The GWM Green Team is a service-learning program that engages 14 to 17 year olds living in GWM's target communities. The program's dual goals are to prepare youth for a lifetime of environmental leadership and to develop community capacity to improve the physical environment. Green Team members are immersed in GWM's practical projects and act as GWM employees, neighborhood stewards, and mentors to elementary-aged youth in their neighborhood.
We expanded to 3 crews. One crew worked with our Young Farmers program. The group designed and incorporated a CSA model with residents. They tended to their garden and learned entrepreneurship skills such as inventory tracking and customer service. We then found a demand for these skills in the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood, so we created a Jr. Young Farmer program with children who lived near the garden. This cohort grew their own vegetables and were able to provide them to their families. Our other youth Green Teams worked to support the Milwaukee Urban Garden Network and its 70+ gardens throughout the city. The teams helped 30 garden groups with projects ranging from creating new gardens to seating and other amenities from our Community Garden Infrastructure Grants.
We worked in the winter months building our pool of MUG bucks with Lead to Succeed students working at Weber's Garden Center. We worked with community garden groups to completed 7 projects awarded through our Community Garden Infrastructure Grant. Projects included the construction of a rainwater harvesting system, garden beds and compost bins. We also performed habitat restoration work in Baran Park by removing invasive plant species, such as garlic mustard and buckthorn.
During the winter our Green Team built a chicken coop for the UWM “Coopetition” design contest. While competing against graduate level architecture students, the Green Team was awarded third place. Our Green team worked alongside our staff to facilitate a Watershed 101 course with high school students from New School for Community Service. Groundwork then hired students from that program who showed interest in our mission and programming. We started performing fee for service project work with Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, installing advanced rain gardens. We also continued our project from last year with Sixteenth Street Community Health Center and extended it to reach Lyons Creek. The Green Team created more aesthetically pleasing designs using stone, gravel, and also learned about masonry.
GWM's Green Team built rain gardens along the Kinnickinnic River. In partnership with Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, and residents from the Polonia neighborhood, we created 28 rain gardens free of charge to residents and also installed rain barrels and shrubs. The Green Team also performed habitat restoration along the KK river.
Young Adult Green Team
In 2014, a survey conducted by Metcalfe Park Building Neighborhood Capacity Program (BNCP) identified that the community's biggest concern was the unemployment and inappropriate behavior of young adults, ages 18 to 25, in the neighborhood. The Young Adult Green began in 2014 as a pilot program to address this concern. Through partnership with BNCP, the Young Adult Green Team is now a year-round employment program that provides practical experience in the fields of Environmental Stewardship and Community Development.
GWM began its partnership with HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee (HG), a program of the Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) of the City of Milwaukee. Through this partnership and assistance from David J. Frank Landscaping, Will Allen Farms, Halquist Stone and other partners, the Green Team was able to create nine orchards on vacant lots. The project won the South by Southwest (SXSW) Eco Design Award for urban planning. Projects included installing a wheelchair accessible pathway, expanding a community garden, creating a stump play area and spray painting a game of Snakes and Ladders on a former driveway slab.
The Young Adult Green Team worked on projects that addressed the problem of persistent flooding, which impacts all neighborhoods within the 30th St. Industrial Corridor. Over the summer the team built rain gardens, installed rain barrels and conducted invasive species management to address this issue. Green Team members also conducted community canvasses to inform people of the services they were providing to homeowners.
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) provided major funding, with additional funding from Helen Bader Foundation and Northwestern Mutual Foundation. Through our partnership with our generous funders and BNCP, we were able to hire 10 young adults, between the ages of 18 and 24, in Metcalfe Park.