“If I could write a book”

Calvin Young saunters down the steps of a porch near 37th and Roberts in Washington Park. The 55-year-old, distinguished by his fully grey, mid-length beard and two-tone skin color, walks into the empty, sunlit street to ask for a dollar or two.

“I’m trying to change my life around. [The] only thing, right now, is I’m just an alcoholic — that’s it, that’s all,” says Young, who admits he was once addicted to crack cocaine, as well.

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“Let me tell you about these streets of Wisconsin”

George Reeves stands on a sunny street in Cold Spring Park, a small Milwaukee neighborhood tucked away on the south side of Vliet Street. The eight-block oasis of old homes is a breath of fresh air for Reeves, who grew up on the west side of Chicago.

“16th and Homan, call it Holy City” he says. “Man, it’s a rough neighborhood, man. I grew up in the 90s out there, man. You know, it ain’t nothin’ but a drug trafficking thing in Illinois.”

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“I don’t have a whole lot of money”

Preston Jones smokes a cigarette outside the Milwaukee Rescue Mission on W. Wells Street in the Marquette neighborhood. Expelling the smoke seems like a sacred ritual for Jones — he opens his mouth in a long “o” shape, exposing his slender, yellow-stained teeth, before breathing out.

Jones was “born and raised right here in Milwaukee” and, for the most part, hasn’t left. “I done been to Chicago before, I done been to Holly Springs, Mississippi, before — only one time to each one of them,” he says, though you wouldn’t know from hearing him talk — his voice is loud with a hint of southern drawl.

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“These are workin’ hands”

Steven Davis stops to ask for a dollar near the corner of Capitol and Teutonia. He just got a job at Burger King, he says, but, today, he doesn’t have enough for the bus. “Just about three hours ago they called me on my phone,” says Davis. “At least I’m tryin’.”

Davis sports a worn black leather jacket and a Green Bay Packers cap, despite the fact that his family is from Minnesota – he’s been in Milwaukee for about a year-and-a-half. “Oh, it’s beautiful; it’s different,” he says of his home state. Davis gestures to the corner where some young men are milling about. “They don’t play that in Minnesota. You go to school and you work and they don’t hang no dudes like this on the corner – you’ll never see that. Na, they do not play that.”

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