Forum Abstracts 2014

An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Increased Judicial Oversight and Court-Ordered Batterer Intervention Programming in Milwaukee County Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Cases: Preliminary Findings

Nelida Cortes, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

In 1999, Milwaukee County was one of three locations in the United States chosen by the Office on Violence Against Women to participate in the Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative (JODI). JODI was a five year project aimed at testing the idea of whether an organized community response to domestic violence, with increased judicial and criminal justice involvement, would affect victims’ safety and reduce offender recidivism. As a result of its involvement with JODI, Milwaukee County’s Criminal Justice System implemented a number of procedural changes to the manner in which it responded to domestic violence offenses. The most prominent change was the institution of probation review hearings, followed closely by the requirement that domestic violence probationers attend batterer intervention programming. Although several studies reviewed the effectiveness of the procedural changes on offender recidivism, none examined offender recidivism data past 2005. This initial evaluation of the noted procedural changes examined the recidivism activity of a sample of offenders from 2005 through 2012, with n = 224. Descriptive statistics reveal that approximately half of the offenders in the sample, 52%, incurred new criminal charges despite the procedural methods meant to reduce recidivism.

Employee Wellness Program: Participation Rates Among Obese Employees and Selection Patterns of Available Alternative Activities

Jennifer T. Fink, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Purpose. To retrospectively examine whether demographic differences exist between those who participate in an employee wellness program and those who do not, and to identify distribution of alternative activity selections.

Design. Quasi-experimental using nonequivalent group design.

Setting. Aurora Health Care employee data from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.

Subjects. We screened 18,000 employees with mean body mass index (BMI) of 28.9; 6,375 (35%) caregivers were obese (defined as BMI ≥30), and of those, 3,094 (47%) chose alternative activities.

Intervention. In addition to the wellness program, five alternative activities were offered to employees: (1) lose 5% of body weight, (2) Healthy Solutions® at home, (3) Weight Watchers group meetings, (4) Weight Watchers online, and (5) Aurora-directed healthy weight coaching.

Measures. Program participation rate and alternative activity participation rates among obese employees across several demographic variables.

Analysis. Chi-square test was used for all categorical variables; logistic regression was used to predict participation factors.

Results. Overall, 47% of obese employees participated in the wellness program. Participation was higher among females, whites, those age >50 years, and staff (as compared to nurses), P<.0001 for all. The most common alternative activity chosen was lose 5% of body weight (67%), followed by behavioral coaching (15%).

Conclusion. Participation rate varied significantly based on demographic variables. Targeting 5% weight loss was the most popular alternative activity.


Arab Americans’ Perceptions of Police Post 9/11 in Metropolitan Milwaukee

Ayman A. Khatib, Urban Education Doctoral Student

There has been a substantial body of information, discussion, and seminars around the issue of police/minority relations since September 11, 2001. Some of these discussions have focused on the perceptions of police towards Arab Americans post September 11. Yet, the literature on this subject has failed to provide the counter narrative of perception, that is, the Arab Americans’ perceptions of police is almost non-existent (Sun & Wu, 2011). The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks had a serious impact on local police relations and their local minority groups. September 11, 2001 has shaped negatively the treatment of Arab Americans at the hands of local police and many arms of the federal government; due to the increased role of local police in intelligence gathering and immigration law enforcement. Local police during this change have created a negative perception in many urban communities due to police mistreatment of Arab Americans.

Many urban police departments shifted their policing strategies from community policing to traditional fighting crime and intelligence gathering after September 11, 2001. Arab Americans as a local minority community has suffered the brunt of such strategies where police have routinely disregarded many rules of law enforcement when it comes to dealing with Arab Americans on daily basis. However, the nature of the fear and distrust of the police among members of the Arab community has been under analyzed in the literature. Research into the experiences, attitudes, and perceptions of Arab Americans can inform law enforcement agencies regarding how to provide more equitable treatment by police and to engage in more constructive dialogue with the community. The negative Arab Americans’ perception needs to be changed to a positive one. This positive change will take both time and a focused course of action from police administrators.


