New year, new hope. What changes do you want to see in 2008? We put that question to a cross-section of Madisonians to see what reflections and resolutions they would offer. Their answers were sometimes funny, sometimes profound. Here's what we learned.
- Edited by Marc Eisen
Up the price of gas
Michael D. Barrett
I'm hoping for $11-a-gallon gas. The cascade of Very Good Things would be fabulous. First, we might finally see the lazy asses get out of their cars and walk it off. (Their attitudes and asses, that is.) Second, those rivers of death - a.k.a. highways - would become streams of life, full of people biking, rollerblading, walking, skateboarding and cross-country skiing. Third, we could all finally breathe. Eleven-buck gas might even force "The Enviro Twins," Mayor Cieslewicz and County Executive Falk, to grasp the folly of their ever-expanding sprawlways. In the meantime, I'd settle for seeing planning and transportation commissioners rise up and actually walk their enviro-talk rather than continually capitulating to engineers and planners.
Barrett is an urban geographer with UrbanThoreau LLC (www.urbanthoreau.com), a firm specializing in creating places for people.
Lead in green governing
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
My goals for Madison for 2008 and beyond are that every Madisonian will feel safe anywhere in the city, our basic services will be excellent, our public schools will be great, the business community will see us as pro-business even as we're progressive, and we'll be a national leader in green governing.
My goals for myself are that I will bike to work more, play sheepshead once a month, lose 10 pounds, not be caught dancing or singing in public, not lose any more hair, and get at least one positive mention in a Vikki Kratz column.
Use waterslides as public transit
What we need is people actually trying harder to have a nice day when other people say: "Have a nice day." Let's show some effort here, eh?
Also, we need waterslides as public transportation, connecting Madison's condos and other tall buildings. In the winter, the waterslides can be frozen and used with sleds. (Cieslewicz, call me on this.)
We need much more friendly motorist-to-motorist waving in the coming year. This is important. Also, in the summer, we could use giant pine-scented air fresheners peppered around the lakes to assuage algae-reekiness.
Wallman is lead tambourine player in the Gomers, and creative director at Knupp & Watson Advertising.
Commit to nonviolence
My hope for myself, my family, my community and the world is that we all realize that we cannot end violence with violence and cannot contribute to peace if we do not have a deep commitment to the healing power of nonaggression.
This means we practice not contributing to it in any form in our own mind, speech, and actions. It is a radical political act to live in more harmony with everyone and everything.
I want to meet life with a sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness, to become more comfortable with the mystery of life, to delight more in what we do not know than what we do know.
Maples is a retired Madison police captain. Later this month, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh will recognize her as a dharma teacher.
Protect our natural heritage Ken Whitehorse
Last deer-mating month, I watched my father stack his firewood. He has quite the splitting operation, with all the trailers, hydraulic splitter and tractors that the family didn't have in the old days.
My dad embodies all the attributes of a Ho-Chunk tribal elder. He is strong spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. I saw him look up at the endless formations of honkers in flight, at the surrounding oaks and maples, at the river below. I think he could see the wind.
My dad said: "What a privilege it is to be in the presence of it all." I believe the same. My hope is that the citizens of Wisconsin protect our heritage of bounty. We would be nothing were it not for the forest, the abundant waters, our magnificent fish and wildlife.
Whitehorse, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, is a Madison educator.
Develop my sense of shame
In 2008, I will be better at appearing like an adult. I will make my bed. I will pay $34.99 for a pair of "sensible shoes." I will adjust my alcohol tolerance so as to be perfectly tipsy after 1.5 glasses of Merlot.
I will develop a sense of shame, particularly about enjoying sex before marriage. I will laugh indiscriminately at men's jokes so they feel better about themselves.
When I hear bigoted remarks, I will gently chide, "You don't really mean that..." instead of curtly commanding "never say that shit to me again." I will be less selfish about pursuing a Ph.D. and more ambitious about obtaining a sugar daddy. In 2008, I will finally become a woman.
Ortegren is an aspiring trophy wife and graduate student.
I hope to watch the entire series of My Name Is Earl and get to work on my own karma list.
Alexander is president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.
Give hope to young people
Connie Ferris Bailey
I hope our community will begin to see our disconnected youth - the 4,000 Dane County young people who are jobless and lacking a high school diploma - as a valuable resource instead of a lost cause.
These young people have never been exposed to the opportunities that are the birthright of the middle class. They accept that marginal employment, addiction and jail are their lot in life.
If we expose these young men and women to education, job-skill training, and career opportunities, they can thrive. If we fail to nurture them, most will never find the path. They should not live without hope.
Ferris Bailey is executive director of Operation Fresh Start, a program that tutors at-risk youth in homebuilding.
