The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I See The Changes 

Jim Widgerson has a rather controversial post up talking about how he's going to avoid Milwaukee's north side from now on for fear of being shot. Apparently he's also taking some flack for it. First I'll say that I won't blame him for his feelings... they're his and nobody else's. I just don't agree with them. Also... since when does Bluemound road constitute the city's north side?

Part of the problem here I think is who you talk to. Having just finished the Thanksgiving/Christmas gauntlet, I was of course confronted with the usual "good ole days" tales of my mom, aunt and uncle who grew up in the "bad parts of town" before they were bad. They tend to recycle certain conversations over and over again... so much so that I've started numbering them. My theory is that it would be a lot faster for them to just say "Conversation #5", instead of actually going through the effort of talking about the same old thing again. But I digress. One of their favorites is when they talk about how they used to walk down this street or that in the middle of the night to go someplace when they were young (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), and that now they wouldn't even drive down that street in the middle of the day. They're fascinating tales the first time you hear them... but I always end up shaking my head when they're done.

I've lived in the suburbs of Milwaukee for more than 15 years now... but I've also either gone to school or worked in various parts of downtown for more than 10 years. I've driven through a lot of Milwaukee in those 10 years. I've never really been afraid to drive through the "bad parts of town"... which means over the years I've also seen things change. It's easy to read the paper and hear the awful stories of different shootings and say... well I'm not going there. I think its important to note too that the overall crime rate in the city has gone down. In fact, crime has gone down in every category except murder. I think this is important to note... because most murders are directed crimes. You get killed in Milwaukee for a specific reason... not just because you're a cracker driving down the street. And if the statistics are right... you're much less likely to get robbed because you're a cracker driving down the street now than before. It's terrible that murder hasn't followed the rest of the crime statistics... but it also accounts for a rather small number of total crimes... even if they are the most high profile.

If you're like me... and you're not afraid to drive through "the bad parts"... you've probably noticed the same changes I have. There's new construction here and there. One block of North Ave. that was blighted last year has been replaced by new stores with fewer bars on the windows this year. I see newer cars driving down the street... and fewer junkers that have no fear cutting you off. Granted its not the dramatic change everyone wants... but it is a gradual shift in the right direction... and I hope its a sign of even more dramatic improvements in other parts of life there. Are things wonderful? Well no. But are they the dismal killing zone that everyone seems to want to talk about? Well... no. Is there more to be done? Absolutely. Will I still drive through those same streets? No problem.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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