A public installation driven by community conversation, 2013

Harambee DSC04551

Published on October 31st, 2013 | by adamcarr


Shiloh Tabernacle Congregation Session

Shiloh’s congregation gets together every Thursday for bible study — that said, they generously devoted a summer night to share with TypeFace. The group shared history and personal experience with Shiloh, memories from the neighborhood, and a long list of questions they’d like to put in front of their community.

Below, find excerpts from that conversation.

The church

There’s no big I’s and little you’s here.

He loaded that car up with so much wood, it broke down.

I found out I didn’t know it all.

He’d tell you the truth, in spite of how much it would hurt you.

Just trying to build a house of God.

Close-knit love. It’s closer than a family. Yes we fall out, but we come back together.

From singing to speaking to reading to drum playing — whatever I can find my hands to do.

All I know is church.

I like to be here. I like to get here on time.

I just get in where I fit in.

I was born here. Dolly Barry is my grandmother.

When I thought I was grown, I ventured off. But I came back.

We have been to everybody’s house. And I mean — kick your shoes off, take a nap, that kind of thing.

All the senior saints, I can recall.

I remember a time the church was so full — choir standing full on both sides.

To me, what matters is the people that are still here.

Brother Holt and Brother Smith. Those were some serious ushers. The type of spirit that those men had? Can’t explain it.

Five years ago… wow.

I had to know it on my own.

I wanted to seek His face.

It was up to us to have our mind made up about God.

We have that love.

We’ve never been broken in that much.

The neighborhood

I remember being two years old, painting the living room with my dad.

Bleach and Pine-Sol. That was the smell of the weekend.

We rode around the neighborhood with our crackers and lunchmeat.

Oooh, the candy from the candy store…

We used to sprint to the end of the alley.

And we’d go to Ms. Richardson’s or J.J.’s.

They just didn’t worry.

We were out until the streetlights came on.

It was a very nice neighborhood when we came in.

This felt like one of the better parts of the city.

We used to go plum tree raiding, getting that fruit.

Sometimes, we’d go waaaaaaaaay up to Locust Street.

The Main Event

It was always a joyous celebration, whenever I would speak of the Main Event.

It was an atmosphere that didn’t allow a lot of rowdy-ism.


Why am I here?

Is there a purpose for my life?

Am I here by chance?

What have I done to make a difference in somebody else’s life?

Am I sharing whatever hope I have with someone else?

Do you care if you live or die?

Do you think it’s too late?

Can you be your own motivation?

What happened in your dream?

What can we do with our wounded?

How do you use your voice?

Do you know how important you are?

What can you do with what you got in your hand?

What is my fault?

Who taught you to hate yourself?

Why don’t you love yourself?

Why can’t you let it go?

Do you know your worth?

When do I stop forgiving myself and make a change?

What are you begging for?

Why didn’t I take the time to think it all the way through?

Why am I always saying “yes?”

Why worry? (Be happy.) (Reminder: every piece that comes through your mailbox isn’t yours.)

(And how am I going to pay all these tickets?)

Am I doing your will, Lord?

Where am I going? (Where is he going? Where is she going?)

When should I stop helping?

Am I missing anything?

Will I make it back home to see my loved ones?

Do they know that I love them?

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  • TypeFace in Harambee

    Puzzled and Amazed is located at Five Points, between Keefe and MLK Blvd on Port Washington

    In Milwaukee’s African-American community, the Main Event embodied its name wholly. Nestled in a busy intersection of the Harambee neighborhood, the bar also served as an intersection for a broad range of community members: politicians, jazz musicians, journalists, educators, tastemakers, organizers. After falling into disrepair in 2011, after 37 years at the location, the Main Event was demolished, leaving a conspicuous void in its place.

    With Puzzled and Amazed, community members bring vital conversation back to this once-brimming site. History and memory, invisible but felt.

    In the Harambee neighborhood, the TypeFace team worked with neighboring Shiloh Tabernacle and Riverworks to host a series of community conversations. These sessions prompted Shiloh’s congregation and Harambee neighbors to paint pictures of the site’s bygone days. Additionally, participants shared questions — challenges to the responsibility and accountability of the community-at-large. Excerpts are incorporated into Puzzled and Amazed.

    Explore fragments of those conversations here.

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