Category Archives: 2. Meetings

TR Loon Brings Fun & Games to Rotary

submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Mike Engelberger

HO7A6660The Rotary Club of Madison treated its membership at its August 15 Club meeting to fun and games – highly appropriate in that the day represented the Club’s annual Bring-Your-Child or Grandchild to Rotary Day.

Sitting up front and center, about 50 Rotary children were treated to the wacky magic of TR Loon – The Truly Remarkable Loon, also known as the “Juggler from Madison.”

In a highly engaging performance, TR Loon held kids captive and adults entertained by completing the incredible feat of spinning ten plates or as TR Loon reminded the audience “simultaneously at the same time.”

In inviting the kids to help him count the number of plates spinning, he reminded the audience that “there are three kinds of jugglers – those who can count and those who cannot.”

Humor aside, TR Loon indeed had ten plates spinning simultaneously, all the while receiving help from the kids, who alerted him when any one of the plates appeared to be at the brink of no longer spinning and thus crashing. The absolute highlight, however, was when TR Loon invited the kids in the audience and a few fun-loving adults to launch flying monkeys to bring the ten spinning plates down. The image of spinning plates being brought down by flying monkeys represented to this fun-loving news reporter our Club’s finest moment, and elicited a comment from a Club member that the scene was not much unlike what happens at the State Capitol.

At the end of TR Loon’s presentation, Stephanie Richards, CEO of the Madison Circus Space, informed members that her organization is in the midst of a capital campaign to build a new center in Madison. Circus Space promotes the circus arts as an important art form by teaching interested children and adults on various circus arts such as juggling or aerial stunts.

You HURD It Through the Grapevine

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Past President Renee Moe & Donna Hurd

President Donna Hurd joined the Rotary Past President’s Club, riding out of office with respect, heart and warmth. Our own Rotary “Temptations” Chorus presented a Motown musical background as new members went “Driving with Donna” through a year in which they had learned that what they think, say, and do is driven by a 4-Way Test.

In preparation for today’s program, they took to the street with those 4 questions Donna helped us all to memorize in the course of the year:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

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Photo 1: Rotary’s very own Motown Choir!  Photo 2: 70’s Donna with passengers Kristin Schmidt, Len Devaisher and Eli Van Camp; Photo 3: Alex Vitanye and Charles McLimans serving as Roast Program Emcees

Making what they called their “Four-way Stop,” new-member interviewers found that although  the common person on Madison’s downtown square did not know the test, some had a sense that it might have something to do with fairness or justice.  One man on the street declared, “I live by my wife’s test.” Undoubtedly that’s the truth?

Boris Frank VideoInterviewed club members declared they knew their oath verbatim. Yet it was admitted that even longtime members might still need an occasional prompt to assure they didn’t stumble. For example, Boris Frank could not easily repeat the test by heart, but he pointed out the truth–that words were being held up, off camera, for his reference.

 

Motown was in the air! Donna may not have a presence on social media, but she has a great deal of what our Motown singers belted out in 70’s style: R E S P E C T.  Knowing “We are Rotary,” thank you, Donna, for being the embodiment of the 4-way test for us throughout the year. We hold it in our memories and you in our hearts. Past presidents do have respect, and that’s the truth!

Our thanks to this year’s Roast Committee co-chaired by Amber Frantz and Kristin Schmidt for all their hard work in making this year’s Roast a huge success!  We also want to thank Oregon Rotary member, Uriah Carpenter, for donating his video services to assist this year’s Roast Committee.

Korean Culture Night for Rotarians & Guests

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Donna Beestman

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On March 22nd, Rotarians convened at the beautifully appointed Gathering Room at Nolen Shore Condos for “Korean Night,” a Cultural Awareness Fellowship event. Cocktails were served, complements of our hosts, Soyeon Shim, Dean of UW School of Human Ecology, and Christopher Choi, UW Professor, Biological Systems Engineering.

We were treated to a bountiful buffet of Korean dishes catered by Sol’s on the Square. The challenge was not to overload each plate as the choices were intriguing and many. When Soyeon gave us a preview of the menu, she noted table-top cooking is common in Korea. I heard diners rave about the sweet potato noodles, a seafood, pancake-like presentation with soy sauce, bean sprouts and spinach steamed with sesame oil, and a wonderful surprise –potato salad with cucumbers.

Not surprising, but equally inviting, was the dish that most of us knew at least by name –kimchi a traditional, somewhat spicy Korean dish of fermented vegetables, often including cabbage and daikon radish.

At the end of the meal, another surprise:  a plate full of delicious cream puffs, made by our event organizer, Majid Sarmadi, was the perfect touch!

The after dinner program was a thoughtful, insightful “storyboard” culled from about 80 slides highlighting Korean culture. It was presented by our hosts who met in the U.S., but each was born and raised in Korea.

We learned that South Korea, about 30 minutes by air from Japan, is surrounded by “big power.” Soyeon’s mother lives within about 20 miles from North Korea, but the hosts said people in South Korea, for the most part, go about their daily lives without constantly looking over their shoulder.

The country which is about the size of Indiana has the 11th largest economy in the world. “We don’t have any natural resources,” Soyeon said. “Our resources are human resources.”