Panoramic View of Milwaukee, Wis., Taken from City Hall Tower: The 1898 Gugler Lithograph In Context

Scott R. Letteney, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

In 1898, the Gugler Lithographic Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, published a print entitled “Panoramic View of Milwaukee Wis. Taken from City Hall Tower,” which I refer to for these purposes as the Gugler Lithograph. The purpose of this research is to place the Gugler Lithograph into context. The Gugler Lithograph names 55 different sites – buildings, suburbs, bridges, and public works – plus City Hall. However, those specific locations are not identified within the panoramic picture of Milwaukee. Frankly, because of the panoramic, almost fish-eye, view of Milwaukee in the lithograph, even those with a thorough knowledge of Milwaukee in 1898 would have difficulty associating most of the named locations with their locations in the picture. My project identifies and annotates each of those 55 named locations.

The paper also sets out to determine what other sites of import and interest can be gleaned by studying the unnamed portions of the lithograph.  This paper identifies another 44 such locations, including City Hall.

Having identified 99 distinct sites, this paper endeavors to illuminate each of the sites to the extent possible. In some cases no more can be discussed than a structure’s size and composition. In most cases, however, a discussion of each of the locations identified provides a fascinating part of the tapestry that was Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1898.

This should not be considered a complete history of Milwaukee to 1898, although it serves to provide an interesting perspective on the development of Milwaukee. Using the 99 places or things identified, this paper provides a series of vignettes about the places, people, and events of Milwaukee. It also provides a sense of life in Milwaukee in 1898.


Challenging the Discourse of Pathology: Black Male Achievement and the Urban Context

Monique I. Liston, Urban Education Doctoral Student

On February 27, 2014, President Barack Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative to build opportunity for young boys of color. This program is emblematic of the public conversation on supporting black males economically, educationally and politically. Over the last two decades, across the nation, urban areas have created and implemented programs to support Black males in various social contexts. Milwaukee is no exception. In this city, there have been many citywide programs that specifically targeted improving the social conditions of young Black males. This project explores the historical context and public discourse of educational programs in the city of Milwaukee. Specifically, this project seeks to identify the ways raced, gendered, and classed identities have historically been commodified to shape the urban educational context. Further, by looking at this phenomenon historically, this project will be informative to the education policy implementation plans that will be products of President Obama’s White House initiative.


Insurgent Ukraine: The Transformation of Public Space

Kateryna Malaia, Architecture Doctoral Student

In 2010, Jeffrey Hou, a scholar of architecture, focusing on design activism, coined the term insurgent public space to identify non-official and defiant modes of space production. The term arrived just in time: in 2005 Don Mitchell published a geographer’s perspective on the question titled The Right to the City: Social Justice and the Fight for Public Space; in 2013, following his trip to insurgent Istanbul, David Harvey released the Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. This new turn in the discourse on urban space production also came at the time of the 2013-2014 revolutionary events in Ukraine.

In November 2013 the failure of former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union initiated a wave of broad public reaction, which gradually grew into a nation-wide protest and finally led to the fall of Yanukovich’s regime in February 2014. During the demonstrations, the protesters altered the mode of space production in multiple ways:  (1) the protesters developed multiple forms and mechanisms of reappropriating and securing city streets and public spaces, as well as (2) schemes of maintaining order within urban fabric; and, finally, (3) the set of new, contemporary and future meanings of involved public spaces.

This presentation shall analyze the Euromaidan events in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities through the paradigm of production of urban public space. While the research shall be centered on the particular events of 2013-2014 public protests, it shall also observe the history of the use of involved public spaces in the last two decades. Alongside the study of spatial repercussions of the Ukrainian protests, this paper shall challenge the notion of a post-Soviet city, through the investigation of the use of public spaces from 1991 to the present.


