When Shared_Studios brought its Portals project to Times Square last month, it brought in one of its star curators to take a turn on Broadway. Lewis Lee, who with his generous and engaging nature embodies the Portals mission to connect people around the world, flew in from Milwaukee to connect visitors with friends and strangers. Or more specifically, strangers who become friends.
Recently, groups of residents from Milwaukee and Newark, New Jersey met to share ideas and strategies they use to reduce violence in their respective communities. The conversation gave the groups — both from low-income, mostly black neighborhoods — an opportunity to delve into some weighty topics like prisoner re-entry, and share a few laughs in a face-to-face setting, all while remaining more than 700 miles apart.
It looks like a shipping container, but it's so much more. This gold painted portal is allowing people in Milwaukee to connect with portals in 29 countries. On Friday, thoughts on crime prevention were exchanged. Conversations in the Milwaukee portal are being recorded. The dialogue will be shared with researchers at Yale University, who are trying to better understand the public perception of police.
A local community engagement plan called 500 UNIted NEWark, hosted by Divad Sanders and Shared Studios as part of the Newark Portal project in Military Park, intends to connect with the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative’s project called 500 Fathers United on June 17th, 2016 from 12pm until 4pm in Newark’s Military Park.
What do Newark, New Jersey, and Milwaukee’s Amani neighborhood have in common? They’re both high-crime, high-homicide and highly policed, and right now, a public park in each is hosting a gold-painted shipping container designed to facilitate conversations between the two cities about criminal justice and incarceration.