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!

Beyond butterflies: why development divides us

County Grounds, Innovation Park, Wauwatosa, development, moral intuition

Cut the cutesy out of a serious topic and fill instead with facts... then perhaps you have a meaningful and powerful article possible of reaching those who care... Give an inch and they will take a mile. Kiss everything sacred about the County Grounds in Wauwatosa goodbye. This is how they operate. Eddee is on point as usual with his comment. There is still much to lose, people of Wauwatosa... We cannot let them take anymore. Again... really poor article for the most part. Very disappointing.


Quite your whining and double negatives. There has never been anything special about the sacred County Grounds, they are a vast waste land of concrete blocks and car tires. We are blessed with thousands of acres of truly beautiful land with the Milwaukee County Parks and parkway. You dirt eating tree huggers really need to pick your battles more carefully, let this one go, it's best that the land is developed...


Usually, I think it's a good thing when a blog entry draws criticism from both sides of the fence. It means I'm sitting right there on its sharp pointy pickets and not in the comfort of the field on either side.

This one hurt a little. As much as I try to think things through for myself, clearly I lean and often fall solidly on the liberal side.  I don't only spout but do what small work I can to try to preserve green space and land, and my heart is as sick as Allknowing's about the bulldozing of bits of beauty and refuge down the street. But why the strong response to my deviation in style from the approved earnest one? Why did that feel like a betrayal to someone I probably know, someone who probably usually approves of me more than not?

Frankly, I don't believe that compiling a better set of "facts" will make a bit of difference. Others have marshalled the facts to support the story they believe is important. They've constructed arguments and persuasions that make their allies nod and smile and their opponents scoff.

Some merely make contentions and present them as if they are facts.

This fight or tension or war or relentless march of "progress," however you want to frame the conflict over developing lands until recently owned by the public and sold off to stanch the county's bleeding finances, gives us a chance to look at ourselves, our beliefs, and our supporting arguments.

On Townie's side is the argument that resources are there to be exploited by the most energetic exploiters, and we should all stay out of their way. On Allknowing's side (and mine) is the argument that dwindling nature and open space is to be cared for and preserved because it will benefit us most in the long run.

Meanwhile, our elected officials' argument is that development is inevitable and this particular approach is the least worst middle ground.

The reporting on this site has chosen to mock the butterflies while relaying the offical responsive reading of the articles of faith: this will bring tax dollars, so verily, it is good. All praise for the spin of progress.

We would all like you to join our camp and believe as we do.

But you already know where you stand, and that's probably where you'll stay.

Why you are there is a combination of genetics and experience that shape your moral and social conscience. The arguments and stories, we constructed after the fact to defend and explain what we've already decided, what our gut tells us is right. If you want to know more about that, read The Righteous Mind. Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt.

Here's the only fact I'll offer: a few men were working overtime Saturday to remove felled trees and chip out their roots. Whether this was an attempt to remove evidence of a moral and social crime or a way to speed up the construction process and stay on schedule, I will leave to your own story framework.

This is what I believe: the quality of my life and my neighbor's lives is and will continue to be greatly diminished by building on the land I walk every day, by expanding roads that ring my neighborhood. It's not likely there will a longterm future benefit to me. My taxes won't go down. I doubt that I or anyone I know will find a job there. But there will be more traffic, more pollution, fewer places for my heart to rest in quiet delight.

Sure, I'm glad for the 11 acres and the forest acoss the street. I don't think they are enough.

Selfish? You bet. We all are motivated in this by selfishness and groupishness. The drive to march in step with those who think and feel as we do to try to gain a little control of the world and thus survive is how we are made.

And most of us believe our way will make this a better place in which to live.

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