Author Archives: jaynecoster

Rotary’s Role in Bringing Our Community Back to Normalcy

submitted by Club President Andrea Kaminski

If you viewed our Rotary Club of Madison (RCM) Online Meeting earlier this week, you might have heard Nick Curran’s birthday message, in which he said, “I’m certain our Club will need to be at the forefront of post-COVID-19 recovery efforts, and I’m certain we’ll succeed in helping our community return to normalcy.”

Nick is right that our Club must be an active player in putting our community back on the right track — and we don’t need to wait until we are back out in the community to begin to do so.

April 1 was Census Day, and that’s a reminder that one important thing every one of us needs to do is participate in the decennial Census. You should have received a postcard in the mail a few weeks ago inviting you to complete the Census questionnaire. If you have not responded yet, you can still do so online, by phone or by mail.  Click here for full instructions or call 844-330-2020. If you don’t complete the questionnaire, the Census Bureau will follow up by phone or at your door.

Here is why it is so important that our community have a complete count in the 2020 Census:

  • Census results help determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and municipalities each year. That includes money for health clinics, fire departments, schools, roads and highways.
  • The results also determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.

Let’s not let our state and community be shortchanged!

As a follow-up to Dr. Ankur Desai’s excellent presentation entitled “Stormy Days?  What Climate Change Means for Your Local Weather” in our online Club Meeting this week,  I recommend that you check out the March 2020 newsletter  of the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group (ESRAG) which conveys the message that preventing disease and saving lives are central to Rotary’s worldwide mission.

Stay healthy, wash your hands and tune in to next week’s RCM Online Meeting on April 8, at noon, in which UW Health’s Benjamin Eithun will be speaking about how the Madison area has been prepared for the Coronavirus pandemic and its effect on our population.

Club Learns How Climate Change Affects Local Weather

submitted by Jerry Thain

ankur_desaiDr.  Ankur Desai, professor of climate, people and environment at UW-Madison, addressed the first ever virtual meeting of the Club on the effect of climate change on local weather.  He stated that climate is personality, and weather is mood.

Looking at weather over the years, he noted a global trend, beginning in the 1980s, of higher temperatures.  This is caused by CO2 emissions which are raised by the use of fossil fuels.  He said CO2 is to climate change what steroid use was to baseball.  An increase in temperature up to 2 degrees Celsius has only modest impact, but above that level, it leads to significant and harmful consequences.  Policy changes could mitigate the damage by “flattening the curve” much as health experts urge us to do in attacking the current pandemic.  A major difference is that it will take decades to flatten the climate curve.

Turning to the influence of climate change on local weather, Dr. Desai showed the global decline of snow cover which, in itself, affects the temperature.  The meeting of snow/no snow lines influence weather fronts and increases the severity of storms.  Lesser snow over North America means most places get wetter and rainier–rain on frozen ground is more likely to cause storms than snow. Southern Wisconsin has seen wetter and rainier weather in recent years while northern Wisconsin has been drier. Some cold winter weather will still occur but at a much lower rate than in the past.

The problems caused by this will need to be addressed either by adaptions (such as moving homes from frequently flooded areas)  or by mitigation (reducing emissions significantly).  Unfortunately, there is no single “silver bullet” to solve things so all alternatives must be pursued by policymakers.

Dr. Desai cited recent research indicating, contrary to some beliefs, that climate change deniers are a very small proportion of the populace. Moreover, among people aged 18-30, climate change is either their first or second highest policy priority.  It is not possible to prevent all adverse effects, but we must take actions that will have some effect or be overcome by the problems.

He ended on a hopeful note, showing the sprouting of tree plants in an Australian forest area recently consumed by wildfires.  Earth will survive, but we need to help heal it for our own good.

