Category Archives: Rotary Club of Madison

January 19: State Line Distillery: Building Community One Bottle at a Time

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

As a biology major at UW-Eau Claire several years ago, John Mleziva was interested in the science behind fermentation and brewing. Eventually he came to Madison to teach at Edgewood College. In 2012 he enrolled in a second master’s program, this time in Scotland and specializing in brewing and distilling. Then he returned to Madison, bought a small still and began testing recipes in his kitchen. He opened State Line Distillery in a beautifully rehabilitated facility on Madison’s east side in 2017. The first few years saw tremendous growth, but they had to shut the doors in March 2020 because of the pandemic. One day as John sat in the empty cocktail lounge wondering if the distillery would survive, he was asked to produce hand sanitizer for the state of Wisconsin. This kept State Line and many other distilleries afloat through the pandemic.

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

Climate Action: Local Challenges, Local Solutions

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

At our online January 5 Rotary meeting, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and WKOW-TV Senior Chief Meteorologist Bob Lindmeier spoke about the local challenges and solutions in Dane County related to climate change. Lindmeier set the stage as a qualified, trusted messenger with a passion for climate change education. He said the problem is simple, it has serious implications, and it is solvable. He cited ample peer-reviewed information to confirm that climate change is real and that it affects the natural environment, public health and economy of our area. Parisi outlined several initiatives instituted by Dane County government which are significantly offsetting the use of fossil fuels and saving taxpayers money. 

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

December 1: Braver Angels: Starting Conversations, Not Fights

–submitted by Kevin Hoffman

Cameron Swallow (left) and Susan Vergeront (right) are the state coordinators for Braver Angels, a national organization that was founded in 2016 to address the growing partisan political divide that is occurring in the United States.  Increasingly, we are defining one another not as multi-faceted human beings but as good or bad people on one side of a Red or Blue divide.  Worse, we have let this polarization become emotional and personal.  Instead of searching for truth and understanding we seek victory.  This win-lose demonization is a threat for our democracy.  Braver Angels’ mission is to bring Americans together to bridge the partisan divide and strengthen our democratic republic.  Using programs with equally balanced representation, they bring people together from opposite sides of the Red/Blue divide to seek understanding when agreement is not possible and to realize that we have more in common than we are different.  This is done through workshops that facilitate and offer strategies for communicating civilly among people who disagree – and with like-minded people who veer into contempt and ridicule.  The goal is not to change views on issues but to change and inform our views of each other.  On the policy level, by speaking to each other in civil discourse, the objective is to find collaborative solutions for the common good.

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

The Housing Mixtape: Madison, WI       

November 17, 2021 Rotary Guest Speaker

–submitted by Ellsworth Brown

Justice Castaneda a man on a mission, delivered a distillation of his academic work with the passion and intensity of a community advocate.  He cares deeply about Madison, a city in which he was raised and moved many times before concluding his teenage years.  Castaneda knows intimately the challenges that caused and perpetuate the strictures of redlining, covenants and zoning.  He concluded his presentation with a summary that gives this complex subject a frame:

  • Contemporary housing patterns are limited by historical and contemporary land use policies and practices that contribute significantly to housing volatility, absence of strong community ties, and family cohesiveness.
  • Volatility in housing tenure—sometimes 50% turnover a year—is an undercurrent in pathological associations with concentrated poverty.  For example, affordability of land available for development in Madison is limited to former redline sections that are depressed and underserved, formerly redline sections of the city.  Purchase of this lower-priced land for economic development often removes the availability of affordable housing.
  • Impediments in access to democratic processes and institutions are detrimental to collective efficacy.
  • The structure of local governments, their deliberate pace extending through two or three administrations, limits the use of long-term mitigation strategies.

Castaneda added that the absence in Madison of viable, efficient transportation routes between neighborhoods, services and sources of employment in historically redlined, covenant restricted areas continues to contribute to ongoing volatility of housing.

Club President Teresa Holmes: In Her Own Words

Today is our official kickoff to the Rotary year so I wanted to share a bit on my personal background, Rotary journey, and what you can expect from me during the evolving aspects of our year together. 

I am the oldest of three children born to a mother who worked in various areas of law enforcement and a father who served in the Navy.  Over the years, I’ve tried to make it a habit of asking for what I need so if I sounds like I’m telling you instead, please don’t take it personally; giving others instructions is a part of my history.  I’m a native of Milwaukee and for years lived one block away from the core of the original site where Juneteenth Day is celebrated. Most of my family members still live in Milwaukee so my other home is not far away.

