By Evan Casey
Diversity within a community has the ability to either divide a city, or connect it. However, Dominic Inouye of ZIP MKE, hopes that taking pride in the diversity of the many different neighborhoods across Milwaukee will do the latter.
Inouye started ZIP MKE following the Sherman Park riots in August of 2016, and he has since collected a wide array of photographs from each of the 28 zip codes across Milwaukee, showing the photos in galleries across the city. Inouye and volunteers also host public events and neighborhood walks in an effort to engage the community. One of the most recent efforts by ZIP MKE is a monthly event called
“(Dis)comfort Zones,” an open gathering where citizens from all across the city come together for game or movie nights.
“The idea was to get people out of their regular comfort zones and try something new, or something they haven’t done for a long time,” said Inouye. “Anytime anyone meets someone new there’s a certain level of discomfort involved, depending on the person, and traveling to a new part of the city for some is discomfort enough.”
The events are designed to gather the community in order to change how people view Milwaukee. The ultimate goal of the project is to bring about change, as the website states, “It is only when we see each other and the spaces we inhabit that we can begin to understand each other and seize the possibilities for change.”
January’s event was titled “Building Bridges: An MKE Hero Journey.” It invited participants of all ages and backgrounds to build an actual bridge from materials that they collected after completing certain tasks as a group, such as completing a puzzle. There were discussions along the way about building metaphorical bridges in their lives.
“The hope was that they would also build real personal bridges, too, among people on their team,” said Inouye.
Elizabeth Cruz is part of the ZIP MKE planning team and was present at the event as well. She volunteered as an activity coordinator the night of the event.
“It was beneficial to me because it allowed me to come out of my comfort zone and to be part of a community,” said Cruz. “A community that’s not just focused in the area I live in, but all of Milwaukee.”
ZIP MKE is continuing to change and evolve their mission as they go along, looking for new venues and different ways to engage the people of Milwaukee. Inouye hopes to add different kinds of experiences and methods to heighten the visibility of the project, such as using music or reading to immerse people in the project.
“For ZIP’s part, we can continue to image and re-image the city as authentically, truthfully, and beautifully as possible,” said Inouye, “so as to provide a backdrop for all the positive work being done in the city.”