A few weekends ago during one of the last warm autumn days before winter weather set in, I tagged along with a friend when he brought his dog to the Brittingham Dog Park, near Broom Street and John Nolen Drive. Like many downtown residents, I have driven by the very nondescript dog park countless times while coming and going downtown, not thinking too much about it as I passed by.
The unseasonably warm weather that day brought out quite a crowd of residents and their dogs to the park to enjoy one last taste of summer. There was such a wonderful sense of community among the residents from the surrounding neighborhood–many of whom are new residents living in SEVEN27 or one of the other new apartment buildings in the Bassett neighborhood. Many are young professionals or graduate students who choose to live downtown to experience the community we all know so well.
The interaction at the park was reminiscent of quintessential small town life where neighbors know each other by name and greet each other as old friends. The dogs played while the residents chatted, enjoying the benefits of fresh air, sunshine, and good conversation.
I think many of us can identify with the sense of community experienced by those at the park that afternoon. We choose to live downtown because we enjoy being around our neighbors and friends, chatting with each other on the street, at the farmers market, or over coffee or a farm-to-table dinner at one of our local establishments.
Sure, it might seem easier some days to live in other parts of the city or even outside of Madison, especially when there is an event or development proposal that brings stress into our lives. But we know, as downtown residents, that we live here for the community that is unique to our beloved isthmus. Anyone who has lived in other parts of Madison or in other cities recognizes those special attributes that make downtown Madison home to us all.
Not all of us frequent the dog park, but we have many other opportunities to embrace our downtown community. The winter weather might temporarily reduce our outdoor activities, but the holiday season provides a wonderful opportunity to open our homes to our friends and neighbors. I encourage you to engage with other members of our downtown community, especially some of our many new residents, to continue to cultivate the downtown community that makes the isthmus our home.