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Volume 5 • Issue 4
Fair Trade journey Racing
Pigeons in Bay View P
By Mary Vuk Sussman
Villager in Laos making a basket. ~photos courtesy Lisa Sim
ack in 2002, Future Green co-owner Lisa Sim set oﬀ on the ﬁrst of many journeys in search of handmade organic products. She had been living a green lifestyle for a couple of decades and had dreams about bringing organic products to others. She also had some vague ideas about Fair Trade and wanted to see with her own eyes how—and if—it worked. Besides that, she needed to satisfy some wanderlust and cultural curiosity.
wafting through the air—at 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Future Green sells the many Fair Trade items purchased by the Sims on their world travels.
“I worked at Outpost for a while and that’s when I saw there was a real niche for more than just food. I didn’t want to patronize places like Wal-Mart. I thought we needed a store where people could go and have organic Fair Trade and a choice and see that there are some beautiful alternatives. That was the whole idea for the store,” Sim said. After visiting a number of African villages in Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, and Zanzibar, Sim said she saw the positive economic effects in villages that engaged in Fair Trade by selling traditionally produced goods to buyers from developed countries. She became convinced that Fair Trade did indeed work. “I saw villages that weren’t working well together, which were really struggling, desperate and begging. And I saw other villages that were a little more organized and were promoting their products in a positive way and really getting some positive results,” Sim said.
Connections with Villagers When the Sims travel to remote Third World villages, they ﬁnd artisans who produce beautiful goods, using traditional techniques and organic materials. Besides enjoying the people they meet, the Sims have a keen appreciation for the beauty of the traditionally produced goods and the cultures which inspire this production.
Sim said Fair Trade helps to preserve traditional cultures and prevents villagers from having to work in factories, which do not pay a living wage. The Sims said they derive satisfaction from doing business this way because they often see tangible improvements in the villages as a result of the Fair Trade arrangements they make. When they return from a sourcing trip, the Sims have suitcases full of organically produced handiwork purchased in various remote villages. These goods are then put on sale at Future Green for the First World consumer to buy and enjoy. For example, in Thailand, organicallygrown cotton is naturally dyed with tree bark, hand-woven, and fashioned into clothing or wall hangings by village artisans, which are then purchased and imported by Fair Traders like the Sims, who sell them at the retail level.
Cambodian Klang villager carving a gourd. It’s used as a water container. Somehow it keeps the water cool even in the heat of the summer.
On that ﬁrst trip, inspired by what she had learned and seen in Africa, Sim headed for Argentina and Peru. In Argentina, Sim, then Lisa Rohatsch, had the good fortune to meet Swee Sim, her future husband. Together, in 2003 the Sims opened the unique retailer Future Green— which smells like an aroma emporium, with fragrant scents from the eco-friendly products
“When you buy Fair Trade goods, you can make a diﬀerence,” Sim said. Sim related how Fair Trade has already made a diﬀerence for a group of Burmese Karen craftswomen who had been in a Thailand refugee camp for 20 years. The camp, near the Burmese border, is home to over 100,000 Burmese refuges, Sim said. At some point, a Fair Trade organization began working with them—bringing them raw materials to work with and taking out ﬁnished products to sell and SEE PAGE 10
By Anna Passante igeons were his life,” said Gerald Lupini of the late Tony Cupertino. Nicknamed “The Coop,” Cupertino, former county supervisor, engaged in the hobby of pigeon raising and racing for well over 50 years. Over those decades, many Bay View residents have shared his passion for pigeons. “All the Bay View pigeon racers knew each other,” said Lupini. “It was a competitive, but friendly group, and no one racer stood out in the crowd.”
In a nutshell, pigeon racing involves taking pigeons from their coops, transporting them a long distance, and releasing them with the expectation that they will find their way back to the coop. Lupini raised pigeons at his boyhood home at 2435 S. St. Clair St. in Bay View and won his ﬁrst pigeon race at the age of 13. His two pigeon lofts held as many as 150 pigeons. His best friend, Robert Fucile, who grew up at 2441 S. Wentworth Ave., raced pigeons too. “We grew up together, raced our pigeons together, and are now next door neighbors in Spring Hill, Florida,” said Lupini. Both men now belong to the Spring Hill Pigeon Club, the largest pigeon club in the United States, with over 200 members. The People Who Raced Pigeons Pigeon racing in Milwaukee goes back to around the 1880s. Racing in Bay View goes back to at least the early 1900s. Early records show that members of the Bay View Homing Pigeon Club met on Sundays near E. Potter Street and S. Logan Avenue. It is not known when the club disbanded, but according to Lupini, “The club was still active in the 1940s.” Bay View pigeon racers also belonged to the Ace Limited Homing Club, established sometime around 1930 and disbanded in the 1990s. In the 1930s, the Ace Club was located at 1903 S. Winona Ln., on Milwaukee’s south side. The club moved to S. First and W. Maple streets and ﬁnally to 3474 S. Pennsylvania Ave., now being renovated for Cream City Real Estate’s headquarters. Brian Misko, nicknamed “The Kid,” and his brother Peter, raised pigeons at their home at 1406 E. Russell Ave. “Cupertino and Louis Groppi were the most knowledgeable,” said Misko, “because they had the most experience in raising and racing pigeons.” Both men took young racers like Brian and Peter under their wing. Cupertino, Misko said, taught him what to look for in a good bird, such as the quality of the wing, a strong back, and an appleshaped body. Misko won a race in his ﬁrst year of racing and gives credit to Cupertino’s advice. He now lives in Muskego and still races pigeons. His brother Peter is deceased.
Historic Bay View Special
Gerald Lupini is holding one of his birds in front of his pigeon coop in Florida. The bird was one that Lupini raced in 2000 and is now a breeder. Lupini moved to Florida around 2002. ~courtesy Gerald Lupini
Cupertino and Groppi (nicknamed “The Pigeon”) began racing pigeons as teenagers, and both were part of the U.S. Army Pigeon Service during World War II. The Pigeon Service trained homing pigeons that were used for military reconnaissance missions. During the war, the U.S. Army had 3,150 soldiers in the Signal Corps working with 54,000 war pigeons. The most famous of the war pigeons was G.I. Joe, who alerted the American air command that an Italian city, Calvi Vecchia, occupied by 1,000 British troops, was about to be bombed. Pigeon Racing in a Nutshell In a nutshell, pigeon racing involves taking pigeons from their coops, transporting them a long distance, and releasing them with the expectation that they will ﬁnd their way back to the coop. The time of arrival at the coop is recorded and the bird with the fastest time is the winner. The pigeon breed used for racing is of the Rock Pigeon family. The sport of pigeon racing is a relatively recent pastime, originating in Belgium around 1818 and then spreading to England and ﬁnally to the United States in about 1875. Race training for the pigeons begins at an early age. All pigeons have the homing instinct, but it must be developed and sharpened. At ﬁve days old, a permanent band is placed on the bird’s leg and contains an identiﬁcation number issued by the American Racing Pigeon Union. At four months old, the young birds are driven 10 miles away and released to ﬂy home. Ten-mile intervals are added over the next few months until they are ﬂying up to 50 miles. Some pigeon raisers, according to Lupini, try to get an edge over their racing competitors by experimenting with diﬀerent feed and training methods. Bay View pigeon raiser Lyn Graziano claims that some racers use techniques that cause the birds to molt earlier so that there is less feather loss during the ﬂying season. Some even buy expensive select birds hoping to have a championship racer. Milwaukee still has two racing clubs, the Milwaukee Western Concourse Club, with 50 members, and the Invitational Club, with SEE PAGE 7
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