Stop. Just stop it. Especially you, Millennials. Stop calling Milwaukee “up-and-coming” just because you live here and want to brag to the Interwebz. Stop writing terribly-addictive articles that will be all over your Facebook and the Buzzfeed. It’s lovely, and it can be well-written, but it’s wrong…or at least not right.
Milwaukee is alive, it’s flawed, and it’s dying while it’s rising. Formally blighted areas are turning around, whether through gentrification or “youthification” or from residents just finally giving a damn. But to call it “up-and-coming” is a disservice, implying:
1) it was and has been until recently in the dumps
2) that it’s not good enough quite yet
Both are wrong. Milwaukee is part of the Rust Belt, and there’s no denying manufacturing job loss. But many cities suffered in a similar fashion for years as well. The difference? Milwaukee has always been too small to die a spectacular death and too big to ignore. Sorry most Ohio cities, but Milwaukee is doing well.
This is what came up from Google when I typed “why Milwaukee”:
Two of the first three suggestions prove people are trying to justify their existence here, while the third shows a perfect example of something we should be more focused on. Who cares if Milwaukee is “awesome”? If you have to prove to your old roommate who went to medical school at UC or your lawyer brother stuck in the Sears Tower that you’re just as happy living 90 minutes north, then you’re doing it wrong.
And that’s my biggest concern with my generation and the news media that loves to report on us: we try so badly to let everyone around us know how great we have it in this city and how their city is worse, that we don’t spend the time actually enjoying what Milwaukee has to offer us. How many of these fantastic dining options have you tried? How many of the free things in this city have you taken advantage of? Have you met our local superhero?
This isn’t an article for anyone from elsewhere. I don’t care if you give a second thought to Smallwaukee. This is a call to those of you lucky enough to be living here to stop with the insecurities and start exploring everything this wonderful little town has to offer you. Spend the time, wander around, get drunk. Milwaukee is not “up-and-coming”; it’s here and has been and will be. Enjoy it.