Welcome Internet Exchange


​James J. Godsil, ABD Social Sciences, co-founder Community Roofing & Restoration(1975), Milwaukee Renaissance WikiMag(2005), and Sweet Water Foundation(2010)​

St. Louis U. High Alum “For the Common Good”


James Godsil is the 1975 founder of the Community Roofing & Restoration,the co-founder the Sweet Water Foundation, President of the Sweet Water Foundation. Co Founder of an integral urban home called The Heart Haus. Board member Growing Power from 2005–2010. Doctoral candidate in Political Economics, a National Science Foundation,Fulbright Fellow in the 1970s, Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society, Founder of the Milwaukee Renaissance On Line Magazine. Milwaukee Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 and Mandi Award Finalist 2013. State Department American Speakers Program for India regarding Innovations in Urban Agriculture and Aquaponics. Board President, ESHAC, Inc., community development corporation in Riverwest Milwaukee, key integrating and local economy neighborhood of Milwaukee, 1979–81. Co-founder St. Louis University Action Committee(SLUAC), 1966, President St. Louis University Great Issue Series, 1966–67.

Page 1 of Milwaukee Renaissance


Interview 1 w Meredith Watts



Essay on 70th Birthday Celebration by Artist Evelyn Terry


Milwaukee Independent Story


Harvard Business School Essay(!) On Work with SWO and Sweet Water Foundation


My early Sweet Water story


Here is a collection of some of my favorite pictures, as of 2015.


https://youtu.be/7mQCyobR0kk A video made by my friend Bill Lemorande when a delegation from India visited Sweet Water Milwaukee origins back around 2013.

https://vimeo.com/14319373 From French film makers

Sharing With India



Sharing with India
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCiCfu-wtqQ Who I have been(Mandi Award Film Clip)

Sweet Water Foundation: http://sweetwaterfoundation.com/

Heart Haus: http://wuwm.com/post/experiment-sustainable-urban-community-takes-root-bay-view

St. Louis University Alumni Merit Award


High School Alma Mater, St. Louis U. High(SLUH) Story On Introduction of Aquaponics to Chemistry Lab


Grace Lee Boggs “Living For Change” Sweet Water Story

Chapter from CPUL European Planners Book on MY Sweet Water Story:


Here’s how the Europeans described my work:

James Godsil is co-founder of Sweet Water Organics and the Sweet Water Foundation. He is now the president of the Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) and Community Roofing & Restoration (CRR) and is a past president of ESHAC Inc. He is also the co-founder of Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, Milwaukee- Renaissance.com and the Indo American Aquaponics Institute (IAAI), a global coalition of development professionals and experts in their own fields of work. Between 2005 and 2010, James served on the Growing Power board. He was Milwaukee Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 and Mandi Award Navigator Finalist in 2013. In 2011, he took part in the State Department American Speakers Program in India. For his work in the Bonobo Congo Biodiversity Initiative, he received the Milwaukee Zoological Society Award in 2008. James holds an MA from St Louis University Center for Urban Programs and is a Fulbright Fellow.


Historic Preservation and Artisinal “Guild Development”

Founder and President of Community Roofing & Restoration, Inc., 1975 to current, leading historic restoration firm, co-founder Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, key in saving many historic homes and buildings, including the Pabst Brewery complex and, God willing, the Soldiers Home

Urban Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Bio-diversity Initiatives

Board Member, Will Allen’s Growing Power. Co-founder and partner in Sweet Water Organics Fish Vegetable Farm. Milwaukee Zoological Society Awardee for work regarding Bonobo Congo Bio-diversity Intiative.

Academic and Communications

Co-founder and Organizer of “Milwaukee Renaissance” On Line Magazine and Movement Resource, 2005 curent; National Science Foundation and Fulbright Fellow; Jesuit Honors Society Alpha Sigma Nu, All But Dissertation Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, M.A. St. Louis University Center for Urban Programs.

