Skip to main content

In conjunc­tion with the FS19 Ground­work confer­ence, The Furni­ture Society part­nered with two local orga­ni­za­tions: HOME GR/OWN an initia­tive working to trans­form neigh­bor­hoods in Milwau­kee, and the Milwau­kee Art Museum (MAM) Teen Intern­ship Program, connect­ing teens with prac­tic­ing artists to address issues impor­tant to their commu­nity. During the span of the confer­ence, atten­dees used unique and surpris­ing mate­ri­als to construct benches designed by Madison, Wiscon­sin artist, Tom Loeser, for the Victory Over Violence park. Along with Heather McCalla and Heath Matysek-Snyder, local Milwau­kee artist Christo­pher Brooks helped facil­i­tate the construc­tion of the project during the confer­ence. Benches begun during the confer­ence contin­ued to be worked on by teens in the MAM program, who completed the bench build-out and devel­oped signage describ­ing the process and impact this project has on the park.

Watch CBS segment on Craft for a Greater Good benches HERE.


Tim McCol­low works in the City of MKE’s Envi­ron­men­tal Collab­o­ra­tion Office and runs the Mayor’s HOME GR/OWN initia­tive. They convert vacant lots into farms, commu­nity gardens, orchards and parks and rehab city commer­cial corri­dors. HOME GR/OWN has completed over 30 projects citywide.

Victory Over Violence Park is well known through­out Milwau­kee. For years, the site was a vacant lot, and had become one of the most danger­ous and violent areas of the central city where multi­ple shoot­ings, muggings, and assaults were reports. Almost 20 years ago, Charles Haus­mann, Linder Law LLC, and Jeanetta Robin­son, Career Youth Devel­op­ment, came together to trans­form the space into a gath­er­ing place for commu­nity members. Although much of the work was completed in the 1990’s, the space contin­ues to require care, atten­tion, and main­te­nance. This iter­a­tion of the VoV park restora­tion is focused on creat­ing engag­ing places for neigh­bors to spend time outdoors.

Our current project part­ners include the MLK Drive Busi­ness Improve­ment District, Ground­work MKE, Bader Foun­da­tion, MSOE, West­Care, Safe & Sound, Alder­woman Coggs, Walnut Way and the family of Jeanetta Robin­son, among others. The park was very over­grown and last year we did a lot of editing with Ground­work MKE’s Green Team – a link to a video about the project is here. We plan on remov­ing trees, adding better light­ing, redoing the exten­sive paths with asphalt (for hand­i­capped use), and adding new seating, among other things.” ‑Tim McCollow


The Milwau­kee Art Museum Teen Intern­ship Program addresses the issue of access to high-level arts educa­tion programs and a connec­tion to cultural insti­tu­tions by offer­ing a summer intern­ship for 18, 16 – 18 year old students in an envi­ron­ment uniquely suited to their goals. Intern­ships at MAM expand teens’ career hori­zons while empow­er­ing them to recog­nize their strengths, follow their passion, and lever­age a large cultural plat­form to engage their commu­nity and express their artis­tic voice in a meaningful way.

2019 Summer interns’ creative jour­neys will be by inspired by MAM’s feature exhi­bi­tions and a local issue they feel is impor­tant to address in their commu­nity. Under the direc­tion of Shannon Molter, teens will work with contem­po­rary artists (includ­ing Raoul Deal, James Nares, Tom Loeser, and Charles Radtke) to create public artwork; educate chil­dren; and execute public events to connect their peers and families.

IMG 6652 sq