I would say only: An end to war
Faulkner is founder and CEO of Epic Systems Corp. in Verona.
Restore real open debate
We have become a society that is too self-assured to examine its own assumptions, too insecure to subject its beliefs to serious scrutiny. This is particularly true on university campuses.
I hope 2008 will mark a return to traditions of civil argumentation. Instead of easy answers to difficult questions, I want real open debate. What kind of university do we want for the next century? What kind of nation do we want? What will we do for the rest of the world?
We need intense discussions of these issues, where people voice radically different views and these views are subjected to critical examination. We should respect one another for making the effort to discuss and disagree. That is the democracy I want to see in 2008.
Suri is a professor of history at UW-Madison and author most recently of Henry Kissinger and the American Century (Harvard University Press).
Vaporize cell phones
First, there'll be a huge time-out in 2008. The world will stop, and take three really deep breaths, channeling Paul Simon's "59th St. Bridge Song."
Children's sports will become immediately
disorganized. Games will happen organically in neighborhood parks, willed to life by critical masses of kids. There will be no coaches, uniforms or minivan chauffeurs, no crazed parents.
Cell phones, Xboxes and the like will vaporize. Overscheduling of children will cease in favor of time spent reading, imagining cloud shapes or taking parents to Ken Lonnquist concerts. Having slowed down, audiences will regain their ability to listen, laugh and consider a lyric or idea.
Lonnquist is a songwriter and performer whose latest CD is Hamelin: Songs of the Pied Piper.
Reclaim the dinner table
I would like to hear people say as they sit down to dinner: "My farmer's winter spinach is so sweet" or, "Wow, Brussels sprouts on the stalk look really cool!"
I'd like to see us reclaim our dinner tables for food that's uniquely Wisconsin and grown by our neighbors. That's when we can truly savor meals that nourish bodies and communities.
Armstrong is program coordinator for the REAP Food Group.
Put the little bastards to work
If you are like me, once a year you have to endure "Bring Your Child to Work Day." Bah, humbug. I want to Put My Child to Work. That is my wish for Madison and America. Work is the human condition. My Grandma Rose raised nine children, and if they weren't candling eggs, they were scalding hogs for the threshing crew, which included her older children. They all prospered. My old man pulled me out of the sandbox and put me at the controls of a Farmall H tractor. The grain suffered but it grew me up. There is a reason for teenage gangs in Madison. No one is making them work. They are strong, full of testosterone and idle. Work puts young people in close proximity to adults. Work requires purpose and produces results that even young people can see and feel. I say, put the little bastards to work.
Blaska blogs at TheDailyPage.com.
Don't block students from college
I am in touch with hundreds of Wisconsin high school students with close to perfect scholastic performance. Sadly, they do not have the opportunity to attend college because their immigration status denies them in-state tuition and financial aid.
I'm disheartened to see so many eligible students blocked from the chance to become more meaningful contributors to our communities. I hope 2008 brings change so these undocumented students can achieve a better future for themselves and their families.
Zepeda-Capistran is a community activist and educator.
Welcome more friendly people
My life in Madison is basically divided among playing and seeing live music, socializing with fellow homosexuals, and waiting tables to support the aforementioned activities. I could bitch about the state of local music, but with the Corral Room re-opening and Darwin Sampson booking the Annex, I don't feel the need.
I could whine about living in a town that only sustains two gay bars, but considering that 2007 brought us Indie Queer nights, Our Lives magazine and the Madison Gay Rugby Team, I'm feeling optimistic about the gays.
I'm tempted to remind the public that leaving 15%-20% of the bill is standard tipping practice, but I'm lucky enough to serve a clientele that largely understands the concept. All I'm hoping for in 2008 is more of the same: more bands, more shows, more gays and more friendly people sitting in my section at Monty's.
O'Neill is the Pons in the band Screamin' Cyn-Cyn & the Pons.
Since moving to Madison at the end of June, I've lived in an almost impenetrable bubble between my downtown apartment and our offices at the Majestic. After hearing so many great things about Madison, I would love to experience the many restaurants and shops that I hear so much about.
But I've also discovered something about my new home: Madison will only continue to grow, and I hope that it does so in the right way by limiting sprawl and embracing density.
Leslie and partner Matt Gerding opened the Majestic Theater as a music club in September.
Help vulnerable families
As a child, I imagined 2008 would bring flying cars and room-cleaning robots. Now more grounded in reality, I wish for world peace and prosperity. The affordable housing advocate in me hopes that vulnerable families in Madison struggle less. As a neighborhood activist, I envision a stronger southwest side. The political junkie in me hopes debate in Madison moves beyond cheap shots about trolleys.
