Chapter Ten- Urban Ecology Center and Exclusive Co.


For my birthday, I left the kids with my husband and went on a date with my lovely friend Kate.  Back up a few years to when I worked for REI as Outreach Specialist.  That amazing job got me in touch with some really cool non-profits in the Milwaukee area, such as The Park People, The Ice Age Trail Alliance, Dream Bikes, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, The Urban Ecology Center, and many more.  I’ve been wanting to stay involved these killer organizations since I left (when I was pregnant with the twins 2 years ago), so when I heard that the Urban Ecology Center was having an Earth Day Festival on my birthday, I couldn’t pass it up.


When we arrived, I caught up with Jamie Ferschinger, branch manager at the Riverside Park branch, and got really excited about their new branch that recently opened in the Menominee Valley.  We also talked about how I went to the indoor farmers’ market last week, and how they’re looking to keep the same space at the State Fair Grounds for next year (fingers crossed!).  I was reminded that all these non-profits who care about our community are connected to each other.  Kate and I then proceeded to the animal viewing room and saw some great reptiles.  A cranky snake named Ferdinand was all the talk, and one of the staff was feeding a mouse to Ned the snake.  We also saw some small and some HUGE turtles.  There is space for kids to sit down while they learn all about the animals in their environment, as many school groups come through these doors.


Next we headed upstairs to view the super cool face-painting and Korean drumming.  The space is comfortable, clean, natural, and inviting.  And lots of people to use the building for free crafts, projects, and entertainment!



Kate and I couldn’t resist taking a trip (or two or three) down the slide, too.


We then ventured outside to the observation tower and got a great view of our city, the nice architecture, solar panels, and some rock climbing action.


This branch of the Urban Ecology Center is placed right behind Riverside Park, and along the Oak Leaf Recreational Trail.


And as a bonus, you can ask staff for permission to play any number of musical instruments.  Curl up with a banjo and relax.


Kate and I got some food after the event, and the first person who guesses this location in the comment section (email me your info at milwaukeebystorm [at] gmail [dot] com) will get a postcard in the mail from me.  How’s THAT for a contest?!?


The final chapter of my birthday adventure was a celebration of Record Store Day.  I didn’t even know this was a thing, but it is.  It involves independent record stores, swag, record releases, sales, and live music.  As we entered The Exclusive Company on Farwell, I saw a poster of JD McPherson, and pointed to it saying “Kate, I like this band!”  We talked about how I really dig the song “North Side Girl” (see video below) which can be heard on my fave radio station Radio Milwaukee.  So when we entered the store, we were both really surprised to FIND HIM PLAYING!  It was awesome!  Everyone in the place was smiling and bopping along to the beat, and the vibe was positive and fun.  Things I love: vinyl records, sales, live music.  We watched the show and even got the band to sign my LP.  I didn’t think I was self conscious about my age or birthday, until one of the guys asked if we were going to the show at Shank Hall that night.  I stumbled and almost blurted out “Um no, I’m and old lady who’s pregnant with my fourth kid and will probably be in bed by 9pm”, but my much less awkward friend jumped in and said something like “No, we have plans that involve lots of other people”.  Good save!

JD McPherson North Side Girl

In all, this was one of my more favorite birthdays.  I got to take part in a great community event at The Urban Ecology Center, and listened to live music.  Things just sort of seemed to work out.

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  1. jamie says:

    Awesome article… we enjoyed your birthday too! Thanks for lending your kids – it was so good to see them. So as to where the photo is – I know it’s not whole foods or some co-op because I don’t think they allow Jif PB. at least not the stores up here. And I don’t think the Pig has stuffed chairs or wolves for that matter. So, I guess I don’t have a guess. 🙁 I was just hoping for a postcard.

  2. Emily says:

    Jamie – perhaps you should ask whether Amber and Kate have Fulbeli’s.

    Amber – UEC is amazing! Glad you had a great time!


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