Category Archives: 2. Meetings

Pivoting for Change and Adaptation

In the Q&A following Chazen Director Amy Gilman’s presentation, she was asked if pandemic adjustments have had any benefits.   She replied that as the continuum suddenly ended, stillness enabled the Chazen—actually, all of us—to pivot from thoughts about how to return to normalcy and about how the museum can be more intentional about the future fulfillment of its mission.

The Chazen, a UW-Madison museum, has turned its attention to digital/virtual communication, foregoing written communication; alignment of resources (and possible shortages of tax income) with programs; expanding attention to donor communications; creating virtual programming; development of collections; the rejuvenation of the original Chazen facility to more reflect change over time; and applying the measures of diversity and inclusiveness to all elements of its work.  In particular, she recommended to us Parkland: Birth of a Movement by David Cullen.

Two programs are illustrative:  First, virtual tours are in development in support of the UW Art History program, which was accustomed to using the museum’s galleries as part of its activities.  And the Chazen asked 100 Black Men of Madison what is needed by those whom they serve and that the museum could provide.  The result was 1,400 complete kits for two “making art” projects, complete with instructions, examples and necessary supplies . . . part of a significant museum pivot.

Extensive and significant responses to questions followed.  Several focused on the Alliance of American Museums’ forecast that 30% of the nation’s museums—not just art, and usually smaller and more fragile—might fold.  Gilman provided professionally accepted ethical standards for care of collections including their disposition to other museums with shared missions or use of funds from sales of collections for the care and growth of collections rather than for operations.

This was a thoughtful, introspective and constructive presentation informed by a continuing history of service to a variety of audiences—and complete with an invitation to virtual services now and to return to visits when possible.

Our thanks to Amy Gilman for her presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/pEnHuVM5Hr8.

“What Good Shall I Do Today?”

First, the surprise news:  District Governor Bill Pritchard asked the president of each club in our district to select a “Yes Person” for recognition by Governor Pritchard, a person who always says “yes” when needed.

President Jorge selected Brian Basken, who assembles weekly the YouTube meetings we view as a cohesive whole.  Each club’s recipient will receive a journal imprinted with Benjamin Franklin’s words “What good shall I do this day?”  And one among the many named recipients will be given a free trip to the June 2021 Rotary International conference in Teipei, Taiwan.  Congratulations and thanks, Brian!

Governor Pritchard is no stranger to our club.  A “numbers guy”, he recited statistics of our attendance, membership decline, and diversity, as well as key metrics of exemplary participation in fellowship groups, charitable giving and community support, and generous contributions to District 6250 and Rotary International.

He addressed the current “new virtual normal” and the need to pivot in our long-term approach to club needs with a “hybrid future” that may provide useful flexibility in our operations. 

Governor Pritchard also urged us to hold new members’ attention into the critical three-year member mark that cements interest, by ensuring that each new member’s expectations are deliberately discerned and addressed.

If you haven’t seen the Governor’s speech yet, it’s worth watching.  Those with questions for Governor Pritchard may send them to Jorge or the Rotary office so that they may be shared with the Governor next Tuesday when he attends our club’s Board meeting.

Our thanks to District Governor Bill Pritchard for his presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here:  https://youtu.be/Ffee29ggI6I.     

Reopening UW-Madison for Fall 2020

Rebecaa Blank 8 12 20When UW-Madison closed campus in March, 8,000 classes were converted to remote learning. Thirteen days later, 97.5% of classes were online. Closure was a heavy lift, but reopening is a much bigger lift.

UW-Madison faces similar challenges we all are due to the pandemic. Revenue streams are slim, PPE expenses are increasing, and the environment is constantly changing making planning and budgeting difficult. All plans must remain responsive to best serve students, employees and the community.

Currently, UW-Madison will use a hybrid teaching model, blending small-group in-person teaching with virtual teaching for large classes. The class schedule will include classes in the evening, Fridays and Saturdays to keep students physically distanced and classrooms clean. Students will be required to take a pledge to adhere to hygiene protocols (masks, hand sanitization, temp checks, testing, social distancing) and faculty may take disciplinary measures should a student resist complying. Employees must also adhere to these protocols and workstations and work hours have been adjusted to reduce interaction.

UW-Madison is engaged in 320 approved or pending COVID-19 research projects to explore the virus and its impacts. One project is seeking to understand how and why the virus has localized mutations; for example, a strain in Madison is different from that in San Diego. This can help understand if an outbreak is due to community spread or travel into the community.

The university is facing a $150 million budget shortfall, and that’s if a full student body matriculates and pays expected tuition. There will be a long road to financial recovery, and it could be even longer should state support for higher education decrease. Nonetheless, Chancellor Blank is optimistic about the future. “Technology doesn’t replace in-person, live experiences. However, we will be teaching better after this for incorporating technology more fully in the classroom.”

Our thanks to Chancellor Rebecca Blank for her presentation this week and to Emily Gruenewald for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/VhwzjUvPtIM.

The Future of Restaurants – A Challenge

submitted by Linn Roth

Greg Frank 7 29 20Greg Frank, a co-owner of the Food Fight Restaurant Group in Madison and current Treasurer of our club, gave an overview of the history of restaurants, their current status and future challenges facing the industry during these uncertain Covid-times.  Most recognize that the restaurant business can be quite difficult, and operations must survive on very low margins, typically less than 5%.  Nevertheless, restaurants are an integral part of virtually every community, and have been so since the late 18th century when the first restaurant opened in France.  The first American restaurant established, Delmonico’s in New York City, was established in 1830, and restaurants throughout the world have evolved in a variety of formats over the years.

