Back in the spring of 2008, not so long ago but seeming like another era, Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz journeyed to our sister city of Freiburg, Germany, a Madison-sized municipality of around 200,000. While there, he observed the Vauban neighborhood, a planned "car-light" area that espoused the latest in environmentally aware living. He came back bursting with plans for a northeast Madison neighborhood developed along the same ethic.
Isthmus columnist Rick Berg, charged with upholding the conservative end of the paper's opinion spectrum, had some derisive things to say about Cieslewicz's exuberance at the time, but to his credit, he decided to go see for himself. This week he writes about it in our cover story, "Down With Cars."
We're not going to call it a conversion, but suffice it to say that Berg's opinion, now powered by direct experience, has evolved. He finds much to admire, if not necessarily emulate, and yet maintains that there are cultural differences that make the experience not directly translatable.
Maybe yes, maybe no. But it is evident from his reaction that the debate over planning for a sustainable future now is not one between liberals and conservatives. Those are characterizations imported from other issues. The real divide is between those who look to what the future realistically promises and those who presume that the past is still with us.
If you follow Berg's story to the web at TheDailyPage.com, you can see a photo gallery of his trip to Freiburg. You will also find links to related stories and comments about Mayor Cieslewicz's plans for a green neighborhood in Madison.
While you're on TDP, get your tickets for "Martini Shaker," the Isthmus promotion, sponsored by Union Cab, that puts you on a grand martini tour Aug. 3-6. Click on the Martini Shaker ad on the homepage to get information and those tickets.