MILWAUKEE — At the corner of a busy south side Milwaukee intersection, cars blast music as they whiz by. But just next to it, there is a calm and serene presence. And maybe even one day even butterflies and a slide.
“We like to keep this park clean because we notice a lot of garbage accumulates in the area," Elizabeth Ramirez, a community organizer, said.
Elizabeth is on a mission.
“We deserve our neighborhoods to be clean, you know.”
She wants to make her Milwaukee neighborhood as beautiful as possible.
Which is why she has started to take ownership of a green space at West Forest Home Street and South 13th Street in Milwaukee. She waters the gardens, picks up litter, and even gets help from neighborhood volunteers to maintain it.
“But here in the inner city then - now we can have a beautiful green space to enjoy.”
This is Butterfly Park. It's kept up by the neighborhood for the neighborhood. You don't always find green spaces in commercial districts, and when you do, they can often be riddled with litter. But that won't happen on Elizabeth's watch. She has been keeping it up for a while and has even enlisted the help of volunteers from La Comunidad MKE. Some bring new flowers to plant and others will mow the grass.
“It brings that sense of pride in our community because we do deserve clean streets.”
The green space acts as a park but also a break from hectic city life. It allows people to slow down and smell the flowers, literally. Or you can go there to pick up a book from the little free library stocked by Barby The Book Fairy. There's a wonderful mural that was painted by the community too.
One of the main things Elizabeth focuses on is trash pick-ups. She said people throw garbage out of their car and it ends up in the park. She collects plastic, masks, bottles, and anything else you can think of.
Elizabeth hosts community cleanups every weekend, and it's not just at Butterfly Park. She goes to a new place in the neighborhood or a different neighborhood all together to clean up litter. Find out where she will be next on the La Comunidad Facebook page.
Right now, there is a flower bed, bird bath, mural, and a ton of green space at the park. Elizabeth is eyeing something even bigger.
“We can possibly have a playground, you know. I would like to see a little swing, slide here. That would be really great for our kids in the neighborhood.”
But before the playground comes or the butterflies return, Elizabeth continues her mission of picking up trash and planting flowers.