FRI AM News: Bronzeville initiative aims to keep creative talent in Milwaukee; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Sheri Johnson, UW Population Health Institute

— An adjunct professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design is spearheading an effort to restore properties in the city’s Bronzeville District for use by creative professionals. 

“We’re rehabbing properties that were foreclosed for years and years, we’re trying to fight blight and gentrification through homeownership for creatives,” said Vedale Hill, the developer and project director of HomeWorks: Bronzeville. 

A successful artist born and raised in Milwaukee, Hill is also the co-founder of Jazale’s Art Studio, where he works with youth in Bronzeville and surrounding neighborhoods. He spoke yesterday during the virtual Creative Economy Summit, an effort of UW-Extension and Creative Wisconsin, which advocates for the state’s creative industries. 

He discussed some of the challenges associated with getting more young artists into the field, and how the HomeWorks project aims to address economic challenges these workers face. 

“The concept is that your overhead as an artist and as a business and your personal are all bundled into one lifestyle,” he explained. “We create the physical structure that embodies that. So your workspace — you’re not paying to go halfway across the city to go to your studio. It’s built within your house.” 

The project was launched in 2016 as a cultural development initiative aimed at fostering business investment and homeownership in the area. 

Hill said the effort is meant to keep more creative talent in Milwaukee, and praised the educational infrastructure available through the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee Area Technical College and UW-Milwaukee. 

But while these institutions are helping creatives gain skills needed to make it as professional artists, he added “where we’re lacking is the economic ecosystem” to support these workers. He noted most are unable to support themselves through art alone, and said he struggles with how to balance providing realistic expectations with encouragement for young people considering art as a profession. 

To improve their outlook, he called for greater recognition of the value of his profession among financial institutions. Hill noted he still runs into hurdles securing loans with banks questioning the stability of his income, despite having a successful career in the arts. 

“No disrespect to any career or any job. If I were a full-time worker at McDonalds, I’d have a much better chance of getting a mortgage than an artist that brings in quadruple that, and can show contracts,” he said. “It’s just not recognized and respected.” 

See more details on the Bronzeville project here: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Sheri Johnson, director of the UW Population Health Institute. 

She shares her perspective on the latest Wisconsin Population Health and Equity Report Card, which detailed disparities in mortality and provided a number of policy suggestions. It shows that state residents with lower education levels, as well as certain ethnic and racial groups, tend to have higher mortality rates. 

Johnson explained the report card is based on a model developed by the institute’s MATCH group, which stands for Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health. 

“That model really demonstrates that community conditions are shaped by social and institutional power, and that policies and systems and environments are key to driving how long and how well people live,” she said. 

The report’s recommendations include providing more funding for community health centers, supporting access to affordable housing, expanding eligibility for BadgerCare Plus, and many more. 

“It’s a real call to action, to say ‘what could we be doing differently to enact policies and systems that create the types of conditions that would lead to better educational outcomes, and outcomes that then lead to better health,” she said. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

See the report: 

— The Joint Finance Committee is holding off approving the Evers administration’s plan to address the opioid epidemic until the Department of Health Services has a better idea on just how much Wisconsin will receive from a settlement.

The national settlement that includes several opioid distributors as well as Johnson & Johnson has been expected to result in more than $400 million coming into Wisconsin. But the parties are still waiting to find out just how much they will receive from the deal.

The committee co-chairs wrote in a letter yesterday they want DHS to submit an amended proposal once the agency knows both the precise amount Wisconsin will receive and the timing of the payments. Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, want the revised proposal to include specific allocations for the agency’s efforts.

Under state law, the agency had to submit to the committee a plan for using the money by April 1.

The DHS plan includes: investing in a statewide system to monitor overdoses to help coordinate a local response; preventative measures such as curriculum and preventive programs at the K-12 level; increasing the availability of Narcan, which counteracts an opioid overdose; and boosting treatment.

The payments from distributors are expected to last 18 years under the settlement, while those from Johnson & Johnson will last nine.

Under the deal, 30 percent of the payments will go to DHS, while the rest goes to the Wisconsin communities that were part of the lawsuit.

