This is Milwaukee

Lena Jensen, “This is Milwaukee”
Mentor: Arijit Sen, Architecture

In the year leading up to the DNC, this project offers a direct encounter with Milwaukeeans who contribute to the public life of the city in some way. It tackles what Milwaukee can contribute to the national conversation about America’s future. In order to do this, over 65 Milwaukee residents have already been interviewed, being asked the same four questions: What are the most pressing issues in Milwaukee? What are the qualities you search for in a political leader? Are you optimistic about the future? And, most importantly, what does democracy mean to you? Through audio processing and editing, a grassroots discussion of democracy was formed to compare to current academic literature and historical documents. What emerges from this work is that the intersection of caring and politics is much closer than believed in academic literature. In the grassroots acts of citizenship, there is a deep sense of caring for our democracy and what it means to individuals – how they choose to live it out in their lives. This speaks to a larger question of how grassroots and community values and actions play into democracy as a whole, and how we, as a diverse society, can continue to live the values laid out in historical documents despite it being a different time, with evolving ideas of what democracy means to us in our community and in our country. Individual narratives differ from discourse on the national level, and this is important in understanding that social action is possible when we move away from rhetoric.

Click below to hear audio for this presentation.


  1. Very interesting, it gives an intsight into the colective minds of the community. The DNC is an interesting change to how Wisconsinites might view their own place in political discussion. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lena, thank you for being an essential partner in the “This is Milwaukee” project, for your insight and analysis, for being more organized than any of us. I was so moved to hear your response here.

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