ELMS: Farewell for now, Milwaukee

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If you’ve read any of my columns throughout the year, you’ve probably figured out that I love Milwaukee. I love the different neighborhoods, the industrial history and, of course, the food and beer. Think what you want, but even the smell of this city makes me smile.

Most of all, though, I love the people who live here.

During my four years in this city, I’ve talked with a lot of Milwaukeeans. I’ve interviewed artists, musicians, community organizers, boutique owners, event coordinators and dozens of your average everyday individuals, and whenever I ask “Why Milwaukee?”, all of them seem to circle back to one thing: community.

I know, on the surface, Milwaukee may not seem like such a close-knit network of people. The city has some clear flaws. Each neighborhood seems to house narrowly-constructed “types” – East Side’s hipsters, the yuppies of the Third Ward – and the same notion is true about Milwaukee’s college campuses. That, and Milwaukee is sadly one of the most segregated cities in America.

All that being said, I think we’re moving in the right direction to replace these negatives with positives.

Milwaukee has a thriving art community and networks of hip-hop, indie, garage rock and experimental musicians. It also has venues and organizations that keep Milwaukee’s history alive, and, most importantly, it has people eager to support all of this.

Milwaukee is the perfect place for start-ups. If you want to try something new or get your name out there, I guarantee you’ll find people in this city to back you. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with the people behind Milwaukee’s storytelling troupe Ex Fabula, who strive to build community around the sharing of personal narratives. I’ve also spoken with the folks who run experimental art/music venue the Borg Ward, a haven for many who aren’t welcome in mainstream venues.

I’ve talked to people at the member-owned Riverwest Public House, where patrons’ input is always taken into consideration when the bar needs to make decisions. Then there are the hardworking individuals behind some of the country’s best radio stations, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and WMSE Frontier Radio, who are all about local support.

All of these things epitomize the hardworking and fun-loving community responsible for why I fell in love with Milwaukee in the first place. The more people who discover this and get involved, the greater this city will be.

After graduation, I am moving to a community I have never been to before: Springfield, Mo.

As sad as I am to leave the city I love, I am so excited to move once again into unfamiliar territory. I can’t wait to explore everything Springfield has to offer. I want to soak up the culture, discover its hidden gems and, most of all, I want to learn what its people are all about.

Wherever you find yourself, it is important to make the most out of it. If you’re continuing at Marquette, venture off campus and try something new. If you’re moving away, like I am, don’t be afraid to explore your new stomping ground.

Who knows, you might just fall in love with it.

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