Milwaukee to Host Democratic Convention in 2020

submitted by Jessika Kasten; photo by Pete Christianson

Alex Lasry 10 23 2019

Alex Lasry pictured here with Club President Andrea Kaminski

This week, Alex Lasry, who led the bid for the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Milwaukee, spoke to the Downtown Rotarians about his experience and what this bid can mean for Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. Alex was initially inspired to promote Milwaukee for the DNC bid after realizing that Milwaukee was never considered for the Amazon HQ2 location. He knew all that Milwaukee had to offer and believed that if we could bring people to the city and state, there would be positive downstream impacts for years to come.

The group hired the consultant who won the last two bids, submitted their RFP and did some grassroots work to highlight Milwaukee in Washington D.C. They made top three finalists (along with Miami and Houston), and then went on to raise double the amount of money for the convention than their competitors. Supporters from all political backgrounds came from all parts of the city, community and state to back the bid.

Alex’s main takeaway was that this is an opportunity not only for Milwaukee, but the entire State of Wisconsin. He believes that it is now our duty to develop opportunities and attractions to pull the 50,000 people coming to the convention over to Madison while they’re here. We can work together to provide venue space, attractions, lodging and more in effort to show off our community.

Alex believes that the measures for success are not around the DNC itself, but instead the impact the DNC has on the state’s economy years into the future. But in order to do that, we need to give people a reason to come back.

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering or registering a venue with the host committee, visit www.milwaukee2020.com.

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

  

Bar Corallini, a Special Niche for Recent Culinary Arts Fellowship Dinner

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Ellen Carlson & Rebecca Prochaska

3A

Walking into Bar Corallini, in the Schenk’s Corners neighborhood on October 9, I had the feeling this warm, welcoming venue, with its strong Mediterranean vibes, could eventually be a go-to place where everyone would know your name.

The new restaurant, which opened in the same space where Chocolaterian used to be, has a glorious new look and robust feel and energy. The name, which means “little coral” in Italian, is also the nickname for those who live in Torre del Greco, the hometown of Corallini’s chef, Giovanni Novella.

Our five-course dinner, which included a glass of red or white wine, started with an enormous antipasti platter of items such as Prosciutto di Parma, and grilled eggplant and zucchini, which we passed around family-style. Next up, a heaping salad plate with seasonal garden veggies dressed with aged balsamic vinaigrette.

The third course, the pasta course, arrived in a large dish to be shared with all. The rigatoni alla Bolognese, created with house-made beef and pork Bolognese sauce was seasoned with fresh ricotta. The veggie choice- Pennoni alla Norma was highlighted with tomato and eggplant.

The fourth course, the entrée, was also served family style, a nice idea for giving many guests a wide number of dishes to sample. That gave us the option of having ‘seconds’ if we liked. The Pollo marsala, a breaded chicken dish and scene stealer, arrived in a creamy marsala sauce, and won high praise.

We paused then, waiting for a finale that would finish off the hand-crafted Italian dining.

So it was fitting to end the dinner with a deeply satisfying taste of dark chocolate.

The dessert course, dark chocolate sorbet, whipped up from the creative talents of Baron’s Gelato in Sheboygan, had a glistening, unique velvety texture with a super-sized taste. Accompanied by mini-cannolis, the dessert course had just the right about of sweetness that deserved to be considered the finale to this new restaurant’s line-up of featured dishes.

2  Group1  Group2

Then it was time to raise our glasses in toast to event organizer and Fellowship Chair, Rebecca Prochaska.

I heard many say it was delightful dinner in a beautifully re-defined space. It was also a good choice for catching up with old friends and initiating new friendships.

Journalism at Risk

submitted by Jocelyn Riley; photo by Pete Christianson

Andy and Dee Hall 10 2 19   Andy and Dee J. Hall took turns Wednesday telling Rotarians about the mission and accomplishments of The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the nonprofit and nonpartisan organization they co-founded in 2009.  The Center’s three guiding principles are displayed prominently at the top of its website, WisconsinWatch.org:  PROTECT THE VULNERABLE · EXPOSE WRONGDOING · EXPLORE SOLUTIONS.  An independent media group such as theirs is necessary, the Halls argue, because traditional media outlets like newspapers are weakening and dwindling and “no news is bad news for our democracy.”  The Center has won many awards for its rigorously fact-checked investigative journalism and is increasing the reach of its work through an extensive paid internship program. To date, 48 former interns and fellows have moved on throughout the country and the world using skills and insights they gained at the Center.  The Halls cited stories from Wisconsin exposing human trafficking, inmates in solitary confinement (in one case 27 years in a cell the size of a parking space), and concerns about football concussions as examples of the kinds of investigations their Center can conduct free of pressure to make a profit.

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

Creating Meaningful Conversations About Immigration

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Margaret Murphy

Karen Menendez Coller 9 25 19Karen Menendez Coller, Centro Hispano of Dane County Executive Director, shared how recent policies affect the Latino community.

Dr. Coller started with an overview of the state’s Latino community.  Seven percent of the population is Latino, and 27 percent are foreign born.  One fourth are K-12 students, and 34 percent live in poverty.

Opportunity barriers:  segregation, poverty, language, mobility, single parent households, housing cost and education.

Coller shared three policies impacting Latinos and our economy she hopes Rotarians will talk about with their networks.

