I’m writing to you from Beloit, Wisconsin, just a few miles north of the Illinois border, where I have been invited to college up some of the youths of America for a few weeks. I have a class, and the students are great. Brilliant! Hilarious! But I always forget how eager young folks are to establish their place in the world, to assess an idea in terms of how much it conforms to their still-forming visions of the world, so as to differentiate themselves—from their classmates, their families. Mostly these days I find myself hewing toward the opposite direction: letting my own vision of the world go slack to better enfold new ideas into it. Not to assess anything but to query an idea, to jump inside it, to see how it might stretch and where it could crack. I spend my days trying to convince them that testing out new ideas is like intellectual gymnastics, a fun way to spend a day, totally free of potential to cause serious damage.
Then a new mayoral candidate questionnaire hits my inbox. And I remember well that feeling of hell no.
We’ve reprinted the questionnaires for you in this issue, so you can remember that feeling too. Eight mayoral candidates, answering questions we crafted with you and nonprofit civic journalism lab City Bureau. We held the candidates to the queries as posed (although you can read their responses to the full questionnaire online) and asked questions that we believe could point this city toward the kind of culture we want: a safe, vibrant, diverse, and happy one. Of course we’ve also jammed the rest of the issue chock-full of the kind of cultural events you love.
So at least something on these pages will give you that feeling of hell yes. v