Stories from Our State Capitol’s History

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Donna Beestman

Michael Edmonds 8 16 17“Fraternizing between Republicans and Democrats in those days was not seen as a treasonable offense.”       —Governor Gaylord Nelson (1950’s)

In just a short while, historian Michael Edmonds weaved a four-century tale of political intrigue, heroism and leadership in the 100-year-old Capitol, its short-lived predecessors and in early territorial days. Throughout, I was struck by the vision, passion and integrity (in most) of our past leaders in Wisconsin.

Michael surely expressed our hopes in this closing statement. “For 100 years, the Capitol dome has been big enough to accommodate a broad spectrum of conflicting opinions.  Let’s hope that it continues to shelter a fearless sifting and winnowing of ideas, from all sides of every question for a long time to come.  That’s exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind.  And whatever else the Capitol may be – art museum, office building, tourist destination – it is first and foremost a symbol of the American experiment in self-government.”

Takes from the Tales of the Capitol –

  • The first two Capital Buildings burned down…the third and current building was completed in 1917.
  • Wisconsin was the first state to enact an equal rights act in 1921 and was the first state to approve the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
  • Local architect Lew Porter literally worked himself to death, ensuring that the new Capitol building would be built well to precise specifications.
  • Sam Pierce, a Pullman porter, became the Governor’s receptionist in 1922. He served 5 governors with wit and grace, and led Madison’s small black community.
  • The rebirth of the Democratic party in the 1940’s was led by a fringe group of women and men…from which future leaders Gaylord Nelson, Pat Lucey, John Reynolds and William Proxmire would launch their political careers.
  • Polarization and bipartisanship flamed in the Capitol throughout the 20th century – McCarthyism in the 40’s, Vietnam in the 60’s, earlier – Marxists, Progressives and Stalwarts – they all faced off in the Capitol and their differences were often even wider than ours today.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Science is Fun Returns to Rotary

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Donna Beestman

Bassam3While the denial of climate change has prompted outcries of “Science Is Real,” Madisonians have for the past 48 years primarily embraced the idea that “Science is Fun.” This is a credit due to the work of Dr. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, who presented at the Rotary Club of Madison’s August 9 meeting which also signifies the Club’s Family Day.

The presentation, which was attended by 85 guests, the vast majority of whom were children or grandchildren of Rotarians, indeed elicited many fun moments around science experiments mixed with some deep educational and social messages.

On the more serious side, Dr. Shakhashiri reminded the audience that the Number One priority of the work of science and scientific experimentation is about sustaining “Earth and its people.” Specifically, Dr. Shakhashiri cited issues such as population growth, availability of finite resources such as water, climate change, malnutrition, the spreading of disease, war, and deadly violence as the kind of issues that scientists embrace and actively work on bringing about solutions. Above all, Dr. Shakhashiri said, the pursuit and knowledge of science is an essential human right. “Everybody has the right to benefit from scientific and technological progress.” In addition to religion, Dr. Shakhashiri counts science as the “strongest force in society.”

Dr. Shakhashiri, who began his career at UW-Madison in 1970, has always made community outreach an integral part of his work. The “Science is Fun” campaign is a commitment to elicit awe, wonder, and curiosity in science among people of all ages with a particular affinity toward enlightening the youngest members of society – our children. Dr. Shakhashiri said that especially among children, science can elicit emotional responses.

This was the case at the Rotary meeting as Dr. Shakhashiri went about some of his delightfully wacky and magical science tricks, whereby liquids changed color by mixing potassium iodine with lead nitrates. He had the children in the audience in stitches as colors of the liquid frequently changed. He appealed to the audience to hone their observation skills.

Above all, Dr. Shakhashiri’s work is rooted in the notion that education is the great equalizer. “Science literacy enlightens and enables people to make informed choices, to be skeptical, and to reject shams, unproven conjecture, and to avoid being bamboozled into making foolish decisions where matters of science and technology are concerned.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Will Madison Win the Nation’s F-35 Competition?

–submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Col Erik Peterson 8 2 2017

Col. Erik Peterson with Club President Donna Hurd

Will Madison be selected as one of two Air National Guard bases where the nation’s newest and most expensive fighter jet, the F-35, will be stationed?  That was the question that Colonel Erik Peterson, the Commander of the 115th  Fighter Wing at Truax Field, addressed in his talk to Rotarians.  Already Madison made the first cut from 18 Air Guard bases to today’s five.