Drivers’ Licenses for all is the first policy Coller highlighted.  The bill has support from the business community as it will increase safety and bring needed employees, especially on dairies where half of workers are Latino. Coller shared the story of Mario, from Honduras.  He is now a herdsman in DeForest with a close bond to his employer family.  He needs a license to drive to the farm.

Public Charge laws are the second policy Coller is concerned with.  These laws are designed to make it harder for families who use government benefits 12 out of 36 months to get citizenship. Coller shared the story of Jennifer, a legal permanent resident originally from Colombia, now a certified doula.  Jennifer has used government services and just wants to improve her family’s life.

In-state tuition is the third policy Coller would like to offer deferred action students, i.e. those who are citizens but with undocumented parents.  They are forced to pay the $40,000-$45,000 out of state UW-Madison tuition rate despite graduating from a Wisconsin High School having citizenship. Coller shared the story of Gilberto, a dreamer working three jobs.

Coller urged Rotarians to vote and learn about the estimated ten percent of Wisconsinites who are undocumented.

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

Wisconsin’s Dairy Revolution

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by Margaret Murphy

Dan Smith 9 18 2019Everything in Wisconsin’s dairy industry has changed!”  That was the keynote hit by Daniel Smith, the president and CEO of the Cooperative Network, in a clear and well-organized talk to the club on Wednesday.

You must understand the scale and depth of change in the last 40 years—1978 to 2018—he began.  The number of dairy farms dropped from 47,000 to 8800.  The size of the average dairy herd increased from 36 to 140.  Milk production soared from 11,735 to 23,725 pounds at the same time the number of cows dropped from 1.8 to 1.2 million.  (Some cows are producing 200 pounds of milk per day!)  And all of this occurred at a time when milk prices fluctuated by 75%.

These changes were driven by advancements in technology, genetics and nutrition, changes in the cost of credit, farm consolidation, specialization, and access to international markets.

What have we gained from this revolution?  Smith asked.  We Americans enjoy the lowest cost of food in the world, the most productive farms, and a consistent, safe, and dependable supply of food—all of which freed up millions to pursue non-farm occupations.

What have we lost?  His answers included 40,000 farm families, thousands of farm-related businesses, family-focused husbandry, and a sense of who we are as a nation.

The transformation of Wisconsin’s dairy industry has been fueled by a five-year slump in prices, rapidly increasing infrastructure and equipment costs, intense global competition, and an aging farm population.  (Today, the average age of a dairy farmer is 58.)

Looking ahead, Smith warned that highly mechanized, vertically integrated agriculture was already evident in poultry, hogs, and grain and that dairy farming was rapidly moving in this direction.

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

The 2019 Wisconsin Book Festival

submitted by Rich Leffler

Conor Moran   Conor Moran, the director of Wisconsin Book Festival, spoke to us today. Conor has been the director of the Festival for the last seven years, since it has been presented by the Madison Public Library and Foundation. He updated us on what has been happening with the Festival since his last appearance before us five years ago. The Festival has become a year-round event, which has made it more prominent among publishers, and they are now eager to participate. As a result, the Festival is able to attract some of the best authors of the most important books in the country, with many from the New York Times Best Sellers list. In addition, C-Span now programs the Festival.

In the last seven years, the Festival has doubled its attendance. As the Festival kicks off its new year, the first program will be Friday, September 13. The speaker will be Christopher Leonard, the author of “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America.” His talk will be at the Central Library. Following on that, on September 19, Bud Selig will speak at the Wisconsin Historical Society Auditorium about his new book, ”For the Good of the Game: The Inside Story of the Surprising and Dramatic Transformation of Major League Baseball.” And then on September 24, Samantha Power will speak at the Central Library about her book “The Education of an Idealist.” Ms. Powers’ appearance is sponsored by Cheryl Weston, who was a member of the Club.

On October 17-20, there will be the annual four-day Wisconsin Book Festival Celebration, which used to be all there was. As should be apparent, Conor has transformed the Festival into a major literary event of national importance.

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

Changing the Study of Native American History and Culture

submitted by Kevin Hoffman; photo by Margaret Murphy

Patty Loew 9 4 2019

Patty Loew, Ph.D. is a well-known Wisconsin broadcast and print journalist, producer, educator, writer and proud member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe.  After retiring as a professor from the University of Wisconsin, she accepted a position as the inaugural Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

When she accepted the position at Northwestern she wanted to change the paradigm that Native American studies had typically been carried out under; that is, in the framework and context of academic study and peer review, and then describing what eras and influences affected the life and culture of the Native American through history.

Dr. Loew’s concept was to build relationships and draw in related and disparate disciplines to bring a fresh perspective on contributions that Native American cultural knowledge brings to our understanding of the world.

In a convergence of science and cultural history the story was told of a fish warden that oversaw when spear fishing could be opened on certain lakes.  He approached his task from a strictly scientific benchmark methodology:  When the lake temperature hit 48 degrees it was time to open spearing season because spawning was about to begin.  A Native American friend of his had a different method handed down from his ancestors: “Frogs chirp before spearfishing in the spring”.  Over time he discovered the results were much better when he melded the two methodologies, but the real trigger was waiting until the frogs chirped!

Dr. Loew related that there are many other ecological heritage stories that have as much validity as western science methodologies.  She has created a minor in Native American & Indigenous Studies to build on the knowledge of historical, scientific and cultural contributions of Native American populations.  Learning in this context is expected to be experiential in nature by building relationships through tribal and Native American institutions.  She also hopes to raise the visibility of Native American culture and language as indigenous cultures become increasingly rare and dormant.

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