“Simple serenity” comes to mind when I view this shot of a small farm, soybeans turning yellow in the fields. It’s a commonplace site all around the metro Madison area — Dane County is one of the largest agricultural producers in the state as well as being home to the University of Wisconsin, one of the largest research universities in the country. We have high-tech companies working with stem cells a stone’s throw from low-tech homesteads working with cows.
I like that mix. It’s really typical of the quilt that Wisconsin is, with patches from most European cultures (place reveal this: Berlin, Denmark, New London, Kronenwetter, Luxemburg, New Munster, Poland, Pulaski, i), advanced manufacturing next to artisan cheese making, and a half-dozen regional economies that seldom do anything together.
Yes, it’s pretty much a Northern European, Lutheran, heavily Germanic/Nordic/Slav patchwork, with contributions missing from most of the rest of the world, and that’s a reason to travel and live elsewhere for a while. But upon my return in 1990 for child-rearing reasons, I decided to make the best of it and write about some of things that make the Wisconsin economy tick — the work ethic, the conservative investments, a highly educated workforce — and grew to appreciate what culture we do have instead of bemoaning what we lack.
Maybe if concentrate on our strengths rather than our prejudices Wisconsin will become a more attractive place for “foreigners.” But even if it don’t (to speak like a rural Wisconsinite), I will never be embarrassed to be from the Dairy State again.