Urban Safety and Resistance: Sherman Park, MKE

Bella Biwer, “Urban Safety and Resistance: Sherman Park, MKE”
Mentor: Arijit Sen, Architecture

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the multiple ways in which different groups of people talk about safety and to document alternative forms of grassroots social action deployed by community residents to address this issue. Disjuncture between top-down and bottom-up knowledge is well known in academic literature. With this in mind, I began by looking at safety and policing in Sherman Park, Milwaukee, which is located in the North Side of the city. In order to understand the grassroots perspective, I participated in six community-led Jane Jacobs walks through Sherman Park, and created an interactive ‘countermap’ of the community based off of the community members’ comments. Using this knowledge as a resource, as well as information drawn from extensive primary knowledge provided by years of interviews and partnerships with Sherman Park’s leaders, widespread first-hand physical experience within the community, and exhaustive analysis of safety scholarship and data as it pertains to the community, this project examines the broader social and spatial context of such community action — that, at the core of the disjuncture between these two point of views and the resultant actions people take to ensure community safety, there are two different perceptions of space and place.

Audio file here:


  1. Thank you for shedding light on a very important topic which (literally) hits very close to home. I appreciate the work you did in explaining your topic, providing definitions where needed, and explaining the information in a way that is approachable and easy to understand. The work you did to break down your data into separate charts to show variations of different incidents over a number of years was a nice illustration of your research. Also, the countermap you have created is an excellent resource to further educate individuals about this topic. Very nice job, Bella!

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