To the editor:

Madison needs a new direction. For a town that has weathered the tide of history in such seemingly good fashion, entering the 21st century has now left us wandering blindly towards the same hapless fate that has befallen so many other small American towns.

Years of failed leadership coupled with reckless fiscal and economic planning find us now on the edge of a precipice - do we fade into obscurity or do we rise to the challenges before us and face the future with new and innovative ideas to rebuild our hometown? There is still time to bring about the change we so desperately need.

Madison is a town possessed of immense potential, indeed it is a potential with the proven ability to transcend time, but those in power seem unable to capitalize upon the great things we are so blessed with.

I love my town, but as a recent college graduate I see little hope for others like me to return home and build a career. Many groups have been represented in the discussions for a new economic development strategy, but those of my own age-group have been left in the dark.

Sooner, rather than later, our voices must have input into these sorts of decisions, yet so long as opportunity remains scarce young people will stay away. Some may say we lack the experience and wisdom to bring about change of this sort: to those people I say you are wrong. Look outside Madison and you will find young people that are becoming the driving engine of transformative change throughout our great country; both in business and government.

Though Madison may be just a river town, we can be that shining city on a hill (or valley, in our case) people look to as the beacon of just how great a small town can be. It is time for us to wake up and affect the change we want. We can no longer settle for more of the same; the time is coming for young people to return home and build Madison into the home we know it can be-for young and old alike.

Patrick Thevenow

Chicago, Ill., formerly of Madison