School started this week - all levels of school. This comes as news to very few people. It's a time perhaps dreaded by those moms and dads who see their little ones go off to their first day of school ever. It's perhaps eagerly anticipated by moms and dads happy to get their not-so-little ones out of the house and back in the classroom after a hectic summer. And it is eagerly awaited by scads of merchants who do the outfitting for the legions of returning scholars in need of backpacks, school clothes and a thousand other things.
We at Isthmus have been anticipating it too, as the perfect opportunity to run our cover story this week, "Secrets of the UW." We regularly run such features this time of year, to introduce ourselves to the new readers on campus and to introduce these new readers to their new environment. Other UW-related articles include Tom Laskin's "Arts Beat" report on the expansion of the Chazen Museum of Art; Rich Albertoni's introduction to the variegated programming on WSUM, the UW student radio station; and Raphael Kadushin's one-second guide for the student with the rarefied palate that kicks off his review of the new edition of Restaurant Muramoto.
But getting into the hidden infrastructure of the UW itself is the capper, another revelation of our built, and unbuilt, environment by writer Ann Grauvogl. She has done two previous cover features for Isthmus, one on the landmark Kennedy Manor apartment building, the other, titled "Living Small," a study of tiny houses and the people who buy them, which received an absolutely fascinated and unanticipated reaction from the reading public. It seems that Grauvogl, a Wisconsin native who took up residence in Madison after 24 years of professional writing in South Dakota, has found her niche.
"Secrets of the UW" examines the evidence of past activity at the site of the university campus, some of which goes back 12,000 years. Grauvogl is aided by Daniel Einstein, program manager of the UW's Lakeshore Nature Preserve, the location of a number of these artifacts. Past is prologue indeed, and a review of elevated cisterns and secret labs and other forgotten or ignored physical entities sometimes leads to more questions than it answers, but it undoubtedly makes us think about how little we retain of the UW's history. It's something to think about when the class bell rings.