A Wintry Hike at Donald County Park

submitted by Roberta Sladky; photos by Jason Beren & Jeff Tews

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Fifteen Rotarians and guests plus two canines (James and Park) hiked Donald Park, a Dane County Park located in the Driftless Area of southwest Dane County. Two inches of snow fell overnight — enough to create a lovely wintry scene but not enough to require snowshoes. The group met at the Pop’s Knoll entrance near Mt Vernon and hiked south and east on the Woodland Trail, Prairie Edge Trail and Springs Trail. The Mt Vernon Overlook Trail was practically a rock climb – all enjoyed the vista and made it down without incident. Records show that the group hiked 4.1 miles and went up and down 25 floors in elevation!

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Donald Park is testament to the philanthropy of Dane County. Two women, Delma Donald Woodburn and Pat Hitchcock, became neighbors and then partners in providing the land and vision that formed Donald County Park. It’s impossible to describe the history of this 800 acre piece of land in this ‘brief write-up’, except to say that there is evidence that ice age PaleoIndians once hunted this land and many more residents and visitors since have enjoyed the terrain with its rocky outcrops. Most of the group enjoyed lunch and conversation following at Verona’s Boulder Brew Pub. A great start to the weekend!

Our thanks to Rotarian Andrea Kaminski for organizing this hike for the group.

“How Are You Going to See Our Children?”

submitted by Ellsworth Brown; photo by Neil Fauerbach

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Judge Everett Mitchell pictured here with his mentor, Ms. Milele Chikasa Anana, who received our club’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award at this week’s Rotary meeting.

Imagine the combined power of a preacher and the authority of a judge, connected by an unrelenting mission to lift up children who stand alone.  Now imagine the twenty-minute Rotary program this produced in reflection of and response to the career challenge that Judge Everett Mitchell was given via the question above, by the day’s Manfred E. Swarsensky award winner Ms. Milele Chikasa Anana, on the occasion of his installation as Circuit Court Judge in 2016.

But we didn’t have to imagine this.  It came to life with driven speed, intensity and the best desperation to help us understand how incapable the child welfare system, often following inevitably into the juvenile justice system and ultimately the criminal justice system, are to the task of repairing damaged lives, providing help and hope to those who enter these systems with no experience, no point of reference, no one to hear, no hand to hold, no ability to move beyond a closed loop.

Using poignant examples, Judge Mitchell spoke movingly of the power of restorative justice.  His source of language and guidance in court is Trauma and Healing Guide Resource, which speaks directly to the need for courts and the public to speak to a child’s future more than the past.  The absence of and critical need for mental health treatment was a frequent theme, as was the need to keep dreams alive as a replacement for the damages done to children, giving them voices.

The Judge spoke of the Court in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, to open an Office of Youth Engagement.  He spoke of the need to raise the bar of the justice system’s practices, which are not yet equal to the focus on trauma.

The best expression of Judge Mitchell’s commitment to the power of his vision and the role of the Court was his closing word:  “I am not just their judge, I am their reflection.”  His life, once his nightmare, turned into his dream:  power of a preacher and the authority of a judge, bent to a consuming mission.

Stu Levitan Tells Rotarians About Madison and Club Members in the Sixties

submitted by Jerry Thain

Stu LevitanThe 1960s were a tumultuous decade in the United States and certainly in Madison.  Club member Stu Levitan drew on his new book “Madison in the Sixties” to illustrate his talk to the Club on November 7th.  The book, whose genesis was 34,000 articles from Madison newspapers of the decade reviewed by Stu by digital scanning (followed by more in depth research) focuses on five major issues of the time –civil rights, University of Wisconsin, urban renewal, Monona Terrace and student unrest – but Stu’s remarks to the Club dealt with the involvement of Club members in the 1960s, not only appropriate to the audience but also a natural theme given the prominence of so many Rotarians in the life of Madison then, as always.  Space does not allow for more than a few examples of the highlights of the presentation so for a full listing one will just have to buy the book!

