May 22, 2007
Madison: List city, U.S.A.Jennifer A. Smith
Although I will never be a native Madisonian and there are many ways this city can be self-congratulatory and grating, I've become a bit of a
In recent months and years, two well-known writers/consultants on workplace issues and shifting demographics have moved here: Rebecca Ryan (of the forthcoming book Live First, Work Second) and Penelope Trunk (of the Web site Brazen Careerist and the new book of the same name). Ryan is a Wisconsin (but not
I realized I'd become a touch defensive about
I could go on, but I won't. My point is simply that, if you can't find culture and innovation here, you're not tryin' - and the same can be said of many, many small cities around the country.
Posted by Jennifer A. Smith at May 22, 2007 6:00 AM
Hi, Jennifer. Thank you for linking back to Brazen Careerist, even if you don't like what I wrote :)
I think a big problem with talking about what is good about Madison - or any other city -- and what needs improving is that it's all relative. Mostly, it's realtive to what we have experienced and what we wish for ourselves.
For example, if you come from New York City to Madison, you say, "The camping in Wisconsin is great." If you come to Madison from California you say, "The camping in Wisconsin isn't that great. It's basically just one type of climate."
So talk of, say, culture in Madison, is all relative. And so it talk about schools, for example. (There are national rankings of schools. I never hear talk in Madison about where schools fall nationally.)
I hope this makes sense. I really like living in Madison. And now that summer's here I feel like I'm in vacationland heaven. But I wish it were not such a controversial thing to suggest that Madison is not perfect.
Posted by: Penelope Trunk at May 22, 2007 8:54 AM
Thanks for responding! (I thought you might -- I can tell from your blog that you are interested in that give-and-take with people who read your posts.)
My intent was not to make it "controversial" to say Madison is not perfect -- no city is, and there are plenty of things in Madison that I gripe about. What I was reacting to is this idea that, if you leave a bigger city, you're automatically giving up "culture," whatever that means to you. I personally think it's more an issue of scale. And in the end, I think that what is most important is that people take the time to immerse themselves in the culture, if that's what they value. I think someone attending a local theater performance or art show in a small town in Wisconsin could arguably have a more "authentic" cultural experience than someone sitting in a multiplex in a large city watching yet another sequel. Culture and innovation are there to be found, wherever you look.
Thanks for stopping by, Penelope. I think your blog is provocative, even when I don't agree.
Posted by: Jennifer A. Smith at May 22, 2007 9:36 AM
There is plenty of talk in Madison about the national rankings of schools. Check out the School Information Systems, a website dedicated to discussions concerning education in Madison.
Posted by: Jesse Russell at May 22, 2007 11:14 AM