Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison

Celebrating Love on Valentine’s Day at Rotary

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

1718_Tommy Ensemble Holiday Video Shoot_02

For Valentine’s Day, Rotarians and guests were treated to a lively performance of love songs from Broadway musicals by five very talented teen performers in the Southern WI Tommy Ensemble. Students from St. Ambrose Academy, Verona Area High School, Edgewood High School and Mt. Horeb High School sang solos and duets from musicals as diverse as Phantom of the Opera, Carousel, Dear Evan Hansen, Motown the Musical, and Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812.

The Southern WI Tommy Ensemble was created nine years ago, when its first members performed in 23 area high school musicals. This year the group has 92 productions on its schedule, with performances at the Overture Center, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee, The Grand Theater in Wausau and Wisconsin Public Television.

Students have to audition and be accepted into the company. The full ensemble has 21 students.

One high school senior who has been in the group for three years told Rotarians that he is auditioning for admission to post-secondary musical acting schools. Certainly his three years with the Tommy Ensemble will help!

At the end of the performance, after the standing ovation, a Rotarian in the audience asked for an encore. Clearly the performers did not have a plan for that, but they got up and sang a beautiful a capella version of our national anthem, which they have performed at sporting events.

Our thanks to members of the Southern WI Tommy Ensemble for their musical presentation this week!

IMG_5623 rotary 12

 

In the “Growth Zone” to End Domestic Abuse

–submitted by Kay Schwichtenberg; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

IMG_5168 speaker 2Stephanie Ortiz, a Prevention and Public Awareness Coordinator at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin has a unique perspective on the dynamics of power that present themselves in both our work spaces and personal lives.   Her work with rape prevention and programming for Native youth informs her intimate view of these power dynamics.

She opened her dialogue with the hope that the topic makes us all a bit uncomfortable.  In her view, the ‘groan zone’ will yield a ‘growth zone’.

The topic of power and its misuse has saturated our reading, news viewing and discussions over the past many months.

The video from Time magazine’s person of the year laid out the raw nature of self-blame, manipulation and shame felt by those impacted by abuse.  Ortiz emphasized the need for ‘turning these moments into movements’.

Ortiz laid out two areas where power dynamics can be understood and changed.

In our home lives, she said that consent is about shared and equal power.  To facilitate that discussion at home, Ortiz encouraged open dialogue on the nuances of consent, the need for all of us to speak up, and teach people how to treat us.

Work life is the second prominent place that needs a cultural change.  Ortiz suggests the following actions that can positively influence that shift.

  1. Clear policies for gender based violence
  2. Ensure that Human Resources has a level of autonomy to address the issues
  3. Provide a complete list of resources available in your community
  4. Create a culture of accountability

Individuals in the workplace should be encouraged to share knowledge and information, watch documentaries and read books with groups.

Ortiz presented a passionate discussion about the need for engaging all of us to address changing any unhealthy power dynamics that may occur in our personal and work lives.

For each of us these issues are personal and framed by our individual experiences.  What matters now is that this is the perfect time for having these conversations.

Resources to Share: www.endabusewi.org; www.ncall.us; www.riselawcenter.org

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

A “Different” Wine Tasting on Feb 1

–submitted by Mike Wilson; photo by Pete Christianson 

IMG_2128

The Wine Fellowship met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s for a “different” tasting.  We tried fortified wines and added three Single Malt Scotches to show the effect of a REAL aftertaste.  I love the aftertaste of wine and I score it very highly on my rating assessment of individual wines.  A 20-second aftertaste is superb in wine, but Scotches and Cognacs have aftertastes that last all night, and welcome you the next morning.

We first tried Sherries from that small triangle in Southern Spain right at the Straights of Gibraltar. These fortified wines were at their popularity peak in the 70’s when I left NZ and I had often drunk Tio Pepe and Harveys Bristol Cream – bone dry and sweet examples – aperitif and dessert wines.  This time we tried the Tio Pepe Fino and a Lustau Oloroso – the latter a more complex wine.  The latter was the preferred wine  but I warned everyone the Fino is great as an aperitif.  These wines are aged in the Solera system

Next we tried two Ports – the nearest thing to usual dinner wines among those tasted.  Here we tried two styles that are the best bargains – a Kopke Tawny 10 year old port and an unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) from Quinta do Noval.  The Kopke is the longest family run Porto in Portugal dating to 1638.  Both were very good and were well liked by most tasters.

