Carrie Astin realized a dream when she opened Sunne (pronounced sunny) Boutique in September 2021. “When the pandemic hit, the boutique was something I had thought about for a long time, and I thought,you never know what’s going to happen, and if this is something I want to do, I should just do it.” Astin said. The boutique at 2534 Monroe St. sells women’s clothing — new and vintage — with a focus on sustainability and being rooted in community. The shop is close enough to Astin’s house that her kids can ride their bikes there to help out. “I love what I do, and I love where we are,” she says.
We asked her about how she sees Madison.
What do you think is the biggest challenge our community faces?
I think our community needs to learn some hard truths about itself. I think Madison claims to be much more liberal than it really is. In my personal opinion, people here really like to tout that they’re supportive of, you know, narrowing the achievement gap and things like that, but [they] don’t actually want to take the steps in their own kids’ classrooms to make that happen. So, I feel like Madison either doesn’t realize it has the problem it has, or does and doesn’t truly want to address it. I really think Madison needs to stop talking about doing those things, and actually be willing to take the steps. If we want to actually make real change in [these] space[s], then the people who are enjoying that part of our community are going to have to be willing to share it, which might mean we get a little less, and that’s OK.
What do you wish people in our community understood better?
I think it needs to be understood that a certain portion of the community has been reaping greater benefits for a very long time, and to actually make it equal, you are going to have to give up some of those benefits. That’s what equality is. You can’t keep everything you have, and somehow find everything that the other portion of our community needs. You might have to give up some of your wealth for other people to have more of it. I hear people say, “Just because you’re making things more equal for other people, that doesn’t mean it’s going to take anything away from you.” I actually don’t think that’s true. No, it does [mean that], and that’s OK. That’s actually how it should be. You have to be willing to give a little, or a lot, to really make any difference.
What is one change you would make if you could that would make life better for people in our community?
This is going to sound like a weird answer, but I’m going to tell you anyway. There was something I read about recently in a Scandinavian country. They opened something called a people library, where people who maybe had different lifestyles than each other would go and make themselves available to talk to other people. You could sign up to talk to that person, and you both walk in knowing [a little bit about the other person], but then you can have this open dialogue about it. I just like the idea. If there was a way to facilitate more people having open, healthy dialogues, I think there could be greater understanding in general. I think that type of open communication would go so far. I’ve got to believe a lot of what we struggle with is not-understanding. Not necessarily cruelty.
What in our community gives you hope?
We’re starting to take some strides in the direction I was talking about. I think there’s some great organizations out there trying really hard and some people trying really hard to make real change, and that gives me a lot of hope. I think people are willing to [make changes] once they see what’s actually happening. That gives me hope. It’s not people saying, “I don’t care.” It’s people saying, “I didn’t know that. Tell me more so I can try and learn.” I think Madison’s a good community in that place.