Keon Hamler, who overcame a challenging childhood, is still searching for his place in the world.
Raised by entrepreneurial parents who pushed her to follow in their footsteps, Lori Hill has forged a path of her own.
Violet Young walks briskly down North Richards Street dressed almost entirely in purple, a plastic bag in each hand. Exuberant and cheerful, even the below-freezing temperatures can’t dampen her spirits. “You should see what it looks like in summer,” she says, gesturing to a nearby corner park with fruit trees and a small shelter. “It’s beautiful.”
Amy Tim stands in front of a stoop in Harambee with a couple of her kids nearby. Tim, who grew up on Milwaukee’s northwest side, has been in-between two worlds for as long as she can remember. “I struggled … growin’ up because my mother was African-American and I’m bi-racial,” she says. “Bein’ a bi-racial child, it was hard for me.” Amy calls it “difficult” and “complicated” growing up in Black neighborhoods with her mother. “I’ve never been accepted by either black or white people,” she says. For a long time, Tim let that get to her. Eventually, though, she decided she had to do something to make the situation better. “I just had to endure the pain myself,” says Amy. “I just had to be like, ‘Okay, I gotta live with it.’ I can’t change it.” “You have to accept who you are to … grow and become the person you want to [be],” she says.“You can’t worry about what other people think.” Community-focused. Community-funded. Become a member today. While she was still in …
Vanessa Plant sits on a yellow, vintage sofa in the living room of her first-floor Riverwest apartment. Plant, whose multi-colored hair and bright, flowered chest tattoo give a bold first impression, has lived around the world but eventually came back to her childhood neighborhood to put down roots. “I was born on Pierce Street, in a home,” she says. “Homeschool and church, those were my things. I mean, I was 6 so I don’t remember a ton — mostly just from old home videos.”
Joseph Fornicola stands outside his home, shirtless, smoking a cigarette near the corner of South 9th Place and West Dakota Street on Milwaukee’s south side. Fornicola has a tough look about him, a feeling aided by the many tattoos that adorn his upper body. Then again, he’s spent his whole life on the South Side, most of it around gangs and drugs. “It became a part of my daily life,” says Fornicola of the gang life. “Till I grew up and realized that’s childish. Had to [outgrow] it, but, for a while, you know, growin’ up, you’re impressionable.”
Marcell Turner walks briskly down a stretch of 37th Street, just north of Vliet in Washington Park. Turner, who sports a University of Wisconsin jacket and backwards hat, has roots in the neighborhood. “Look at our streets — it’s dirty, raggedy, trashy — look how people are treated,” he says. “I just want peace in the world. I want everybody to feel free in the world; I don’t want nobody to feel like they gotta be controlled by someone.”