“It was just the way that it was”

Amos Paul Kennedy sits in Coffee Makes You Black, 2803 N. Teutonia Ave., in Milwaukee’s North Division neighborhood. Kennedy, a printer who has a work of the same name (“Coffee Makes You Black”), is visiting the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) as part of the school’s Creativity Series. But this isn’t his first time in the city.

Kennedy’s family moved to Milwaukee — technically, Bayside — in 1995, his sons both attended Nicolet and he earned an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) from UW-Madison in 1997. For Amos, it was the beginning of a still-blossoming career in printing and a different way of living. But, it was also the beginning of the end of Kennedy’s family, as it had been. “Our values changed. I no longer needed to buy a new car every three years for a degree of satisfaction or as a status symbol,” he says. “I kind of gave up the middle class life.”

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“I always lived on the lower ends of Milwaukee”

Monica Jones walks, unassumingly, down the 3800 block of 3rd Street on her way back to the house she’s lived in since April. From the outside, the 18-year-old with bright red hair seems anything but reserved; still, at first, she avoids eye contact.

“I’m kind of going through a tough time,” she says. “I lost two people two days ago. I’ve been losing a lot of people in Milwaukee, a lot of my family and stuff. It’s just a tough time for me, right now.”

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“I felt like something had been stolen from me”

Charity Harvey unlocks her small studio at 231 E. Buffalo. She opens the door to a surprisingly spacious, pristine space. Walls hung with more-than-a-few full-length mirrors end at the finished wood floor, whose only interruption is a shiny fireman’s pole, skewering one side of the room, otherwise-empty except for a modest bookshelf and a handful of accoutrements.

A copy of The Unteathered Soul sits unassumingly on the shelf. She says the book, which focuses on “the inner journey,” has really helped her come to terms with some of the external challenges she’s had to face. “I used to not be able to talk about my mom without getting those really tight feelings in my chest and feeling like I wanted to cry … You know, even though you wouldn’t cry, [I’d] still feel that when I’d start talking about her.”

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“I try to be happy throughout the whole day”

Margaret G. sits on a curb at the corner of 60th and Silver Spring waiting for the bus.

The 52-year-old attended Cudahy High School and grew on on Milwaukee’s south side. “But I’m at a place, right now…a residential facility, right now, on this side of town – been there for a number of years, now,” she says. “It’s a psychiatric facility.”

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