Projects For The Good Causes Over The Decades


Campus Teach Ins
Peace Vigils
Open Housing Marches
Residency With Catholic Worker Jesuits In Pruitt Igoe’s Shadows


Radical Reform for Old Neighborhood Rainbowing(ESHAC Inc. in Riverwest)
Artist/Artisan Restoration Coops & Guilds(Community Roofing “Collective”)


City Parks As Working Class Country Clubs(Kern Park Countryclub)
Day Care Centers and Schools In Workplaces(Wisconsin’s 1st Industrial Day Care ME)
Winter Gigs Down South For Snowbird Artisans


Digital Empowerment For Historic Preservation(Milwaukee Preservation Alliance)
Restoration Guild Development, and Community Organizing


Institutionalize Charisma Of Will Allen’s Good Food Revolution
Wiki Empower Old City “Renaissance” Movements
10,000 Food Gardens In Milwaukee Homes & Vacant Lots
Save The Bonobos and the Soldiers Home


Commercialize, Democratize, Globalize Aquaponics & Urban Ag
Transform Old Factories Into Multi-use Innovation Centers


10,000 Digitally Enhanced Aquaponics School Demos For Life Long Learners
eChoupal and Mitra Hole In The Wall Culture Stands and Cool Buses In Every City
Fermentation Fest Trumps Burning Man
Aquaponics As Living Art For Airports, Museums, Restaurants, Linked To Peripheries
10,000 Digital and Healing Enhanced Integral Urban and Rural Airbnbs for Learning Vacations
Harvesting 70th Birthdays For “The Movements”
Alchemy On Lisbon

Video Clips

Sweet Water Summary for Indian Delegation


IBM Highlights Aquaponics As Key to “Organic City Revolution”


“Around the Corner” with John McGivern


From Detroit


From France


United Nations and Voice of America




Young Elder Urban Ag Apprentice


Huffington Post Story on “Arugula As A Birthright”


Godsil’s Sweet Water Story

Prose and Pictures

Organic City Pathways

Early Sweet Water Story

  • Favorite Aquaponics Collaboration Platform & TED Talk You Tube



  • Mainstreaming Aquaponics: WSJ, NYT, NPR, NBC Nighty News Reports


Milwaukee Entrepreneur of the Year 2010


State Department Magazine re Godsil Growing Power & Sweet Water Work


Godsil In IBM Film Sketch On Organic City ®Evolution



United Nations Global Compact Cities partnership


Godsil Founder of Milwaukee Renaissance Line Magazine


Boss Eagan MANDI Award Submission

Endorsements For Godsil Artisinal Guild and Historic Preservation Work, pre-Sweet Water

Jim Godsil is an important community activist. He’s Jane Jacob’s most ardent disciple in Milwaukee. He has had a big impact in Milwaukee. His mentor Ted Seaver helped kill 4 Spadina type Freeway projects in Milwaukee.

John Norquist— former Mayor of Milwaukee and President of the Congress for the New Urbanism

Jim Godsil is a Milwaukee treasure. He has worked tirelessly to preserve Milwaukee’s heritage. He has taken the lead in uniting diverse neighborhood groups through e-mail, picnics and simple, individual face-to-face contacts.

Jim has promoted historic home bed and breakfast tourism in the city; fought for an aesthetically valuable design for a planned Harley Davidson museum; contributed greatly to the fight against unneeded, unwanted and obscenely obscene freeway expansion in the area; and is helping lead the effort to preserve the historic structures in a Civil War era veterans hospital.

He is an intelligent, committed advocate of urbanism, diversity and creativity.

Milwaukee’s life is richer because Jim Godsil is in it.


Gretchen Schuldt,
Editor, www.storyhill.net

I am happy to endorse James Godsil’s efforts to foster historic tourism in Milwaukee. His dissertation manuscript on “Ethnic Identities and Class Coalitions in Wisconsin, 1850–1920″ is ample evidence of his intellectual grasp of the possibilities of inspiring visitors with Milwaukee’s rich ethnic past yet embodied in its architecture and its neighborhoods. His 30 year day-to-day efforts as the owner of a company that specializes in the restoration of historic buildings and homes and his voluntary work on behalf of the social enterprises of our historic working class neighborhoods nicely complements his intellectual background.

Julia Taylor
Executive Director
Greater Milwaukee Committee

In the short few months that I’ve had to get to know Jim Godsil, I’ve found him to be an absolutely tireless advocate for the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, the restoration of historic homes, and heritage tourism designed to realize a connection between job growth and historic preservation in Milwaukee. His ability to make connections where they did not previously exist amazes me and I’m happy to be part of his network of people who care about Milwaukee’s future.

