Milwaukee Network for Social Change (‘Shepherd Express’ February, 2008)

TheMilwaukee Network for Social Change (MNSC) is a group that formed to  promote “free culture,” the ultimate goal of which is a sustainable society that  offers shelter, clothing and warmth for all. John Revord, one of the  founding fathers of the group, talked about their mission and tactics.

What is the network’s  goal? Our objectives are fairly open-ended. The biggest thing is working  on sustainability issues and eliminating dependence on overproduction and  unequal distribution of goods. This causes societal and environmental waste and  at the same time forces people to work extra hours that would be better spent  with their families. We want to create a working, sustainable  partnership community in Milwaukee that has open lines of communication despite  differences such as socioeconomic status and race.

What are you  currently working on?                               We have the “free van” project. For that, we  collect clothing donations and redistribute them to people in need. We’ve gone,  for example, to St. Ben’s on Ninth Street during their weekly soup kitchen  hours. Ultimately, we’d like to have a free store that can be used for  community space and at which people are able to bring what they no longer use  and take what they have use for. We’ve partnered with a few like-minded groups  locally, such as Food Not Bombs, Faith Community for Worker Justice, Friends of  Garden Park, and People’s Books Co-op.

Why have you chosen  to work on this particular issue?                               In the beginning, there were three of  us who wanted to work on something political because we were kind of sick of the  direction we saw the anti-war movement going in. Our initial aim was to do  something “direct-action” and street-based, grassroots. Politically, it’s almost  impossible to make change from the top down. We wanted to get together and start  bottom-up politics, bottom-up change.

What is the  philosophy behind your actions?                              We’ve labeled it “free culture.” Our  group has agreed that there’s enough stuff in this city for everyone if you  include all the things in people’s basements and attics, but that,  unfortunately, it’s disproportionately distributed. What we want to do is  balance that displacement. Basically, clothes, warmth and food are human rights,  especially in a country filled to the gills with excess, and for people even to  have to pay that $1.50 at a secondhand store, I personally think, is ridiculous.

Meetings are held  Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at People’s Books Cooperative, located at 2122 E. Locust St.  For more information, go to MNSC’s Web site at

John Revord – Photo by Don Rask 

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