Among the Rotarians prominent in the chronicle of Madison in the 1960s were current member Mitch Javid, the physician who treated UW boxer Charlie Mohr after his injury, ultimately fatal, in the ring at the NCAA boxing tourney in Madison.  Two mayors during the decade were Rotarians – Henry Reynolds & Bill Dyke.  Pat Lucey, who eventually would be elected Governor, was a Rotarian and prominent realtor in the city.  He was the only realtor to speak in favor of a fair housing ordinance which eventually passed.  Other Rotarians of the time included the two Madison police chiefs of the decade and the UW football coach, Ivy Williamson.  Rotarian Arlie Mucks advocated, initially unsuccessfully, for admission of Jews to the Madison Club in the nid-1960s.  Current member Nelson Cummings joined the Club in that decade as the leader of the Madison Urban League and, as older Club members know, was able to find housing for his family in the city only after a long struggle to do so.

Rotarian Judge Joe Jackson was the presiding jurist at the trial of students charged in the disturbances related to protests of Dow Chemical conducting interviews on campus.  Jackson also was the judge in the trial of the female performers who danced nude in a psychedelic theatrical version of Peter Pan.  Rotarian James Boll was the prosecuting attorney in each instance.

Among those speaking to the Club in the 1960s were General Lewis Hershey, head of the draft, whose presence drew many protestors, and Warren Knowles, whose remarks denouncing student activism on the Madison campus apparently were well received, and came less than a month before his re-election as Governor of Wisconsin.

For greater detail, see the book!

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

Financial Literacy for Today’s College Bound Students

submitted by Kay Schwichtenberg; photo by Pete Christianson

Derek Kindle 10 31 2018

From left: Nasra Wehelie, Nick Curran, Derek Kindle and Virginia Bartelt

Rotarians celebrated Halloween on Wednesday with a topic that frightens even hardened fans of horror movies — college tuition.

Derek Kindle from the office of Student Financial Aid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison administers more than $450M in federal, state, institutional and private aid annually.  While the topic is often front and center in the press and on the minds of many parents, grandparents and college students, the reality can be far more complex than just headlines.

College costs are rising while state support for higher education is on a steep decline.  Tuition and fees in the state of Wisconsin are slightly below average in the US and compared to neighboring states.  And while official data sources consistently report that those with a degree earn more on average than those without one, the question remains: How can students and families take advantage of the benefits education offers, but still manage the costs within their means.

Annual family income for 39% of the 2018 undergraduates is less than $80,000 with half of that number falling under $39,000.  While 53% of UW undergraduates graduate without debt, the remaining students have an average student loan burden at graduation of $27,138.  So, what are the steps to mitigate the burden of education costs?

Kindle says loud and clear that FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the best place to start.  The 2020 FAFSA applications are now available. The University spends considerable resources on communicating with counselors and high schools, youth organizations and directly with students across the state.  As part of that communication blitz, student aid advisors are also touting university aid programs.

New this year, “Bucky’s Tuition Promise” covers tuition and fees for Wisconsin students with family adjusted gross income below the state’s median income of $56,000.

The “Badger Ready Program” is for returning adults and veterans with 24 credits and a 2-year minimum break in attendance from an accredited institution.

How does UW look at the success with these programs?  Kindle shared two indicators: The freshmen retention rate is 95.3% and the average time to earn a degree has been lowered significantly over the last few years to 4.03 years.

Links to all the programs that were mentioned today are listed below.

Badger Promise                                    https://financialaid.wisc.edu/types-of-aid/ftb/

Bucky’s Tuition Promise                         https://financialaid.wisc.edu/btp

Chancellor’s &Powers-Knapp Scholars    https://cspks.wisc.edu/

PEOPLE Program                                 https://peopleprogram.wisc.edu/

Q&A Forum with AG Candidate Josh Kaul

submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Pete Christianson

Josh Kaul 10 24 2018

From left: Lester Pines, Josh Kaul and Greg Everts

At the October 24 meeting of the Rotary Club of Madison, Democratic candidate Josh Kaul for the office of Wisconsin attorney general summed up his vision for the state’s highest judicial office by asserting that he would operate as an independent force “standing up for the rights of Wisconsinites” and working to make Wisconsin “stronger and safer.”

Citing his Wisconsin roots of growing up in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac and highlighting his Stanford law degree along with his experience as a federal prosecutor serving in Baltimore, Kaul made the case to be the right person for the job. He outlined various positions related to voting rights, the opioid epidemic, the Affordable Care Act, high incarceration rates of African-American citizens, school safety and the recent appointment of Brett Kavanaugh as US Supreme Court Justice.

