Category Archives: Uncategorized

Nowruz – A Celebration of the Iranian New Year

–submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Ted & Joan Ballweg

Iranian New Year Celebration 016Who could not use some Nowruz (celebration of spring and annual renewal)?  Majid Sarmadi brought the rich Iranian new year celebration to us in this year of 2595.  This 3000 year Persian tradition is a celebration of renewal and hope with prepared foods that represent the seven angelic heralds.  Hyacinth (one of the first flowers of spring) brings beauty and its fragrance permeated the room.  The eloquently set table was a sight to behold.  Garlic bulbs decorated with a string of tiny pearls bring good health; vinegar takes a long time to make and requires patience; a beautiful tureen of sprouts (lentils) prosperity—good harvest and a year without hunger; elaborately decorated eggs promise fertility–rebirth; goldfish swimming in a bowl, a symbol of life; the illumination of candle-light brings happiness—good over evil; fresh fruit and sweets bring joy; and we ended with a taste of ground sweet sumac.  A book of poetry lay open reminding us of the eloquent Persian language.  This was the experience of haft sin and only the beginning of the evening.

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After an enthralling slide show of Iran–the culture, the geography, and its people—we traveled the gastronomic route.  Appetizers of eggplant paté, and hummus; a table display of basmati rice with saffron, casserole of assorted beans, braised eggplant with filet mignon; saffron chicken; and basmati rice with lima beans and dill—all of which were as sumptuous as they were beautiful.  All of these delicacies were entirely prepared by Majid.  Oh yes, the desserts!  Cream puffs (made earlier in the day), fresh fruit, rice-flour cookies, cardamom muffins, sohan (almond toffee), were enjoyed with a cup of tea.  At the end of the evening Majid gave us a gift to extend the evening.  We each received a freshly pressed one-dollar bill for good luck.

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We became Majid’s extended family and together we celebrated the joy of friendship in the Persian tradition and are richer for the experience.

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Holistic Support for Returning Veterans and Their Families

–submitted by Donna Hurd; photo by Pete Christianson

Will Beiersdorf 3 22 2017

From left: Club President Michelle McGrath, Will Beiersdorf, Nasra Wehelie and Susan Schmitz

After recognizing and showing appreciation for all Rotarians and guests who have provided military service to our country, fellow Rotarian Will Beiersdorf provided a brief but comprehensive overview of an organization that provides holistic support and care for those service men and women who have returned home with physical and often, severe invisible wounds of war.

With first-hand knowledge of the stress of deployment, Will was called into active duty after the events of September 11, 2001, leaving his wife and three young children behind.  Since that time, 800,000 service men and women have been deployed multiple times. This was almost unheard of prior to that date.  The toll of numerous deployments affects not only the servicemen and women but also their families.  The services available for many who have served are often inadequate and in all cases, only treat the wounded, leaving their families to seek help from other providers or caregivers.  Two million children and parents sought mental and behavioral healthcare since 2001.  One-third of the men and women returning from war suffer some type of trauma.  Approximately 400,000 have suffered a traumatic brain injury.  Besides the wounds suffered, approximately 22 veterans end their life every day, leaving family members to carry on.

In March 2013, Will was invited to assist with the formation of the Road Home Center for Veterans and their families.  Since that time, the organization has seen 400 – 500 veterans and their families each year.  They remove all barriers to receiving the needed services.  The organization’s mission is, “Help heal the invisible Wounds of War.”  They accomplish this by going beyond the level of care expected and needed.  The continuum of care provided by the Road Home Program incorporates clinical care, counseling, outreach services, and education.  The program employs Outreach Managers who have experienced the trauma of war, either directly or indirectly and can tell the story of why their services and this program are so needed.

Service Above Self, not only exemplifies Rotarians but also the brave men and women who choose to serve to protect the freedoms we all enjoy.  The bottom line of this program’s existence is, “We owe it to them to give back and help.”

 

Fostering Diversity in the Workplace

–submitted by Kevin Hoffman; photo by Pete Christianson

DSC_0003Karen Lincoln Michel challenged us to think in a different way about workplace perceptions, the importance of fostering diversity in our workplaces (particularly if we are leaders), and to be sensitive to the welcome our workplace culture extends to those with different ethnicity, gender, or cultural background.

Leaders with hiring responsibility need to be aware of affinity bias – the tendency to hire those who look like us or have the same background.  Our perceptions can powerfully influence our decision-making process, often without us realizing it!  By selecting people with similar characteristics we miss out on key insights and perspectives that someone outside of our experience and background can bring.  She challenged leaders to have the courage to step out of their comfort zones to realize the benefits that increased diversity can bring.