Peterson argued that Madison meets and exceeds all Air Force criteria for this major strategic decision.  We have the capacity to handle F-35s with today’s F-16 hangers and support facilities.  We have cost advantages over other sites because just four minutes away—at F-36 speeds!—are 30,000 square miles of practice air space and a target range.  Four minutes may not seem important, but for an aircraft that costs $40,000 an hour to fly, having everything nearby will be a strong cost argument for locating the squadron here. Another cost advantage is that we already own the necessary hangers and support facilities.  We will not adversely affect air quality and the F-35’s will be no noisier than today’s F-16s.  Finally, Madison has always given the 115th Fighter Wing strong community support.  That’s a strong resume, said Peterson.

Zach Brandon, the President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and a project supporter who attended the meeting, reminded everyone that Madison has been an Air Force town since Truax was founded during World War II.  Remember, Brandon continued, when 9-11 happened, it was F-16s from Truax that scrambled to protect O’Hare Airport.  This is the proud job of the National Guard.

Peterson said that if the F-35 wing is stationed at Truax, its economic impact based on payrolls and purchased services will be $100 million per year.  Another benefit that few realize is that the Air Force pays for the fire-rescue program at Dane County Regional Airport.

A Gem of a Hike: Table Bluff on Ice Age Trail July 15

–submitted by Leigh Richardson; photos by Jeff Tews

IMG_2524“Embarking on the back road journey 2 miles north of Cross Plains, members of the Rotary Hiking Fellowship had no idea this pristine gem awaited. Towering forests, chin-high rainbows of prairie flowers, and the grand finale– a shelter perched overlooking the driftless region. A view to rival Blue Mounds State Park.

At the bi-section of the Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail lies the 460-acre “Swamplovers Nature Preserve.”  Even our seasoned hikers were unaware of its existence.

IMG_2525

When rounding a wooded curve, we even encountered an alligator in a bikini!  It elicited frightened gasps until we realized it was merely a lawn statue planted trailside by the lighthearted Swamplovers’ group.

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Thank you, hike coordinator, Andrea Kaminski, for sharing this lovely find!”

Beautiful and Lovely

–submitted by Ellie Schatz; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

IMG_8369Beautiful and lovely is the story Jim Voegeli is telling of his father Don Voegeli, prolific composer and performer of music for public radio and television, theater, advertising, and educational and promotional films. Beautiful and Lovely is also the name of a children’s song Don wrote in 1964 about the beauty of nature and life as part of the radio series Let’s Sing.

Don Voegeli, music director at UW’s radio station, WHA, until his retirement in 1964, was a 50-year member of our club beginning in 1949. He is noted for 35 years as our club pianist preceding Jeff Bartell, who opened the program by playing one of Don’s songs.

Smiles were universal as we listened to Voegeli’s music and heard the story of his life and love of music. Though much of his music had been destroyed, through thousands of hours over the course of 3 1/2 years of researching, locating, and digitizing, many recordings have been restored.

Nods of recognition and appreciation accompanied the smiles when Jim played two renditions of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered theme song, the music Don is perhaps best known for composing. The newer arrangement we all hear on NPR today marks 45 years of Don’s music being the All Things Considered signature. We also enjoyed learning of Don’s 2-year hiatus from UW, when he headed to Chicago to write jingles, including the familiar Schlitz beer jingle featured on the 1950’s Schlitz Playhouse of Stars CBS television program.

Although Jim made it clear that the amount of information and music that could be packed into his short presentation was minute compared to the array of musical pieces that he would like to share, he didn’t stop with his presentation. 90 copies of a 4 CD set, entitled Beautiful and Lovely: The Music of Don Voegeli, were gifted to Rotarians wishing to reminisce and enjoy at home. Disc 1 contains full versions of the All Things Considered themes; orchestral versions are on Disc 2; the Schlitz jingle, film scores, and themes, jingles, and interludes are on Disc 3 and continued on Disc 4.

So if you missed the Beautiful and Lovely presentation, get a copy of the CDs, which Jeff Bartell says are “remarkable.” OR, you can watch when Jim Voegeli, and David Null, Director of UW Archives, share the Don Voegeli story, Don Voegeli and Wisconsin Public Broadcasting. Go to http://wpt.org/University-Place/don-voegeli-and-wisconsin-public-broadcasting

Did you miss our meeting this week?  You can watch the video here.

