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Why I live here: Going with the flow

A headline in this week's CT (Cap Times) reads "debate over density could divide us." I feel divided within myself so I understand.

Coming home from a weekend in the lovely Kickapoo Valley, my husband and I once again circled around the idyllic vision of a rustic life and the irritations of urban life. Why not jump in the river flowing from Madison to Viroqua with all those folks we think are so wonderful doing wonderful things there?

The first new tenants of the East Washington project on urban infill moved in. There are untold more coming. There are a lot of unknowns and a promise of big changes in the near future for my neighborhood and my city. Change is exciting, but it's in my own backyard!

The enormously talented and wildly funny photographer Sharon Vanorny photographed The Fool's Flotilla on the Yahara River in May (thank you Sharon!). Looking at the photos now reminds me of many reasons, worth reaffirming, for living in the city (yep, calling Madison a city).

-Ambition. Like all women except Catherine Zeta-Jones, I'm not ambitious. That is, I've never thought of myself as career-driven. But I'm ambitious for a good life. For me, a high quality of life includes ease of access to groceries, friends, workplace, civic life, and nature. I want old trees and a range of restaurant choices and safe bike routes that lead to adventure or errands. I want to be part of a community. I'm working hard, networking, and visioning to improve on what I have. It means more to me than a job.

-Intentional Community. I'm reading a great novel, thanks to my husband's influence, called Arcadia about a guy who was born and raised as part of a 1970's commune. As an adult, after the commune has disintegrated, he notes that everyone lives in New York City, where they've found inter-connectedness, everyone relying on everyone else. "We've all gone urban because we're all looking for what we lost. This is the only place that approximates it. The closeness." I honestly believe we are all going to need each other more and more in the future.

-Resilience. With density comes planning and infrastructure. With more people here living, thinking, and working, we might end up with light-rail or a way to affordably make our lake water drinkable or use taxes to strengthen the infrastructure against coming storms.

-Strangers. I find people so inspiring and I love the fact that there are pods of folks throughout the city hatching plans for big ideas, just like our Reynolds Park group of neighbors. I read about others who are starting projects similar to ones I've been dreaming up and find it so exciting, all that is happening, all the people, all the ideas.

All this change is a little frightening but I'm trying to go with the flow...

Flowing flags over the Mighty Yahara by Molli

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