In discussing voting rights, Kaul painted himself a champion based on his record of actively challenging any attempts to restrict voting including in Wisconsin. He also addressed the gerrymandering issue in Wisconsin that reached the U.S. Supreme Court by supporting the idea of a non-partisan redistricting model.

On the topic of the opioid crisis, Kaul pledged to follow a four-point agenda, encompassing enforcement of laws with large-scale traffickers, expanding access to substance abuse treatment, holding pharmaceutical companies accountable, and expanding Medicaid to afford greater treatment options under Badger Care. Asked whether he had accepted any campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, Kaul answered that he had not and also had made the pledge not to accept any funds from the National Rifle Association.

Kaul pledged to withdraw Wisconsin from current and future lawsuits seeking to repeal or invalidate the Affordable Care Act, and he especially stressed the need to grant medical coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Kaul addressed the high incarceration rate of the African-American population by advocating for community policing and community prosecution, pointing to such successful efforts in Milwaukee.

In terms of school safety, Kaul emphatically declared that more common sense is needed than is evident in his opponent’s ideas to arm teachers with guns. He singled out his opponent for “criticizing gun-free school zones.”

In drawing yet another distinction between him and his opponent, Kaul said he had opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation even prior to the sexual harassment charges against him became public. “The Court is going too far to the right,” he said. “The process was not a good one.” He was especially critical of his opponent’s statement that the allegation of sexual harassment 36 years ago should not disqualify Kavanaugh.

The greatest criticism of his opponent has been the massive backlog of rape kits not being tested in an effort to bring justice to victims and lock up potential sex offenders representing further danger to public safety. Kaul said the “delay in getting justice” was a blatant example of his opponent’s misplaced priorities.

While Attorney General Brad Schimel was invited to appear jointly or on a separate date, his campaign office declined our invitation.  Per our board policy, we offered Schimel’s office to have his campaign materials at our meeting on October 24th, and our thanks to Nancy Bartlett for attending and staffing the table. 

Our thanks also to WisEye for videotaping our meeting this week.  Watch the video here.

Wine Fellowship at Total Wine & More

submitted by Mike Wilson; photos by Pete Christianson

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Last night, October 16, we had a wine tasting at Total Wine & More at West Towne Shopping Center.  Fellow Rotarian Megan Ballard had been instrumental in arranging this tasting, and with Mike Wilson had met with the manager when we selected an upgraded Bordeaux tasting where the Right and Left Banks were contrasted.  Justin Duffy is in charge of the actual tasting content, and usually Total Wine has 7 wines with a store cost up to $30 and a tasting fee of $20.  Our tasting included 10 wines, and the price range was $15.99 to $44.99 because we purchased an upgraded tasting.  Only one wine was provided without a score, and the remainder were ranked by good sites as 90 – 95 points (an incredible 93.1 mean score).  This was an excellent tasting.

Bordeaux is the worlds most successful Wine region, although going through a little spot of bother now with competing new world “Bordeaux varietals”.  They developed a system that over centuries benefited the producers – to the point they sell their wines on “pre-order” before they are even bottled or officially rated by critics.  For the last two centuries they reigned supreme as the most prestigious wine region in the world.

The region’s most important grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon (white) and Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (red).  The other red grapes are either to soften tannins, or to add tannin and/or color to the blends.

The Left Bank is to the southwest (left on the map) of the Gironde estuary and the Garonne river.  This includes the Bas-Medoc and the Haut-Medoc (this latter High Medoc contains the 4 AOC’s that are the home of the greatest collection of top-quality wines anywhere in the world – St-Estephe, Pauillac, St-Julien and Margaux).  Further inland is the city of Bordeaux then follows Graves, an appellation famous for BOTH red and white wines, and most inland is Barsac and Sauternes (the sweeties of Bordeaux) made as a result of “Noble Rot”, the  result of infection by the mold botrytis.  This is not made every year as it is dependent on the infection of the grapes, but the “first great growth” of this region is Chateau Y’Quem – with it’s own designation in the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux.

The Right bank is east and north of the Gironde Estuary and the Dordogne River (Right on the map and exclusively making Red wines – the two R’s).  This region is better suited to Merlot grapes, with Cabernet Franc also doing well.  Many appellations exist, with the best being Fronsac, Pomerol and St. Emilion with their subregions.  While Pomerol has never been classified (like the 1855 classification of Bordeaux) St. Emilion successfully petitioned and resulted in a grand cru classe (2 only vs 5 for Bordeaux ) and premier grand cru classe.

