"I grew up in an environment where political and social issues were talked about around the kitchen table," says Fidel
Today, Fidel, a self-taught artist, teaches at several schools and after-school programs. He is also a journalist and a hip-hop artist who performs under the name Viva Fidel.
Fidel combines his passion for art, music and teaching.
"I use the language and elements of hip-hop in my teaching platform," he says. "Hip-hop helps to create a voice that’s critical in a place like Milwaukee. It is a threatening genre to some people because it talks about issues a lot of people don’t want to talk about. It is designed to keep people uncomfortable and that’s good because we don’t ever want to be comfortable with death and destruction."
We don’t ever want to be comfortable with death and destruction.
Thirteen years ago, Fidel co-founded The Summer of Peace with Tanya Byrd. Summer of Peace is a city-wide, one-day youth rally created to promote the positive by recognizing young people doing good things in the city. It’s also a celebration of entertainment, art and community.
"The mayor came to the first Summer of Peace and signed our peace pledge," says Fidel. "There aren’t a lot of initiatives that speak to a solution, so we took it upon ourselves to do this."
What started out as a small gathering has grown into a large-scale collaborative effort with 30 other agencies. A big part of Summer of Peace — as well as Fidel’s personal philosophy — is to change the language in and around the central city.
"We’ve created a change in the conversation. We don’t say, ‘put the guns down, stop the killing, stop the violence.’ Instead, we talk about youth leadership, collaboration and promoting the positive," says Fidel. "Peace is now in the conversation and we are really, really proud of that."
Summer of Peace takes place every August in different county parks including Gordon Park, Kadish Park and Washington Park. Last summer, the group worked with Milwaukee Urban Gardens and created The Peace Park & Garden space on the corner of 5th and Locust Streets that then served as the event’s home base.
"Because of the work and sweat equity we put in last summer at the 5th Street park, we are now in conversations with the city about a bigger space," says Fidel "It’s about repurposing and place-making and creating something young people can take ownership of and feel good about."
-By Molly Snyder for onmilwaukee.com
Expertise: Community Development · Economic Development · Entrepreneurship · Food Systems · Land Use Planning · Marketing · Social Justice · Social/Behavioral Sciences · Urban Agriculture · Urban Planning · Youth Development
Primary IUAN Affiliation: -At Large / Other / Unaffiliated-
Position: Father, Maker, Owner
Student status: Other