This week I gave a lecture about land use to a Soils Science class taught by Professor Steve Ventura at UW-Madison. I encouraged interaction and left with some profound thoughts about this sample of our next generation of leaders.
Don’t worry, they are very bright. They tend to not be interested in the things I was interested in when I was 20. I wanted a Porsche and settled for an MG-B. These students had no interest in fancy cars – they want better transit.
Most of those I went to school with now live in the suburbs in nice houses on large lots. Most of these students have no dreams of a 3 bedroom ranch on a cul-de-sac. They are interested in living in far more urbane places like Portland, Boulder and, yes, Madison and Milwaukee. However, our cities are going to have to compete with “cooler” west coast cities for the best and brightest of the next generation. To these students it’s absurd that we are fighting over funding for transit. It’s a given for them. If the city doesn’t provide it, they’ll go elsewhere.
Personally, I’d like the best minds to stay here. Or at least put Wisconsin high on their list of alternatives. Building better transit options and investing in communities will give us a much better competitive edge. It’s time for the legislature to move forward and give all communities in Wisconsin the ability to form Regional Transit Authorities.