In this exclusive interview, recorded in August 2017, Vaun Mayes, a community activist and co-founder of Program the Parks, talks about growing up in The South, the importance of empathy and the forces — including racism, profiteering and crime — at work in Milwaukee.
“It’s about the haves and have-nots,” says Mayes. “If you hoard something to yourself and live in a house surrounded by people who don’t have it, more than likely they’re going to get it from you.”
Mayes, who had a difficult childhood — from abuse to brushes with the law — speaks about why people must find community and learn to share again. “Though I see failure and though I see chaos, I see a reason for hope,” he adds. “I think that we have an opportunity to do something very big.”
Program the Parks works with challenged youth in Sherman Park, and across the city. The group is almost exclusively supported by small, individual donations. If you would like to contribute to these efforts, click here to donate.
Editor’s note: Mayes was recently accused by the federal government of conspiring to firebomb a Milwaukee police station in the wake of the Sherman Park unrest in late 2016, charges which many community members question. You can find our coverage of the case here.⬩
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