Coach Healy Inspires and Motivates

–submitted by Roger Phelps; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

healy cropped

We were talking softball at the July 19 Rotary meeting.  Why?  Because our guest speaker was the UW best winning softball coach in the program’s 19-year history, Yvette Healy.  That’s why!

Coach Healy approached the Rotary podium pretty much the way she approaches her job as UW’s softball head coach – with a ton of energy, inspiration and positive thinking.

A native of Chicago, she is in her 8th year as UW Head Coach.  Prior to moving to Madison, she was the head coach at Loyola University.  Moving to Wisconsin wasn’t easy, she comments.  She was an ardent Bears and Cubs fan before arriving.  But, she’s adapting and excelling in her job.

She was hired to turn around a struggling UW softball team, and turn it around she did.  Under her leadership, the team has consistently moved up in the ranking and now eyes a Big Ten Championship ranking next year. She owes a lot of her motivation approaches to the inspiration she has gained through a handful of inspirational authors whose words echo in her coaching:  “Do something that scares you;” “Just say yes;” “Believe it;” “If you have a big enough WHY, you’ll find a way HOW;” “Take action.  Don’t fill your head with possibilities of negative outcomes;” “If your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough;” and “It’s not the best team that wins.  It’s the team the plays the best.”

She made a special point of citing Madison itself as one of the advantages she has in recruiting top talent to UW.  They see this special place and want to be here.

Coach Healy left her Rotarian audience with three final thoughts:  1) When asked whether you’ve accomplished something, never say no.  Say Not Yet!; 2) Show pride of the team you lead. Tell each of them you’re proud of them, and tell them why; and 3) Imagine how good things could be!

Did you miss our meeting week?  Watch the video here.

 

Prof. Jonathan Patz Describes Health Risks of Climate Change

–submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Mike Engelberger

Jonathan Patz 7 12 2017On July 12, Professor Jonathan Patz, Director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison and a pioneer in researching global climate change and its consequences (he has been active in national and international programs in this area for more than two decades and received a Paul Harris fellow award at the RI annual meeting in Atlanta last month when he addressed a break-out session on the connection between extreme weather events and the explosion of the Zika virus)  described the health consequences of global climate change and his proposals for addressing these issues.

He began by noting that increasingly high temperatures world-wide have significant health consequences.  Climate disruption causes extreme heat waves, increased air pollution and increases in insect-borne and water borne diseases.  It adversely affects food supply and mental health.  Among many studies cited was one noting that US cities are likely to triple their annual number of 90 degree days by mid-century.  Yet, it is not just hotter temperatures that create havoc; the water cycle is altered and rain will fall in stronger fashion than before due to the increase in hot air.

Professor Patz said climate change should be approached as a health issue and noted its impact on energy and the food supply.  He stated that while moving to reduce carbon emissions has a cost, that can be out-weighed by benefits, citing a cost of $30 per ton of removed carbon dioxide emissions being off-set by a benefit of more than $200 in the reduction of air pollution – pollution which causes 7 million deaths a year now.  Moreover, the costs of wind and solar energy are dropping rapidly.  He also cited studies indicating that simply substituting bike rides for auto trips of 2 and 1/2 miles or less in the summer could save 1300  lives annually as well as 8 billion dollars.  As to employment concerns, he noted that far more people are already employed in energy work not related to fossil fuels than are employed by the oil and gas industries.

Although the United States has stated it will be the only major nation not to continue to adhere to the Paris climate accords, it cannot officially leave the agreement until Nov. 4, 2020, and a huge number of US cities and other jurisdictions are expressing adherence to its principles and lobbying to continue to abide by it.  The new RI president has said response to climate change should be a major cause for the organization.  There is a moral issue here because poorer countries are most gravely harmed by climate change when they have been the least responsible for it.  Historically, the United States has been most responsible for the emissions that are a major cause of climate change although China now surpasses us in pollution  (China, however, is taking major steps to increase its reliance on solar energy.)

Professor Patz concluded by noting that full implementation by every nation of the goals of the Paris accords would be insufficient to resolve the problems created by it.  Individual citizens and non-governmental organizations must move to substitute cleaner energy for fossil fuel reliance and develop a healthier society.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.  Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week.