Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Where children roam

Kids, Wauwatosa, Stevens Point, healthy communities

I spent the last week in Steven's Point, standing outside restaurants or sitting on barstools inside, to get the pulse of eaters there. Well, their opinions, anyway.  

If you haven't been there, the downtown main stretch has an idyllic smallish town feel. Most of the storefronts are occupied, and by local businesses. The library is right there. At one end, a town square hosts farmers' markets and, with a fountain meant for play, kids and moms and lunchtime sunners.

Alone and in groups, people walk to work and lunch. They stop to make plans, laugh, sit on a bench and chat. Some are students, but most are folks attending to other parts of life.

Somewhere nearby is a swimming pool. Wet-headed kids wrapped in towels, on foot or on bikes, escorted or not, make their way home from morning until dusk.

It's the unescorted ones who interest me. Knots of kids, a little scruffy from outside revels, collect here and there. They are old enough to get around but not old enough for power vehicles. Mostly, they ignore the adults, which is a fitting thing for kids not causing trouble and summer-free. And while they get a little noisy, it's just exuberance. They move along soon enough.

Isn't this the measure of a healthy community? One where kids are welcome and have as much business as adults do? Where they develop their skills and confidence, negotiating with each other and occasional grown-ups they care to encounter?

If you search the Net, you'll find equal numbers of articles touting cities as great for kids and  warning of dangers lurking there for and by kids. I guess we all pick the ones to read that fit our own vision.

But I'm thrilled to see more wet-headed kids, wrapped in towels, on foot or on bikes, making their way to and from Hoyt Park and around Wauwatosa. These canaries are thriving, a sign that the community is, too.

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