Author Archives: jaynecoster

Rotary Friendship Exchange February 2020

submitted by Dick Fayram and Mark Moody

Saint Cristobal Hill Santiago

Eleven people have returned from a two-week Rotary Friendship Exchange with Rotary District 4340 in Central Chile. The group included Madison Rotarians Ted (& Joan) Ballweg, Dick (& Liz) Fayram, and Mark (& Candace) Moody, David & Inger Clemens from the Wisconsin Dells, former District 6250 Governor Chuck Hansen from La Crosse Downtown, Mark Etrheim from La Crosse Valley View, and Darla Leick from Marshfield Sunrise.

Huelen Rotary Santiago        Providencia Rotary Santiago

The group visited seven clubs in Santiago, Rancagua, and Santa Cruz. We learned about the wonderful service projects sponsored and supported by each of the clubs. The clubs are small, ranging from 10 to 30 members.  We were all inspired by the efforts of each club in their respective communities.

Santiago is a beautiful city of 8 million people with excellent road and other transit options.  The subway system and Uber sufficed for most of our transit needs. The news about the riots in Santiago were a concern to all of us before we left.  Students concerned about national academic testing and low-income people concerned about increases in transit costs were at the root of those issues.  It appeared to be about people talking past other groups of people and not really solving issues that need to be addressed.  Chile has reduced levels of poverty in an impressive way.  That does not resolve the fact that poor people are being driven further and further from their jobs by rapidly increasing housing costs.

Mobile Dental Clinic 2 Hydroelectric Generating Station Andes Mts

Photo 1:  Mobil Dental Clinic; Photo 2:  Hydroelectric Generating Station in the Andes Mountains

Dick and Liz Fayram stayed with a family in Nueva, one of the communities that make up the larger city of Santiago.  It was a target of these demonstrations.  There were buildings that had been damaged and fires in the streets while we were there.  No one ever felt threatened in any real way.  This is part of the reality of Friendship Exchanges.

We visited a number of historic sites, markets and museums.  Rancuaga is a smaller historic city where the revolution for independence from Spain was fought.  We also visited wineries in Santa Cruz.  We enjoyed typical local cuisine and wonderful Chilean wines. Dinners were served with beef, pork, chicken and sausages piled high on platters.  We all thought it would be impossible to eat all of it in the beginning.  At the end of the meal, it was always gone.  Some of the group went white water rafting on the Maipo River and some went to the end of the road in the Andes Mountains.

Our Chilean hosts made us feel very welcome at all times. They refused to let us pay for any of our meals, transportation, or entrance fees.  All of the clubs hosted a wonderful dinner meeting.  But the Santa Cruz Rotary Club had a group of twelve folk musicians perform tradition music and dancing.  This was a highlight of the trip.

Farewell Dinner with Dist 4340    Santa Cruz Rotary Dinner 2

Rotarians who have not been on a Rotary Friendship Exchange are missing one of the great experiences that Rotary has to offer.   We were warned about Rotary Friendship Exchanges being physically challenging.  Some of our days had 18,000 steps in 90-degree weather.  These are not easy for anyone.  We encourage our fellow Rotarians to participate in this outstanding Rotary tradition whether in helping to host inbound Rotarians or traveling with an Outbound Friendship Exchange.

Santa Cruz Rotary Dinner 3

We expect 10 to 12 of our new Rotary friends from Chile to visit Wisconsin in late May and early June. We hope our club members will join us in welcoming them to Madison.  This will be a series of fun social events as they visit the participating clubs.   Join us for the fun!  If you are interested helping to host the group, contact the Rotary office.

20th Annual Rotary Club of Madison Ethics Symposium – Feb 14, 2020 – Monona Terrace

submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Mike Engelberger & Neil Fauerbach


Our 20th Annual Rotary Club of Madison Ethics Symposium was held on Friday, February 14th, at Monona Terrace with over 200 juniors from 19 different high schools in Dane County in attendance.

Evidence of the success of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium was clearly revealed by the comments from students at the end of the day:

  • “After discussing these ethic situations, I am ready to take on the world, and I want to be a partner with Rotary’s advocacy.”
  • “Thank you for taking me outside my comfort zone and teaching me to appreciate discussing ethical dilemmas. I gained new skills that will be helpful to me.”
  • “The thoughtful discussion allowed me to better take in other’s ideas.” “I appreciated having a discussion with people from different backgrounds who brought different perspectives.”
  • “As the next generation to be leaders, do not underestimate us. We shared ideas and some are different from ours, but everyone had an opportunity to participate.  We will take the skills that we learned into the rest of our lives.”

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Students expressed surprise at the impact this program had on them.  They attended out of curiosity, they knew someone who attended in the past, or as one student honestly admitted—he would receive a free lunch.  This program provided skills to help them impact social changes for the betterment of the community.

