“The partnership works perfectly because we get to engage the community and broaden our reach by working together.” That’s Jessy Ortiz, Outpost’s Sustainability Manager talking about how she and Anastasia Kraft created Milwaukee Talks Green. Jessy and Ana started this group this past January because they wanted to inform our community about sustainability. The group meets roughly once a month to host events with guest speakers, tour local facilities, clean up rivers and more. “The whole idea of MKE Talks Green is to educate our community so people will know more and can make better decisions in their everyday life,” explains Ana Kraft.
But lets back up a moment because these two ambitious women didn’t even know each other until November 2016. Ana, originally from Germany, saw things differently than many Americans because she grew up in a country with small cars, renewable energy, extensive waste management and elaborate recycling. “Instead of complaining, I wanted to meet people. I’m sure there are many people out there that care about the environment and want to learn something,” she says. Inspired by TED Talks, she decided to make a Meet Up group where speakers could present to the community and everyone could discuss the topic afterwards.
Enter Jessy Ortiz and Outpost Natural Foods. At about the same time, Jessy and the company were discussing how to better engage the community in sustainability. The original idea was to start a group only for owners of the Outpost co-op, but when Ana showed up at the Bay View location asking if Outpost would host the Meet Up group, it made more sense to include the whole community.
Ana and Jessy plan out the events with themes based on the time of year or relevant holidays. For instance, in March their theme was water for World Water Day and they invited speakers from Milwaukee River Keeper, Feed Mouths Filling Minds and water expert Dr. Moe Mukiibi. In April they focused on local farming, hosting speakers from the Young Farmers Program and Victory Garden Initiative. In the summer months, they organized outside events like a tour of Milwaukee recycling facilities and of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. August’s theme will be sustainable grazing and later in the fall they will be focussing on energy efficiency.
The two women emphasize that the group is meant to inform people of what’s already going on in their community and hopefully inspire them to get involved. “The idea is think global, act local,” says Jessy. “This is one way for Outpost to extend their mission: to provide owners a healthy, diverse and sustainable community.”
“Education is the most powerful tool we can use to change the world,” Ana passionately states. “Hopefully we will create a community where people see their impact.”
To join these two inspiring women at their next event, visit their Facebook page and learn more about how Milwaukee is becoming a sustainable city.