My favorite weekend in September is the annual Doors Open Milwaukee weekend where over one hundred museums, churches, businesses and other buildings throughout the city open their doors to the public. Each year I look over the list of buildings and usually choose about 5 different attractions to visits and from there I make my route. This year the goal was to visit The Juice Kitchen, Feeding America, the Northpoint Water Tower, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, and Bayview Printing Co. What I didn’t know before I headed out, was that the true theme of this year’s adventure would be the healing power of food.
I woke up pretty early on Saturday morning and headed straight to The Juice Kitchen, which was one of the business on the list that I hadn’t yet heard of. I read their profile and visited their website to learn a little bit about their story, and of course, check out their menu. The Juice Kitchen was started as a way for the owners to help heal their son’s illness by eating fresh fruits and vegetables and they opened up their business to bring health to the community. As I glanced over the website, I saw that they make all of their juices and smoothies fresh in-house every day and they also deliver and have meal plans for those looking to better their health. Needless to say, I knew where I was going to get breakfast.
Now, for someone who is not familiar with Milwaukee, The Juice Kitchen is located on 16th and North Ave. which is not really a neighborhood that you would normally think of heading to for an organic, and local produced smoothie for breakfast; which is exactly why I went. One thing that I appreciate about Doors Open is that they put a focus on all the neighborhoods throughout the city, and with a city like Milwaukee that is one of the most segregated cities in the entire country, it is good that it forces people to get out of their comfort zone.
Next up, just about two blocks south, was the Eastern Wisconsin chapter of Feeding America. I was greeted with a friendly smile and was taken on a tour of the facility to see where they store, sort, and distribute food to places that serve over 400,000 people in just Wisconsin alone. The building itself was holding around 1.5 million pounds of food which is enough for about one month. When I heard the statistics I was pretty surprised to find that there are so many people who face hunger, and all who come from every background. Feeding America receives most of its donations from grocery stores, department store, restaurants, and other businesses in the industry but of course, food and financial donations can come from anyone. If you are interested in making a donation to help those in need, not only in Wisconsin but throughout the country, you can access their website here.
I got in my car and headed east into the city and finally reached the lakefront. Along the lakefront is the water tower that looks like a castle, which only about three months ago I was taking some of my wedding photos in front of. I knew that this was one of the only days throughout the year where they open the doors and you can see inside. When I got there I saw that it isn’t anything too impressive to see inside. It is just the water pipe with a very narrow spiral staircase that goes around it for maintenance.
Next, I headed to the south side of Milwaukee to visit the 88Nine Radio Milwaukee studio. 88Nine is a locally funded radio station that was once fully owned by the Milwaukee Public School system, from whom they rent the airwaves and still have a strong connection with. The tour of the station was informative and it was obvious that the people who work there really enjoy their jobs. They showed the different studios, conference rooms, and best of all we got to go out on their rooftop deck where they host events.
At this time it was about 1pm and my stomach was telling me that I needed lunch. I had seen on Facebook that not too far from where I currently was there was going to be an event where a group of taco trucks was going to be donating 100% of their proceeds from sales to the victims of the earthquakes in Mexico and the devastation from the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. I drove down National Ave. to the parking lot where they were set up, got to practice my Spanish, which I haven’t been using much of lately, and ate three delicious tacos that I washed down with a huge cup of horchata. Over the weekend this event raised over $33,000 that they gave to the American Red Cross to distribute accordingly.
Overall, the day began with me supporting a local business that was started because of a child’s illness whose focus is building health in their community through food. I then went off to see thousands of pounds of food that will be donated to those in not only my state but across the country. And lastly, although I was feeding myself, the money I spent would be given to help someone else. This is why I prefaced my story by stating the theme of the day was the healing power of food. These days the news is filled with bad tweets and animosity, so it was refreshing to see that there is a lot of good that is happening in my city when I unplug and look outside my own door.