I'm Back with A Love Letter to Mad City
I admit I'm a little disappointed with myself and the lag in my posting. The last few months, and especially the last few weeks have been very full. I am challenging myself to get back to a more consistent cadence. Hold me to it.
Yesterday I started a new adventure. It was a little surreal sitting at the Madison airport. I’ve been there a time or two over the last five years. However, that is about to change. Today I begin a new journey in Denver. I’m starting a new job at Public Service Credit Union. My time as a team member at Filene Research Institute has come to a close. The swarm of emotions I’ve been feeling over the last several weeks is a stew of joy, fear, excitement, sadness and nervousness.
One of the reasons for my sadness is leaving Madison, Wisconsin. I’ve moved several times in my life, and while every place I’ve lived has been magical in one way or another, Madison will always be at the top of the list.
This has been a remarkable place to raise a little girl. The public schools are exceptional. The neighborhoods are safe. The outdoor adventures are endless. I’ll picture MacKenzie’s formative years here and imagine her riding on the bike paths, bounding through the arboretum, to picnic point, and the botanical gardens, climbing the structures at the endless parks, and running through our neighborhood to meet her friends and catch the bus.
It is likely I could fill an entire book with all of the things I love about this Midwestern gem; for today, I’ll share my top ten:
- The majestic Capital building. This gorgeous structure shines from so many angles across the city. Heading home from out of town, biking towards downtown, standing in Filene’s offices or even from Middleton, I can’t count the number of times, with MacKenzie by my side, I’d say, “Do you see the capital?” The glow changes depending on the time of day and the weather, but the magnificence of this view never gets stale.
- The passion of both “sides.” I remember vividly when we first moved to Madison, my colleagues told me about the great “east side versus west side” debate. We explored both and while we landed in a home on the west side, I stand on the fence without a claim to one or the other. The beauty is in the passion about the many benefits of both.
- The bike paths. As a runner, I am supremely appreciative of municipalities that commit to paths for active people to safely enjoy. Madison has so many paths throughout the city and in fact at times, in the winter, it seems that the bike paths might be at least as well maintained as the roads. All of these interconnected trails help ensure that people do get outside and stay outside throughout the year, even in the coldest months.
- The lakes. Madison’s many waterways bring so much natural splendor to the city and also activities galore. I’ll never forget driving to work in early January and marveling at the hundreds of ice fishermen braving below freezing conditions every morning. In the summer, the lakes are full of sailboats, paddle boarders, fishermen and tri-athletes. Watching the sunrise as I ran towards Monona Terrace will remain a favorite memory.
- Credit union headquarters. Madison is the credit union mecca. With Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group, the World Council of Credit Unions, Filene Research Institute and CUES all housed in Madison, a credit union junkie can experience both the history and the potential future of our movement all in one place. If you are a credit union leader, coming to Madison does feel like coming home.
- The farmer’s markets. It isn’t just the famous farmer’s market around the square in the warmer months, but also the many markets that take place around town throughout the year. Even in the coldest months, the markets find a home inside local malls to ensure people can enjoy locally grown and produced food. The markets not only provide delicious and healthy food options, gorgeous flowers to brighten up any room and artisan-made goods, but also catalyze people to come together and socialize.
- The cheese. I will never forget my first trip to the grocery store in Madison. The cheese aisle seemed endless and decadent. You don’t just find cheese at the store, but you find cheese curds, both squeaky and deep fried, in nearly all restaurants. Within our first month of living in Madison our daughter, MacKeznie was nearly devouring an entire plate of curds on her own. You haven’t experienced cheese until you’ve enjoyed it here.
- Banzo. The entire food scene is Madison is remarkable. There are so many local options with creative flair and focus on local sourcing. However, as a vegetarian, I fell hard for Banzo. The Mediterranean food includes staples like the falafel pita and shawarma, and the North side restaurant also livens up the menu with daily features including our family favorite, the delicious fried cauliflower. The food truck option means you see Banzo at most street festivals and even at house parties.
- The theater. MacKenzie started weekly classes through Madison Children’s Theater when she was the three. The local theater options including the Overture Center and the Forward Theater both of which ensure that national shows along with local options come to life and that even the youngest Madisonians start to treasure and appreciate the arts early.
- The people. As with any city, the humans living here create the magic. In Madison, this comes to life in so many ways. Madisonians appreciate spring infectiously. Surviving the winter here means that when the weather breaks, nearly the entire city comes outside with beaming smiles, in shorts and tank tops before the thermometer hits 60 degrees. Neighbors have block parties and welcome one another to share their lives. Street festivals come to life in nearly every neighborhood to highlight the different personalities, passions and voices from across the city. People in Madison create and nurture community.
I’ve dreamed of living in Colorado for over 20 years. I’m beyond excited to see what it will be like to see the mountains daily. However, Madison will always have a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to visit regularly. There are very few places better.
Thank you Madison for being a wonderful home for the last five and a half years.