These 4 wines averaged about $25 and are all available from Steve’s on University.

Next I tried to make a case for Marsala not being relegated to a cooking wine.  Here there was an interesting tale about this old wine being confined to the Trapini region near the NW corner of Sicily.  When Englishman John Woodhouse in 1773 was forced by a storm to land in Marsala, he fell in love with the wine and recognized the similarity to the popular Port in England, and decided not to collect the load he was to pickup in Sicily and rather filled his ship with Marsala. He came back in 1796 and set up a winery.  In 1806 he was followed by fellow Englishman Benjamin Ingham who even built the first Anglican Church (Church of England), the only church of the Diocese of Europe, across the road from his mansion. These wines use the Perpetuum system – similar in concept to the Sherry Solera system.  We tried a Florio Dry wine (the oldest Sicilian producer of Marsala -established 1833) fino (Aged 1 year), and Marco de Bartoli Vigna La Miccia 5 year riserva which is medium-dry,.  These two represent the range of Sicilian Marsala’s – the first a “post-English” and oldest Sicilian Marsala winery and the latest a very serious wine maker Marco de Bartoli producing what he describes as a “pre-English” Marsala – predating Woodhouse’s arrival.  What drama!  These wines were not favorites of the tasters but Mike had fun reliving his trip to Palermo where he and Patty stayed in the Bingham residence, now the Grand Hotel de Palmes in Palermo, Sicily.

Next we tried two fortified wines being located on distant islands.  First we tried a Madeira from the island of the same name some 600 miles from the home land Portugal, and an Isle di Pantelleria closer to Tunis than Sicily.

The Madeira Islands were discovered in 1419 by Portugese explorers and became the first requisitioning station for travelers/explorers to India, the America’s, and the East Indies.  This was likely the first fortified wine as such, and there the best wine was that that had traveled the “round trip” – vino do roda – to and from the “Hetherlands”.  To simplify production the Madeirans invented the cheaper and more efficient “hothouse” system where the stored wine in large rooms heated by the sun with the wine in large barrels raised on trestles.  They are stored for 20-100 years – and many old wines are still for sale. I personally liked this very much and recounted how a 100 year old sample was brought to a Bring Your Own Wine Rotary Wine Fellowship once.

The other Island DOC is the Moscato/Passito from Isle di Pantelleria. This is made by the new Powerhouse Marco di Bartoli who is restoring Marsala’s name.  He also started this Passito production on the Island, now followed by other major Marsala producers.  This wine is a Passito (slightly raisanated) where the heating of the grapes is done in the field where the grapes are handpicked and left in fields between natural rock walls and allowed to dry out and concentrate sugar and flavors for two weeks before the rest of the grape crop is picked then the Passito is added. This is like brother-sister Italian Passito wines of Valpolicella in the Veneto, and the Montefalco in Umbria.

Last we tried Single malt Scotches.  I selected three of the six regions where Single malts are made.  First we had Auchhentoshen Three Wood from the Lowlands (less than 10 producers) and this example I think of as one of the mildest Malts. Then we tried The Glenlivet as the first legal distillary (1824) after the Excise Act of 1823.  This distillery sued other producers in the valley (Glen) of the Livet river (hence Glenlivet), and the judge determined they could call themselves “The Glenlivit” and the others could include the Glen Livet component as they were also in the Glen of the Livet river – a real Solomon decision that The GlenLivet has exploited since.  This is said to be a light delicate Malt.  Last we tried one of the few Isle of Islay Malts – Laphroaig.  A Smoky blockbuster that was a shock to most of the wine imbibers tastebuds.  A good experience of a Great Long Smoky Aftertaste.

Breads, cheeses, olives, almonds and chocolate covered strawberries were provided.