Between the two rivers  are the Entre-deux-mers (between the seas – the river/tidal flow) made of exclusively dry white wines made predominantly from Sauvignon Blanc.  The other white grapes are semillon and muscadelle.  The red wine made here is usually Merlot, and are classified as regional Bordeaux or Bordeaux Superieur wines rather than Entre deux mers wine.

We had great examples of all these wines.  We started with a $15.99 Entre Deux Mers that was glorious but unranked.  We next had a Sauvignon Blanc a Ch. Doisy-Daene 2016 94 pointer that sells for $34.99.

We then were switched over to the Right Bank (Libournais wines after the largest city) and had a Fronsac Ch. Dalem 2015 ($29.99 94 pts), a Pomerol Chateau Garraud ($29.99 93 pts – which I liked the most) and CH. Quinault L’Encolos – St. Emilion ($45 94 pts).  All were excellent.

Now we moved to the Left Bank.  We started with a 2015 Ch Labegorce Margaux which was fabulous and rated 95 pts at only $39.99.  I rated this the same and was my favorite.  Next was a 2014 St. Julien Ch Lagrange  ($44.99 94 pts) which comes from the commune with highest proportion of classified growths. The chateaux is a 600 year old building.  Next was a 2014 St Estephe Ch. Lilian Ladouys  ($39.99 93 pts).  To complete the Left Bank AOC’s we had a 2014 Pauillac Ch. Lynch Bages second label ECHO ($44.99 92 pts).

The last wine was a Sauternes (furtherest inland of the Left Bank) a 2013 Ch Cantegril ($29.99 90 pts).  I thought this was superb and rated as a 95, likely as I love these sweet wines in all formats, even as “ice martinis” – the topic of a future tasting “Wines and wine cocktails”.

So we were shown all the regions, all the Haut Medoc AOCs, with excellent wines and great prices.  In the pricing structure if you see a wine that ends in 99 cents then that means if you buy 6 of any of these you get a 10% discount on all, as it represents one of the wines they have special relationships with the Distributer.  All of these wines were in that category.  A good time was had by all.

Lessons from Business Empress Martha Matilda Harper

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Pete Christianson

Jane Plitt 10 17 2018

From left: Rotarian Mary Borland, Guest Speaker Jane Plitt & Rotarian Joan Collins

Rotary and Martha Matilda Harper both want to make the world a better place, said October 17 Rotary speaker Jane Plitt.  Plitt highlighted how Harper, a poor Canadian servant for 25 years, became the American pioneer of modern retail franchising with 500 Harper Method Hair shops around the world catering to world royalty, US presidents, along with suffragettes.

Harper was born in Canada and put into servitude at age 7.  As she grew, she learned several business lessons.

Dream. She dreamed of success and marrying, although marriage would not release her from being a servant.

Stick to your Goals.  Her last employer was kind. He taught her about a product he designed to make hair stronger.  On his death bed, he bequeathed her the hair tonic formula.  With that formula, she believed she has the passport to change her life.  She moves to Rochester, New York, home to suffragists, entrepreneurs, and Quakers, a hot bed of activists. With about $300 in savings, she’s denied a building lease, until hiring a lawyer.

Capitalize on Your Assets. Her floor length hair, pictured on the door, drew in mothers of piano students from next door.  She offered them chairs, then drew them into to hear about her hair tonic.

 Understand and Delight the Customer.  Harper created the first reclining barber chair; this meant no soap in customers’ eyes and clothes were protected.

Create Buzz.  Famous customers such as Grace Coolidge and Bertha Palmer kicked off her fame.  Bertha drew her to open a second store in Chicago.

Commit the Customer.  Harper asked Palmer to come back with a list of 25 friends on a petition for her to come to Chicago.

Thinking Outside the Box.  Today we call this franchising, from the French “free yourself from servitude.”  After success franchising, she rethinks her anti-male beliefs and marries at 63 to a 39-year-old. She ends up with 500+ shops, two in Madison, five training schools, one also in Madison, and two manufacturing centers.

Treat Your Staff Well.  She advised franchisees to start staff meetings listening.  She believed it important to celebrate achievements.

In 1935, when Fortune Magazine was saying “a woman’s place is not in the executive chair,” Harper was proving she could make real money and success for her organization and her franchisees.

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