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Neighbor Spotlight – Patrick Frederick

by Ellen C. Warren, photo by Kurt Johnson “My friend, Swami’s nephew, would bring me pure cow ghee from a remote village, by the bucket loads. I was making sure that Sativa got enough, because in Ayurveda, toward the end of the pregnancy, you want to make sure that [the expectant mother] eats a lot of ghee. And the birth was pretty effortless. Both births were pretty much the same. Ravi’s was a little bit longer. But Sativa’s whole labor with Bodhi was, maybe, three hours. I avoided the explosive delivery, dipped out one shoulder and the other shoulder. They both had the cords wrapped around their necks, but I just unwrapped the cords and they were fine. It was just beautiful!” “Sativa’s so amazingly strong! She had the courage to do that, and the faith in me. She did the hard part. I was just there for her,” he says. Six-year-old Ravi was birthed at their former home on Pierce Street. His name was recommended by Sai Baba and means “the sun.” When Ravi was born on a Sunday just as the sun was rising, it was clear that he was meant to have that name. Three-year-old Bodhi (middle name Satva – Bodhisatva is “the supreme embodiment of care and compassion”) was born in India in a house with four balconies. “It was up on the side of the mountain, right above the Shivananda Ashram,” says Patrick, “and the Ganges River, you could see it from all four of our balconies, it just wrapped right around.” Patrick “fell in love with India” when he was going to school for massage at Blue Sky in Grafton. The school brought in a number of Indian teachers from whom he learned about Panchakarma and Ayurvedic medicine. When he graduated in 1995, he was ready to give up his job as a West Allis garbage man and travel to India. He spent two and a half months in northern India on that first visit. Since then he has returned several times and figures he’s spent almost two and a half years in the country all together, in all four quadrants. In 2004, after Bush won re-election, Sativa was pregnant with their second child and they were both feeling overwhelmed, “working so much and living from paycheck to paycheck,” so Patrick sold the house on Pierce Street and took the family to India for six months. “I ended up being the skateboard coach at Sai Baba’s College! I have pictures of Ravi and me skateboarding on a ramp in south India in this village that’s not even accessible by paved roads,” Patrick shares gleefully. “Sai Baba’s there, so it’s this huge international community. And I got a VIP pass so I got to sit up on the veranda with Sai Baba every day. It was intense!” Patrick’s been skateboarding since “before it was cool.” He had to interrupt our interview a couple times to talk to neighbors about his need for their signature in order to close off the block for Ravi’s birthday party on May 17. Besides clowns, juggling and face-painting, the plans include skateboard ramps and skateboard jousting. During that six-month trip to India two major events took place: Bodhi was born and the tsunami hit. “We were staying on the coast and we went inland for a week and a half, and the tsunami hit,” says Patrick. Their location saved them from harm. Patrick initially met Sativa (yes, her parents actually named her that, somewhat to her chagrin since she is very “pure” in her habits) when she attended a yoga class he was teaching. (He’s initiated in Kriya Yoga.) She ended up living with his former girlfriend while he worked on an organic/biodynamic farm in Oklahoma, where he planted 108 apple and pear trees. After his return he led a tour to a spiritual gathering that happens once every 144 years in India. She joined him and the millions of others who congregated there to wash away their karma in the Ganges at this auspicious time. They’ve been together more than seven years. Twice a homeowner in Riverwest, Patrick is now renting. He’s thinking about buying again, but the escalation of prices here is daunting. As for looking in other areas of the city, “I’ve really been almost considering it, but I feel such a part of [Riverwest] that I don’t even want to consider it,” he says. In the mid ‘90’s the West Allis-raised, East Sideinhabiting Patrick found Lava Java (the café formerly in the spot where the Art Bar is now) and met the people there. “That’s when I first fell in love with Riverwest. I just kept meeting more and more people who were so down to earth and bright and present; not anticipating the future and ‘I gotta go here.’ They just were there, and they had time. And I was, like, ‘Yeah, this is my people. This is my tribe.’” Later he adds, “Another thing I like about Riverwest is that it seems to be the only multicultural neighborhood in Milwaukee that I’ve seen, that works and has good relations. I see the hyper-segregation in my working for the city, in the central district. I even emailed Oprah and expressed my concerns over that. How can we bridge that gap? Because I think that’s where the healing could begin.” For two years Patrick has worked as an Urban Forestry Specialist for the City of Milwaukee. (In case anyone’s considering it as a career, he recommends the training program as “exceptional.”) He recently passed the test to be a Certified Arborist. “I love every aspect of my job. I love the trees. I love planting them and helping them to grow. I love the wood,” he declares and adds with a laugh, “I even love fires.” The day before our interview his leg was severely injured in a motorcycle accident, keeping him from his tree work and off his skateboard. We wish him “speedy healing” as well as “Happy Father’s Day!”