Police Discretion, Accountability, and the In Custody Death of Derek Williams: An Exploratory Case Study

Meghan McDonald, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

In the age of mass incarceration, police discretion is continually buttressed by judicial precedent and widespread practices. Furthermore, since the 1970s, urban police forces have transformed as federal funding underwrites paramilitary tactics. In this terrain, how are urban police forces held accountable? What about in the extreme cases, such as in custody deaths? Are standard oversight commissions perceived as effective? With an eye on the high profile, 2011 in custody death of Derek Williams (and subsequent investigations), this project seeks to explore how various entities responded to the veritable police community crisis, including Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, Milwaukee Police Department, and local news media. Drawing upon multiple news outlets and organizational materials, this project uses qualitative analysis to get a sense of where the death of this young father is situated in Milwaukee’s history, public perception surrounding it and how city entities responded. Were the rally cries for justice heard? Does the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission truly hold law enforcement accountable? And what does the case suggest for current Wisconsin legislation regarding police oversight in the event of citizen shootings and in custody deaths? Ultimately, the project reveals a history of troubled relations between Milwaukee Police Department and the African American community. The structure and practices of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission—including activities related to the Williams investigation—does not seem to warrant much confidence, either. Finally, analysis of news materials indicates differential depiction of Derek Williams, as a citizen and as a victim.


Constructing the Virtual and Material Public Spaces: The Cases of “We are All Khaled Said” Facebook Page and Tahrir Square during Egypt 2011 Revolution

Ashkan Rezvani Naraghi, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

This essay argues that Hannah Arendt’s conception of public space can contribute to the definition of material and virtual public spaces in contemporary social movements. By investigating Tahrir Square as a material public space and ‘We are All Khaled Said’ Facebook page as a virtual public space during the Egypt 2011 revolution, this essay studies the relationship between these spaces and the events of the revolution. It shows that Arendt’s concepts of action and speech can theorize the virtual and public spaces of the Egyptian revolution.


Indian Summer Festival: Heritage, Tourism, and Community

Joy Neilson, Urban Studies Master’s Student

Mayor Henry Maier once touted tourism as the great “smokeless industry.”  Tourism, especially ethnic tourism based on created heritage, has a strong tradition in the city. The city of Milwaukee hosts over 20 annual ethnic festivals from May through September. Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee’s third largest ethnic festival. Launched in 1987 by the nonprofit organization, Indian Summer Festivals, Inc, Indian Summer Festival has grown to become the largest celebration of American Indian culture in the United States. Using the framework developed by Li Yang and Geoffrey Wall (2009), I examine the exchanges between tourist, “touree” (ethnic native turned actor), and the government and private middlemen who become beneficiaries of tourism in the creation of an American Indian heritage experience. Of primary interest are the choices made by the Indian Summer Festivals, Inc. board of directors and Milwaukee World Festivals, Inc. to negotiate whose heritage would be represented, balancing sacred versus commercial interests, and the role of Indian Summer Festival in the Milwaukee Indian Community. My research uses primary source records from the Indian Summer Festivals, Inc. and existing data to construct a narrative on the creation of heritage for commodification within the Milwaukee metropolitan area by a marginalized ethnic group. I find that, while all stakeholders benefit from exposure to ethnic “others,” the experience is spatially and socially constructed in a way that protects the touree community from intrusion into cultural authentic events.


Rising Cosmopolitanism among the New Generations: Growing Up with Global Ties

Mehdi Nejatbakhsh, Urban Studies Master’s Student

The rapid globalization of the recent decades is assumed to bring about significant changes for cultural identities around the world. One effect is to increase global visions among individuals that could result in the development of more cosmopolitan identities. Besides, the coming of the new generations could be an important agent in bringing about cultural changes. In this research, the data from World Values Survey (WVS) has been studied to examine this hypothesis that whether or not the new generations are becoming more cosmopolitan at the time of rapid globalization. The findings suggest that the new generations are indeed becoming more cosmopolitan gradually over the time; however, unlike the previous studies, being cosmopolitan should not be regarded necessarily as having a more prior attachment to the world than, e. g., to the locality or nation. Multiple layers of territorial attachment do not contradict with each other and a cosmopolitan could still have strong attachments with his/her locality or nation. The fact is that there are different levels of cosmopolitanism from weaker forms to stronger forms of it. In addition, the transformation towards more cosmopolitan attitudes is in fact part of a broader transformation from modern to postmodern values among the new generations.


