Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Ways to Connect

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Wednesday evening update:

The National Trust's presentation did not bring the Milwaukee County Task Force on the Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes any closer to its mission.  It is  "to recommend a course of action to the County Executive and County Board" on a sustainable future of the Domes.

Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle described the National Trust's report as "weak and vague."

Fellow task force member John Gurda suggested Milwaukee County engineers analyze the report and provide feedback at the next meeting. Its date has not yet been set.

Susan Bence

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made of both U.S. and Canadian mayors, opposes Waukesha’s plan to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan.

For years, the City of Waukesha has been under court order to come up with a safe alternative to its radium-tainted aquifer. Last summer, the Great Lakes governors granted the city permission to use water from Lake Michigan, after a years-long and expensive permitting process.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

For this week's Bubbler Talk, we look into a question submitted by Scott Wimer, who asked: What used to be located on the land south of Greenfield Ave., west of the Kinnickinnic River and east of the old Chicago/Northwestern tracks?

Perhaps you'd recognize that big, vacant plot (actually it's two distinct parcels) in the Milwaukee Harbor as formerly holding gigantic coal piles and dilapidated buildings.

Ashley Irvin

A hearing room spilled over with people at the State Capitol Wednesday with people clambering to talk about high capacity wells. The bill allows owners of existing high capacity wells to repair them, or in an emergency replace them, - with zero DNR review. 

And if you sell your property, the high capacity well comes with it - no permitting strings attached.

Statewide, more than 13,000 high capacity wells exist. Each one can extract more than 100,000 gallons of water per day.

As a snow advisory hovers over the region, the Milwaukee River has taken on a strange and ever-changing look.

It looks like a gooey concoction, but according to Milwaukee Riverkeeper, the topping is rapidly forming ice called "pancake."

"Because the river has been wide open due to warm temps, and temps have dropped, it's starting to ice up again," says Riverkeeper Cheryl Nenn, explaining what people might be noticing floating down the river toward Lake Michigan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Jacqui Patterson works in communities around the country to engage African-Americans on climate issues. She directs the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program and helped build the program from the ground up.

Pat Rabinson

Milwaukee Water Commons was created four years ago to educate the community about water - its rivers, streams and Lake Michigan - to cultivate informed stewards.

“I came from a more traditional environmental effort, which was the Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition – working to make the river more beautiful, more accessible. There was already a ton of passion around that issue, but it was by and large a middle class and white group of people,” founder Ann Brummitt says.

David Flowers

Milwaukee native Davita Flowers-Shanklin brings a unique experience to the discussion of segregation, and its ripple effects.

“I remember being in high school and being really into science and biology. I was the co-director of Camp Everytown, which is a diversity camp for teenagers," Flowers-Shanklin says. "So my work even as a teenager was around anti-oppression."

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Segregation impacts many different areas of our lives in metro Milwaukee. One that may not be top of mind is its connection to environmental health and justice. WUWM found an intricate tapestry of challenge and hope -- starting with Antoine Carter.

His childhood started on East Chambers in Milwaukee.

“I remember drugs and gangs and outdoor football and people getting jumped and all sorts of stuff. Just living in this area in the 1990s, I was a little too young to understand everything that was going on, but I still could see that things weren’t right,” Carter says.

Susan Bence

UW-Milwaukee's Institute of World Affairs invited a conversation between Michael Vickerman and Alex Bozmoski about what U.S. energy policy should look. The two come from different worlds.

Michael Vickerman’s perspective is steeped in his long program policy career with the Madison-based renewable energy advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin.

The City unveiled its website today before a crowd of Waukesha business and community leaders.
 

Water utility director Dan Duchniak says it is important to keep residents throughout the region informed as Waukesha proceeds with plans to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan.

“Not only Waukesha, but Franklin, Oak Creek, Muskego, New Berlin and Racine will be impacted by the project,” Duchniak says.

Construction has not yet begun.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The students at Fernwood Montessori, an MPS school in Bay View, already raise perch and grow vegetables, so to add composting seemed like a no brainer.

At lunchtime, the kids dutifully line up to toss their leftovers into the proper bin. Even the partitioned trays are biodegradable.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Liz Wessel launched Green Concierge Travel a decade ago, as she noticed more and more travelers wanting  to leave as little waste and carbon footprint behind in their wake.

Wessel says when in Milwaukee, the Clock Shadow Building is one of the places she would recommend.

“We’re in the Clock Shadow Creamery because I think this is an ideal example of the extra add on when you travel and you’re trying to be sustainable,” she says.

Right now she’s putting an Alaskan trip together.

Justin Hegarty

The City of Milwaukee is piloting home compost pick-up and its proving to be very popular. The maximum number of sign-ups -- 500 households scattered throughout Bay View, the East Side, Harambee and Riverwest -- was reached in just eight days last September, and now there's a wait list.

Susan Bence

Plenty of people like nothing more than experiencing nature. Shorewood native and author Pete Fromm realized he was one of those people.

Fromm's, who lives in Montana, love for nature has resulted in five Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards.

He says his parents planted that seed - perhaps unknowingly - through family camping trips.

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