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New Urbanism, Mifflin, and the Downtown Plan’s impact on student housing in Madison

November 13, 2011
The following is an essay originally intended for Isthmus’s The Daily Page in the spring of 2011. Minor edits have been made since then, but all information herein should be considered current relative to April – June 2011.

For a few brief months this winter it looked like the balance of power in the UW-Madison campus area housing markets might be tipping ever so slightly toward the students. Upon hearing that Pat McCaughey of McCaughey Properties planned to build a four-story apartment complex on the 400 block of State Street, a small group of students mobilized, creating an organization and Facebook page to protest the plan.

In an ingenious bit of PR strategy, the organization named themselves “Save Mifflin,” a title which brought to mind Matthew Broderick cruising to Chicago in a convertible Ferrari and an undergraduate career full of Saturdays, each year punctuated by the eponymous daylong block party in the sun. Unsurprisingly, the group caught fire. By the time McCaughey’s proposal reached the City Plan commission, almost 6,000 students had indicated that they would be “attending” that meeting – an indication that turned out to be largely meaningless, as the Save Mifflin page was meant only to inform. The members of the organization made the mistake of writing directly on the Facebook page that there was no need for the average student to actually attend the City Plan commission meeting; that simply indicating support by clicking attend would be sufficient.

Interview with Electron

September 22, 2011
Inteviewed Electron, a real-life super hero, on the steps of the church on Library Mall, Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 6:50. Interview lasted 12 minutes, followed by a 40 minute patrol of State Street and Capitol Square.
LW: Alright, so, basically, I just wanted to start with maybe if you could tell me a little bit about what you do.
E: Well, I’m part of a larger real life superhero kind of movement, everybody’s going out around America doing the same thing. I’m a reserve member of a team in Milwaukee -
LW: What does that mean? Reserve member.
E: Basically, I’m not in Milwaukee, so if they ever need me for some specific reason, or if they need advice or something they call me up. I’ve pretty much been to every meeting. Every now and then I can’t get over there. But, you pretty much just try to help people however you can. I do homeless handouts, neighborhood watches, different things like that.
LW: So what does that entail, a neighborhood watch, for instance?
E: Usually we walk around, we just check out things. I had a couple – or I had a – hero here from Milwaukee, Charade. We found a [lowers voice] heroin syringe by the Union down there. Called it in, and a couple police came down and disposed of it, stuff like that. The only reason was, you know, there were a bunch of kids running around, otherwise we probably just would have smashed it somehow, somewhere, or taken it to the police station ourselves. But like I said we don’t really have the gear for things like that. Read more…

Interview with Alderman Mike Verveer

June 16, 2011

Phone interview with Mike Verveer (20 mins)

LW: Hi Mr. Verveer, this is Lin Weeks from Isthmus calling back.
MV: Hi.
LW: Yeah, so I just wanted to get your input on – I think I had four questions for this piece. So, back in January, when the Save Mifflin thing got going, I just wanted to know what you thought about Save Mifflin specifically and the student input to housing as a larger general thing.
MV: Is this for J202?
LW: No, this is Lin Weeks calling from Isthmus for the student housing article.
MV: Oh, it’s just weird because I’ve done so many interviews about the save Mifflin group for this Katie Culver J202 lab that was assigned.
LW: Oh. No. This is different. I’m not in J202.
MV: But, I’m sorry, what was your question again about Save Mifflin?
LW: Just, um, I mean, if you’re on the record quite a bit about that we can skip it if you want. I just wanted to know, sort of, what you thought about Save Mifflin specifically – their group – and about the fact that students were getting involved in making their own destiny in a way that hadn’t been seen, at least recently.
MV: Well that’s – absolutely, sure. That’s absolutely an accurate statement, I should say. I’m kind of wiped out. I did so many Block Party interviews today. Read more…

Interview with Erin Hood, co-creator of “hey fighter”

May 24, 2011

Phone interview with Erin Hood, UW grad student co-creater (with Marina Kelly) of the exhibit “hey, fighter” at Ford’s Gym on Gallery Night. 6 mins.

EH: Hello?
LW: Hi, is this Erin?
EH: Yes it is.
LW: Hi, this is Lin, calling from Isthmus.
EH: Oh hey, how you doing?
LW: Pretty well, how are you?
EH: Good, thanks. Thanks for calling!

