Something truly alchemistic is happening in our community. Last Wednesday, a section of an otherwise average thoroughfare in Appleton (a highway, actually) metamorphosed into an electric spectacle.
For about four hours, Wisconsin Avenue—between Oneida and Drew streets—hosted the Fox Cities’ first night market called “Bazaar After Dark,” thrown by PULSE Young Professionals Network and sponsored by Tundraland. If you weren’t one of the several thousand people in attendance, you must know that you missed something mystic and maybe a little bit weird. There were fire eaters, master jugglers and hula-hoopers, magicians and musicians, yogis, food vendors, small business owners, artists, and merchants of all kinds. While it’s easy to list off all the things that made the event unusual and unforgettably good, there was a bona fide reason why Wisconsin Avenue was the focal point of B.A.D. “In my view, Wisconsin Avenue has been struggling with misperceptions more than anything. The result has been several vacant storefronts positioned between otherwise unique and valuable businesses. Milwaukee faced a similar issue in their city center, and I saw NEWaukee (a social architecture firm) address it with a very fun and successful night market. It seemed logical that a similar approach could work on Wisconsin Avenue,” says Adrienne Palm, director of PULSE Young Professionals Network.
Some people might think it’s naive to address deep social and economic issues with what amounts to a street party, but I believe that changing the narrative of a place can begin with a few good ideas and a handful of committed citizens, partnerships and businesses. Those are all things we have in spades. Now we huddle up and work. – Adrienne Palm
Made it back to Appleton and dove into the first Bazaar After Dark on Wisconsin Ave just up the road from the Refuge and had so. much. fun. Made some new friends, enjoyed old ones, bought a book and a beautiful vintage skirt and fell in love with this town a little more. – Adriel Denae, musician
I had so much fun and truly felt the love from the city of Appleton. I thank God for his many blessings and for giving me the ability to share my passion and talent with my community. Yesterday was up there in the greatest accomplishments of my life and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of so many around me… the energy was unbelievable, and I had an absolute blast. Your hard work truly paid off! Everyone else who came through and hung out, took pictures, said thank you or just showed me some love, I can’t say thank you enough. You all made this a truly unforgettable experience. – Irineo Medina, muralist
#BADfoxcities was the definition of a #positivedisruption experience! #NEWsocialfuture is bright and Embolden Foundation is excited to be able to continue to keeping the #socialdisruption alive! – Embolden Foundation, Green Bay
Text: Alison Mayer
Photos: Kim Thiel