RES2020-7In this 20th anniversary of our Rotary Ethics Symposium, we continue to provide a valuable format for preparing students to take on challenging ethical issues.  The day began with a session for all students, school representatives, and Rotary members.  Mike Gotzler, Chair of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium, welcomed everyone and gave an overview of the wide range of contributions Rotary and Rotarians make to their communities and to the world.

The Edgewood College Theatre group warmed up the audience by playing out various scenes and scenarios of ethical dilemmas that students could encounter.  Instead of resolving the dilemma on stage, the actors asked students in the audience to identify the dilemma and asked what issues should be considered in order to resolve the problem (e.g. a student not fulfilling her part of a group project, a friend stereo-typing a Hispanic student) and the audience responded.

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Next, the scattering of 200 students into 11 different discussion rooms began.  The Rotary Ethics committee assigned students to assure a broad representation to enrich each discussion.  In each discussion room were students who represented urban and rural schools, various ethnic groups, various races, and various nationalities.  The facilitators developed them as a group.  The first principle was to establish the ground rules that began and ended with “Treat every person in the room with complete and unconditional respect.”

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They were taught the R-O-T-A-R-Y Framework at which they would practice through three workshops:  Recognize an ethical issue; Obtain information; Test alternative actions from various perspectives; Act consistently with one’s best judgment; Reflect, with more information be willing to adjust your thinking; Yield on ethical judgments to exemplify human beings “at our best.”

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They were then prepared to face their dilemmas, but first—before they begin using the Rotary Framework—they were asked what their gut reaction is to the dilemma.  Then they began the skills building based on the Rotary format taking into consideration more information and from different perspectives. They had the prerogative to change their minds—and they often did.

HO7A5713Rotarians working on the Ethic Symposium taskforce provided a challenging dilemma for each session that ranged from: (1) to skip school in order to participate in a march to support a friend and their cause; (2) the role of students to object to having the school purchase inexpensive sports clothes made by companies using child labor; and (3) how to react to anti-Semitism.

The day was a success because of the leadership provided by Mike Gotzler, Chair of the 2020 Rotary Ethics Symposium.  Over several months, he met regularly with his committee to fine-tune the arrangements.  They worked diligently to broaden the demographics in each session to provide the broadest experiences for students.  He put together a taskforce of Rotarians who developed compelling ethical dilemmas for the students to consider.  He chose outstanding trainers—Jason Ilstrup, Sandy Morales, Dave Scher—to prepare facilitators and breakout room hosts for their roles.  By February 14th, we were ready and altogether over 50 Rotarians volunteered.

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Thanks to all for making our 20th annual Rotary Ethics Symposium a huge success.

Visit our club’s Facebook page for more photos.


Creating Life From Loss

submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

Joshua Mezrich 2 12 2020At this week’s Rotary meeting, we heard from Dr. Joshua Mezrich and how he creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. He spoke about his desire to write a book, a little about the process to write a non-fiction book and some tips his famous author brother gave him. His book was released last year, When Death Becomes Life: Notes From a Transplant Surgeon, and in it he illuminates this extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day.

Dr. Mezrich comes from a family of readers and really enjoyed the process of writing his book. His brother, Ben, helped him be a writer by helping him obtain an agent; reminding him it takes a team; and for non-fiction books, about the need to write a proposal first and sell it to an editor. (Fictional books get written by the author and then they try to sell it.)

Ben also gave Dr. Mezrich three pieces of advice:

  1. Just write!
  2. When ending a writing session, don’t stop at the end of a chapter; instead stop in the middle of a story or sentence as when you return to the page, you can keep going and sustain momentum.
  3. Write a certain amount each day.

Dr. Mezrich wrote for a year early in the morning, evenings and weekends — 300K words worth!  He then spent another year editing it down with his editor.

Dr. Mezrich shared some excerpts from his book. As Dr. Mezrich shared stories about patients and donors, he sprinkled in humor. He spoke about how donors are heroes and join the recipient patient in their journey by bearing risk with them (though relatively low risk, there is risk). He spoke about how often donor family members and the donor recipient want to connect with each other and what a beautiful thing this is. Donors give the gift of life that gives on, and recipient patients also know that someone passed away in order for them to live. Being a part of these conversations is emotional, and Dr. Mezrich shared how he has to set his emotions aside when it comes time for surgery. He said each operation is like solving a puzzle – a task.

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

Coach Kelly Sheffield Addresses Rotary

submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

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Coach Sheffield pictured with today’s Rotarian Speaker Greeter Mary O’Brien

Kelly Sheffield, the coach of the UW Volleyball Team, did not speak at all about the game of volleyball. Rather, he presented his remarkable insights into human nature and the way to motivate gifted athletes to perform well despite the adversities of sport and life itself.

His talk began with a brief video of his team in action: it displayed intensity, beautifully graceful athleticism, and players having fun. The Coach then explained that his most important job was to create a culture of success. He seeks out players who are talented, but who are also willing to hear criticism and work hard to improve themselves. There are many possible excuses for failure. But fine athletes (and obviously this is not limited to athletics) will accept coaching advice and criticism and will do what is necessary to succeed. A motto he uses is: “Be a participant in your own rescue.”


