Ask recent émigrés and you get lots of answers. A key distinction is noted by the man in charge of selling the city, VISIT Milwaukee CEO Doug Nielson,a San Francisco immigrant. “There, they already have an image. Here, you’re creating one.”
Michael Bray,a portfolio manager at Wells Capital, heard Nielson’s call, moving here last year from Boston. Bray says he misses Boston’s many music venues. But perhaps he’ll take consolation in our waterways. A longtime sailor, he hopes to teach sailing in Milwaukee this summer.
“The English countryside is beautiful,” says David Hobbs, a British former racing champion and owner of a Glendale Honda dealership. Wisconsin’s doesn’t compare, he contends. “In Wisconsin, you ought to live in the city.” Hobbs bounces between Milwaukee and Charlotte, N.C., where he records SPEED Channel commentary for Grand Prix races.
Milwaukee Repertory Theater actress Deborah Staples first glimpsed Milwaukee driving with her mom from Southern California to audition for an acting internship. “I knew I would never go back.” She likes the more historic homes here and “the welcoming people.” Staples and her husband David Cecsarini, artistic director of Next Act Theatre, had a baby girl last fall.
“I like driving to work and seeing a skyline,” says LaToya Dennis, a WUWM news reporter who moved here last fall from East Lansing, Mich., where she worked at WKAR public radio. WKAR colleague Erin Toner, who also relocated to WUWM last fall, brought the job opening here to Dennis’ attention. Toner says she doesn’t like the crime in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Ballet artistic director Michael Pink and his wife, Jayne Pink, left northern England in 2002 for a home close to UW-Milwaukee. “I was very pleasantly surprised when I arrived here,” he says. The arts are good and the parking is easy, he adds. And heck, the Journal Sentinel has already featured Jayne’s Christmas pudding.
Chef Pierre Briere opened Elliot’s Bistro during the early days of the Iraq War, so he avoided overtly Gallic names because of anti-French sentiment, he says. The popularity of the Friday fish fry mystifies Briere, a Normandy-born gourmand. In retaliation, he serves Friday “Bouillabaisse & Mussels.”
Before leaving his job at Israel’s tourism ministry, Elisha Ben-Yitzhak was a well-known realist painter. Then he moved to Milwaukee to start Heavenly International Tours, and his craft fell idle. His foreign accent can make things tricky here, he says. “Otherwise, I love my life here.” His business primarily arranges trips for Christian groups (including, once, Reggie White) to the Middle East and elsewhere. Last December, Ben-Yitzhak suddenly started painting again, and in an unexpected cubist style. “It exploded, it came out,” he says.
“It’s an incredible amount of work to own a store,” says Faythe Levine, co-owner of Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery in Bay View. Levine grew up in Seattle; her boyfriend, Nathan Lilley, is singer and guitarist for Call Me Lightning, a local band featured in the March issue of Spin. “I feel really strongly,” Levine says, “that Milwaukee’s a good place to get stuff done as an artist.”
“I’ve lived in a lot of large cities,” says Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker. “My wife and I believe this city has the most potential of any we’ve moved to.” A Milwaukee School of Public Health, he says, “is a very real and tangible goal” for city leaders. Baker left Miami in 2001 for the Milwaukee Health Department and became its first African-American commissioner in 2004.
Lynn Broaddus and Friends of Milwaukee’s Rivers will attempt this summer to shield a polluted bend of the Menomonee River. A job offered to her husband prompted their move here from Wilmington, Del. in 2000. “The housing styles are very different,” says Broaddus, compared to those New England buildings that go back to the 1700s. “That was the biggest adjustment for me.”
A baseball writer at the Journal Sentinel, Tom Haudricourt blew into town in 2003 with Trish Haudricourt, executive director of Friends of Boerner Botanical Gardens. They’d lived here previously and were shocked upon their return to find Downtown so polished and cosmopolitan. “What did you folks do while I was gone?” she asks.
TV and movie actor Cotter Smith says next season will be the last for him and his wife Heidi Mueller Smith, directors of Cornerstone Theatre Company. The Smiths might move to Los Angeles, where Cotter acts, but he swears they will always have a home in Milwaukee. “Milwaukee’s a great theater town,” he says. “That was a surprise.” The couple moved here from New York and found more generous and less jaded audiences.
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