Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Monarch migration celebration on Milwaukee County Grounds

Monarch waiting to be released to the wild (click to enlarge)
The Friends of the Monarch Trail held their annual celebration to mark the start of the monarch butterfly migration season on Sunday, August 28. The Monarch Trail is located at the north end of Innovation Park. It circles around the perimeter of the now-complete Echelon Apartment complex. A large crowd of monarch admirers gathered to bid safe travels to the butterflies as they begin their annual 2,500 mile journey to Mexico.

The tour begins
Festivities included food, face painting, live music by Ceol Cairde “Music of Friends”, and butterfly life-cycle displays. The main event was a tour guided of the trail by Friends director Barb Agnew. She explained the significance of the County Grounds as a roosting site and stopover for monarchs and described restoration efforts undertaken by the Friends.
Mke Regional Medical Center backdrop to Monarch Trail
Restoration includes many new seedlings
Trail includes interpretive signage
Director Agnew leading tour
Milwaukee skyline visible from the trail
The oak grove
Echelon Apartments backdrop the trail

Monarch caterpillars on milkweed
New plantings along the west berm section of the trail
Stiff goldenrod in full bloom

Monarch chrysalis display

To see more photos of the County Grounds go to my Flickr album.
For more information about the Friends of the Monarch Trail visit

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Moonrise illuminates the Milwaukee County Grounds

It's easy enough to look up the phases of the moon online and plan ahead to be in a place to catch it full and rising. But I'm not that organized. I was on my way home from somewhere this week when I turned onto Discovery Parkway in the County Grounds and saw it. As further good luck would have it (and I swear that's all it was) I had my camera in the car.

The question was where to stop, what to have in the foreground. While most anything would do if all I wanted was to capture the moon itself, I thought it would be symbolic to identify the location. Hence the watertower. The best place to be to get the watertower to line up with the moon was on the construction site where a new hotel is being built for Innovation Park. Hence the crane.

If I moved a dozen yards or so south I got this view of the moon through the Medical Center power plant stacks. If you know that I live within walking distance of the County Grounds it will come as no surprise when I say that I walk there often. These are not the usual kinds of images I try to use to represent what I consider a jewel in the Milwaukee County urban wilderness. But there you have it.

You can see more typical representations of the County Gounds on my Flickr album.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rally on the Milwaukee River protests oil trains

Billed as "Converge at the Confluence," protesters did converge on Sunday at the point where the Menomonee River meets the Milwaukee. Not coincidentally, that is also a place where one of many railroad bridges crosses the river. Among the trains that use the bridge are those carrying crude oil, dubbed "bomb trains" by the protesters because there have been a number of lethal derailments and explosions in the U.S. and Canada.

The protest was organized by Citizens Acting for Rail Safety - Milwaukee.

The event included a parade along the Milwaukee Riverwalk, along with paddlers in canoes and kayaks. Here are a selection of photographs of the action:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Milwaukee Water Commons holds annual We Are Water celebration at lakefront

There was music, poetry, puppetry, art and invocations of the spirit on Bradford Beach last Sunday evening. It was the third in what has become an annual event called "We Are Water" organized by the Milwaukee Water Commons. Billed as a "celebration of Milwaukee's waters," the event has become a mini-arts festival as well as a meditation on the importance of water to Milwaukee and all life on earth.

Jahmes Finlayson and Dena Aronson got things going with some lively drumming... well as a ritual libation: reflections on water and life while pouring Lake Michigan water onto the sand.

True Skool entertained the crowd with a rap about water.

Three young artists with Still Waters Collective gave an impassioned spoken word performance.

Off to the side of the beach members of Exfabula set up a roving interview station and recorded water stories told to them by volunteers from the audience.

Margaret Noodin, faculty member at UWM, gave everyone a lesson in Ojibwe... member of the Overpass Light Brigade, with help from the audience, spelled out Ojibwe words for water and water-related terms.

Puppeteers got into the act with LED-illuminated figures of a heron and several accurately depicted species of fish native to Wisconsin waters.

The event culminated in an audience-participation creation of a peace sign with lighted cups of water, directed by artist-in-residence Melanie Ariens.

This is the short version of the story. To see many more photos of the event go to my Flickr album.