Listen: With some interviews, there's just enough material to give me an exact idea of where the story to tell — and then there are the times when somebody's so interesting and thoughtful, it makes my job the best kind of tough. Ken Leinbach, executive director of the Urban Ecology Center, is clear and vivid storyteller (you don't have to take my word for it — check out the story of Ken and some young toad-nappers), especially when it comes to the story of the UEC. As I sifted through our interview, I kept thinking to myself "dang, all this stuff is good — how am I going to whittle it down to a three minute audio piece?"
There were a number of different focuses I could have adopted. They're not working from some sort of national template — the Urban Ecology Center is a uniquely Milwaukee idea that has grown because of the support of the Milwaukee community. And while we can see how they're growing in our city, other folks are taking notice of their work. They've drawn interest on a national and international level from communities that want to benefit from the same service the UEC provides us here in Milwaukee. So many sub-stories!
In this piece, Ken gives a panorama of the UEC's history — we run through a bit of past, present and future, with a focus on their exciting new site on the near South Side in the Silver City neighborhood:
I can't wait to see what they do with the Menomonee Valley! Personally, I consistently find myself frustrated with the lack of connection between the valley and its surrounding neighborhoods. Change is a-comin'!
The Urban Ecology Center! Learn more about them at their website. Also, you can get involved with one of their many volunteer opportunities! Finally, you should just go and check them out in person either at their Riverside Park or Washington Park locations — they're very welcoming people.