Communities Uprising from Traces of Broken Spirits

Beer, cheese and the Green Bay Packers are the first things that come to mind when Milwaukee is mentioned. As a native, I know that there is more to the city than that. I have sought and found many of the little known pockets of Milwaukee that are full of a fascinating history that goes beyond refreshing micro-brews, delectable dairy products and that once highly admired NFL hero who can’t seem to pick a team or retire soon enough. It’s always a good time to explore hidden cultural jewels. So, let’s take a virtual walk down Milwaukee’s cultural past.

Just a few blocks north of downtown Milwaukee is a neighborhood called Bronzeville: once forsaken, but never forgotten. This was where African Americans migrated from the South from the early 1900s […]

By |October 23rd, 2014|Blog

Exploring the Fertile Berkshires

Photo: Adrian Franks at

As a kid, I occasionally binged on Super Mario Brothers and played pastry chef with an Easy Baked Oven, but rolling in the grass was always the main stage. I grew up steps from a flowing river park dotted with pecan trees. Under those enormous branches, plenty of tails were pinned on donkeys and many meals sowed and reaped.

The lush park of my youth was once lined with shotgun houses, and home to a tight knit community that lived off the land and cherished family. On a recent trip to the Berkshires, an collection of 32 hamlets in western Massachusetts, I contemplated my relationship with nature and solidified my commitment to annual tree hugging trips. Of course, Great Barrington’s mid-20th century Briarcliff Motel […]

By |October 21st, 2014|Blog

Topiary Gardens by a Man Named Pearl

Bishopville, South Carolina is home to less than 3,500 people, yet last year it was host to more than 15,000 visitors. They traveled to this small, impoverished town to wander the gardens of a man named Pearl. There, on a former cornfield that was cleared in 1981, you will find the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden.

I do not recall exactly when I first saw the 2009 PBS documentary A Man Named Pearl. But I will never forget the image of an older, tall, sinewy, physically fit black man on a high ladder with a saw creating art after dark among the trees. There are many things I can perceive in abstraction, like story ideas or multiplication tables. But my mind cannot manipulate space in the way his hands shape and […]

By |October 14th, 2014|Blog

A Musical Taste Test: 7th Annual Roots Picnic

It was one of the first days when the horrid Philadelphia winter gave way to the anticipated summer. The breeze from the Penn’s Landing waterfront brought the perfect wind relief to the blazing sun. Sunglasses, print caps, shorts and skirts adorned onlookers as the legendary Roots crew put together its seventh annual picnic.

As a first-time attendee, I was happy to find that the Roots Picnic wasn’t just the land of the current hip-hop lords. It was a mixture of old and new, noted and upcoming, hip-hip, soul and alternative. Bit by bit, throughout the afternoon, I saw a handful of attendees turn into a sea of thousands shuffling between the two stages every half hour.

The acts were as diverse as the audience. What I respected most about the festival […]

By |October 10th, 2014|Blog

Atlanta Hosts the Neighborhood Awards Show

While living in New Orleans, I would take Amtrak to Atlanta several times a year to experience the food, events and famous tourist attractions. I was smitten by the skyline that seems to illuminate the entire evening sky. During the day, I’d tour the historic neighborhoods to see Southern architecture and lush trees. I’d also make a much-needed jaunt to the suburbs for shopping and fine dining before heading home.

Atlanta, the seventh most-visited city in the United States, has a range of amenities and attractions that reel in over 35 million tourists annually. This includes some 4,000 restaurants to choose from — all guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest eater. Also, the city offers generous savings to certain attractions, including the Georgia Aquarium (the world’s largest indoor aquarium), the […]

By |October 3rd, 2014|Blog