True workplace diversity demonstrates benefits in terms of being able to attract top talent, improved customer relations, improved employee satisfaction, better decision-making, and retaining talented employees.  The business environment is a diverse place and hiring and retaining staff to effectively address that environment only makes good business sense.  On a tangible basis, Ms. Lincoln cited a McKinsey study that indicated that firms with greater diversity showed a greater likelihood to financially outperform their peers.

Finally, culture matters.  Workplace and community culture is important to the success of diversity efforts.  Is the culture welcoming?  Do persons of color feel isolated?  Programs and policies are not enough – leaders have to truly engage and drive the initiative and commit to recruiting and supporting diverse candidates.

Ideas for true engagement in workplace diversity programs include having an officer or position in charge of fostering diversity, mission statements that include diversity as part of the organization’s core values, creation of an inclusive and positive atmosphere, widely seeking out candidates, and providing mentoring relationships to support individual success.

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

Wine Fellowship Event March 12, 2017

 

–submitted by Mike Wilson

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Mike & Patty Wilson

The Rotary Wine Fellowship Group met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s home to taste wine to compare the major French wine regions with their new world protogees.  We had white and red Burgundy, Bordeaux, as well as Northern and Southern Rhone wines and virtually all were selected from the Wilson wine cellar.  The examples were nearly all very well rated by respected rating organizations (88 – 95 points, mean score 92) and many of the vineyards were very old (one wine from Australia where the vineyard was planted 124 years ago and several others over 100 years, and yet others the oldest regional vines available.

We tried a 2014 white Puligny Montrachet from Pernot, and discussed the Burgundian village (now just used to house workers) and that the area included the greatest white wines of the world (e.g. Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Batard-Montrachet). This wine is still available at Steve’s for a modest sum.  This was compared with a Robert Young Vineyard Alexander 2013 Chardonnay ranked among the best of California that year, and a Wilson favorite.  We also compared it with a 1995 Kalin chardonnay Cuvee W which is the current release of Kalin having being kept by the owner for 20 years before releasing to the public for purchase – an extraordinary practice for a business given that now even the great wineries now make their wine for immediate sale and early consumption. At Kalin cellars the owners are microbiologists (Terrence and Frances Leighton) and the sole winemakers, that make all their own wines from bought grapes.  They produce about 7000 cases per year, and are credited with being the first Californians to pioneer the unfiltered Sur Lies approach to white wines.  Kalin also champions the fifth taste – Umami (the meaty brothy taste that is represented by MSG Wine March 12 2017 Ebut without the MSG salt contribution). They seek this out in their wines before release.  The Puligny narrowly wins as the best tasting compared to the quintessential Robert Young Vineyards and the very different Kalin.

Next we tried the red Burgundy and I had selected a Premier Cru Nuits-St-Georges Les Pruliers by Lucien Boillet where the grapes were planted in 1911.  Nuits-St-George is considered the main village of this region and is slightly smaller than Beaune to the North.  Nuits-St-Georges has no Grand cru vineyards but there are 41 Premier Cru vineyards of which Les Pruliers is one.  This wine was compared to similarly rated 2006 Oregon Pinot from Belle Pente Murto Vineyard and a 1995 Kalin Cuvee DD bottled in 2000 (some 17 years ago, and this is the current release vintage).  The Oregon Pinot Noir was considered the best of the bunch.

Wine March 12 2017 AWe had two 2000 Bordeaux blend wines and compared this to a 2006 Rubicon Estate
Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Bordeaux were a Chateau Talbot and Grand-Puy-La-Coste, respectively 4th and 5th Growth wines in the 1855 Classification of the Haut-Medoc region that includes 61 wines and is the current quality standard of these wines. The 2000 vintage was considered an excellent vintage on both the left (Graves, Medoc, and Haut-Medoc) and right (Pomerol and St. Emilion) banks, a unique situation in the history of these wine regions. This vintage is considered one of the Great vintages because of this, and is one of the few vintages that the price has never fallen below the pre-release prices (when I bought these 2000 wines). The clear winner was the eminently drinkable Californian Cabernet despite it’s lower point assessment (90/91 compared to the Bordeaux: 93 and 94/95 ratings).