Since 1970, restaurant sales in the US have grown from $43 billion to approximately $900 billion, with over 17 million employees working in the industry.  However, that was before the Covid crisis struck and severely impacted virtually all types of restaurants.   The situation in Madison is no different than any other area in the country.  Restaurants are struggling to change their business models and survive until the crisis has ended.   Unfortunately, lay-offs have been rampant, and other common changes include a focus on delivery and curb-side pickup, as well as outside dining whenever possible.

Regardless of when the health crisis ends, it seems likely that restaurants will be making a considerable number of changes to survive and prosper in the future, and Greg touched on several of these that we could expect to see.  For example, establishments might become smaller to reduce capital costs, incorporate new technologies (e.g. wireless links and digital menus) to improve efficiency, offer limited gourmet dining, provide prepackaged meals and drive-through pickup, and even use “ghost kitchens” that provide food to a number of establishments utilizing a single, centralized kitchen.

Certainly this industry will change significantly over the near and longer-term future, but it behooves all of us to support our local restaurants in order to enable this essential component of our community to evolve and prosper.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/dD1t2pI3MuY.

Wrapping Up Our Rotary Year – Virtually!

submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Thump5Well!  This was quite a meeting.

It was more of an elegant hand-off than the usual changing of the guard from President Andrea Kaminski to new President Jorge Hidalgo, featuring inspiring reports of accomplishments well-earned by the Club and well-directed by President Andrea.

But first . . . this recap only suggests the substance of the meeting, which was recorded and is available at https://youtu.be/MoH8PYLW__E.

President Andrea began with an uplifting recital of six new members and their credentials:  LaVar Charleston, U. W. Madison; Sara Eskrich, Democracy Found; Amy Griffin, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art; Rob Roquitte, eCIO, Inc; and Angela Trevino, UW Health and Clinics.  It was especially nice to see the swelling stream of welcoming messages in the presentation’s adjacent comments box.

The second opening order of business was the presentation our Rotary Club’s International Service Award—pin and plaque—to Joyce Bromley for her engagement in international service projects of the club.  Congratulations, Joyce!

In her formal closing remarks, President Andrea recognized the continuing tech work of Brian Basken and Jason Beren, who silently present what we view each week.  She also listed a series of personal take-aways from her presidential year, among them “hit the bell at the bottom, not the top, to make it ring,” how to compromise on matters of music and program Q&A, how to master tech from home, and especially how much her presidential experience has given her joy and broad connections.

Many were thanked, reinforcing her primary revelation that willing help was always available.  Please read President Andrea’s remarks for a list of key people for the past year.

Also read Jorge’s remarks, which were constructive, thoughtful and clear.  They were preceded, direct from Florida, by unexpected comments and congratulations to the club’s first Latino President by former member Dora Zuniga, who asked Jorge to join the club six years ago.

President Jorge (sounds great, doesn’t it, Jorge?) introduced himself—born in the Dominican Republic, a West Point economics graduate who served in the Army for eleven years, a resident of New York City and now the well-known owner of an award-winning Honda Dealership.  Only President Jorge could make this list of achievements sound humble!  He pledged to try new things, further the consideration of large questions before us all now, ensure a wide variety of programs, and move through the coming year on the platform of respect for the individual.  This platform is linked to Jorge’s assertion that in addition to club members’ immediate work, we bring a vast array of additional experiences, knowledge and achievement that should also be shared.

Other reports included Mary Thompson’s PowerPoint presentation of our very important membership satisfaction survey; and Bog Sorge’s presentation of the membership development committee, which has introduced several new ideas and a comprehensive concept of how to gain new members from a position of strength (great video, Paul Ranola, who created the video, and you can view it at the same link above.

Of course, the meeting included the usual array of past presidents, pin presentations, and a very nice gift certificate to Andrea (sorry, no longer president . . . but “didn’t I see you on the Internet?”) for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art store.

Oh, and Melanie Ramey spoke about things she has learned during the pandemic . . . NOW will you connect to the link above?

Well done, Andrea and Jorge!

Our thanks to past president Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article and if you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here:  https://youtu.be/MoH8PYLW__E.

Moe Offers Response Ideas to Community Unrest Over Racism, Police Use of Force, and Protests

–submitted by Valerie Renk

Renee Moe 6 10 2020Renee Moe challenged Rotarians June 10 to improve race relations by being more willing to talk about the issue. Moe is President and CEO of United Way of Dane County, where she has held a variety of positions.  She shared some of her personal challenges growing up bi-racial in rural Wisconsin.  She said, “At 12, I remember praying to be killed, but as a teenager, thankfully, I knew it could be different from my early years abroad. Please know people are hurting because of how society comes together.”

Moe indicated several studies have shown workplace diversity contribute to productivity, resource generation and customer insights.

“It’s about relationships,” Moe said.  “And proximity is what builds relationships.”

Moe indicated it may be helpful to think of Black Lives Matter as “Black Lives Matter, Too” using the analogy that everyone at your dinner table gets a serving of meatloaf.  You don’t get a serving, yet you deserve one. But you still don’t get one.

Recalling a past conversation with a Rotarian, Moe remembers telling him about racial equity, “You don’t have to understand everything, just believe and it will all fall into place.”

Moe was our 2013-2014 Rotary Club President and has both and JBA and an MBA from UW-Madison. She was introduced by Teresa Holmes, Club Racial Equity and Inclusion Committee Chair.

For additional information on this topic, you can visit the following links:

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/0zCOTRubYmw.