Michael Strigel
Executive Director
Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
Madison, WI

James Godsil, a co-founder of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, is now focusing his efforts on galvanizing support for preservation of the Veteran’s Administration all denominational Soldiers’ Chapel. His interests extend beyond preservation and include promotion of our ethnic diversity, cultural heritage and architectural history as the back bone of economic development that promotes our rich history for present and future generations.

Annemarie Sawkins, Ph.D, Associate Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art

That’s a fine mission and you’re a worthy emissary.

Stephen Filmanowicz
Communications Director
Congress for the New Urbanism
Chicago, IL

City of Milwaukee
Department of City Development
Housing Authority
Redevelopment Authority
City Plan Commission
Historic Preservation Commission

To Whom It May Concern,
June 16, 2004

This letter will serve to introduce Jim Godsil of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Historic Preservation staff at the Department of City Development is familiar with and appreciative of Mr. Godsil’s roles as community organizer, preservation advocate,and roofing craftsman. About 18 months ago, he founded the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, an advocacy group that has brought significant attention to preservation issues in Milwaukee. He has organized citizens to appear at public hearings on behalf of preservation, and keeps many in the community updated on the issues through frequent e-mails and public events.

Mr. Godsil is a skilled roofer. In this role he has done sensitive construction work on scores of architecturally and historically significant buildings in Milwaukee. His interest in mentoring younger workers has resulted in others making the decision to direct significant talents to the building arts.

Mr. Godsil is truly one of Milwaukee’s most visible preservation practitioners.


Martha L. Brown
Acting Commissioner

To whom it may concern:

For the last several years I have watched and supported the efforts of Jim Godsil to find and nurture the often-natural connections among those interested in promoting urban centers as vibrant working environments as well as those seeing our cities as repositories of cultural, architectural, and social history. Jim’s background in the trade’s with “hands on” experience restoring the structural and aesthetic integrity of Milwaukee’s historical homes and buildings is nicely balanced by his lifelong understanding of the role of compromise and collaboration in bringing social support to all members of a community. Perhaps most importantly, Jim is tireless and persistent in strengthening these “natural connections” among those of disparate factions, ideologies, and yes, classes.

Bruce Jacobs
President and CEO
Grede Foundries, Inc.

  • Nice “Shepherd” Dave Luhrssen piece on “philosopher roofer.” :)


  • Crocker Stephenson in the Journal


  • Rather extensive bio sketch interview in Co-op Newsletter


Gordsil UWM Radio re Sweet Water Aquaponics Miniature Vision


&Two Versions of Godsil Bio Sketch


  • Newer

Worker Organizer of New American Movements
Civil Rights

  • St. Louis Pruitt Igoe neighborhood organizing with Catholic Worker Jesuit Scholastics and Father Shockley of St. Brigid’s Parish in old North Side Kerry Patch neighborhood
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC) Freedom Summer 1966, taught in Freedom School on Rooselvelt Ave., lived in “Project House” near Maxwell Street,field marshall” in SCLC open housing marches in Marquette Park community

Peace Movement

  • co-founder St. Louis University Action Committee, St. Louis University 1966, lead campus anti-Vietnam group

Neighborhood Movement

  • Board President, ESHAC, Inc., community development corporation in Riverwest Milwaukee, key integrating and local economy neighborhood of Milwaukee, 1979–81

Historic Preservation and Artisinal “Guild Development”

Founder and President of Community Roofing & Restoration, Inc., 1975 to current, leading historic restoration firm, co-founder Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, key in saving many historic homes and buildings, including the Pabst Brewery complex and, God willing, the Soldiers Home.
Urban Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Bio-diversity Initiatives

Board Member, Will Allen’s Growing Power. Co-founder and partner in Sweet Water Organics Fish Vegetable Farm. Milwaukee Zoological Society Awardee for work regarding Bonobo Congo Bio-diversity Intiative.
Academic and Communications

Co-founder and Organizer of “Milwaukee Renaissance” On Line Magazine and Movement Resource, 2005 curent; National Science Foundation and Fulbright Fellow; Jesuit Honors Society Alpha Sigma Nu, All But Dissertation Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, M.A. St. Louis University Center for Urban Programs. Vanity publisher of Olde Godsil poetry books, “My Milwaukee” and “Forbidden Pleasures of Permaculture in the Holy City of the Sweet Water Seas.”
60th Birthday Well Wishes


Sweet Water Breakthroughs: Hope Gives Rise To That Which It Contemplates

I am one of the co-founders of Sweet Water Organics and the Sweet Water Foundation—The Farm and the Academy! Sweet Water, along with Growing Power(I was on board ‘05 to ‘10) have helped mainstream aquaponics* and, in Milwaukee, sparked a “Grand Alliance” of identity and class sectors that inspired IBM film on our “transition from an industrial to an organic city.”


