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5 Things To Do This January 2020 In Milwaukee

Dylan Buell
Getty Images
Milwaukee's Juneteenth Day parade passes by a painting of Martin Luther King Jr. during the 48th Annual Juneteenth Day Festival on June 19, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wis.

January's events are about getting to know your neighbors, diversifying your worldview, and celebrating icons of civil rights. Sorting through the lists of community events can be overwhelming, which is why we turn to Adam Carr.

Carr is the deputy editor for community engagement at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. The news organization covers the central city, which includes a diverse group of neighborhoods on the near north, west, and south sides of Milwaukee. Here are Carr's highlights of a few events taking place this November:

1. Frank Talks
Jan. 7

The topic of the first installment in 2020's Frank Talks series is "OK Boomer/Snowflake: Beyond the Generational Divide." The series is put on by the Zeidler Center, which presents community conversations around challenging issues of the day.

“This event takes on a playful attitude, but what the Zeidler Center is really good at doing is having difficult conversations — having conversations that might be debates or contentious when we have them in our digital spaces,” says Carr. “You both get a chance to tell your story but you also get to listen more than you talk, which I think is a really important thing to do.”

2. Diverse Dining: The Pursuit of Happiness at Damascus Gate
Jan. 14

Diverse Dining brings people together around global cuisine and culture. The events are designed to encourage guests to engage in authentic conversations, support local establishments and share their story. This event will be held at Damascus Gate, an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant managed and operated by a group of Syrian immigrants.

3. Story of a Neighborhood: Design Box
Jan. 17 

This visual exploration of Milwaukee's Near West Side focuses on seven unique neighborhoods with archival images from the 1920s to the present. From the Ambassador Hotel to Tower Theater, the exhibition examines these historic landmarks to show the rise, decline and revival of the area.

“Personally, when you see these architectural drawings, they’re almost more interesting than seeing the actual building,” says Carr. “They’ve unearthed all these different pieces of the past to tell a different kind of story, both a visual one but the plans, blueprints, and all these things for those seven neighborhoods on the Near West Side.”

4. MLK Day Celebrations
Jan. 19-20

“Since 1984, Atlanta, Ga., and Milwaukee are the only two cities in the country to continuously celebrate Dr. King’s birthday,” says Carr. He notes that there are many wonderful events around town, but two stand out:

Marcus Center presents its annual celebration on Jan. 19, which highlights Milwaukee youth who interpret Martin Luther King Jr.’s message through speech, art, music and writing contests. The theme for this year is "Your Life Has Significance."

The Martin Luther King Library branch's celebration is on Jan. 20. It focuses on DIY arts and crafts projects in the morning, and later presents performances by the Golda Meir School, Ex-Fabula, Signature Dance and more.

5. Artists Now! Guest Lecture Series: Portia Cobb
Jan. 29

This event features Portia Cobb, an interdisciplinary artist who tells stories reflecting the double-consciousness of African American history. Her work and research merge these themes through videos, photographic essays, recordings, performance and more. She's also an associate professor at UWM's Peck School of the Arts. 

“She’s a phenomenal person who does really interesting work,” Carr says. “She’s known in Milwaukee in different ways. It’ll be great to see what she does as a person, as an artist, as a filmmaker.”

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.