LW: Yeah, no problem. I’m just working on this preview right now, and I wanted to sort of ask you a few things about “hey, fighter.” Um, sort of a short description I saw, but a little tough to know exactly what’s going on from that, I guess. So what exactly should people expect if they’re planning on going to check this out on Friday?
EH: Sure. Well, there’s a couple of different layers of audience to it. There’s the two people who will be in the ring. And we’ll bring two new people into the ring every fifteen minutes.
LW: So those are volunteers? Or -
EH: Yeah. They are, we’re asking people to sign up ahead of time. We still hav Read more…

Interview with Abe Sauer, Freelance Writer

May 2, 2011

This isn't me interviewing Abe Sauer, it's Mr. Sauer (in the hat) interviewing Kevin Gibbons of the TAA.

Met with Abe Sauer, 10:00 AM, Memorial Union (potential angle: combining editorial comment with news reporting in new media.) Spoke for about 50 minutes.

LW: Alright, so, I guess what I wanted to start with is, you’ve got your hand in a lot of different projects. How would you describe what you do?
AS: I guess, with respect to Wisconsin, I would basically say that I do investigative journalism, or maybe also first person reporting. I mean, journalism is pretty much straight forward. I mean, I have a lot of other writing projects that are different things. I do some research for some people who write books, as well as I write for Esquire occasionally as well as some trade magazines. But when it comes to Wisconsin I primarily do investigative journalism.LW: So are you fully freelance? Is that your -
AS: I’m fully freelance. For everything. Yeah, the stuff that I do for the Awl, which is where the Wisconsin stuff mostly lands, is stuff where I mostly set my own stories, stuff like that. Of course I talk with the editors over there, but I’ve been writing for them long enough now that I have a degree of expectation that if I’m going to write something I know that they’ll probably publish it. So I have some comfort in that status – I don’t necessarily have to pitch everything anymore.
LW: Just because you’re such a regular contributor?
AS: Just because I’ve been a regular contributor for long enough that they’ve taken an interest. And I think that it’s something they don’t have, also -
LW: That midwest perspective? Or…
AS: Well, the midwest perspective but, you know, The Awl is like, it’s like The Showtime at Apollo Stage. You get up there and you either get booed off, or everybody likes what you did. And sometimes it’s poetry, and sometimes it’s meta-analyzing the latest TV show or something. Sometimes it’s straight humor, sometimes it’s straight reporting. They take a wide variety of things. And then in the comments you’re either lauded or, you know, people tell you to go home. Read more…

Double Features

May 2, 2011

So, my last ever double feature ran last Tuesday. I’m moving on to be ArtsEtc Content Editor for the BH, so I’m giving up the column next year. Plus, I was running a little low on things to write about. I had the column for a year and half. That’s 23 columns/themes and 46 movies! I thought it would be interesting (to me) to list in reverse chronological order the topics I examined during my time as the Badger Herald movie columnist.

23. Criticism (Gulliver’s Travels + The King’s Speech)

22. Sequels (Tron Legacy + Little Fockers)

21. Journeys (Yogi Bear + Swan Lake)

20. Location (Dragonwycke + American Movie)

19. Sound Editing (Due Date + Unstoppable)

18. Actresses (Mean Girls 2 + Conviction)

17. Dynamism (Red + Secretariat)

16. Violence (Shrek Forever after + Inception)

15. Meta (I’m Still Here + The Expendables)

14. Focus (Scott Pilgrim vs. The Worls + Antichrist)

13. Morality (Sex in the City 2 + Predators)

12. Redemption and Revenge (Jonah Hex + Leaves of Grass)

11. Drugs (Get Him to the Greek + Iron Man 2)

10. Timing (Letters to Juliet + Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time)

9. Lighting (Marmaduke + Harry Brown)

8. Death (It’s Complicated + The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus)

7. Actors (Defendor + Pirate Radio)

6. Subtlety (Sherlock Holmes + Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans)

5. Hype (Up In the Air + Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day)

4. Suspense (Where the Wild Things Are + Sorority Row)

3. Love (Coco Before Chanel + A Serious Man)

2. Symbolism (Love Happens + Zombieland)

1. Music (Fame + Big Fan)

Pictures of Madison, no. 20

April 26, 2011

Humanities 6th floor


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