Despite growing up in a strict and narrow religious tradition, Brian Anders has pursued experiences to broaden his perspective and, in doing so, has learned to rely on himself.
Shauratina Velez waits at the corner of 12th and Atkinson with her four-year-old daughter for the Route 19 bus. Velez, 22, was 17 and a junior at North Division High School when her daughter was born, and it’s been a tough road ever since. “I don’t have any help, I don’t have nobody to show me the way — you know what I’m sayin’? I don’t have nobody to teach me … I had to learn [more from sources other than] my family to know how to make a resume, how to talk to people. I’m still learnin’ to this day — I’m teachin’ myself.”
Jonathan Groves walks down West Locust Street, toward 19th, carrying a big, black garbage bag filled to the brim with clothes. Groves, who was born in Milwaukee, wears two large sweatshirts, one on top of the other, both draped over his slight frame. Hephatha Lutheran Church looms behind him. “I grew up on the north side of Milwaukee; King Drive, 7th and King Drive,” he says. “I had some good parents and went to school — didn’t graduate. Church, you know, um. Then, as I got older, drugs, alcohol. But thank god I ain’t on that no more.”
Michelle Legener stops to ask for a buck near a bus stop at the corner of 22nd and Greenfield. Legener, who grew up near 29th and National, just left the nearby Victory Outreach Christian Recovery Home, a rehabilitation center that takes in drug addicts, about an hour before. “[There are] a lot of good people in this city,” she says, but adds, “a lot of bad stuff happens.”
Barbara Gerow meanders past the wading pool at Humboldt Park coaxing her dog, Pokey, to keep up. Gerow, who is 75 and has been in her house – originally her great-grandfather’s – on Burrell Street for 51 years, supports herself with a walker as she talks. “The whole area, especially where my grandmother and grandfather’s house was, was Orchard Park. And I don’t know when it got changed to Bay View but it was interesting, you know?”
Robert Kebschull works on the yard of the house where he grew up in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. The 63-year-old Kebschull said he decided to re-do the home he’s lived in off-and-on for 40 years after his parents passed away around 2007. “I’ve been working on it, doing a lot of stuff inside, outside… we’ll see what happens when I retire – whether I stay here or whether I move on.”
If you ask Eric Berry where he grew up, he’ll tell you “everywhere.” Berry has lived in neighborhoods all over Milwaukee from 95th and Beckett to 3rd and Burleigh and 3rd and North. As a result of moving around – and some other factors – Berry attended a number of different schools, as well, including Northwest Secondary School and Bay View and Custer high schools. “I just didn’t like the schools I was going to because I was always getting into trouble…not, like, big trouble but I always stayed in trouble.” But cooking has always been a constant for Berry. And after graduating in 2013, he enrolled in culinary school. “I’ve been in the kitchen since I was 9 years old,” he said. “I just like playing with food.”