Founded in 2000, Walnut Way Conservation Corp. is a resident-led neighborhood organization located in Milwaukee's north side Lindsay Heights neighborhood. Walnut Way takes a comprehensive approach to address the impact of redlining and other inequitable practices on the community. Walnut Way challenges the cycle of poverty by engaging, educating, and employing community members to take leadership roles in comprehensive revitalization strategies.
Walnut Way considers its work in terms of Wellness, Work, and Wealth. To this end, Walnut Way developed The Wellness Commons, a 17,200 sq. ft. commercial real estate project on North Avenue, with the purpose of serving as a hub for wellness and resilience which houses health and wellness entrepreneurs and organizations. It also serves as a collaborative community center, fostering evidence-based wellness programs, community health research, economic development initiatives, and neighborhood action campaigns to improve individual health and strengthen a culture of wellness in Lindsay Heights.
Walnut Way’s strengths include its many cross-sector collaborations, its strategic place-based approach to change, and diverse revenue model which is based on both earned income from social enterprises and philanthropic partnerships. Blue Skies Landscaping (BSL) is a triple-bottom-line social enterprise (jobs, revenue, environment) which offers a full range of landscape, environmental and green infrastructure services in greater Milwaukee. The program provides job training and employment for individuals who have traditionally faced employment barriers and those seeking to build skills in a growing trade.
Walnut Way’s Community Wealth Building campaign seeks to identify resident talents and interests and provide opportunities to grow small businesses. Designaway print shop and the new Taste of Lindsay Heights carry out cafe are recent examples of social enterprises resulting from this campaign.. Walnut Way has strong “roots” in urban agriculture and food production which includes many parcels of community gardens and orchards, a youth summer internship program, and ongoing programs on health and nutrition. Walnut Way is also launching a Neighborhood Improvement District to support housing stabilization, and a TechEquity project to secure low-cost broadband for residents. These initiatives are all designed and executed by residents and a wide range of nonprofit, government and private sector partners.