Annemarie Hickey (Technical Coordinator) and Grace Loberg (rising Senior on the Volleyball Team)

Coach Sheffield and his team did not win the NCAA Tournament this year. But he and the team subscribe to an insight offered by the late Kobe Bryant: In addition to being painful and disappointing, losing can also be “exciting.” It can inspire self-examination and a dedication to improvement. When he asked one of his players at this lunch if she had ever won an NCAA Tournament, her reply was telling: “No. Not Yet.” It seems likely that this player will win the NCAA Tournament. It also seems likely that she will win in the game of life. Kelly Sheffield is one of the greatest coaches in UW history.

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

ESRAG Survey

submitted by Karen Kendrick-Hands, co-founder of the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group

Rotary ESRAG Logo

Incubated in our Madison Rotary Club, the Environmental Sustainability Rotarian Action Group (ESRAG) has taken a leading role assisting Rotary clubs and districts in developing and evaluating service projects, building awareness, and inspiring action to promote environmental sustainability.  ESRAG has advocated for the addition by Rotary International (RI) of a Rotary Area of Focus dealing with the environment.

ESRAG encourages Rotarians to participate in a survey that will help guide the RI Environmental Issues Task Force as they develop this Area of Focus.  The deadline to participate in the survey is January 31, and it would be great to have the views of our Madison Rotary Club members reflected.

More information can be found in an article by Madison Rotary Club Member Karen Kendrick-Hands in the ESRAG newsletter.

To go directly to the Survey, click here.


Gold Medal Curler Matt Hamilton Visits Rotary

submitted by Jessika Kasten; photo by Valerie Renk

Hamilton Lepping 1 22 2020On January 22, USA Curling Interim CEO Rich Lepping and Olympic Gold Medal Curler Matt Hamilton spoke to the group about the sport of curling and Matt’s experiences as an Olympian. USA Curling was established in 1958 and is a non-for-profit headquartered in Stevens Point, WI. The organization consists of nearly 200 clubs and 26,000 members. After the Gold Medal Games, the organization saw a rise in membership and interest, resulting in a 12% increase in membership. USA Curling is already beginning to think about the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games and is starting trials. The USA Olympic Curling Teams will be chosen about a year in advance.

Rich and Matt took part in an interview style presentation where Matt reflected on his “wild media ride” that occurred in the two years since the Olympics. He’s gotten to throw out first pitches at MLB games, drop the puck at NHL games, announce the 2028 Ryder Cup as well as make appearances on Jimmy Fallon and TKO.

Matt was introduced to curling by his father and then again by a friend when he was 15. He spent much of his high school years at the Curling Club playing in leagues or substituting whenever someone needed another player. One of the pivotal points in his life is when a mentor shared with him that “Curling isn’t about making all of the shots, but rather making the right shots at the right time.” This advice has stuck with him throughout various parts of his life.

Matt also talked about his role as the “energy” on the team, and how important sports psychology and teamwork is to the game. He also reflected on how lucky he is to be able to share the world’s stage with his sister, Becca, in mixed-doubles curling. Matt’s very appreciative for the experiences he’s had, and would tell anyone who has their sights set on the Olympics that it all comes down to putting in the time.

Status of Affordable Housing in the Madison Region

submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

Kurt Paulsen 1 15 2020Kurt Paulsen, UW Associate Professor of Urban Planning, reviewed the issues regarding the workforce housing shortage in Dane County and its impact on the economy. Currently, Dane County’s population is increasing 1.3% a year, with job creation at 1.7%, and new housing units at 1.1%, so housing is not keeping up with population demand. In addition, rents are rising faster than income, so many are excluded from living in Madison. Presently, more than 100,000 workers live outside Dane County, which means that they have long commutes.

Affordability is another major issue. Affordability examines price to income ratio, which should be below 3. So for a $150,000 home, the household income should be over $50,000. In Dane County, affordability is a challenge since few new homes are in the middle income range. Rents are just barely affordable for middle-income workers. The large, new apartment buildings downtown were designed for the influx of high-salaried employees at companies such as EPIC. Too few new apartments have been built for lower-salary workers who can’t afford to live near where they work.

If builders were encouraged by federal or state programs to build affordable housing, it would reduce the burden, but it would take about 30 years to complete. Furthermore, it would not address the issue of African American ownership. Wisconsin has the 6th worst record in the United States for ownership by African Americans which is also reflected in the county and city.

To address the problem in Dane County, it is estimated that 53,000 to 59,000 new housing units should be built in the next 20 years. So greater Madison will either grow up or grow out. There will be more density in the central area and more neighborhoods in the suburbs. Smaller homes will help to keep down the costs of building, and mass transportation will relieve the congestion on the highways.

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