I actually ended up here today after reading about Chicago Meshnet's
recent activation of their first node. While they have a long way to go they certainly have some ambitious plans.
Madison strikes me as the right kind of community for this type of project, both culturally and topographically. Zoning ordinances keep buildings low and the isthmus is rather flat.
I have experience with Ubiquiti
wireless equipment which is dollar for dollar the best value in high performance WiFi. We could get nodes online for less than $100 a piece.
Maybe an meetup of interested parties is in order? We can gauge interest and start moving towards a first node.