In our cover story this week, former Isthmus editor Marc Eisen delves into one of his favorite topics, development, by revisiting the perennial sad story of dysfunction between the state's two dominant population centers, Milwaukee and Madison. In "The Madison-Milwaukee Divide" Eisen interviews a selection of business, political and education leaders who bemoan the continuing communications gap between the two places, but who indicate that the divide may be narrowing, albeit at a snail's pace.
One of Eisen's other abiding interests is the development of young journalists. For this interest he was honored, with others, for his work with the young folks at the Simpson Street Free Press during that organization's first Distinguished Lecturer Series, featuring UW vice chancellor Darrell Bazzell, presented Tuesday night at Edgewood College. His presenter, SSFP adviser Jim Kramer, referred to Eisen's "excellence as a citizen," beyond his skills as a journalist, as qualifying him for the recognition, dubbed the William T. Evjue Awards. Also recognized were Jane Coleman and Mandy Kroninger, who volunteer as advisers to the Free Press staff.
The SSFP staff comprises a racially eclectic mix of middle- and high-schoolers. They produce an extracurricular newspaper of excellent quality, with an emphasis on well-researched and science-heavy features. A few of their number have interned at Isthmus through the years. Eisen, who was Isthmus editor from 1988 until 2008, shepherded a number of them through the door. Today the Simpson Street Free Press resembles a thriving social movement as much as a newspaper.
Teaching a kid to read is a laudable and necessary service to the community. Teaching a kid to write is to empower an individual to compete in any field on any stage. To the Eisens of the world, the latter is akin to getting the Milwaukees and the Madisons to work together. Everybody is better off in the long run.