 

Brexit–What Next?

–submitted bu Linn Roth; photo by Margaret Murphy

Copelovitch 1 31 2018

From left: Ron Luskin, Mark Copelovitch and Club President Donna Hurd

At Wednesday’s meeting, Professor Mark Copelovitch gave a highly informative presentation on the history and status of the UK’s planned exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) and its potential impact on trans-Atlantic relations.  Historically, the UK has had a tortuous relationship with continental Europe, but, after World War II, Churchill became the greatest champion of European unification.  Despite ongoing domestic ambivalence, the UK finally applied for EU membership, and was accepted in 1973, although the UK chose to maintain its own monetary system.   Subsequently, the EU continued its membership and economic growth for approximately 40 years.

However, the decade from 2007 – 2017 changed all that.  The global recession spawned the growth of isolationism, nativism, and right-wing political factions in much of the world, including the UK and the US.  Relationships with NATO and on-going trade partnerships have been challenged by President Trump, and some of the same economic, regional, and political schisms occurring in the US are taking place in the UK and other European nations.  In a political miscalculation originally intended to shore up his base and undercut competing factions, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a public referendum on whether the UK should stay in or withdraw from the UK.  On June 23, 2016, 72% of UK citizens voted in the referendum, and while the margin for exodus was small (52% to 48%), the consequences of the UK’s withdrawal could be monumental.

For example, the UK was strongly split on Brexit, with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to stay and with London supporting the EU by an 80%/20% margin.  So potentially, these two countries could try to leave the UK, and many major financial institutions in London are looking to relocate in Europe.  Other European countries, such as Spain, are suffering similar crises, and there is a growing movement within the EU to establish trade and defense relationships apart from the US.  As Professor Copelovitch emphasized, the history of isolationism and protectionism is not a sound or peaceful one, so the US must be wary of exiting its leadership position on the world’s stage.  Since there is no actual legal requirement for the UK to exit the EU in March 2019, there is still the potential for a reversal.  Nevertheless, Brexit seems to serve as a warning signal for all nations to recognize that globalization is here to stay and can only be reversed at our own peril.

 

The Future is in the Hands of Young Women

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Mike Engelberger

Tory Miller 1 24 2018Tory Miller, Madison’s most famous chef, loves rice crispy bars, started cooking as a child in his grandparents’ café in Racine and beat Iron Chef Bobby Flay in the Iron Chef Showdown last month.  What’s next?

Miller, co-owner and chef of some of Madison’s best restaurants (L’Etoile, Graze, Estrellon and Sujeo) sees a bright future for Madison’s food scene in the hands of young chefs who have a passion for local food and a willingness to work with the community.  He notes that a national magazine naming Madison the best foodie scene in the Midwest would certainly help raise the city’s culinary profile.

Raised in Racine, Miller went off to New York to study at the French Culinary Institute.  While stumbling at first, he found his way into the kitchens of many of the country’s best chefs.  Wanting to be closer to the food producers, he came back to Wisconsin and into Odessa Piper’s L’Etoile kitchen.  And so they say, the rest is history.  A James Beard Midwest Best Chef Award winner, Miller credits Piper for showing him that all people in the kitchen, in the house and guests should be respected and treated fairly.  In the past, women and folks on the lower rungs of the kitchen were not treated well, but today these folks are now running restaurants, leading chefs and a more respected part of the community.  Miller has also been instrumental in the start up Madison Area Chef’s Network (MASN) helping the community with food needs and helping each other to be more successful in an industry where cooperation was not the norm in the past.

So, what about Iron Chef Bobby Flay?   “The meat of it”, Miller laughs, “is that Bobby Flay is not super nice. Being on the show was nerve wracking, but I was happy with the way it turned out.  I’m weird and quirky, but we always want to be the best!”

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

Making Dreams Come True–Rotary Scholar Event

–submitted by Mary Thompson; photos by Dennis Cooley

Photo 10  IMG_0702

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.

IMG_0717  IMG_0701

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.

IMG_0705  IMG_0697

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.