MKE IT Downtown

While Downtown Streets Are Quiet, Ambassadors Keep a Watchful Eye

May 28, 2020 /   Sase Milwaukee Downtown PSA

The Heroes Project salutes those who MKE a difference. To engage with our community virtually, we've documented the stories of downtown's frontline heroes, who ultimately inspired our next mural. Titled "The Hero in You," by Milwaukee artist Ken Brown, will transform MacArthur Square this June. For more details, visit www.milwaukeedowntown.com/art. Photography for Milwaukee Downtown by Andrew Feller.

Milwaukee’s walking concierges. Downtown’s spirit squad. Information gurus. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21’s Public Service Ambassadors go by many names, and in recent months, they have stepped up during the pandemic with new roles and responsibilities. From additional security patrols to high-touch surface cleaning, "everyday heroes" may be the best description for the ambassador's daily work of keeping downtown clean, safe, and friendly during these unprecedented times.  

Sase Eisenmann is a Team Leader for the Public Service Ambassador Program with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21. Work-life has changed drastically for Sase and her team. They have changed from working primarily in hospitality to downtown security and sanitation. In addition to extra personal protective equipment, the ambassadors start and end times are staggered so they never come in contact with fellow team members. 

Normally, ambassadors would talk to over one-hundred people per day, but now they hardly see anyone on the streets, let alone have the opportunity to talk to them while following CDC social distancing guidelines. Sase says, “It’s strange, but it’s good that most people are being safe and staying home.” 

Until visitors return, the ambassadors have stayed busy with removing graffiti tags (up to 75 tags a week in April). They travel the streets of downtown on foot, in cars and on bikes, disinfecting and cleaning throughout the downtown footprint.

Sase keeps her mom and grandma in mind when she’s working and at home. They are both high risk, so she thinks about them quite often. 

The thing that Sase will remember most about this time is the thoughtful signs posted around the city that thank essential workers and trying to brighten peoples' days. Sase feels that the signs are a great reminder that we all have each other’s backs. 

In these uncertain times, she recalls one of her favorite uplifting quotes from Harry Potter, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Even during the Safer at Home ordinance, our Public Service Ambassadors are on the beat, ensuring downtown’s sidewalks and streets remain safe with fewer pedestrians.

About the Author: Claire Neville is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Special Project Intern with Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, advancing downtown's strategic priorities in the realm of economic development and public space management.  

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