Milwaukee neighborhood unifies through yellow chairs

In the Thurston Woods, spring has arrived.

You'll see dandelions, tree buds, and an unexpected source of brightness- yellow Adirondack chairs in dozens of yards.

"It really kind of adds something to the neighborhood," said John Kosma, a longtime resident of Thurston Woods.

Kosma and his wife have been in the neighborhood since 1977. They're enjoying the changes that have come with the yellow chairs.

The chairs were free last summer from the Agape Community Center, who wanted neighbors to have a tangible way to connect with the area. Thurston Woods is part of the Healthy Neighborhoods initiative through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Their goals include; stabilizing the real estate market, connecting people, beautifying the neighborhood and creating a neighborhood identity.

Karen Mierow, the neighborhood revitalization manager at the Center, said neighbors get a sense of comfort from the chairs.

One neighbor told her "if you need help and you see a yellow chair, you go to that house because you know that person is involved in the community," relayed Mierow.

Even after all their time in Thurston Woods, the Kosma's have met neighbors they've lived across from for years.

"We looked across the street a couple doors down and there's a couple yellow chairs sitting there," explained John Kosma. "Then I realized, those are the people we were helping put chairs together. We had never met them before."

So, they may be a nice lawn decoration, but the chairs have sparked a change in the neighborhood.

"As you drive down the street, you see people in the yellow chairs and you wave at them," Kosma said. "We have something in common, even though they don't know it."

The Agape Community Center will build chairs again this year. The next Yellow Chair Blitz will take place June 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Agape Community Center, 6100 N. 42nd St.

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