She illustrated that by noting that 80 percent of high school grads go on to college. “The country is obsessed with education,” she said. But that level of stress comes with a price. Of the 35 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea is No. 1 in suicides.

For those thinking of visiting South Korea, photos of the country’s beautiful landscape were stunning, magical and alluring.  First-time visitors might also see people bowing to each other. “This is one way we show respect for each other; in business and in personal relationships,” said Soyeon.

So much to learn in an evening, but it was a great start to discovering the intricacies of Korean culture.

Making Dreams Come True–Rotary Scholar Event

–submitted by Mary Thompson; photos by Dennis Cooley

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Photo 1: from left, Jose Rodriguez, Mary Thompson, Cynthia Maduka & Liliana Teniente; Photo 2: from left: Ryia Steps, Moses Altsech, Brett Stratton, Jason Beren & Teresa Holmes

With record attendance, over 60 Rotary Scholars and Mentors joined the Winter Mixer event on January 3, 2018.  While mentors and scholars swapped stories, I wanted to learn how the Rotary Scholar/Mentor program had influenced them.

The importance of relationships was the overarching theme.   Melanie Ramey’s scholar, Matida Bojang (UW–Milwaukee Pre-Pharmacy) shared that this program is making her dreams come true.  Ryia Steps (Alcorn State Psychology)  connected on many levels with her mentor, Teresa Holmes.  They love coffee and talk about everything.  Jose Rodriguez (UW Madison Psychology) has forged a relationship with Rob Van den Berg; Liliana Teniente’s (UW Madison Biology) mentor, Dennis Cooley gave her books to read such as “Grit–a Story in Perseverance.”  Donna Beestman’s scholar, Reyna Groff (UW Madison Art) shared she enjoys meeting with someone outside of school.   Rahim Ansari (UW Madison Chemical Engineering) met his mentor, Stan Kitson, through Memorial High School’s Interact program.  Stan commented that he can’t wait to see where he goes!  And my scholar, Cynthia Maduka (UW Milwaukee Communications) has been introduced to a Milwaukee newscaster to further Cynthia’s career in broadcasting.

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Photo 1: Dom Petty & Stacy Nemeth; Photo 2: from left: Leen Bnyat, Melanie Ramey, Matida Bojang, Hannah Kwiatkowski & Sarah Best

The highlight of the program occurred when co-chairs Cheryl Wittke and Ellie Schatz called for introductions.  It was an impressive group of scholars ranging in majors from STEM to the liberal arts and everything in between.  Teresita Torrence from Madison College explained the resources available to students in their student development center.  Bob Shumaker reminded everyone to follow the Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Facebook (FB) page; Linda Baldwin offered $10 tickets to the Overture Center for the Arts by signing up through the Club 10 link on the FB page; and Dean Nelson announced the Summer Picnic on July 1.

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Photo 1: from left: Becky Steinhoff, Jana Hvorat & Joy Gander; Photo 2: from left: Tenzin Kunsel, Jim Christensen, Eddie Larson & Majid Sarmadi

The group adjourned to the Rotary meeting for more conversation and Charlie Sykes’ presentation.

For more photos, visit our Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Group on Facebook.

Our Madison Rotary Foundation awards college scholarship assistance to 25 students per year to assist them during their four years of college, so we have 100 scholars in college each year.  Nearly all of our scholars are connected to a Rotary member who serves as a mentor during their college years.  Since many students are on break this week, we invited scholars to attend our Rotary luncheon on January 3.  It was a great opportunity to check-in with our scholars, and they had a chance to connect with their Rotary mentors.  We enjoyed hosting our scholars and wish them all the best as they head back to college later this month.  Our thanks to Dean Nelson, Ellie Schatz and Cheryl Wittke for organizing this gathering of scholars and mentors just before our Rotary luncheon.

Charlie Sykes on How the Right Lost Its Mind

–submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Valerie Renk

Charlie SykesSelf-identifying as the “Benedict Arnold of conservatism,” Wisconsin conservative radio talk show host and author of several books Charlie Sykes addressed members of the Rotary Club of Madison on Jan. 3 to promote his book “How the Right Lost its Mind.”

“I left (the conservative radio talk show circuit) on my own, but I have been excommunicated from the conservative movement,” remarked Sykes, who now works for MSNBC. But Sykes was rather firm in proclaiming that “I have not changed, but the Republican Party has,” indicating that conservative values are still very much part of who he is.

While the vast majority of Sykes’ comments centered on the performance and behavior of President Donald Trump, Sykes made it clear that “I am less bothered by Trump himself, but rather the normalization of his behavior.”

Sykes identified three specific current political thought movements afoot in our country. Firstly, there are those who are “horrified by everything – both the policies and the behaviors.” Secondly, there are the MAGA Republicans, those who want to Make America Great Again; and thirdly, there are what Sykes termed as “mainstream Republicans,” who are looking the other way as regards to the President’s behavior, since his policies represent wins. “You get what you want (in terms of policies), but the price is too high,” he said.

