Madison minus nice things = Rockford

The wonderful city of Madison, Wisconsin, is the home of the University of Wisconsin, and without that university, Madison “would be Rockford with lakes,” said Stuart Levitan in a program about the history of Madison that was recorded in 2010 and broadcast recently on the Wisconsin channel.

Ha, ha — Rockford sucks. I laugh because, well, I live near Rockford and people around here don’t seem to realize how much better things are just a few miles away, at Madison, Milwaukee, or the Chicago suburbs. So it felt like a breath of fresh honesty to hear the put-down of Rockford.

I live here because my family is from here, and because my professional license is good in Illinois. I would love for my home-area to get amenities that other places take for granted: say, a Trader Joe’s store, or a jogging/biking path, or so many things.

My former Daily Illini boss and current NPR reporter, Kelly McEvers, reported recently on her hometown of Lincoln, Illinois:

It turns out that what’s happening in Lincoln is happening in so many towns and communities across the country: As we recover from the Great Recession, jobs are coming back. But they are not middle-wage jobs — they are either high-wage jobs or low-wage jobs. The middle class is in serious decline. And that has all kinds of repercussions.

It’s a little frustrating to live in a declining area, but I’ll give it this — housing’s cheap, there’s little traffic, and with the Internet, we’re much less cut-off than we used to be.

UPDATE: It’s a couple days later, and I’m not sure what good it does to complain about the area where I live. Not that I’m changing my opinion, but that my opinion is kinda pointless. Sure, there are things I’d like to change here, but in my particular day-to-day experiences, I go to my job, I go to the grocery store, I walk my dog, and I go to bed. Very little of my daily experience has to do with demographic or economics generalizations or statistics. I try to remind myself of this, to let go of generalizations and opinions, and just keep my mind open to receive new ideas.

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