“People are people”

James Harris came to Milwaukee around 2002 because his mother was struggling with cancer. “She’d gotten sick so I came to help her out and I wound up staying,” he said.

Harris grew up on the south side of Chicago but, when his mother’s health declined, it was more important to him to be here with her.  “She liked it, found a job, brought my little sister up here, everything was good,” he explains. Then, in 2004, Harris’ mother died.

What does Harris think of Milwaukee, these days? “It’s violent, man – there’s a little too much drama for me.”

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“My friends mean a lot to me”

Steven Feih grew up in Brewer’s Hill and Bay View in a small family – it was just his mom, his dad and himself. “Being an only kid, you know, your dog’s your best friend, your imagination’s your second-best friend.”

Though Feih isn’t what you would call a loner he has a complicated relationship with people, stemming from 20 years working as a bartender. “You see it all – you know what people are going to say before they say it,” he said.

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“There’s more work here”

Yolanda Mora lives in Milwaukee with her two daughters but that wasn’t always the case – she grew up in Michoacán, Mexico.

What’s her favorite thing about her home country? “Oh, it’s beautiful…I like the people, there’s a lot of water, a lot of trees.”

Mora says that the people in both Michoacán and Milwaukee are the same but there are more jobs here. “It’s hard, right…in Mexico, the people have no money and, here, there’s a little more money,” she said.

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“Reading Rainbow was my show”

If you run into David Barnett, don’t be surprised if he stops to give you some change or listen to your latest struggle. Barnett believes, sometimes, for the universe to lend you a hand, you have to extend your hand first. “Oh, yes, I believe in karma,” he said. “I have to because that’s the only reason I’m here.”

Barnett, who grew up in the inner city around 35th and Capitol, 20th and Burleigh and a couple other spots, says he’s fortunate not to have fallen prey to the pressures that often affect young people in that kind of environment. “For [those places], it’s all about a show of strength and belonging to something,” he said. “For my neighborhood, felonies, prison time – that’s normal.”

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“Milwaukee will always be home”

Pang Lor’s parents, who are of Hmong descent, came to Milwaukee from Philadelphia after her second-oldest brother was born; she arrived shortly after. “[My parents] came [to America] during the Vietnam War so when they came here they were still relatively young,” said Lor.

Lor said she barely remembers living on the south side of Milwaukee but she does remember the Lapham Park Projects (near 6th & Brown), where they moved when she was about four years old. “It was kind of a rough neighborhood.”

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“My life’s been kind of a wild ride”

Eric Adamany knows that life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect. Adamany, who was born in Milwaukee, spent much of his childhood in Prairie du Chien after his parents decided to move.

He has fond memories of the small city in southwestern Wisconsin where he lifeguarded, trained horses and wrestled in high school, among other jobs and riding bikes with his three younger brothers. “We lived active lives, at least. We made our own fun.”

But, eventually, the small-town feel got to Adamany and he moved back to the city. At the time, he felt like he needed to be around more people but wasn’t sure exactly what he was after.

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