The price is too high because one has to ignore behaviors such as name-calling, bullying, withdrawal as a world power, or classifying the media as fake news, said Sykes. But the most important litmus test on whether the price is too high is that “we have to accept the indifference on our democracy by the Russians.”

Sykes included several other items one must ignore such as the endorsement of Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate from Alabama, as well as the President’s erratic behavior in regards to the escalation of the potential of a nuclear war in the showdown with North Korea.

“The bottom line is that we have to realize that our political culture is more fragile than we thought,” said Sykes. We could go down the path of other democracies,” said Sykes. He characterized Trump as a cause of our current situation, but also referred to the President as “a symptom of a pre-existing condition.” While Sykes did not directly identify the pre-existing condition, he implied that it is our current tribalism that is at the root of the current political climate. Disagreement has turned to hate, he said, resulting in a “binary, polarized culture.”

In offering a glimpse of improvement to the current political landscape, Sykes offered that the current modus operandi may lead to a revitalization of democratic norms. Potentially, a coalition of Center Right and Center Left could restore the norms.

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

Ten-Year Journey of the Wisconsin Union

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Pete Christianson

Mark Guthier 10 18 2017

Rotarian Eric Salisbury with Mark Guthier (center) and Rotarian Mary Ellen O’Brien

Mark Guthier, Director of the Wisconsin Union at UW-Madison, filled Rotarians in on the 10-year journey of reflection and growth that has resulted in restored, renovated and enhanced facilities for Memorial Union and Union South. He emphasized that the project was “our journey” because there were so many people, including students and many Rotarians, involved in its completion.

The Master Plan for the project was completed in 2004 and announced at the Memorial Union’s 75th Anniversary. Two years later a student referendum approved a student fee of $96 per student per semester in support of the project, and a capital campaign was launched in 2007. Operating revenues will cover the remainder of the $220 million budget.

In 2012 the Wisconsin Union Theater, Hoofers and Craft Shop facilities were closed. The “saddest period in the Union’s history” was when the Terrace was closed for several months, Guthier said. But now all of these facilities – and more – are open and operating and serving the University community. The crowning event was the recent opening of Alumni Park.

There were three goals for the project: infrastructure improvements to update deteriorating or obsolete facilities and meet new student expectations; increased space for student programming, meeting rooms, food service and production storage; and mission enhancements to serve the entire campus better and re-energize the Union’s status as a membership organization.

The project had a new Design Committee appointed annually, including nine students, two alumni, two faculty and two staff members. The Committee was always led by a student and Guthier himself had just one vote. In addition there were multiple advisory groups to ensure that the new facilities would meet the needs of the community.

The Committee abided by design principles that ensured the buildings will be “people magnets,” will advance student programming, and will be timeless and enduring. They strived for green construction and sustainability. Their goal was to achieve LEED Silver status for both buildings, and the prospects look good. Union South has received LEED Gold status, and they are still awaiting the rating for Memorial Union. In addition, the project aimed at making the buildings complementary of each other and welcoming of all University community members. Finally, they wanted the buildings to tell the story of the Union, student leadership on campus, and the state of Wisconsin.

Goals for ongoing operations are to “make every day an event,” operate according to sustainable principles and build community for the entire campus. The Unions must have a customer-first perspective because they rely on program revenue for their existence.

Guthier closed his presentation with a slide show of the renovated facilities and the many celebrations that marked the Union’s 10-year journey. He invited Rotarians to attend two upcoming events: a November 10 celebration of the Memorial Union being on the National Register of Historic Places and the November 11 re-dedication of the Gold Star Honor Roll.

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

Wisconsin’s Economic Outlook

–submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Jeff Burkhart

Tom Still 9 20 2017

Tom Still pictured here with Club President Donna Hurd

This week’s speaker was Tom Still, President of the Wisconsin Technology Council, a non-partisan advisory group to the governor and legislature. In addition to policy development, the council’s activities include facilitating collaboration between companies and investors.

In promoting Wisconsin as a place to invest and locate business, Still cited the state’s many advantages such as affordable housing and water in strong supply, both of which can be big drawbacks in other states. He also pointed out that despite a perception of being a “high tax” state, Wisconsin’s taxes are steadily decreasing. Also, Wisconsin is finally getting on the national investment community’s radar, with numerous startup hubs, particularly in smaller cities like Eau Claire and La Crosse.

Wisconsin’s high quality of education is another plus. And in recent years the UW System has become more nimble to react to the type of graduate needed in the new economy. “The Ivory Tower is giving way to a more inclusive approach toward business,” he said.

On the state’s possible incentive for Foxconn, Still said: “I think it’s well worth pursuing.” We should ask “How much would you pay to essentially rebrand the state AND create jobs that support families while attracting young workers and offering underemployed workers a chance to retrain?” The Foxconn investment is less than one percent of the state GDP for one year – but spread over 15 years, he noted.

Possibly more important than the 13,000 promised Foxconn jobs are the indirect effects on the supply chain. “For example, a new glass factory or other manufacturer might spring from Foxconn’s material needs,” said Still.

In closing, Still invited the audience to check out 45 new companies presenting to investors at the November Early Stage Symposium (www.wisearlystage.com).

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