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Milwaukee’s First Eco-Neighborhood Is Not a Cheesy Place to Be

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City leaders want to create a buzz around sustainability initiatives that have blossomed in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood. There’s even a map encouraging people to tour its sustainable projects, including rooftop solar and stormwater management installations.

Just 10 minutes northwest of the Wisconsin city’s downtown area, Lindsay Heights received it’s title as Milwaukee’s first eco-neighborhood in September 2018; but, residents were thinking about sustainability long before the title was presented to them.
Start thinking about sustainability in your life by purchasing things such as reusable bags and reusable water bottles.

The first visible symbol of change was the rebirth of a building just off North Avenue on 17th Street. It used to be a boarding home.

“Then it was boarded up and the city had plans to tear it down. So, neighbors came together and decided to restore the center into a neighborhood center.”

Walnut Way Center Communication Manager Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra

This building is now the Walnut Way Center, a nonprofit organization founded by residents in 2000 to reclaim and redevelop the economic health and vitality of Lindsay Heights. It is located in the heart of the neighborhood and is a leader in sustainable initiatives.

“They started with kids in the neighborhood by planting tulips…and so that was a symbol of that renewal and to show people that this is a space that is cared for.”

Walnut Way Center Communication Manager Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra

From tulips, they transitioned into vegetable gardens and orchards. Walnut Way wasn’t just growing food; they were providing jobs too.
Start your own garden with seed paper.

“We now have Blue Skies Landscaping, which is commercial and private contracts and they’re really specializing in green infrastructure.”

Walnut Way Center Communication Manager Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra

At a recent event to celebrate Lindsay Heights new title, Henry Hopkins said that he used to contribute to his neighborhood’s problems, but he now works for Blue Skies and was recently promoted to crew leader.

“I was one of the gentlemen that helped bring down the neighborhood. I was selling drugs, doing a lot of destructive things in the neighborhood. So, I decided to make something of myself. Right now, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself.”

Blue Skies Landscaping Crew Leader Henry Hopkins

Terrell Morgan, another Lindsay Heights resident, has a different point of view.

“I actually grew up around the corner off 20th & Center for a few years. So, my mom and I walked to Gautz grocery store and there used to be a Church’s Chicken back in the day.”

Lindsay Heights Resident Terrell Morgan

While these may be distant memories, when Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office started deciding how to best tell the neighborhood’s story through signs and a map, the team asked Morgan to add his design skills.

“I am the the creator of the branding in conjunction with Walnut Way and ECO Milwaukee, creating the icons and also the actual EcoTour logo.”

Lindsay Heights Resident Terrell Morgan

The Lindsay Heights EcoTour features 11 different sites. Some of the highlights include an apple and pear orchard, and The Tandem restaurant. The restaurant features permeable pavers so that rainwater soaks in instead of streaming into the sewer system.

Morgan, and others who masterminded the walk through the neighborhood’s sustainability story, hopes that visitors will take the 0.9 mile EcoTour and become inspired.

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