A warning right off the bat: Today’s episode of The Bottom-Up Revolution podcast is going to be a little bit of a Milwaukee love fest because the featured guest and the host (Rachel Quednau) both call this city home. But it’s a great city! Nevertheless, if you bring up Milwaukee to the average person, including someone who lives here, they will probably jump to talking about all the things that aren’t going well, all the areas that need to be improved upon. Those are absolutely important. But we appreciate that Montavius Jones, today’s guest, focuses on highlighting what’s amazing about this Midwestern city, and then talking about how we can build on that to make it even better for everyone who lives here.
Jones is a Strong Towns member who describes himself as “getting radicalized” about urban planning issues on Twitter. (This conversation is actually a good argument for the positive potential of Twitter as a place to meet people, connect, and share ideas!) Jones majored in commercial real estate in college, and brings that expertise to his work today at a community development financial institution, as well as a lot of on-the-ground advocacy in Milwaukee. A few years ago, he also had the opportunity to travel around Central and South America, observing the way so many cities to the south have built themselves with people as the priority, not cars. In particular, he talks about his all-time favorite city, Mexico City, and why it’s a perfect example of successful, strong urban planning.
Jones sees the connections between the challenges that many communities, especially mid-size cities like Milwaukee, face: population stagnation, educational and health disparities, safety, housing affordability… He sees solutions in a Strong Towns approach to urban planning. In this conversation, you’ll also hear about an initiative he helps lead called Urban Spaceship. We’ll just leave that as a teaser since the name alone should be enough to get you intrigued.