See the letter:

Read the DHS plan:

— The latest air quality report from the American Lung Association ranks Milwaukee 26th among major metro areas for ozone pollution — a slight improvement over last year’s report. 

In the previous “State of the Air” report from 2021, Wisconsin’s largest city was ranked 24th most polluted by ozone among the U.S. metropolitan areas included in the report. This year’s report, covering 2018-2020, shows Milwaukee had fewer “unhealthy days” of high ozone during that period. 

While the ranking reflects an improvement in ozone levels, American Lung Association Advocacy Director Molly Collins says the levels of both ozone and particle pollution in Milwaukee pose a threat to the health of residents, particularly children, older adults, pregnant people and those with chronic disease. 

“Both ozone and particle pollution can cause premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm,” she said in a release. “Particle pollution can also cause lung cancer. Fortunately, the area did see an improvement in the levels of short-term particle pollution.”

While levels of short-term particle pollution declined, the report found higher levels of year-round particle pollution compared to the previous report. For 2022, the city was ranked 56th most polluted for year-round particle levels. Milwaukee was ranked 74th for this metric last year, the release shows. 

See the full report here: 

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— The state Department of Justice has announced Kewaunee County farmer Johannes Wakker will pay a $225,000 penalty for alleged violations of Wisconsin’s manure management laws. 

According to the DOJ release, Wakker violated several elements of a wastewater discharge permit for a concentrated animal feeding operation between November 2017 and April 2020. 

Violations include: manure running off the application site into nearby bodies of water; manure being spread within 25 feet of conduits to waterways; and Wakker failing to submit reports to state officials detailing instances of manure discharge into local waters. 

The release also shows Wakker didn’t submit a nutrient management plan to the Department of Natural Resources identifying “environmentally sensitive areas” in farm fields. 

“Mismanagement of manure can lead to water contamination and endanger public health,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in the release. “To protect safe and clean water, Wisconsin’s manure management laws must be followed.”

See the release: 

— USDA Rural Development State Director Julie Lassa spotlighted a solar energy project during a recent visit to ABS Global’s facility in Columbia County. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided a $250,000 grant for the project through its Rural Energy for America program, according to a release. The company, which provides genetic and reproduction management services for the agriculture industry, says it’s saving $61,000 per year on energy costs due to the solar array. 

Lassa’s visit to the Dekorra site was part of the Biden administration’s Rural Infrastructure Tour, which highlights federally funded projects in rural parts of the country. In a statement, she said the agency aims to make funding opportunities for these areas more equitable by investing in “climate-smart” infrastructure. 

“Projects like the one we’re highlighting in Dekorra today are a great testament to these priorities and the positive impacts they have on our state’s rural communities,” she said. 

See the release: 


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– Wisconsin Dairy Showcase to return to spring holstein show

– State milk production up slightly in March, down nationally


– See inside $22M conversion of Phillis Wheatley school into apartments with a lengthy waiting list: Slideshow

– Groups put $12M toward sustainable features for Sonnentag project


– Dane County teens hold sexual violence awareness workshop for educators


– NRCS announces second EQIP sign-up for 2022 funding

– Say it ain’t snow: Here’s why we see April flurries in Wisconsin

– How Wisconsin restaurants are adjusting daily operations to help tackle plastic pollution


– Locally made beer but with recipes from Ukraine


– Aurora Medical Group buys former Master Z’s site for new Waukesha clinic

– Aurora planning new clinic in Waukesha near Shoppes at Fox River

– Appleton’s community COVID-19 testing clinic to close Friday


– Johnson Controls plans 200 jobs in proposed Glendale office building


– Habitat planning 18-lot subdivision in central Waukesha

– Johnson Controls would occupy office building planned by Weas Development in Glendale


– Appleton revokes alcohol license for Core’s Lounge after violations


– Former Epic and BrightCellars employee builds sustainable toilet paper brand in Milwaukee

– Kohl’s current leadership secures backing of at least one institutional shareholder


– Startup community leaders organize Milwaukee event to connect national VCs with founders of color


– Saturday event in Somers offers information on electric vehicles, ownership and an array of models


– Iowa regulators dismiss petition to halt work on Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line


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