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!

A full Brazilian for the County Grounds

Innovation Park, County Grounds, destructive development, UWM Real Estate Foundation

Photo by Eddee Daniel, Urban Wilderness, 1-21-2013

Perhaps you are unaware of the prewedding rituals needed before the "natural marriage" of business and academia can take place, in this case on the County Grounds in Wauwatosa.

Personally, I find them a little shocking. Unnecessary.  But then, I came up in a time when we believed that what God or nature had wrought was good enough. The notion of elaborate topiary involving natural growth, or even full depiliation, was reserved for pornography. In those days, pornography was not so available to all as to change the way we view "normal."

The developer prepares the land by denuding it. Not just pulling a stray buckthorn or cottonwood here and there. Mowing down a full stand of conifers. A hillside of majestic oaks. Every tree in sight.

If you haven't seen it yet, the work of "landscapers" at Innovation Park might shock you. Fox News calls them heros for braving the cold to blast trees out of existence. I call them men who just do what they are told because they need the work. And it's fun to watch one or two hundred years of growth crack and splinter: maybe a little of that, too.

Not their fault, of course. The fault of everyone who can't be bothered to veer a bit left  here, a bit right there. UWM, the Department of Transportation, developers, our council. 

If you asked your alderman, even the alderman you respect, about the trees,  he might say your concerns belong to "a faction that doesn't want the UWM project to succeed." That would be a deeply wrong characterization.  But it would allow him and other council members to dismiss the laments of those who beg leaders to, as Mayor Ehley has promised, not stop but manage development.

This can't be what was meant: this can't be what was needed. Not at all.

Next time, leave a landing strip: a French wax, not the full Brazilian. A few trees, fully grown, wild volunteers, reminding us that we too are wild and part of nature. A score of majestic oaks planted by a previous generation of landscapers for their children and grandchildren.

It's cooler and hipper that way, and it will save you the outrage and sorrow of people who wouldn't have noticed if you'd left a bit of foliage here or there--enough for the illusion of concern.

It might even save some landscaping costs, unless your plan is, as the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District's was before you, to plant a thin single strand of trees, many of them already doomed ash, and watch passively as most die.

Oh wait: there won't be a next time.

If you don't know what I'm talking about Brazilian-wise, Wikipedia will help you. Pretty graphically: just warning you. If you don't know what I'm talking about County-Grounds-wise, look here.

Or drive by and weep with me.

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