Family lured Jerrianne and her husband to South Milwaukee in 2002 from Southern California where she worked as, first, a journalist, then, as a court information officer. She now stays busy with media-relations consulting, playing with her three grandchildren (part of the lure), writing, discovering her new environs, and hoping her garden will produce before the first fall frost.
WPR's Kathleen Dunn's 9 a.m. program today featured Grand Haven, Michigan, Mayor Roger Bergman to talk about the 'happiest towns' in the country and what makes a community a happy place to live in. Lots of great calls from listeners -- including mine. The point I wanted to make is that 'happy' is what a person makes it. My husband, a 21-year-career U.S. Air Force officer, and I lived many places in this country and others and I can honestly say we liked them all, including Tehran, Iran, where we lived in 1978 and the first few days of 1979 during the run-up to the Islamic Revolution.
And now that we've lived in South Milwaukee for coming up on eight years, I can honestly say that we not only like it here, we love it.
One of the points Mayor Bergman made was the impact large shopping malls can have on communities. Towns people used to see each other and chat at their local stores, but that kind of frequent contact is lost when shopping malls replace local businesses for our shopping needs.
I agreed that shopping malls can tend to be isolating, so my question to Mayor Bergman was what can people do to regain some of the 'community' that can contribute to a sense of happiness. His advice was to urge community leaders to work together to promote local businesses and events.
What I didn't get a chance to say because time ran short is that South Milwaukee is doing just that. We have the traditional holiday parades and gatherings, as well many other events such as Evening on the Avenue, the Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner, the Police Department's Community Night Out, Heritage Days, a Farmers Market that is growing in both size and popularity, the Chamber of Commerce supports and promotes a number of activities, and this coming Sunday, March 14, the annual Friends of Grant Park fundraiser, the Pulling "O The Green at the Grant Park Clubhouse. (See previous blog post for details.) And I couldn't help but think of the water main break of last month and how friends, neighbors and city officials helped spread the word about the break and its repair, and the following Water Days in appreciation of residents' cooperation and to support restaurants and bars that lost business on a Friday evening when the water couldn't be used.
Yep, so far as I'm concerned, South Milwaukee is right up there at the top of the list of happiest places to live.