Take time to ‘go the pretty way’

Take time to ‘go the pretty way’

One of my photojournalist friends once told me she likes to “go the pretty way.” If given the choice between traveling a busy highway or a quiet backroad, she prefers the one that cuts through the native landscape more intimately—the one that best captures the natural beauty of creation.

As the July cover story came together, I thought of my friend, Mary Annette Pember, a University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate and an Ojibwe whose family is from the Red Cliff Indian reservation in northern Wisconsin. She is deliberate in searching for hidden gems in everyday life. I hope readers will be inspired in a similar way after seeing the results of our first-ever Best of the ‘Burbs reader poll.

There’s so much beauty and charm in the communities surrounding Madison, yet how often do we set aside time to explore them? Each one is distinctive. I hope this inaugural list piques readers’ curiosity enough to visit these special places filled with hometown pride.

In my new role as editor, I am exploring some side roads as well. I am venturing into communities that I’ve never visited before, and meeting people who live and work there. I am always fascinated by what I find.

In one place, just south of the Beltline near Fish Hatchery Road, I found a mural painted in vibrant shades of yellow, orange and blue. It’s part of a program called Dane Arts Mural Arts. The project brings together skilled artists and local youth to create works of art for the public to enjoy. I learned about it from Mark Fraire, director of cultural affairs for Dane Arts, who says the project has the potential to inspire young people and give them a creative outlet.

In another community a couple of miles away from there, I saw people uniting around an effort to give preschool-aged kids a place to learn while providing their parents with important skills-based training. In visiting that south-side neighborhood on Fisher Street, I found out that the organizers of One City Early Learning Centers are taking this “two-generation approach” to try to help build strong families. It was there I met CEO and founder Kaleem Caire, who grew up just down the street from the local center he hopes will open this fall.

Exploring these two neighborhoods was my version of going the pretty way.

I smiled the first time I heard my Ojibwe friend talk about this concept, but now I see the wisdom in it. It’s helping me see Madison and the entire region in a new way.