I often refer to myself as a twice transplant to Madison, as I initially moved here in 1989 to work for what was is now Alliant Energy but moved back to Milwaukee after only 5 years. At that time, I would’ve been known as a Gen Z, and my mom, who by then had transitioned into the Human Services field, encouraged me to follow my heart knowing that I had aspirations for changing the dynamics of how users experienced working with computing professionals.  By the time I was 23, I had several experiences with initiating change within teams, systems and corporations in the US and in other countries through the use of my natural gift to simplify tedious processes whether manual or technological.  I had no idea that I’d return to Madison 20 years later after creating my own firm, now Exponential Endeavors. I lead a team of Solution Architects, who have backgrounds in either engineering, technology or creative arts and are identifying efficient and innovative ways to transform manual processes thru technology or reduce the time it takes to implement technology engagements.  I can speak tech English, folks! Right before the pandemic, I was asked to utilize my business model to assist a company in Madison with rapid redesign of its entire technology infrastructure and because of the need to pivot quickly when the stay-at-home order began in March of last year, my team and I were able to do the same for companies locally and throughout the Midwest while leading them into resiliency during the COVID year.  So, change and doing things sooner than initially planned is ‘in my lane’.  Did you know that I was supposed to be your president – next year?  

My Rotary journey began only 5 years ago in May of 2016 after being invited to attend the Scholarship luncheon by then Rotarian Derrick Van Mell.  I had been asked to join the organization before but declined because of what I believed was not present in the room.  Attending one luncheon can make all the difference and after seeing the scholarships awarded to 25 local students – I said Yes without hesitancy.  Service is a part of my DNA as I come from a long line of WI and Texan public servants and prior to that experience lacked the awareness I now have of the Rotary Club of Madison.  

My first year of my Rotary service, I attended the international convention held in Atlanta, Georgia, and couldn’t believe what Rotarians were doing locally and internationally and have dug in my heels since then to Connect, Grow and Serve where led and often asked to do so. I’m a person with a deep sense of Faith and belief in the ability to dream and live well throughout the process of evolving circumstances.  A few of you have cautioned me not to use the podium as my ‘pulpit’, fret not. I don’t need a pulpit when an expansive mission field is right before me.

The accelerated transition to VP caused me to get to know many of you in ways that I’ve enjoyed while also growing in the understanding of the traditions this club and Rotary International hold near and dear. I’m looking forward to spending time with many of you, while walking, dining, at local activities that combine those two or a fellowship or community event.

As we serve, the evolving aspect of changes we’ll all be affected by and journey through are not intended to harm or hinder our organization from continued success and service – rather meant to create more continuity within the organization while better positioning our service teams – our committees to execute their creative ideas throughout our community.  The ideas presented and approved by leaders w/in this club are meant to be seen and experienced far beyond a single term of the presidency so our club’s VP-Paul Hoffman and others who follow him will carry the torch of ideas forward and brightly! Throughout the year, I’ll lead the way in communicating and navigating the various aspects of how we’ll enhance what we’re doing.

Being President of our club wasn’t what I thought I’d be doing at the end of my board term.  As I reflect while dreaming, I realize it has become an extended part of my journey of Service above Self!  I’m honored and humbled to serve as our club president. Thank you for such an opportunity!

Rural Broadband: The Economics and Relationships Needed for “The Fix”


Brittany Beyer, Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Broad Band, presented The Economics and Relationships Needed for “The Fix”.

Today’s mashup of acronyms, mastered by Beyer to her credit, demonstrates widespread and as-yet relatively uncoordinated efforts to advance universal broad band access, but a growing awareness of their importance.

Embedded are fundamental elements of equity, diversity and inclusion, the divide between sparsely settled rural and densely settled urban environments, outdated mapping of coverage and profit disparities attendant to the commerce of coverage, and the profound need for universal collaboration and coordination.

Beyer framed the fundamentals as access, affordability, and adoption.

Access is best and almost universal in urban areas, but the rules of measurement—mapping population together with broad band coverage—tilts systemic access heavily to cost-efficient urban areas while omitting high-cost, less efficient access to rural areas.

The resulting dilemma is captured in the subject of affordability, which requires a collaborative and systemic mix of commercial, government, philanthropic, and personal funding that is moving slowly toward the need to address the growing acknowledgment that, like electricity and rural mail delivery, broad band access has become a universal necessity and equalizer.

Adoption, the third leg of the stool, highlights the need to educate and aid those yet unfamiliar with the technology and capability that can be available to them.

There are test models and examples of successful local or at best regional well-led initiatives that work—in Reedsburg, WI and surrounding towns, for example; in Iowa County, a leader in a systemic mapping of service needs and population density; and in Brown County, where a model expansion is underway.

Today’s program was but a piece of the story.  Two complementary Rotary programs will present other facets of the quest for a systemic approach to universal high speed broad band service, one in July and one in August.    

   Our thanks to Brittany Beyer 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: