published!

If you like, you can read my latest column published today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The link is here, or on the sidebar, under “living in the city.”

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3 Responses to published!

  1. laurafern says:

    This is the most interesting comment I received, from B.J. —

    That was a great column! It really touched on both sides of the city/suburb choice and emphasized that it really comes down to the individual’s preference.

    I grew up off of 50th and North Avenue which is a very diverse part of Milwaukee in terms of race, income, housing, political affiliations, religion, etc. This sounds almost comical, but in my preteen years my close group of friends consisted of two blonde white guys (myself being one of them), an American Indian, Mexican, mulatto, Jew, and black. I have many fond memories of my childhood and think it was generally a fun place to grow up.

    However, it was not always the safest part of the city. As children, older kids often stole our bikes and jackets sometimes with intimidation, other times with force. It was generally known that kids from east of our neighborhood never fought one-on-one but would retaliate with a larger group. As a teenager I was carjacked with the threat of a gun. Fights broke out at the playgrounds and house parties with fists, knives and brass knuckles. Two acquaintances of ours shot and killed a drug dealer and buried him in the park.

    Despite these experiences I still, like you, was very much a city person. My wife and I moved to downtown Chicago. I walked to work and loved every minute of it… the stores, restauarants, nightclubs, bars, architecture, people, lakefront…

    But a lot changes when you have kids of your own….We decided to move back to Milwaukee to have children. We settled back in the neighborhood I grew up in with the idealistic notion that the diversity of the city was better than the safety of the suburbs. But the area had gotten even worse than when I was a kid. While empty-nesters and young couples are renovating houses on the west side of the neighborhood, there are many other houses falling to pieces with trash in the yards and graffiti in the alleys. Many businesses along North Avenue are boarded up. The kids playing ball in the street often won’t move out of your way and stare at you and flash gang signs as you drive by. There are car break-ins and cars playing loud music at all hours of the day and night. The MPS schools in the neighborhood have gone downhill and the private schools are too expensive. The absolute worst neighborhoods in the city are a mere mile or two away. We decided that we didn’t want our children to grow up in this environment and moved to Wauwatosa. As much as we as adults may be idealistic, we can’t let our own hopes and dreams for a neighborhood negatively affect the quality of life of our children. I understand that for many people it is an exciting change of pace to move from the suburbs to the city. But perhaps some day you will decide that the benefits of the safe homogenous environment of the suburbs you grew up in outweigh the diversity of the city.

  2. Jack says:

    I much enjoyed your column also, Laura. And BJs comments are right on the money. I spent a good portion of my young years in the city – 27th and Wisconsin from age 2 to about 5, then 60th and Capitol for a year, and later in College I spent 2 years back at 27th and Wisconsin during the school year.

    I always liked being able to walk to the grocery store or bowling alley and just being around people when outside. But when I married your Mom, she had 2 elementary school age boys, and our decision to live in Wauwatosa was due largely to not wanting to have the boys in MPS. Houses were cheaper in Milwaukee, and some were very nice in nice neighborhoods, but we wanted nothing to do with MPS. That was 30 years ago, and I shudder to think about how much worse it is now.

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