November 3 2010
Listen: At the beginning of every Brewers/Bucks/Packers season, I sit down and think about why my team will win every game they play, how they'll bring home the ticker tape parade. I start with the premise "I'm right" and reverse engineer my reasons from there. Those thoughts aren't grounded in logic or reality, but rather loyalty to my beliefs. And probably laziness.
While my relationship with sports doesn't really need to be healthy or rational, unfortunately this kind of thought process isn't isolated to my unfounded faith in local sports teams. Occasionally, I find myself applying this overly-simple thinking to politics. Or problems in our community. Or the way other people think. I start with the premise "I'm right" and move forward from there. But really, what comes from a conversation that begins with the question "why are you wrong?"
Yesterday, a lot of folks went to the polls and voted. Based on the relative closeness of the results, there's a substantial amount of disagreeing going on. So how do we respond? Moving forward, being defeatist or gloating about victory seems pointless and unproductive. Regardless of how you feel about the results, a mandate to communicate has never been clearer to me -- both understanding each other and understanding ourselves.
So how do we work towards this understanding? I'm not looking to be revolutionary, but rather resolution-ary (puns have a place in the process, I hope?). Let me propose this starting point -- take a moment and think about Milwaukee. Consider the themes, ideas, values, and tropes (whatever those are) that make the city what it is. Who are we? What are we? What is your version of Milwaukee? What makes you think "that's so Milwaukee?" No idea is too simple or complex, too frank or creative. Then, write down your thoughts and post them in the comment section of this blog or e-mail them to me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Get your friends and family to participate too -- no voice is too expert or new to the city. I'll take anything from a single word to an essay. Even an aesthetic response. Whatever form your input takes, I want it.
And what are my plans for these thoughts and ideas? First, dialogue will continue and live in the comment section of this post, as well as future posts where I'll share compiled responses. A document, acting like a continuously shifting mosaic of Milwaukee. Second, I am constantly talking about Milwaukee and aggressively looking to get better at it -- these ideas will serve as a background and occasionally a foreground for my conversations. They'll sneak into questions, the way I construct narrative, and generally inform my approach to the city (that's pretty exciting to me). Lastly, the results of this conversation might eventually coalesce as a feature in our programming someday, finding its shape in our on-air stories and conversation. How cool would that be?
So, share away. Let's keep it civil and productive. Ready... set... Milwaukee.