UN Conference on Urban Ag/Aquaponics(UAA) & Global Collegiate Design Competition

The State Department, Harvard students, and the U.S. Marines are looking in. State sent me to India barnstorming, the product of which is a University of Calcutta/Sweet Water/Harvard collaboration underway. We are brainstorming a Wingspread Conference for student groups from all continents that submit the winning sustainable aquaponics farm designs.


Mainstreaming Aquaponics: WSJ, NYT, NPR, NBC Nighty News Reports



Here is a “Milwaukee Journal” report from the IBM International Team:

The IBM report released today said “Milwaukee could become more economically
viable and help the world feed itself through urban agriculture and aquaponics—
water efficient systems that can transform abandoned factories and vacant lots into urban
farms that raise fish and vegetables.”


Short film re IBM Report(scroll down a bit)


State Department

United Nations


Hope Gives Rise To That Which It Contemplates: Sweet Water Miracles

Justifying Great Expectations, for India Collaborations, and Nobel Prize

For Global Community of Aquaponics Practice


Transitions From Industrial to Organic City Notes





Pre Sweet Water Bio Sketch

What follows is something I put together a few years back before my Sweet Water Organics adventures.

Here is a more recent Godsil platform that captures much of the Sweet Water story.


Here are some nice mainstream media accounts of Sweet Water Organics.


Back to the old bio-sketch.

But, before that, here’s an updated bio-sketch.


My highest work in life has been helping raise my children: Rachel, Megan, Joseph, and Bridie.
Godsil Family Photos

NEW: Article about Godsil

Nice Dave Luhrssen piece on “philosopher roofer.” :)


In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s January 19, 2006 “Snapshots” column, by Crocker Stephenson.

Outpost Natural Food Article re Milwaukee Renaissance Work


Godsil Interviewed by Julia Kolker Fall, 2007 at the Riverwest Co-op Cafe


  • Roofed a Habitat home on Walnut St. with President Jimmy Carter and Habitat for Humanity.
  • President of St. Louis University’s Great Issue Series, 1966, and brought Dick Gregory, Eugene Mc Carthy, Saul Alinksy, Dorothy Day, W.H. Auden, Saul Bellow and more to campus.
  • Fulbright Fellow in Tunisia, 1972, where I studied “symbolic violence and the manipulation of culture by the state.”
  • Doctoral candidate at U.W.M. during the 1970s and again during the 1990s, and published a manuscript “From Party Nations to Class Coalitions: Wisconsin Ethnic Conflict and Cooperation 1850–1940.”
  • One of the founders of Eastside Housing Action Committee(ESHAC) and Chairman of the Board, 1978–1980.
  • Founder and President of Community Roofing & Restoration, since 1975. See CommunityRoofingAndRestoration and http://communityroofing.com.
  • One of the founders of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance(MPA) and Urban Anthropology’s “Backstreet Tours of Ethnic Milwaukee.”
  • One of the founders of the Bay View Neighborhood Association
  • Very active in forging an alliance between the NAACP, the Save the Soldiers Home Movement, Bucketworks, and Timbuktu
  • FamilyStories
  • Poetry
  • History of Name “Godsil”
  • The War at Home Bio Sketches


Rough Notes on Internet Empowerment

Roof System Restoration Trouble Shooting, Mediation, and Sustainable Development Support

Godsil Family Myth

Ken Jenkins interviewed me from Stockholm and began with a wonderful reading of the text re the Godsil Family Myth.


Here’s one partial version of a “family myth” my children have been offered since they were infants. If you enjoy it, I’ll send more in my next note. Some of it is “real.” Some of it is “myth.” The difference between “reality” and “myth” is not always clear and sometimes does not really matter.

Sometimes, nothing can be so real and practical as a good founding “myth!”

