A native Milwaukeean, Jermaine Alexander moved with his family to Sherman Park in 1988 when he was a teenager. They rented a bungalow that remains his home to date.
Seven years ago, in an effort to become more connected with the neighborhood, Mr. Alexander joined the Sherman Park Community Association’s Housing Committee. He felt that this was a good fit him — he had recently completed his education in construction trades. He has since taken on a full-time role as the Housing Director for the Association. His job is to help homeowners find available city funding for repairs, secure additional funding for home maintenance, and serve as a liaison between homeowners and building contractors.
One of Alexander’s favorite pastimes is taking walks or bike rides in the neighborhood. During these trips he enjoys the “diverse architectural details” of local homes. He has a deep appreciation for the quality construction and stylistic variety of the homes in Sherman Park. He seeks to preserve their historical integrity through his work with the Sherman Park Community Association. He explains that as “a repair-minded individual and one who is ... kind of artsy” he has put effort and labor into conserving the architectural qualities of his own home.
According to Mr. Alexander, visually diverse and well-maintained houses can have a positive impact on a person’s mood. The physical character of the neighborhood impacts residents' desire to continue living in an area. This is one way, he noted, that people can show care for their neighborhood. Caring for their physical environment has the potential to initiate a chain reaction, encouraging others to become stewards of their environment too. However, Mr. Alexander does not make light of the financial burden of home repairs and improvements that has the potential to force a homeowner into debt and even foreclosure. Thus, he emphasizes the importance of external and neighborhood-generated funding that may help residents maintain their homes and yards.
Alexander is grateful that his job allows him to build connections with people throughout Sherman Park. He stresses the necessity of making connections with his neighbors, especially those on his block, adding that it is the responsibility of both longtime residents and newcomers to reach out—to be visible and willing to strike up a conversation. “Just shooting the breeze sometimes helps and brings about the connectivity,” Alexander added.
The Sherman Park Community Association endeavors to facilitate these convivial interactions between residents by encouraging block clubs and organizing neighborhood-wide events. Knowing your neighbors benefits not only the individual but also the community as a whole. “If more people know each other and [are] connected, then you’re able to, you know, even address issues…that may come up.” Alexander argues that this sense of human connection also “brings about more of a sense of pride for the area.”
Appreciate your neighborhood
Repairing the houses
Work with the homeowners and the contractors
To function within the neighborhood better
Active neighborhood relations
The paint colors
Paint schemes for rooms
A willingness to to to express your caring