Revitalizing the Walnut Way Neighborhood: A Community Approach

Madeline Riordan, Urban Studies Master’s Student

The industrialization of Milwaukee in the early 1900’s created hundreds of jobs for southern migrants, many of whom were African American.  Numerous new migrants settled in communities that were inhabited by people of the same backgrounds, who came from the same areas in the South, or where lodging was cheapest.  One such community was the Walnut Way neighborhood.  Over the course of several years, residents were able to establish businesses in the area and develop a sense of pride in their section of Milwaukee.  However, with the advent of the Great Depression and the culmination of World War II, industries throughout the area closed or moved overseas, generating a wave of unemployment that affected some of the population more than others.  Unemployment caused many to lose their homes, increased crime rates, put added pressure on families, and often forced individuals and families to take what housing they could afford.  These factors, along with racist attitudes of the time created an area of intense turmoil.  The Walnut Way neighborhood was not spared from these forces and outcomes.  The years leading up to the turn of the century were taxing on the neighborhood, but as community members came together and began a conversation of collaboration, a coalition was formed to begin efforts to revitalize the area.  The Walnut Way Conservation Corps was founded in 2000 to encourage community involvement in bringing back the prosperity and sense of pride that was prevalent in the early part of the 20th century.  Through joint efforts, community gardens, leadership opportunities for youth, and home restoration endeavors have become commonplace in Walnut Way in hopes of reviving what once was and progressing to a vibrant, thriving state.  This collaboration of residents has become a model for other communities that are products of deindustrialization in Milwaukee.


From Innocent and Enslaved to Incorrigible and Diseased: The Transformation of Prostitution by Progressive Reformers in Chicago

Danielle M. Romain, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

At the turn of the twentieth century, a panic over prostitution emerged in urban cities.  Pamphlets, books, short films, and newspaper articles detailed the so-called “white slavery” of women, depicted as kidnapped, sold in an underground vice trade, and held by threat of violence.  Chicago was no exception to the white slavery panic – indeed, several books and pamphlets were produced in Chicago.  Further, Chicago was wrought with vast social and demographic changes during the Progressive era.  Prostitution took on an important role in the Progressive reform agenda from the 1900s through the 1920s and Chicago was at the forefront in federal and municipal reforms aimed at curbing prostitution.  Early state solutions were aimed at criminalizing panderers, while voluntary associations sought to eliminate the environmental sources of poverty, wage inequality, and alcohol.  Though largely concerned with social causes of prostitution, reformers also drew on medical explanations.  Voluntary reform organizations and municipal actors jointly called for experts to study prostitution, leading to the re-definition of the prostitute as degenerate, feeble-minded, and incapable of reform.  The medical and scientific explanations of prostitution became more salient after the publishing of the Chicago Vice Commission report of 1911.  Yet this shift is not coincidental; rather it stems from broader social issues that took on greater importance in defining the problem of prostitution.  The growing project of social science was gaining more prominence in society – including the development of measures to categorize and classify groups of people, the theory of eugenics, and professionals with expert knowledge on the human body and mind.  With the outbreak of venereal disease and the growing prominence of medical and scientific experts, prostitution became re-defined as a problem of women’s bodies and minds to be controlled by the state.


Ceramics from the Jeremiah Curtin House: Irish Immigrant Consumer Choice in 19th Century Rural Wisconsin

Van Dyke

During field seasons that spanned 1976 to 1978, archaeological excavations were conducted at the Jeremiah Curtin house in what is now Greendale, Wisconsin. David Curtin built the side-gabled fieldstone structure in 1846. Curtin and his wife were Irish immigrant farmers who moved to Wisconsin from Detroit with their infant son, Jeremiah in 1836. Jeremiah Curtin worked on the family farm until David died in 1856. Jeremiah sold his half of the farm to his mother and used the proceeds to finance an education at Harvard University. Subsequently, Curtin became a well-known scholar and author who traveled widely and spent little if any time at the Greendale homestead. Currently, the Curtin house is owned by the Milwaukee County Historical Society and is maintained as part of the Trimborn Farm estate owned by Milwaukee County.

