David Berka

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Where do you work and what makes your role awesome?
I work at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin (FAEW), near downtown Milwaukee, as a Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. FAEW is a part of a major national network of food banks that strive to solve hunger. As a member of FAEW, I get to be part of that effort in my home state. Our organization, as do many nonprofit organizations, depends on volunteers. We simply couldn’t do what we do—helping to feed and solve hunger for food-insecure members of our state—without committed partners and friends who donate their time, skill, energy, resources, and enthusiasm for making a difference. What makes my role awesome? I get to meet, coordinate, and work alongside these thousands of unbelievably generous people every day as we work toward a common, life-affirming goal.

How long have you lived in MKE & what brought you here?
Years ago I moved to Milwaukee for college, and I finished at UW-MKE with degrees in philosophy and psychology. I decided on UW-MKE because I had never lived in a big city before and was curious. Milwaukee came to fascinate and inspire me. After studying, working, and living in Milwaukee for six years, I moved to North Carolina for graduate school. Once I graduated this past June, I moved back to Milwaukee so that I could get married. Now my wife Kristin and I, along with our Australian Shepard, are ready for MKE: Round 2!

What is something that is missing from our community that you would love to see implemented?
More gardens! Not necessarily flower gardens, but food gardens. How excellent would it be if every household had a small plot for growing food and helping to sustain a family? For instance, I think the work of Milwaukee’s Victory Garden Initiative (VGI) is brilliant. Culturally, we’ve moved so far from knowing what it really costs for us to eat and live, and the kinds of demands our eating habits place on our environment. Projects like VGI help empower everyday people not only to learn more about growing their own food, but also to practice it right in their own yards, however small. If we’re trying to solve hunger and end food insecurity, then these efforts for local, small-scale empowerment are so crucial.

What local restaurant is at the top of your list?
I haven’t had much time to explore new restaurants since I’ve been back. But I recently discovered that Story Hill BKC has the best brunch I’ve had in Milwaukee in a very long time!

What does your ideal MKE weekend look like?
My ideal Milwaukee weekend is in fall near the lakefront. Probably biking around on the Oak Leaf Trail and stopping somewhere to read outdoors for the afternoon. Then one night my wife and I would go out for dinner and a movie at the Oriental, and the next we’d be at home with friends or family for dinner. And on a sunny Sunday afternoon I’d nap with the windows open.

What is your favorite MKE tradition?
Probably my favorite Milwaukee tradition is the annual Milwaukee Film Festival. It’s an amazing event and I’ve enjoyed going every time I’ve been able. Missing the Festival was one of the more disappointing aspects of living away from Milwaukee for a few years. Plus the Festival always features excellent pieces about Milwaukee itself. Probably the most moving this year was a documentary called “Milwaukee 53206,” about mass incarceration’s effect on our city.