Indiginous, Ambiguous, and Universal

The Godsil’s have been taught that the blood of all people flows through our veins. As different family members have studied the history of God’s peoples on the planet earth, they have woven together this story to explain how it could be that a person like myself could be a distant cousin to everyone.

Our Beginnings in Mother Africa

They say that our family’s story can be traced no further back than 3 or 4 thousand years ago, in the gold mines of Mali, not far from where emerged the glorious city of Timbuktu. I am told that the gold that was mined in Mali, near the Niger River, not far from Timbuktu, played a major role in the emergence of the civilization of the near East and the Mediterranean. It seems that our family got in trouble for speaking too loudly to power, and we sought refuge in Somalia, on the eastern coast of Africa, not far from the origin of the Nile River. In Somalia we became sailors, artisans, and merchants, working on ships and with maritime commerce between Asia and Africa, including India and China. Memories suggest that we never did well with received wisdom or orthodoxies of any kind. We offended many groups by our openness to engage in dialogue, business, and even marriage with “out groups” not very appreciated by whatever “in group” we were identified with at the time. So we drank from the wine of such world religions as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and more. We also intermarried with Asians and considered ourselves Asian Africans.

Moving on to Europe

Our diaspora from Mother Africa began about a millennium ago, around the time when Mohammed’s armies conquered much of the world between Gibraltar and India. They say we tended to be cooks and chefs for the armies and ruling groups of Islam, settling finally, after centuries of westward movement across North Africa, in a great city named Cordoba. There we intermarried not just with the Spanish, but also with some German and Italian families that worked as blacksmiths and jewelers. Some say that one of our ancestors was a Jew, who was a right hand man of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order of priests. By 1588 one of our ancestors was an archer, who went with the Spanish Aramada to attack England. During a great storm many of the ships crashed on the southern coast of Ireland. One of them, the Santa Maria de la Rosa, was destroyed on the rocks of the Blasket Islands, near County Cork Ireland. Our ancestor survived, became a soldier for an Irish lord, who himself paid a certain amount of homage to the hated English, and was eventually given some land to farm and raise a family.
This family eventually produced my great-great grandfather, Richard Godsil, a schoolmaster in Dublin, at the Prescott Catholic Elementary School. Richard Godsil was to be bludgeoned to death by an Orangeman, for his work on behalf of the nascent Irish independence movement.

To America!

Richard’s children became orphaned after his wife was institutionalized and their patrimony largely lost in a brickyard business run by an Uncle. One son, Joseph, and daughter, Mary, were sent down to the southern tip of Latin America, all the way up to San Francisco, where they were given to the care of a pub and inn keeper, methinks named Charles Godsil. Either Charles or his brother were said to have been soldiers in the Union Army, which fought the war against the Confederate Armies, which brought an end to 10,000 years of officially sanctioned slavery in Western civilization.

The girl became a nun in Belmont California and her brother Joseph became a molder, i.e. a factory worker who helps make metal objects. Joseph eventually moved to St. Louis, Missouri, sort of like the Timbuktu of North America, i.e. a central trade route between east and west, north adn south. Not long before the Great World’s Fair of St. Louis (“Meet Me in St. Louie, Louie”), Joseph met my great grandmother, Mary Duncan, whose family had moved from Glasgow, Scotland, where she worked one half day in a textile mill at the age of 10! One of their children, Joseph Godsil, my father, married Mary Patricia Donnelly in 1934, during the height of the Great Depression in America. Grandma Mary, my Mom, was all Irish. My Sister Jo Ann tells me she was Mother Mary dance a pretty good Irish jig. Grandpa Joseph was Scotch, Irish, and English. They told me they met at dancehall near Grand Avenue, just north of St. Louis University, where I got my B.A. and M.A.

We Are Family

So you can see that we Godsil’s feel a kinship with all of God’s children. I have a feeling that we have been part of the struggle of minority peoples wherever we live, eye on the prize of full citizenship rights, the most expansive envisined for the times. Not only because that’s the right thing to do, buty also because, in the last analysis, we are all family! The human race in one! And we must too become one with every living creature in the Earth Community, gratefully taking in, gracefully giving forth, life’s material and spiritual energies. Why not?

Last edited by Godsil. Based on work by godsil, James Godsil and Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on September 11, 2021

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