In 1974 I wrote a grant proposal for a “Milwaukee People’s History Project” that won the attention of Alex Mc Neil George of Milwaukee’s Social Development Commission. It was deemed too “fluffy” back then, but I have never lost interest in the concept. With the rise of so many excellent performance artists in Milwaukee and the great potential for heritage and cultural tourism to bring money to the old city, I’m hoping to find this concept become real sometime over the next few years.

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Here’s a letter I sent out last February to one of my Community clients.

I am working with some very interesting academics and old city activists on a Milwaukee People’s History Project aiming to bring some money into the old neighborhoods. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on the letters below I sent out to a possible tour guide, followed by one to an art teacher of at-risk kids.

I hope to foster the emergence of a thriving tourist industry based upon historic and cultural tours of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

I hope to help knit together a network of on-call tour guides who would be available from time to time to lead tours based on their specific knowledge base and passion.

The tour guides would charge from $15 to $25 per hour, depending upon how things unfold.

A web page would be developed that listed the tour guides, their range of tour interests, their availability on a particular week or month, their rates for different kinds of tours, and so forth.

Marketing efforts would aim at elders, educators, social and public interest groups, and corporate recruitment officers in Milwaukee, as well as Ann Arbor(for when the ferry comes), Chicago, Madison, Chicago, and the Fox River Valley.

Ideally the Milwaukee Heritage and Culture Tour project would be supported by the efforts of the Milwaukee Intern Project. The Intern Project aims to recruit students and teachers to team up with public and private Milwaukee enterprises to offer students hand-on experience as “social enterpreneurs.” We hope to cultivate marketable skills and social network development affording students career prospects in Milwaukee.

I have found a large number of “movers and shakers” in Milwaukee receptive to these concepts. My most inspiring allies at this point are Bill Holahan, Chair of UWM’s Economics Department, and Rob Yeo, Chair of the UWM Film Department.

Then this to the teacher…

I dream of connecting with teachers who would lead students in historical study of sacred neighborhood sites. The history would be translated into culture products for sale to the tourists.
This could include cards, posters, comic books, sculptures, books, poems, and even plays, video documentaries, and songs.

I hope to connect with student interns from area colleges who would help the teachers, students,and tour guides make this happen. I also hope to attract volunteers like those offered by Young Professionals of Milwaukee, 100 Black Men, and so forth. I am working with Bill Holahan, Chair of UWM’s economics department and Rob Yeo, Chair of UWM’s film department, around the intern theme. If this concept could be actualized, what a wonderful documentary on hope and innovation it would afford!

I would very much enjoy an e-mail correspondance with you and any of your friends and associates who you think might wish to participate.

Clear sailing,

Godsil

Last edited by g. Based on work by Godsil and anonymous users of Milwaukee Renaissance.  Page last modified on March 30, 2005

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