Archaeological collections from the Curtin house excavations are housed at the UWM Archaeological Research Laboratory (ARL) and currently undergoing conservation and inventory. The project is part of a larger effort to produce a digital record of the ARL collections. The ARL houses archaeological and osteological materials collected over a span of 40 years. The inventory includes significant collections from the Midwest and Mexico representing over 1300 archaeological sites curated in 3000+ standard size (1.1 cu ft.) archive boxes. The ARL does not curate ethnographic materials but collections are supported by an extensive archive of paper records, positive and negative films, photographic prints, maps, charts, and video and voice recordings. In order to manage these collections and facilitate research, ARL collections are being entered into a PastPerfect museum software database.

The inventory of the Curtin House collections has provided an opportunity to investigate the changing nature of the Curtin household by examining the kinds of ceramic items used during the period of the home’s occupation. The analysis has allowed the development of inferences concerning the Curtin’s connection to their Irish heritage, the degree to which the family shared in the pioneer experience, and the shifting socioeconomic fortunes of the Curtin household.


Making connections: How volunteer monitoring creates relationships to rivers and agencies in the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern

Kathleen Williams, Geography Doctoral Student

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the International Joint Commission have directed that public input is a critical component of the delisting process in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC), or toxic “hotspots” that were identified in the 1987 Protocol of Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. As a result, organizations and agencies are looking beyond the traditional methods of inviting stakeholders and the public to participate in the AOC process. Historically, the most common form of participation has been public consultation, or meetings, although other models are emerging.   In some AOCs, organizations have begun to develop and implement educational activities rooted in developing a “sense of place.” This study focuses on the participation process to address a particular Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI), the Degradation of Aesthetics (Aesthetics). Aesthetics are one of the beneficial uses that we get from urban ecosystems that the public can more easily understand, and thus might provide a path to more participation in AOC processes. Data about activities were collected through participant observation at meetings, experience as a volunteer aesthetics monitor, as well as through semi-structured interviews with agencies in the Milwaukee Estuary AOC. Initial results indicate organizations and educators hope to replace the sense that the rivers of the AOC are polluted areas to be avoided with a connection to the rivers, thus transforming them from invisible or degraded areas into “centers of felt value” (Tuan, 1977). The study concludes with a discussion of how developing a sense of place offers an alternative model for public participation, where citizens are empowered to participate in scientific processes.


Urban Morphology’s Affect on Property Values per Acre: Port Washington

Jason Wittek, Urban Studies Doctoral Student

Citizens often argue that cities need affordable housing for their residents. But don’t cities themselves need affordable neighborhoods; that contribute more in property value, and thus property taxes, than they cost to maintain? The non-profit organization Strongtowns, has put forth the argument that most Post World War II developments are a “Ponzi Scheme” that do not contribute enough future tax revenue to pay for the future liabilities incurred by its own physical infrastructure.[1] This message implies that the city’s physical form contributes greatly to the cost or benefit of its bottom line.

Urban morphology is primarily defined by streets, blocks, plots, buildings, and even land uses. This research compares the morphology of three distinct growth periods in the City of Port Washington, by sampling two plats from the city’s Inception, World War II, and Today. This research asks, what is the impact of morphology on Port Washington’s property value per acre today? The research hypothesis is that newer neighborhoods contribute less property value per acre.

In three out of the four plats after Inception, the research confirms that the mean value per acre decreased after Inception. The original plat overwhelmingly outperforms the other plats by mixing residential and commercial uses, and incorporating smaller and lower value plots. But, both of Today’s plats outperformed the World War II Era plats, by incorporating high value housing or density. Today’s plats illuminate the difficulties of obtaining reasonably high mean values per acre on large plots, with single family residential, by having to contain properties twice the value of the Inception plats to come close to equaling the mean value per acre.

[1] Charles Marohn, Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2012).