts@Large have had to get creative to remain connected to the community.

The organization typically operates arts programs in person inside schools and at its Walker’s Point community center. But those programs have since been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, Arts@Large, like many nonprofits and businesses, has launched new virtual opportunities online, intended to replace the more than 170 hours of its in-person instruction that have been cancelled.

One of those programs is geared specifically to kids and families — a virtual story time with a rotating list of Milwaukee celebrities. Milwaukee historian John Gurda kicked off the weekly program with a Facebook Live session where he read the classic children’s book “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

You can tune in on Facebook Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. for a new storyteller every week.

In addition to the story time, Arts@Large is also hosting a virtual “family arts day” on Saturdays. Various artists will lead instructions in dance, yoga and theater.

Listen to our interview with Sean Kiebzak, chief operating officer with Arts@Large.

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Absentee voting extended for Wisconsin’s April 7 election, polls to remain open

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A federal judge has refused to postpone Wisconsin’s April 7 primary election but has extended the deadline for absentee voting.

Voters will now have an extra day — until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 3 — to request an absentee ballot, according to the Associated Press. The deadline to return those ballots also been extended six days. Ballots must be received by April 13 to be counted.

The judge, U.S. District Judge William Conley, also removed the requirement for voters to obtain a witness to submit an absentee ballot. Voters can instead provide a “written affirmation” that they aren’t able to get a witness’ signature due to Wisconsin’s current “safer at home” order, according to the AP.

Polling locations will remain open throughout the state on election day. The National Guard will be on site at some polling locations to provide staffing where there is a shortage of poll workers.

To register for an absentee ballot, visit

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The DNC has been pushed back to Aug. 17

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Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic National Convention has been pushed back to mid-August, as organizers try to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention, which had originally been scheduled for July 13-17, will instead take place the week of August 17, a week ahead of the Republican National Convention is Charlotte, N.C.

Convention organizers announced the delay in a news release Thursday morning, though much remains unknown, including how many days the convention will run.

The announcement came shortly after the party’s likely nominee Joe Biden called on the convention to be rescheduled during an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”

“This is the right decision for the safety of those involved in the convention and for Milwaukee,” said Milwaukee Bucks Vice President Alex Lasry, who led Milwaukee’s bid to bring the DNC to Fiserv Forum. “An August convention will provide a much-needed economic boost for Milwaukee and Wisconsin as we come out of this unprecedented time.”

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Today is the final day to register for an absentee ballot for Wisconsin’s April 7 election

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Eleven states had elections scheduled for April, but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, only one of them has moved ahead with theirs as planned: Wisconsin.

That unusual decision to carry on with in-person voting, despite the clear recommendations from health officials to avoid crowded places, has stirred confusion and sparked an avalanche of lawsuits, leaving open the possibility that things could still change. But for now there’s one key deadline Wisconsin voters need to know: Today is the final day to register for an absentee ballot.

Voters have until 5 p.m. to register for an absentee ballot online at or, if they live in Milwaukee, by calling 414-286-VOTE.

Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, so voters will still be able to register at the polls on Tuesday (if, indeed, those polls are open), but due to the coronavirus Gov. Tony Evers has strongly encouraged all voters to vote absentee.

Even some candidates on the ballot have instructed voters to avoid the polls because of the COVID-19. “I hope that people do not go to the polls on Tuesday,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “As much as I want them to vote, I do not want them to put their lives in jeopardy, I don’t want them to put the health and safety of our poll workers in jeopardy.”

Worried about mailing your ballot back in time? Milwaukee has opened up five absentee ballot drop-off sites, which will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. every day up to, and including, the April 7 election.

Voters may drop off their ballots at these locations:

  • Zablocki Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave.
  • Bay View Library, 2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
  • Washington Park Library, 2121 N. Sherman Blvd.
  • Mill Road Library, 6431 N. 76th St.
  • Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Bldg., 841 N. Broadway
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Deanna Singh gives a crash course on how to accomplish your goals

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With the majority of us staying inside and having some extra time, we might catch ourselves reflecting. Some might be thinking about the past or even pondering about their own pursuits and personal journey.

Deanna Singh is the Milwaukee author of “Purposeful Hustle,” a book on how to live a life filled with joy and purpose. Singh was also featured in a 2020 Forbes list for her work with marginalized communities.

Deanna Singh, author of “Purposeful Hustler” | Courtesy of Deanna Singh

Living a life with purpose starts with intention, stating your goals and being conscious about reaching them. Singh says it’s allowing yourself to explore different avenues that are going to get you there.

“State what you think your purpose is, write it down and commit yourself to it,” said Singh. “Then test it, ‘OK, this is what I said my purpose is but does it feel right?’ Know that it might change over time and it might stay the same.”

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Every single one of us has something they want to accomplish. It can be as simple as learning a new hobby or taking a big risk in your career. For some, throwing yourself into something new can be easy but many struggle with the fear of failure. Singh says, she uses failure as an opportunity. 

“The failures that I had in life are the ones that most define who I am and they are the things that I enjoy celebrating the most,” said Singh.

“Whenever I feel off-balanced I will put myself through the exercise of ‘look at what you are doing today, how much of it was on purpose and what do you need to do to get yourself in alignment?,’ it’s an easy way to course-correct,” said Singh.

I personally have spent countless nights analyzing whether I am creating an impact. It can be overwhelming but sometimes you have to take a deep breath and take it one day at a time. After spending some time with Singh, I realized its beyond ticking a goal off a checklist but making sure every day can be used as an experience.

