To the Riverwest Currents:

I live in Riverwest. When I first moved into the neighborhood, I had reservations because of safety, crime and high insurance rates…

A beautiful flat, responsible landlord and “Old Milwaukee Charm” won me over. Riverwest is a diamond in the rough, or should I say in renovation. It’s a hidden treasure like Oz! You can drive through the streets and marvel at the beauty of the wonderfully built and restored houses.

You can finger point at the houses next door that are decaying. You can put your nose up and continue on, but you are missing the wonderful experience of community.

You can walk our streets and find friendly faces smiling at your face and watching your back. Those set on saving the environment will wiz by on a bike on their way to school or work. You’ll see other walkers stopping to speak to neighbors, or picking up trash on the way or petting dogs.

Notice our yards. We like to plant flowers, stability and friendship. Sit on a corner and watch our average resident – there aren’t any. We believe in diversity. We are rich, we are poor. We are workers: doctors, panhandlers, lawyers, shopkeepers, clerical workers, street workers, entrepreneurs and artists.

Age? We are ageless, young, old and in between. And we are a colorful lot, all colors, like a human rainbow.

Riverwest is diverse and progressive with a special something called “Strong Community.” It’s our greatest asset. It’s knowing and loving your neighbor and being a part of something strong and good.

Of course, we have growing pains struggling with the best and worst of a changing neighborhood. We strongly feel that now, with an unwanted element of desperation and crime moving through our neighborhood (I emphasize through – because we will not let it stay).

News has informed us that our neighborhood has had 23 robberies and a murder down the block. Politicians will be on television next to the body outlines of victims.

They will promise to saturate the area with the police… that just moves crime to another neighborhood – maybe yours! We love the brave people in blue who try to protect us. But we wonder why it takes 23 robberies and murders for their superiors to stop pointing the fingers of blame at each other, and deploy them.

We see the street funerals-vigils. Where are the clergy? We need strong, brave clergy who preach hope and strong words for those who would slay their brothers. I hear silence.

What about the peace advocates? I see their signs: Peace in Iraq, Peace Now. I think the peace movement needs to change. How about new signs: Peace Starts at Home and Then Moves On. Take the signs to the broken neighborhoods and elaborate. For those that need comfort and safety: “Peace is Coming, You Must Help!” Or for those without conscience: “Peace, Are You Big Enough and Strong Enough to Keep It?”

Individual work, I start mine now with this. I’m off the couch and on the streets of Riverwest. I promise myself to do more for the community, my neighbor and myself. Join me!

Riverwest is the best in community. Point at us if you must, but learn from us.

Sandra J. Ross
Humboldt Boulevard

To the editor:

The extraordinary article on the Peace Learning Center heartened me. The author brilliantly contrasted stories of violence from around the world with local Peace Learning Center students’ learnings about how to resolve conflict. She painted a vivid picture of Milwaukee 4th graders learning skills and tools as strategic and specific as a hammer and nails for building peace. The Currents is fortunate to have a writer of Jackie Reid Dettloff’s caliber to inspire us. Let’s have many more articles about peacemaking and more coverage of the positive accomplishments of our young people.

It was fitting that the article appeared in the month we celebrate Mother’s Day, the day in 1870 that Julia Ward Howe exhorted mothers around the world:

“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have heart, whether our baptism be that of water or tears! Say firmly:

‘We will not have our great questions decided by irrelevant agencies.

Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’”

Sue Silvermarie

Riverwest Currents online edition – June, 2007