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

Applying The 4-Way Test to Serve Our Club and Members

submitted by Club President Andrea Kaminski

4 Way Test LogoLast week, I wrote about how the Rotary Four-Way Test is a wise guide that can help us limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safeguard ourselves, our loved ones and community. Here are some ways our Rotary Club of Madison members are applying this principle to serve our own Club and its members:

Because our weekly luncheons have been canceled, the members of our Rotary News Committee do not have speaker programs to write up, so some of them are using their journalistic skills to produce a new weekly feature called “Connecting With Members.” The first installment was in last Friday’s newsletter (page 2) and it featured an interview by Rich Leffler in which Paul Hoffmann described how his family had to leave Europe ahead of schedule to escape the coronavirus. Be sure to open your Rotary Newsletter every Friday to keep up with our Club and individual members.

Members of our Club’s Caring Committee are keeping track of RCM members who may need assistance in getting groceries or other daily supplies while they are staying safe at home. Committee members are arranging for Rotarians to meet these needs.  Contact the Rotary office at 608-255-9164 or rotaryoffice@rotarymadison.org if you need assistance.

These are just a few ways Rotarians are helping to keep members of our Club and our community connected despite social distancing. We also have Club members who are on the front lines as health care workers, public safety officers, grocers and election officials, just to name a few.

Let us know about your experiences so if you can fit in an interview, we can share it in our Rotary News or in a post on our Rotary Blog.

The Four-Way Test Is Our Guide In This Challenging Time

submitted by Rotary Club of Madison President Andrea Kaminski

In this uncertain time, Rotarians have a time-tested guide to help us limit the spread of COVID-19 while we safeguard ourselves and our loved ones and strengthen our community.

The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do: 

#1.  Is it the TRUTH?

It seems we are bombarded all day, every day with COVID-19 information from many outlets. To prevent anxiety or panic, we need to be critical thinkers and act on reliable information from trustworthy sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

#2.  Is it FAIR to all concerned?

While it’s always true that what is good for all of us is good for each of us individually, this is even more true in a pandemic. Whether or not you are in a high-risk population group, you probably know, love and care about someone who is. Before this is over, we might all know someone who has been affected, and maybe has succumbed to the disease. We all need to abide by the orders from local, state and federal government officials to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people, keep a safe distance from others, and wash our hands frequently and well.

#3.  Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?

While we need to exercise “social distancing,” it is still important to maintain a sense of community. We need to take comfort — and bring it to others — in any way we can. At times we will have to exercise patience with the uncertainty of the times, while we watch out for more vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors. Check in with them to see how they are doing and whether you can drop off a meal or a book at their door. There are many safe ways to reach out to people including phone, email, social networking and video conferencing. In the long run, your family and our community will be closer as a result.

#4.  Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

This is not a time to pull back and not be civically engaged. Participating as an active citizen in an election is a fundamental step toward a better future. Wisconsin elections officials are working to ensure that residents of our state have an influence in our national leadership as well as in important statewide and local elections. The April 7 ballot includes the Presidential Preference Primary as well as an election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, local judicial, school board and county board races, and a referendum on a proposal to amend our state constitution.  The best way to vote while social distancing is to vote by mail before the election. There isn’t much time, so act now. If you live in Madison, the City Clerk’s website is your guide. Or, you can enter your address into the MyVoteWisconsin website and find reliable information, including contact information for your own municipal clerk.

If we keep in mind the Four-Way Test — with its emphasis on truth, fairness, goodwill and mutual benefit — we will come through this challenging time as a stronger nation. Rotarians can lead the way!

 

Q&A with Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Judge Jill Karofsky

submitted by Ellie Schatz

Jill KarofskyOne candidate accepted the invitation and spoke to our club about her background and plans for serving as Supreme Court Justice: Jill Karofsky. Having been a judge, a local and state prosecutor, and director of the state’s Office of Crime Victim Services, she has advocated for victims’ rights across every court in Wisconsin. She convincingly tells how she has the experience, values, and toughness to lead a legal system that works.

Supreme court cases have consequences for now and the future. To name a few, consider gerrymandering, women’s access to healthcare, and gun control. Whatever the case, following the rule of law is the bottom line, and Karofsky says her record of being fair and impartial is clear.

