As the executive director of FUEL Milwaukee and the VP of community affairs at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Corry Joe Biddle has become a nexus for Milwaukeeans.
Growing up in the Berryland projects on the North Side, there were always people around. Loneliness was rare; community was a constant. The shared backyard for every kid in the neighborhood was Havenwoods State Forest.
My mother and I would grow green tomatoes and zucchini in Havenwoods’ community garden. Together, we’d fry the fruits and veggies at home, and she’d encourage me and tell me how good of a gardener I was.
My green thumb kind of faded as I grew older, but lessons like the importance of looking out for my neighbors stayed rooted in my psyche. It’s a lesson that seems to be rooted in all Milwaukeeans.
Every leader in this city – politicians, judges, businesspeople – has been willing to mentor eager young professionals. We continue to come together and are willing to help each other, whether it’s tilling a garden plot or giving pointers on expanding a budding business.
Before my mom passed away in September, the last meal I ever cooked for her was fried tomatoes. The thing I grew up with never left me.
— as told to Adam Rogan