Category Archives: 2. Meetings

What’s Your Pandemic Purpose Statement?

submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Whelan pptSometimes it’s better to begin at the end, in this case with Professor Christine Whelan’s personal May 6, 2020, Pandemic Purpose Statement:

“Because I value relationships, perseverance and creativity, I will use my gifts for translating research, making connections and organization to positively impact the lives of my children, my students and the broader public.  I accept my fears and anxieties about not being perfect enough, not being helpful enough and fear for the future and still today make conscious, purpose-based commitments to make a fun baked potato bar tonight, take a bike ride with the kids and check in with my students.”

During this pandemic, we all feel the push of pain (including physical, financial, stress and more), the pull of possibilities, or most likely both.  This push-pull can manifest itself as either ego or “eco.”  Achieving the latter is the goal because it affirms the reality that institutions and people are inherently interconnected and always in change, though more so at this time.

So how is “eco” achieved?

Whelan’s statement embodies combining an individual’s selection of three elements within each of three virtually infinite areas:  core values (e.g. happiness, independence, peace) strengths or gifts; and impact (e.g. upon groups, individuals, organizations).  It also requires that one accept (though perhaps not let go of) fears and anxiety and dare to go forward anyway.

A daily pandemic purpose statement can relieve pressure, contribute to better health and increase happiness.  Even those at greater risk can find that accepting help is itself a gift to a helper, illustrating that the holistic practice of “eco”—purpose—is by definition pro-social.

Professor Whelan, we’re all coming over for the potato bar tonight.

Our thanks to Dr. Christine Whelan for her online presentation this week and to Ellsworth Brown for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Learning Doesn’t Stop Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

submitted by Mary Borland

Jesslyn Hollar   Dr. Jesslyn Hollar is an Edgewood College Professor, and she teaches education courses,  “a teacher educator.”  She is well qualified to talk about engaging kids in learning amidst COVID-19 school closures as she is the mother of a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old.  Her roles of parent and teacher educator are no longer separate but overlapping.

With school closures, our school systems have to consider access. Are basic needs of students being met with food and shelter, do they have educational resources, access to internet, etc.?  At least 800 MMSD students are experiencing homelessness. Nearly half of students qualify for free or reduced lunch; more than 20% are English language learners and more than 14% have a disability.  As a result, ensuring emotional support and navigation during this turbulent time may supersede formal academics at this time. Professor Hollar stated that attending to your own needs as a parent/caregiver during this time also benefits your child. To decrease your child’s anxiety, work to decrease your own.

Where does learning happen? Most learning throughout our lives occurs quite informally. It is our ability to understand how to learn and to transfer and apply that learning to other settings that holds us in good stay, “learning with understanding.” Where you can, encourage active learning with reflection on learning.  Strategies for learning by grade were shared by Professor Hollar, and you can find additional links to resources at the end of her video presentation. She encourages parents/caregivers not to feel shame or guilt during this time about their young learner’s academic trajectory while schools are closed.

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

Managing Our Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

submitted by Carole Trone

FLynn Bradyellow Rotarian Lynn Brady, who is President and CEO of Journey Mental Health Center, shared her insights on “Dealing with Mental Health in the Time of the Coronavirus, a Unique National Emergency!” Brady’s presentation to the club through a virtual meeting platform on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, was an immediate reminder of the significant disruption that all of us are facing in our daily routines. Brady reflected that we are social creatures, and so this required isolation is inevitably going to have an impact. We feel uncertainty about when things will return to normal. In Brady’s work, she says that they are not currently seeing a lot of calls. Rather, people are asking for tips on dealing with stress; how to talk to children about the issue; and how they might reach out in the future to a mental health professional. The mental health professionals that she works with also need a chance to talk through the issues.

Brady walked her audience through the stages of mental stress that the coronavirus has brought, from disruption and worry at a personal level to an increased level of community anxiety about jobs and access to necessities. People at different ages will exhibit signs of stress differently and it’s especially important not to dismiss the distress that older people feel as a normal aspect of aging. Brady provided ideas for how we, as leaders in our community and at work, can provide structure and support to our colleagues and those we supervise. Routines and ongoing opportunities to discuss challenges and to stay in touch are supportive for everyone. Think about the immediate and also the longer term plans of dealing with this crisis. Be sure to thank people who are in the mental health field.

In closing, Brady reminded her audience that Journey Mental Health Center has a crisis line: 608-280-2600, and it is staffed  24/7, 365 days a year.

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

Is Madison Prepared for the Coronavirus and Its Effects?

submitted by Valerie Renk

Eithun BenRotarians heard online April 8 from Benjamin Eithun how Madison is part of several networks to plan for medical emergencies. Eithun is Director of Pediatric Trauma, Surgery, Injury Prevention and Child Protection at American Family Children’s Hospital.

In 2014, Wisconsin formed seven Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalitions (HERCs), which were based on seven Regional Trauma Advisory Councils.  The councils are made of up EMS, trauma hospitals, public health agencies, government emergency management agencies, businesses and other related partners.

“With the coalitions and the councils, we can better coordinate, communicate and be ready,” Eithun said. “We may be competitors, but we all have the goal to serve patients in need.”

Examples of coordination include sharing where there are needs for more beds, working together to make emergency plans, and coordinating needs in the area, region or statewide.  There are two communications vehicles, EMresources (web based) and WISCOM (VHF Radio) used for urgent sharing of needs.

Eithun has a MSN and a BSN from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS from UW-LaCrosse.  Prior to coming to the UW, he was a pediatric critical care nurse practitioner in the PICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

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

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.

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.