Her values include upholding laws to protect the environment. She is concerned about climate change but will follow the rule of law. She is strong on individual rights, attacking problems of racial disparity by informing policy makers of what she sees in the courtroom day after day. She says judges need to inform the legislature, have a dialogue with them, but are not there to legislate. More than anything, our courts are about constitutional rights and through the court systems she has fought for the needs of crime victims, stood up for racial justice and civil rights, and protected the right to marriage equality, never allowing for the rights of women to be rolled back. Her goal is to be collegiate on the court, to help pull all sides together under the rule of law. Right now she sees political forces seeking to roll back advances made in civil rights. We must not go backwards, she stresses.

As the Wisconsin Chief Justice is drawing up her budget, Karofsky is pushing for her to put treatment courts at the top of the list as opposed to a business court, which is essentially two courts – one for businesses and one for the rest of us.

When asked about the perception that she is a progressive candidate, she responds: “I am clear about my values, and I have support from Republicans and Independents. I ask for support as someone who follows the rule of law.”

Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping our meeting this week.  You can watch the video here.

The Wisconsin Civics Games: An Important Competition

submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Mark Moody

Eve Galanter 3 4 2020

Eve Galanter (right) pictured here with Club President Andrea Kaminski

Eve Galanter told of why and how she founded The Civics Games, an annual competition among high school students from all regions of Wisconsin.  A few years ago, she became concerned when learning that research demonstrated the profound lack of knowledge of civics and the very poor level of participation in civic affairs among citizens of America.

Thirty-two percent of Americans cannot name the three branches of government.  A high percentage of elected offices at the local level are either uncontested or lack any candidate at all.

Because teens like competition and “to know more than their parents,” Ms. Galanter developed a contest similar to the old College Bowl television series.  Her approach to the Wisconsin Newpapers Association Foundation for sponsorship was met with enthusiastic approval.

For the first time, last February, students at all Wisconsin high schools were invited to form teams and compete at regional contests held at state universities throughout the state followed by the championship round at the State Capitol.  Each round consisted of teams competing to answer 100 questions.

To demonstrate, she provided Rotarians the opportunity to answer five questions from last year’s championship round.  If you were with us, you would know how we fared.  Let’s just say, it was not a slam dunk.  So as to include our honored ten spelling winners, she asked them to spell “emoluments,” a topic that will be addressed at this year’s Civics Games in April.

Most Rotarians were surprised to learn that civics is not required for graduation in Wisconsin, also true of most states.  However, Wisconsin does require all graduates to pass the naturalized citizenship test with a score of at least 60%.

For more information about the games, please go to www.wisconsincivicsgames.com.

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

HAMILTON: An American Musical

Sarah Marty 2 26 2020“Hamilton: The Musical is the biggest tour of a Broadway show to hit the road in years, maybe decades,” Sarah Marty, Producing Artistic Director of Four Seasons Theatre in Madison, told Rotarians on Wednesday, February 26. “Hamilton represents an entire industry, with ripple effects that go far beyond the lights of Broadway,” she said, adding that it had surpassed the reach of any other Broadway musical, including the phenomenal popularity of Oklahoma following its 1943 debut.

Locally, Madison’s Overture Center sold over 53,000 tickets to Hamilton, and Marty cited an estimated additional economic impact of $37.36 per person beyond the ticket price.  Both nationally and locally, Hamilton was hugely popular, inspiring people to stand in line for hours for tickets.  There are currently six productions of Hamilton touring all around the country, bringing in millions of dollars every week.

Beyond the economic impact of its huge success, though, Marty points to Hamilton’s other ripple effects, including increases in actors, producers and audiences of color.  Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton was inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton.  When Miranda picked up the hefty Chernow book in an airport and then read it, he immediately thought, “This is a hip-hop story,” calling an early version of the piece The Hamilton Mix Tape.  The elaborate musical production that eventually resulted is so complex that fans have put together a website at Genius.com to provide footnotes and links to all the many facts alluded to in the musical.

Marty cited the end of Hamilton as pointing to the importance of the work:  It causes us to think about “who lives, who dies, and who tells your story.”

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video on our club’s YouTube Channel here.