About Us

The mission of the Milwaukee River Advocates Cooperative is to protect the natural habitat of the Milwaukee River corridor, to provide educational, stewardship and other opportunities for members, and to engage people and organizations in the preservation and renewal of habitat with a goal of restoring it to pre-settlement conditions.

Underlying Advocacy Mission of MRA Co-op

The Milwaukee River corridor has seen incredible growth in the last 15-20 years. Within the span of a few short years, some areas have gone from natural and wild spaces to fully built up developments. Beautiful walking trails have been paved and canopies destroyed. Efforts by residents and environmental activists to stop encroaching development have been mostly unsuccessful, with the City siding with predatory developers who see the river as an economic boon. In at least two cases, developers began building before permits were approved. One fight included a legal effort by local residents and business owners, which ended in the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It was a partial win, but by the time of the ruling, the building was built and the parking lot paved.

We have had promises from the City that building would stop at North Ave. Later, a new “Overlay District” with more restrictive zoning was passed. Still, dorms have been built with the blessing of the City and non-profit environmental groups, and the new River Overlay District barely affects even the closest properties to the bluff.

We’re working to build a fund to prepare for future river advocacy where upcoming development may be harmful for the river, the woodlands, or the bluff. Two dorms, hundreds of condos, and one strip mall have taught us the need for vigilant protection of our blufflands and primary environmental corridor, which despite zoning barriers, continue to get developed.

Milwaukee River Advocates Board of Directors

Sura Faraj

Sura has lived in Riverwest for over 25 years. She is a biker, poet, organizer and editor, and cut her advocacy teeth in the celebrated Humboldt Yards Coalition, where she learned how city zoning works. Sura is one of the original founders of the Riverwest Food Co-op, and is a budding herbalist and naturalist.

Julia Kirchner
Julia is an adjunct professor of humanities at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and an environmental educator for Milwaukee Public Schools.

RoseMary Oliviera 
With years of professional experience in budget and environmental policy RoseMary has worked to create and protect parks and greenspace in Riverwest since 1984.

David Press
David has lived in Riverwest since 1979 when he came to Milwaukee to teach at UWM.  He and Petra own a home on Humboldt. When he is not hiking along the Milwaukee River foot trails, David is all about books.  He writes them, sells them, and he is active in the Riverwest open mic and writers’ community.

Petra Press
“Ms.Petra,” as her students know her, is a Riverwest artist and teacher of art to elementary schools in Milwaukee. A graduate of UWM, Petra has lived in Riverwest for 25 years, and has logged thousands of miles walking the foot trails along the Milwaukee River.

Kristine Stein
Kristine is the owner & operator of Brew City Botanicals and a wellness practitioner at Total Health Nutrition Center.

Milwaukee River Advocates
414.263.1513  (Sura)
414.305.3207  (David)

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