Thanksgiving Out of Season

By Jackie Reid Dettloff This is high summer, not November. But I’m not waiting ’til Thanksgiving to express my gratitude for things I appreciate this season. Here is my list of thank yous: • For the trees along Center Street. These Chinese Elms will grace one of the main commercial arteries of Riverwest for many years, thanks to the office of Ald. Mike D’Amato and to Jim Wilson at the YMCA-CDC office. They nagged until the City of Milwaukee finally planted the trees promised two years earlier, when the street was being repaired. • For the garlic mustard camapign. So many people have been yanking out the invasive plant, it looks like it may not take over the eco-system of the Beerline trail after all. Thanks to all the anonymous uprooters who do their small part, and to Vince Bushell in particular for organizing weekly garlic mustard musters in June. • For the new barricade at the east end of Wright Street. This has helped keep motorized vandals off the Beerline trail, and has also led to a dramatic reduction of dumping in the woods. I don’t know who to thank for this. • For Beerline trail maintenance, in general. After a severe storm knocks over trees, obstructing the trail, it is amazing to me how within a week the boughs are mysteriously removed and the path opened again. I thank the anonymous neighbors — mountain bikers, maybe- who clear the trail of fallen trees. • For the new artwork at the northwest entrance to Gordon Park. I’m not sure I really like it (could someone please explain again just what those fingerprints are all about?), but it sure adds interest to the corner of Humboldt and Locust. Thanks to Vince Bushell for pulling together the funds and equipment needed to install David Middlebrook’s sculpture, and to Milwaukee County for giving us a reconfigured park that attracts and serves so many local families. • For Snail’s Crossing at Bremen, near Burleigh. On a summer evening the place is alive with children and adults enjoying themselves in the balmy air. Thanks to Marina Lee and all her cohorts for the vision and grunt work; thanks to Tom Schneider and COA for providing the fiscal support. • For special pick-ups. This is the time when many of us complete outdoor home repair projects and fix up our yards — projects that generate a lot of debris. I find it fantastic to be able to make a phone call (286-3500, ext 1, ext 4) to request that the debris be hauled away. In other cities, people have to pay extra for such services, but here in Milwaukee it is provided for free. Thanks to the City of Milwaukee and its crews. This list is all about very practical, physical things that improve the quality of life in this neighborhood of ours. Sure, there are things to complain about, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the ways our urban surroundings are being enhanced. To borrow a line from the Beatles, whether it’s through tax-supported services or the spontaneous public service of ordinary people, “don’t you agree we’re getting better? Getting better everyday?”