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Lori's OpEd: Help Light the Hoan Bridge

Updated: Jul 10, 2018

To make Milwaukee a better — and more beautiful — place.

Hoan Bridge. Photo by Wantonlife (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Milwaukee, like most cities, loves a good legacy. Names like Kilbourn, Juneau, Mitchell and Cudahy can be found all over town, as are those of modern-day philanthropists that generously contribute to our city.

In many cases, these legacies signaled the end of one’s career, or celebrate a life well-lived.

But with a new generation of leadership in Milwaukee, comes a new sense of optimism about our city and a new attitude about the idea of legacy. Many of us aren’t yet to the point in our careers where we’ll have a building, street or landmark named after us, but we’re looking to make a difference today. We’re looking to change a historic narrative of negativity about our city, one small act, one day at a time.

The next generation of citizens in this community want a way to make a change and leave their mark now, regardless of their professional status or the size of their bank accounts. The Light the Hoan effort creates this opportunity one bulb at a time. Each bulb represents one act of kindness, goodwill or upstanding citizen in Milwaukee. And collectively, they will brighten our skyline and energize our community and represent the positive things happening each and every day.

Because people from all neighborhoods and all walks of life should be big sources of civic pride for Milwaukee and have the opportunity to leave a legacy.

Each donation of $25 to $50 or more at comes with the opportunity to dedicate a bulb to someone who makes Milwaukee a better place. Our hope is that for thousands who participate, the Hoan Bridge will become this symbol of positivity and civic pride. The awe-inspiring sight of tens of thousands of bulbs lighting the Hoan will stand as a reminder that Milwaukee is held together by those individuals and families who work hard and love generously for the good of their neighbors.

These lights will fill the void of darkness when we pan the night skyline, and be enjoyed by residents, commuters, boaters and tourists within several miles of downtown. As other cities have experienced, restaurants and outdoor venues with a view of the lights will benefit via increased business. And to make them quintessentially Milwaukee, the lights can be programmed to “dance” to Summerfest, colored to reflect a playoff run for the Brewers or the Bucks, or reflect many other adaptations of our hometown pride.

Our future is bright because of the people who make this community great, and we are convinced it has never been more important to illuminate these stories for the good of our city.

The experience of pointing to the lighted bridge and showing someone your bulb is a lasting legacy accessible to each one of us.

Imagine this collection of people and stories symbolically illuminating our downtown. In addition to increasing the beauty and value of our city, we’ll be making a statement of hope and unity that can be a catalyst for positive change for generations to come.

This is a chance for us all to leave a legacy and look with pride at a landmark we collectively illuminated for all to see.

Let’s make our mark and show our pride in our city. Let’s light up the Hoan as a symbol of our pride and our optimism for the future of Milwaukee.

Lori Richards, President, Mueller Communications and  Member of the Light the Hoan Committee

The Light the Hoan effort is organized and run by a volunteer committee of the Daniel Hoan Foundation. We are people with immense pride for our city, working to make a big idea a reality, with the help of and hope that we can engage thousands of other regular people who love Milwaukee just as much as we do.

This piece was previously published in Urban Milwaukee.


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