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Today is the last day to register online to vote in Wisconsin’s April 7 election

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Wisconsin’s spring general elections and presidential primary are still scheduled for April 7, although that could change. As of Monday, there are five major lawsuits attempting to either change or postpone the state’s elections, and even how many voters will cast their ballots is in question: Last week Gov. Tony Evers called on the state legislature to pass a bill that would send an absentee ballot to every voter, a request that state GOP leaders have dismissed.

So what does all that uncertainty mean for the average voter? For the time being, they should assume the elections will take place as scheduled next Tuesday, and heed two very important deadlines: Today is the last day for online voter registration, and Thursday is the last day to request an absentee ballot (though the state elections board would prefer you request one sooner than later).

Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, so voters will still be able to register at the polls on Tuesday (if, indeed, those polls are open), but due to the coronavirus Gov. Evers has strongly encouraged all voters to vote absentee.

Milwaukee residents may request an absentee ballot online at or by calling 414-286-VOTE.

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Watch these penguins have a bubble party at the Milwaukee County Zoo

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You may have seen that viral video of penguins walking freely inside Chicago’s empty Shedd Aquarium last week. It was cute, don’t get us wrong, but here in Milwaukee, we’ve got to root for the home team.

So, enjoy a video featuring our hometown penguins enjoying a bubble party at the Milwaukee County Zoo below. For real.

Zookeeper Katie Coutant captured the behind-the-scenes moment and sent it to us.

In addition to the video and photos, she also shared an update on how the animals are adapting to not having human visitors at the zoo. She assures us that the animals are still getting top-notch care, and says everyone at the zoo is looking forward to reopening.

Listen to our interview below.

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Local doctor shares 5 ways to practice positivity during pandemic

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With all the uncertainty and isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no shortage of bad news to read. And if you’re one of the more than 3 million Americans facing unemployment, the last few weeks have likely been stressful.

Which means practicing self care is now more important than ever. But how exactly can you do that when there’s so much negativity in the atmosphere?

We asked a medical expert to find out.

Dr. Malika Siker.

Dr. Malika Siker is an Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology and the Associate Dean for Student Inclusion and Diversity at Medical College of Wisconsin. She has been particularly active on her Twitter page since the pandemic began.

She offers the following five recommendations for staying positive and practicing self-care, in her own words. She also shares more about these guidelines in our interviews below.

  1. Stay calm: It is quite literally a “pandemic” right now but academia and public health are filled with brilliant people who have spent their adult lives studying this scenario who are advising us. We are pulling together as a society and doing unprecedented things like suspending ALL basketball, in March of all months. We are spending time educating ourselves and being an advocate for the vulnerable.
  2. Keep a positive, growth mindset: We will get through this. We will learn from this. We will make positive changes in the way we live our lives because of this.
  3. Focus on what you can control: In addition to the most critical areas of social distancing and hygiene aimed at decreasing the spread of germs, there are so many other things you can control. Make intentional choices with the greater good in mind. Instead of complaining, be a helper and work on solutions in your area.
  4. Take care of yourself and your loved ones: Life is continuing despite this pandemic. Check in on yourself and use the extra time in ways that are meaningful to you. Be present in the moment for your loved ones to connect, cry, and laugh.
  5. Do what you can to help struggling businesses: The short- and long-term effects of this pandemic on global and local economies are mind-blowing. With no end date in sight, businesses need our support to continue running at all costs more than ever. We are going to need these businesses to help put the economy back together when this is over so let’s get creative in ways we can support them.
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Meet Baby Face Willette, a nationally historic jazz artist with Milwaukee ties

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This week on Urban Spelunking, we’re taking a slightly different approach as we work remotely.

Instead of talking about a place or building that’s closed to the public, we’re “spelunking” a person, a nationally known jazz organist with Milwaukee ties.

“Baby Face” Willette — a nickname the artist earned with his youthful smile and snappy outfits — released two records on the prestigious Blue Note Records. He spent much of his career in Chicago, but while in Milwaukee, he met his wife and collaborated with various local artists.

Baby Face Willette. Photo via OnMilwaukee.

Active in the 1950s and ’60s, Baby Face’s career was cut short by various legal and personal problems, and he died young, at age 35.

OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo spent months researching Baby Face’s career and legacy, and he wrote a special edition piece for OnMilwaukee detailing his life in music and photos. Take a deep dive into his career after listening to this week’s podcast below.

James Julius Anderson, an artist formerly based in Milwaukee, shared this photo depicting his uncle playing alongside Baby Face on piano.
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The Hop reduces its schedule in response to the coronavirus

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Milwaukee’s streetcar The Hop is reducing its hours in response to decreased ridership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning this Thursday, March 26, the streetcar will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.,. daily, with cars arriving every 20 minutes.

“While it’s important that the streetcar continue to serve those who rely on the service to reach essential jobs or destinations, the current statewide efforts to eliminate non-essential travel and prevent the spread of the disease by keeping people at home have resulted in decreased ridership that no longer warrants a full schedule of operations,” the streetcar’s management wrote in a statement.

The streetcar is also requesting extra health precautions from riders. “We ask that you join the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by being extra vigilant in exercising recommended hygiene practices, including regular and thorough hand washing, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes with either a tissue or your elbow,” the statement read. “On board the streetcar, passengers should leave additional space between themselves and others, and utilize the seats whenever possible as opposed to holding the poles or hand straps. Most importantly, if you are exhibiting any symptoms or feel ill, please stay at home.”

The new schedule can be found here.

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