Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Ignacio Catral shares his passion for Humboldt Park through photos
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In which case, a local designer is speaking volumes about Humboldt Park. He’s been photographing the 73 acre park for years, and now he’s helping to raise awareness of the Bay View gem.
On a rainy September evening, Canadian geese can be heard honking as they come in for a landing at the park. Ignacio Catral sees the beauty in the park, no matter the weather.
“I'm lucky to be a couple of blocks from the park and I can just bundle up and come out and take some photos,” he said.
And he shoots it all—from the wildlife to the changing seasons.
"Most of photography actually is with my phone,” he said, patting his jeans. “So it's the easiest thing, it's always in my pocket.”
But don’t let his low-key nature fool you, these are no amateur snapshots.
“Some of the sunset photography, like summer sunsets here, are beautiful. Some of the winter photos are great, too,” Catral said of his favorite photos of Humboldt Park.
Catral has a design degree from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and is a partner in a local design firm in the city. He’s also the president of Humboldt Park Friends, which is a nonprofit focused on preserving the park and engaging the neighborhood.
“Initially I joined the organization to help them with their web presence, some of the branding and some of the social media channels,” he explained.
Catral has done that and more.
“As a mission, I think I want to raise awareness of the park and how beautiful it is and I think seeing it through other people's eyes sometimes helps,” he said.
He’s helping grow their footprint on social media by posting his photos on Instagram at @HumboldtParkMKE and on the group’s Facebook page.
“It's more like a journal, just my ode to Humboldt Park, basically,” he said with a smile.
Board member Tim Richter said he can see the social media working.
“They've seen the progress,” Richter said of people who follow the pages. “They've seen the beauty that's in the park.”
The photos also help raise awareness of projects the organization is working on, including restoring the park’s lagoon and removing invasive cattails.
“If you can imagine, the cattails went about 40 feet out, all the way to here,” Richter said, motioning out to the center of the lagoon.
They now have a pilot project to get them under control.
“I think last year we got about two tons of cattails cut,” he said.
Richter loves the results the restoration project is getting, and that includes the return of birds and wildlife, such as blue heron and eagles.
“If you were here over the weekend, someone caught some photographs of a bald eagle. With a fish that it caught,” Richter said, the enthusiasm evident in his voice.
Catral said he thinks the photos touch people’s imaginations.
“They create an emotional connection with people, so I think being top of mind and being in front of people on a frequent basis really helps,” Catral said.
Another focus for Humboldt Park Friends is replacing and planting hundreds of trees through the Hundred for Humboldt project.
“For the park here, we see beauty. We see this very verdant landscape, all over the place,” said Vice President Michael Bubolz.
Bubolz said he has seen more people using the green spaces at the park during the pandemic. And it’s allowed new people in the neighborhood to explore what the park has to offer.
“This is just a great asset for the community that we need to support and keep,” Bubolz said.
“People are very passionate, very emotional about it,” Catral added.
It’s emotion he captures with his photographs, no matter the season. And it reminds people to come, and enjoy the park.
“A lot of people are rediscovering the park, as well, and they're rediscovering Humboldt Park Friends as an organization to support,” Catral said.
For more information on Humboldt Park Friends, you can visit their website at https://www.humboldtparkmilwaukee.org/.
And if you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, just send Natalie a message at [email protected].