Although the UW Design Neighborhoods described by Jay Rath ('Altogether Now,' 1/19/07) claim to be 'thinking about the bigger picture,' the picture given us seems merely esthetic and thus narrowly parochial. The only relationships considered are those between buildings, with little thought of the larger effects of the socioecological footprint left by buildings, or of how the buildings fit into a future of declining fossil fuels.
What is the meaning of beauty, for example, if each new building adds to the length of the coal trains waiting along Campus Drive to disgorge and incinerate leveled mountaintops, poisoned river valleys and torn-apart communities of Appalachia in the university's expanding power plant, and if the mercury and sulfur then poisons our watershed?
How can the buildings be said to have a sense of place if their components are shipped from factories in China that are engaged in poisoning rivers and breaking apart rural communities?
'Creation of a sense of place' is not the same thing as having a sense of place, which means utilizing local resources and labor in construction and not thrusting the environmental and social costs onto other communities and nations. It requires building according to the ecology, terrain and climate, and orienting the buildings to the transit of the sun and the direction of prevailing winds to cool, heat, illuminate and power them.
It means not just thinking about a laughably short 20 years into the future but locating ourselves in a time of decreasing fossil fuels and thinking about future generations.
Your story about the town of Dunn's great success at protecting its farmland did not mention a new tool that may help other towns shape their own futures ('Dunn Against All,' 1/26/07). The tool is a transfer of development rights (TDR) ordinance that the Dane County Board has been considering since last year.
Unlike the purchase of development rights (PDR) program that has been used very effectively to protect 6,500 acres of land in Dane County (including more than 20 farms in the town of Dunn), TDR does not use tax dollars to pay for development rights. Instead, developers buy development rights from willing rural landowners, and then they use those rights in areas where the community wants additional growth.
The advantage of TDR is that instead of buying more land to develop, developers can build more houses on less land. Unlike PDR, TDR does not decrease the number of houses that are allowed in the county ' it just moves them to areas more suited for development.
At the request of the town of Dunn, the Natural Heritage Land Trust co-holds most of the town's PDR conservation easements. We help the town and landowners meet their goals by providing independent assurance that high-quality farmlands will never be developed.
Jim Welsh executive director Natural Heritage Land Trust
What we do
While I applaud Diana Goodavage's call for 'respectful language' and a focus on individuals and not diagnoses in her letter (1/19/07) regarding 'Work Made Man Freer' (11/24/06), I wish to correct her inaccurate statements.
Ms. Goodavage states, 'The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, which started here in Dane County, pushes the Program of Assertive Community Treatment, which also started here in Dane County.' Goodavage further states, 'NAMI is largely sponsored by drug companies.'
We would like to clarify that NAMI Wisconsin received approximately 1.5% of our almost half-million-dollar budget from pharmaceutical companies in 2006. Further understand that the money was used to provide scholarships for mental-health consumers to attend our annual conference.
Ms. Goodavage refers to the 'NAMI/PACT model.' PACT is not a NAMI program, but an evidence-based practice with a solid research base.
NAMI Wisconsin is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to education about mental illness, support of mental-health consumers and their families and friends, and to advocacy to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Donna Wrenn executive director NAMI Wisconsin
Didn't like the ad
Regarding the advertisement (1/26/07) promoting the fact that the American Transmission Co. (ATC) has been awarded a Green-Tier award by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Is that some sort of joke?
There is nothing environmentally friendly about ATC. They have proposed putting transmission lines through a world-class nature preserve (the Arboretum), a one-of-a-kind geological area (the Ice Age Trail) and many other beautiful neighborhoods, backyards and greenspaces.
ATC does nothing to promote energy conservation. Those who mention conservation as an alternative are labeled 'NIMBYs,' and ATC is quick to disparage the benefits of conservation.
The DNR should be ashamed of itself for giving out this kind of an award to ATC. It is cynical, dishonest and shows blatant disregard for the resources it is supposed to protect.
The city of Madison collaborating in efforts to complete the Urban Open Space Foundation's Central Park is the right move to accelerate the park's development ('Central Park: Taking the Next Steps,' 1/26/07). It must have been in the heat of the moment that Urban Open Space's Heather Mann omitted crediting the foundation's current collaborators, Marquette neighborhood's Bob Queen, the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and neighborhood volunteers, without whom the free outdoor event La Fete De Marquette in Central Park cannot be produced.
Paul Abramson Member, Wil-Mar Center board of directors Marquette Neighborhood Festivals recycling coordinator
The article ('Road Warriors,' 2/2/07) on Mighty Short Bus was right on! Great band! Glad to see you noticed what a valuable commodity we have in this area. The Mighty Short Bus is definitely going places!