A Look at Milwaukee’s 21st Century Folk School

This school is a place for entrepreneurs and artists to come together.

Dasha Kelly Hamilton and Kima Hamilton opened The Retreat – an event venue, coworking space and podcast studio – in October 2019. Their folk school came soon after. “Our entire mission is about being a resource,” Dasha says. Milwaukee’s poet laureate and an accomplished teacher and public speaker, she emphasizes the importance of creating opportunities for people to come together in order to foster creativity and share ideas.

Through the folk school, local entrepreneurs and artists can do exactly that by offering classes in their areas of expertise. The fall session includes everything from adult acting to business planning.

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The teachers set the schedule, price and dates of their own classes. “Their content is their business, and our folk school is the container,” Dasha says. “It’s an ecosystem that continues to feed and nurture itself.”

The coronavirus interrupted the folk school’s opening in the spring, but the teachers adapted quickly and were able to offer most classes online. The folk school will continue online for the foreseeable future, with plans to gradually return to an in-person format.


A complete schedule of fall classes offered through the folk school can be found on The Retreat’s website: theretreatmke.com.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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Elizabeth Johnson is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine and a journalism major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.