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From left: Beth & Rob Van den Berg; Chris & Elaine Rich; Jennifer & Bob Winding

We tried the Upper Rhone (Syrah only red grape allowed) 2009 Cote-Rotie La Landonne by Rene Rostaing and this was compared to an Australian Barossa Valley Shiraz that come from a vineyard initially planted in 1893, and a 1998 Hanna Sonoma Syrah.  While the Cote Rotie was the winner, it was scored at less than the Australian Shiraz (93/94 vs 95) in recent accepted tastings.  The Cote Rotie is interesting as Etienne Guigal (a Rotary tasting will be at Steve’s on University on the 27th April that will assess Guigal’s wines – wait for the call for signup) came to the region, recognized the potential of the wine, restored the reputation of these wines. In the 1940’s when the AOC was created there were only 40 hectares left in grapes, the rest having been converted to Apricot trees. The land was converted back to vineyards as the quality returned to it’s former glory and the apricot trees were removed to get the total acreage back to 210 Hectares.  The vines had been uprooted as the slopes approach 60 degrees and concrete walls and terraces need constant maintenance for tending the vines and picking the grapes.

Wine March 12 2017 BThe last wine we tried was a Chateauneuf-du-pape (CNP) which is from the southern Rhone and has mainly Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre (the GSM label made famous by Australia with their exports of this blend). Other red and white grapes provide an AOC appellation requirement minimum of six different varietals while the appellation allows at least 9 red and 6 white wines.  The ground here is different, having huge heat retention stones (galets) extending from fist sized examples to huge boulders. When Patty and I visited Ch. Beaucastel in the mid 1980’s we wondered how they could even plant the vines in those “rock fields”.

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From left: Leslie & Peter Overton; Ken Yuska; Sandy & Dana Corbett

We tried a Chateau Beaucastel Famille Perrin 2011, the most expensive wine of the tasting. Ch. Beaucastel always uses 13 grapes in their CNP.  We tried it against a 2011 Paso Robles Tablas Creek Esprit GSM with additional Cunoise, and the interesting fact is that Ch. Beaucastel (Perrin family) co-own this Paso Robles property with their US importer (Robert Haas). They found a property, stocked it with 8 vines from Ch. Beaucastel, waited out the 3 year quarantine, and now sell the Rhone wines and the Rhone vines from their USA winery. The Esprit de Tablas is the second best wine from Tablas Creek and the Famille Perrin is Beaucastel’s second best CNP, so it was a good comparison altho the wine from France would have much older vines. We also tried a GSM from Adelaida, also the same year.  All were excellent, all were well rated and there was no definite winner, just personal favorites, with no one wine getting a majority vote.

Wine March 12 2017 CThis was a great tasting and we had 5 cheeses (3 of which are pictured here) selected for these wines and chocolate covered strawberries made by Patty. These included a local Mozzarella on melba toast, with Normandy Brie also on Melba Toast.   We had Dubliner (invented by an Irish UW faculty while getting his PH.D. in Ireland – now sold by Kerrygold (but not currently banned like the butter). We had Cambozola, and Wensleydale cranberry cheese (another story of old English cheese slowly disappearing until owner of the last factory sold to the management who regenerated the business). The Mozzarella and Brie went well with the white and lighter Pinot Noir, while the other cheeses and chocolate strawberries stood up to the reds.  Overall, the tasting was great fun for everyone.

 

Dane County Circuit Court Candidates Forum: Jill Karofsky vs. Marilyn Townsend

–submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Pete Christianson

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Marilyn Townsend and Jill Karofsky

The two candidates for an open Dane County judge position began with an opening statement, then answered a series of questions presented by moderator Rotarian Andrea Kaminski.

Both candidates indicated a strong desire to address concerns of racial disparity, fairness in the judicial system and support of alternatives to incarceration – help versus punishment.   Both have backgrounds that illustrate their commitment to these concerns. Karofsky is serving as Executive Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services and as Wisconsin’s first Violence against Women Resource Prosecutor. Townsend has represented Unions and men and women on a broad array of issues, typically in cases where a client calls out their employer or a government agency for discrimination on the basis of wage, race, age, gender, or disability.

Attorney Karofsky, though not a judge, emphasizes her previous experience as an assistant district attorney handling “more than 10,000 cases in Dane County Courts, the exact kind of cases the judge will hear.”

Judge Townsend has served the Village of Shorewood Hills as Municipal Court Judge since 2012. In this capacity, she notes, she presides over trials, motion hearings and initial appearances, and decides the guilt or innocence of those who appear before her.