Subeck is a neighborhood activist and housing advocate with the YWCA.
Picture this: Cold cars with steam-covered windows have become homes to homeless families; most have used up their shelter vouchers. The temperature falls to five degrees on a blustery night. Inside the parked car it is slightly warmer at 15 degrees. Now consider how stark the paradox is. Madison, a quintessential middle-class town, is in a building frenzy of $500,000+ condo high-rises, casting their shadows over these cars of forgotten people. The wish may be nave but what I want in 2008 is for a comprehensive effort to eliminate homelessness in Dane County. We are a community of doers. Let's do it.
Braunginn is an Isthmus columnist and community activist.
Address the 'two Madisons'
I'm hoping to survive turning 40 and to help raise $50,000 for the Tenant Resource Center. I also hope the city has a real discussion about what kind of community we will be. We need to address the issue of "two Madisons" and find a way to make this a truly inclusive community.
Konkel represents the 2nd District on the Madison Common Council. She blogs at brendakonkel.blogspot.com
Work for change
Wouldn't the magic wand be a wonderful tool? There are so many needs in the world, yet far too few people willing to work for change. Let 2008 move them to action.
Civil rights have been abused by the Bush administration. Let 2008 bring a halt to this scandal and see the restoration of civil rights.
Let 2008 bring adequate funding for education. Without war there will be money to help those in need and to fund the schools.
Let 2008 bring the resignation of Justice Annette Ziegler and the restoration of dignity in Wisconsin government.
Let 2008 bring the election of a president committed to peace and dignity for all.
Matthews is executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents teachers and staff in the Madison schools.
Support libraries and parks
The two areas that I hope to see flourish in 2008 are the public library system and the city and county parks. These are creative, inviting places that have meaning and richness for all ages.
I hope children will find themselves at home in the libraries, that every resident gets and uses their library card, that seniors will sit on a park bench and watch the roses flourish at Olbrich Garden, and that families will go sledding in Elver Park.
Woit is president of the Madison Community Foundation, a philanthropic trust that distributed $10.5 million in grants in 2006.
In 2008, we're going to do more for our lakes, more to get kids out of poverty, more to make our criminal justice system fair and efficient, and more to address the far-reaching pain that alcohol abuse afflicts.
Falk is Dane County executive.
Sing in harmony!
My hope: One morning I wake up and find that the Progressive Dane members of the city council have changed their tune and decided to emphasize basic services. Finally, the mayor and the council are singing in harmony. Later, by the end of the year, crime has declined, the streets are being plowed, the water utility is delivering safe water, and our lakes have been cleaned up.
Wall is founder of T. Wall Properties, Dane County's largest commercial real estate developer.
Make Wisconsin a dance capital
May the dancing gods give me and Li Chiao-Ping Dance another year of blessings. May Madison become more of a dance capital. May Overture host an annual Wisconsin Dance Festival. May Kwan Yin smile upon my family and the Year of the Rat bring us all prosperity and happiness. May we all learn to judge benevolently, including the judge I need to see about a ticket.
Li is a member of the UW-Madison dance faculty.
Hope for a Believer is mild prayer - a kind of spiritual "body English" influencing the cosmic bowling ball on its way to pick up a 7-10 split. I have no such leverage.
I am an agnostic, overly controlling Virgo; hope is unpleasant. I don't face the future with a pocket full of hopes. I have audacious "to do" lists for today, this month, this year and this life.
It is surrender to say I hope I lose weight, that this war will end, that we elect a black man as president, and that the planet cools off. Hope is balm for worry. It feels good but lets us off the hook too easily.
Screw Hope. We have a lot to do.
Jacobson is a cultural anthropologist, business consultant and managing partner of Conifer Research.
Bridge the chasm between low and high art
I'd love it if 2008 could bring a renewed commitment to the arts. By this I don't mean more money for opera and classical music. I'm talking about more support for popular entertainment, namely rock and hip-hop. I've always found it odd that "high-brow" arts get government and corporate subsidy, while "low-brow" popular arts are backed by booze sales and left to the vicissitudes of the market. It's clearly not that way in Europe, where popular art is subsidized by government. This chasm between the high and low arts in Madison needs to be addressed. Mayor Dave talks about the "creative class" being key to a vibrant local economy. Let's take that talk to the next level and increase our support for creative pop culture in Madison.
Evers, the founder of True Endeavors LLC, is a music promoter.
What we asked: We told respondents that their hopes should address issues in their neighborhoods, the broader community and county, the state or the world beyond. Traditional resolutions were fine, too, as long as they brought a smile or made our readers think about their own circumstances. We asked that they submit no more than 125 words. All replies were subject to editing.