By Michael Pettit
Riverwest, Milwaukee, WI --Summer may be winding down, but before the “unofficial” end of the season, we have at least one more celebration. The All-City People’s Parade and Pageant will be held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 6, beginning at 10:00 a.m. at Zeidler Park on Fourth Street and Michigan Avenue, wending its way through Milwaukee's beautiful downtown.
I am returning as the lead artist for this event, now in its second year. Our purpose is to foster a greater sense of community among residents of the city’s diverse neighborhoods and cultures by artistically reflecting our collective voice, shared challenges, and hopes. The planning for this year's parade began last spring with public brainstorming sessions; we surveyed over 300 participants at 8 locations. The artist group assembled and reviewed the responses, and a parade theme emerged through the images and ideas most strongly resonating in the initial meetings.
The theme for this year's parade is "Waking Up!". It represents the need for universal realization of the breaking point we face with human relations and the environment.
This summer, as we worked to design and organize the parade, I have become more involved in the ongoing movement toward meaningful change taking place in Riverwest and surrounding neighborhoods. Volunteering with Victory Garden Blitz Day, Power Down Week, Energy Independence Day, and the Riverwest 24-Hour Bike Race have inspired me. These experiences impressed me with the fact that direct community action toward sustainable change in our culture and lifestyle is happening through Transition Milwaukee.
To this end, I dedicate my section of the parade to Transition Milwaukee and its sponsored events. All are invited to help make the vision of this event a reality. This is an opportunity for participants in all of this summer’s Transition Milwaukee events to celebrate our accomplishments and bring them to the city at large. My “moment” in the parade is titled “The New Energy CYCLE”. To tie into “Waking Up!”, this section will also reflect the need to change our energy use habits by turning to renewable sources of fuel for electricity and transportation. The technology applied in building bike trailers and bike-powered electric generators for the parade was first demonstrated as part of Power Down Week and Energy Independence Day events held in Riverwest.
I dedicate these events to Transition Milwaukee because its members are examples of communities waking up to a new reality in which Milwaukee is moving toward a growing sense of interdependence. People are waking up to the fact that when we break from the addictive trance of convenience and mainstream consumerism and learn to depend on each other instead of things, we begin to make life better, not only for ourselves, but for the whole planet.
Waking up the spirit of creativity in the way we view everyday elements of machines and technology is necessary to withstand our transition from sleep to awareness.
The unique tall bikes and art bikes featured in this section remind us that everyday objects can be fun and functional when constructed in new ways. Some of these creations were built for and ridden by participants in the Riverwest 24-Hour Bike Race.
To make this happen we need all those willing and able to:
The All-City Parade is held in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Labor Day Parade. Participants will march the parade route to Meier Festival Park where the pageant--a narrated description of the parade’s significance--will be held as part of Labor Fest before an audience, including members of local labor unions.
We are currently hosting a series of free public workshops to build elements for the parade and gather participation. Please join us!
Contact me if you can attend a session: final workshops will be held at the Parade Space, 2210 W. Clybourn Avenue, August 28 from 2:00-10:00 p.m. Walk-ins, families, and children are welcome, though an adult MUST accompany every two children under ten years old. Groups of 10 or more must sign up in advance.
To register large groups contact Barbara Leigh of the Milwaukee Public Theatre at (414) 347-1685 or email, Milwaukee Public Theatre.
To help with my section of the parade contact me directly at (414) 526-1109 or email, Michael Pettit.
We hope everyone will gather to honor and celebrate the events that have made summer so great and continue to make Milwaukee a better place!
Story Update: Victory Garden Initiative and Transition Milwaukee are bujlding a float for the second annual All-City People's Parade and Pageant. Contact Gretchen Mead for details.
Edited by Ann Wegner LeFort, Virginia Cassel