Karofsky contends that while municipal judges play an important role, Townsend’s municipal court experience dealing with mostly ordinance violations is not similar to the complexity of criminal cases, such as homicides, she would find in the circuit court.

When asked by the moderator about their “judicial philosophy” Townsend said she strives to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, “not just the rich and powerful,” Karofsky said her philosophy emphasizes “fairness, respect for everyone and a willingness to try new things [such as alternative courts for specialized cases]”

“Who is your hero?” Moderator Kaminsky asked.

“Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt,” said Townsend, “because they stood up for the little guy.”

“My Mother [former Middleton Mayor Judy Karofsky], replied Karofsky, “because she always fought for fairness for the little guy.”

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Watch the video here.

Israel Night: Learning About the Country’s Culture, Food, Religion, & More

–submitted by Jocelyn Riley; photos by Jason Beren

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Two dozen Rotarians attended our Rotary Club’s Cultural Awareness Fellowship Event Israel Night on Thursday, January 26, at UW Hillel / The Barbara Hochberg Center for Jewish Student Life on Langdon Street in Madison.  We were treated to a delicious kosher buffet meal of falafel, chicken shawarma, hummus, Israeli salad, pita bread, tahini, and desserts including mandelbread, chocolate and cinnamon rugelach, and “Prussian ears.”  The meal was prepared by Adamah Neighborhood Table, which also runs a restaurant in the Hillel building.

After dinner, Rotarian Lester Pines gave a presentation on the history and culture of Israel.  Lester opened by telling us some details about his own relationship to Israel (which is, he pointed out, about the size of New Jersey).  At the age of 16, Lester spent 9 weeks in Israel in the summer of 1966 (the year before the momentous war of 1967).  When he returned many years later to the place where he had stayed in 1966, at first Lester could not recognize the spot.  Where there had once been small saplings surrounding the building, there was now a forest of large trees, part of Israel’s extensive “reforestation” effort.

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Lester then led us through some highlights of Israeli culture and customs.  Lester pointed out that Israel is home to many people from a wide variety of cultural and religious backgrounds, including people from Western Europe, Central Europe and Asia, and Africa.  Migration to Israel from so many parts of the world has influenced how life there has evolved.  Lester pointed to the mass migration of about a million people from Russia to Israel in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a transformative event in Israeli life.  Many of the Russian Jews who left to avoid persecution were highly educated scientists.  Once in Israel, they initiated scientific work that transformed Israel into “Silicon Wadi,” parallel to America’s Silicon Valley.  Even though the bulk of Israel is located in a desert (the Negev) on a salty sea, its economy had for many years been based on agriculture.  The newly arrived scientists began working on projects that led to Israel becoming the world leader in desalination of saltwater and to developing a strain of potatoes that can be irrigated with saltwater.

Lester closed with a description of an Israeli festival called Purim, based on the biblical book of Esther.  When he showed pictures of people in costumes at a Purim festival, people in the audience spontaneously called out, “It looks like carnival,” and “It looks like Halloween.”  Lester agreed that even though Purim in based in ancient texts, it’s a contemporary festival just for fun.

The”No Hit” Zone

–submitted by Carol Toussaint; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

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Club President Michelle McGrath, Ismael Ozaane & Rotarian Dave Ewanowski

We’ve all heard of “no fly zones,” but Rotarians at Wednesday’s luncheon learned about “no hit zones” and what they can do to reinforce a culture of safety.  Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne explained why he cares about reducing corporal punishment of children and why we should all understand that hitting a child puts them at risk for detrimental outcomes that affect every aspect of our community including the criminal justice system.

Simply put, Ozanne explained that the phrase “corporal punishment” refers to inflicting pain to a person.  Citing other standards of public safety we often take for granted, safeguarding early brain development through eliminating corporal punishment should be as commonplace as requiring car seats for infants and children.   Bringing this message to the public needs to emphasize the purpose of such a program and his office has undertaken numerous ways of education through information.

Ozanne predicts that Dane County can become a national leader in working to create a “no hit zone” and noted that Stoughton is the first city in the U.S. to have set it up.  More than two years ago, Ozanne began organizing community conversations and conferences with various professional groups interested in rebuilding the criminal system to make it more compassionate.  Attention is on learning more about the current research and by addressing the root causes of aggression, domestic violence, mental issues and AODA issues.

Asking his audience to get to know more about ways to create and reinforce an environment of safety and comfort for all, Ozanne stated the Dane County District Attorney’s office stands ready to help.

Did you miss our meeting this week?  Our thanks to WisconsinEye for videotaping.  Watch it here.