NEWaukeean: Zaynab Baalbaki
Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
Escuela Verde! I am an advisor there and I **LOVE** where I work because I work in the same area I grew up and teach students who are just like me when I was growing up in Milwaukee. I get to give back to my community. That’s priceless. My role as advisor is so amazing for so many reasons! I get the privilege to work with amazing, talented and caring students while doing meaningful work for the environment. The entire staff at Escuela Verde is very understanding and committed to improving Milwaukee and the world. It truly is the best place to work.
How long have you lived in MKE & what brought you here?
I was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee. I live, work and play on the south side. I left for a few years for schooling, but I am back in Milwaukee and found my home at Escuela Verde. I was attracted to EV for its commitment to social justice.
What is something that is missing from our community that you would love to see implemented?
MKE is a wonderful city, that does not mean it doesn’t have room for growth. I would love for MKE to continue and improve their commitment to social and environmental justice. I think there are areas in which we can improve the social landscape of the city as well as improving our green infrastructure.
What is one word that you would use to describe MKE?
Where do you see MKE in 5 years?
I see MKE making some real significant changes in the next five years. I would like MKE to continue to be a leader and advocate for clean water. I hope MKE continues to improve its social landscape, specifically race relations within the city.
What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
I like to call myself a self-proclaimed foodie, therefore I am well versed in MKE cuisine and restaurants. One of my all-time favorite places to eat is La Merenda. I have been there for NYE, valentines day, my birthday, work lunches and just when I’m hungry. I feel obligated to list a few honorable mentions as well, you know since I LOVE food. Great places to check out are El Cabrito, Lake Park Bistro, Tandem, Mazorca, Bel Aire, Classic Slice, Kopps…and so many more!
What is your biggest hope for this city?
One of my biggest and most invested hopes for this city is to reduce and eliminate the racial tensions that are embedded within the city. I want the people in Milwaukee to feel that ALL Milwaukee is part of their city, not just certain sections. I would love for Milwaukeeans to explore all parts of the city in hopes to feel more connected to the city.
What is your favorite MKE tradition?
One of my favorite MKE traditions growing up was attending Mexican Fiesta at the Summer Fest grounds. I remember going there and trying to get all the free goodies I could. Now, as an adult, obviously, I go for the food!
What does your ideal MKE weekend look like?
My ideal weekend in MKE would have many components to it. I would love to spend some time relaxing with nature either on the Hank Aaron Trail or watching the water at Harbor Island. I would also have some social time with friends and grab a bite to eat at a new restaurant. If I am feeling adventurous I might head downtown and dance.
What neighborhood do you live in and why do you love it?
I have some really deep neighborhood pride! I live and work on the south side of MKE. I LOVE living there because my neighbors are people who have shared the same struggles and with that, we will rise together.
What’s your favorite hidden gem or secret fact about the city?
El Cabrito is my favorite hidden gem in the city. It is my favorite place to eat Mexican food, partly because it was so close to home, but also because it is so good and very reasonably priced. The staff is always friendly and it is always clean!