Six years ago, a group of young professionals who were minorities started getting together for drinks every few weeks to discuss their jobs, and life in Milwaukee. They’d get together at happy hours, texting ahead of time to get a small group together. In time the group grew, and its activities expanded.
Now well-established, the group is called Social X, and it’s planning its second “Homecoming Week” this month, with social gatherings, a panel discussion, a city tour, a garden party and a group run. Some 1,000 people are expected, says Social X’s president, Marquayla Ellison.
“Social X is focused on relieving the brain drain in the city for black and brown young professionals,” says Ellison. For example, she says, some people who grew up in Milwaukee think they know everything about it and say “Oh, I don’t like Milwaukee, there’s nothing to do.” “Which is not true,” she adds, “so we try to shed some light on things to do in the city,” focusing on the after-work hours of 5 to 9 p.m.
“We answer that same question for ‘transplants,’” she adds, “people who are not from Milwaukee… [but who] got a really great job at some local corporation, like a Rockwell or G.E. — and yeah, the pay is great, but now who’s going to introduce you to the city, where can you go to get a good drink, get your hair done, can you recommend some good gyms… So we focus on the five-to-nine, … filling it with things to do.”
There will be plenty of things to do during Homecoming Week, which starts with a kickoff Sunday, August 19, at Truth Lounge on Old World 3rd Street. The group run is Tuesday night, a panel discussion of social media on Wednesday and a discussion of the psychology of “code-switching,” the process by which people change the way they talk depending on the cultural context of the situation they’re in, on Thursday. The tour is Friday and the garden party, at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, is Saturday. For times and locations, see graphic below.
Ellison says Social X events focus on what she calls six pillars: art; health and wellness; talent recruitment and retainment; social; professional development; and community service.