Category Archives: Uncategorized

“How Are You Going to See Our Children?”

submitted by Ellsworth Brown; photo by Neil Fauerbach

IMG_4116

Judge Everett Mitchell pictured here with his mentor, Ms. Milele Chikasa Anana, who received our club’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award at this week’s Rotary meeting.

Imagine the combined power of a preacher and the authority of a judge, connected by an unrelenting mission to lift up children who stand alone.  Now imagine the twenty-minute Rotary program this produced in reflection of and response to the career challenge that Judge Everett Mitchell was given via the question above, by the day’s Manfred E. Swarsensky award winner Ms. Milele Chikasa Anana, on the occasion of his installation as Circuit Court Judge in 2016.

But we didn’t have to imagine this.  It came to life with driven speed, intensity and the best desperation to help us understand how incapable the child welfare system, often following inevitably into the juvenile justice system and ultimately the criminal justice system, are to the task of repairing damaged lives, providing help and hope to those who enter these systems with no experience, no point of reference, no one to hear, no hand to hold, no ability to move beyond a closed loop.

Using poignant examples, Judge Mitchell spoke movingly of the power of restorative justice.  His source of language and guidance in court is Trauma and Healing Guide Resource, which speaks directly to the need for courts and the public to speak to a child’s future more than the past.  The absence of and critical need for mental health treatment was a frequent theme, as was the need to keep dreams alive as a replacement for the damages done to children, giving them voices.

The Judge spoke of the Court in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, to open an Office of Youth Engagement.  He spoke of the need to raise the bar of the justice system’s practices, which are not yet equal to the focus on trauma.

The best expression of Judge Mitchell’s commitment to the power of his vision and the role of the Court was his closing word:  “I am not just their judge, I am their reflection.”  His life, once his nightmare, turned into his dream:  power of a preacher and the authority of a judge, bent to a consuming mission.

Lessons from Business Empress Martha Matilda Harper

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Pete Christianson

Jane Plitt 10 17 2018

From left: Rotarian Mary Borland, Guest Speaker Jane Plitt & Rotarian Joan Collins

Rotary and Martha Matilda Harper both want to make the world a better place, said October 17 Rotary speaker Jane Plitt.  Plitt highlighted how Harper, a poor Canadian servant for 25 years, became the American pioneer of modern retail franchising with 500 Harper Method Hair shops around the world catering to world royalty, US presidents, along with suffragettes.

Harper was born in Canada and put into servitude at age 7.  As she grew, she learned several business lessons.

Dream. She dreamed of success and marrying, although marriage would not release her from being a servant.

Stick to your Goals.  Her last employer was kind. He taught her about a product he designed to make hair stronger.  On his death bed, he bequeathed her the hair tonic formula.  With that formula, she believed she has the passport to change her life.  She moves to Rochester, New York, home to suffragists, entrepreneurs, and Quakers, a hot bed of activists. With about $300 in savings, she’s denied a building lease, until hiring a lawyer.

Capitalize on Your Assets. Her floor length hair, pictured on the door, drew in mothers of piano students from next door.  She offered them chairs, then drew them into to hear about her hair tonic.

 Understand and Delight the Customer.  Harper created the first reclining barber chair; this meant no soap in customers’ eyes and clothes were protected.

Create Buzz.  Famous customers such as Grace Coolidge and Bertha Palmer kicked off her fame.  Bertha drew her to open a second store in Chicago.

Commit the Customer.  Harper asked Palmer to come back with a list of 25 friends on a petition for her to come to Chicago.

Thinking Outside the Box.  Today we call this franchising, from the French “free yourself from servitude.”  After success franchising, she rethinks her anti-male beliefs and marries at 63 to a 39-year-old. She ends up with 500+ shops, two in Madison, five training schools, one also in Madison, and two manufacturing centers.

Treat Your Staff Well.  She advised franchisees to start staff meetings listening.  She believed it important to celebrate achievements.

In 1935, when Fortune Magazine was saying “a woman’s place is not in the executive chair,” Harper was proving she could make real money and success for her organization and her franchisees.

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

Rotary’s General Secretary: “We Are All Peacemakers”

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff; photo by Pete Christianson

John Hewko 10 3 2018Rotarians were privileged to hear John Hewko, Rotary International’s General Secretary, talk about three global issues facing Rotary in the 21st century.

First, we must finish PolioPlus, even though we have been supporting this cause for 30 years.  Today, with the help of international partners including UNICEF, WHO, and Gates Foundation, the end is in sight.  Yes, Hewko admitted, we are experiencing donor fatigue, but we cannot move on to the next big project until we are successful with this one.  PolioPlus, he continued, has really put Rotary on the international map.  The remarkable infrastructure that we developed to deliver PolioPlus can be used for the next big campaign, he noted, but admitted that no decision had been made on what this would be.

Second, Rotary’s international membership has been stagnant at 1.2 million members for the last 20 years.  This is because membership in the U.S. has been declining, but membership in Asia and Africa has been increasing.  Faced with stagnant growth, Rotary must develop new products for today’s changing marketplace including experimenting with formats that depart from the club model.  Hewko also urged Rotarians to find ways to increase our impact on the world.   For example, our club could join forces with other Wisconsin clubs to do larger scale projects.

Third, Hewko urged us to recognize that “peace is at the center of everything we do.”  We do this by providing potable water, teaching better health practices, and eradicating disease.  Rotary International has recently joined forces with the Institute for Economics and Peace to focus grant programs on those that create the most enduring peace.

Hewko directs a staff of 800 employees at the RI headquarters in Evanston, Illinois and seven other international offices, and has served as general secretary since 2010.

Members from many Rotary Clubs in Southern Wisconsin also attended the talk.

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

“Bring Back Civics Education!”

submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Pete Christianson

Luke Fuszard 7 18 2018

From left: Paul Ranola, Luke Fuszard and Rick Kiley

Luke Fuszard spoke to us this week on the decline of civics education, which he says places democracy at risk. Luke is a software engineer and has an MBA.  No civics background. But he does have two children, and he is concerned about the decline in civics education.

In 1954 Kentucky required three years of history and civics, and students had to pass a very tough statewide exam. Only nine states today require any such education, and Wisconsin is not one of them. The result is a predictable widespread ignorance. Ninety-seven percent of immigrants taking the [relatively easy] citizenship exam pass it. Thirty-three percent of native citizens who take the same test fail it. For most of American history, it was generally believed that solid civics and history knowledge was needed for people to be good citizens. That seems no longer to be the case.

Two occasions seem to have sped this decline in interest: (1) Sputnik in 1957; (2) the 1983 report, “A Nation at Risk.” Both incentivized the teaching of math and science, and as these expanded, history and civics courses were reduced. Middleton and Wausau still have robust civics programs. Wisconsin has recently adopted a statewide civics exam, but it is online and can be taken multiple times. And in 2012, all federal funds were shifted away from civics or history to math and science.

Why are civics and history important? Many math majors will never be mathematicians. Many science majors will never be scientists. But everyone will eventually be a member of the body politic. Since 1776, hundreds of thousands of people have given their lives in defense of our freedom and our democracy. The least we can do is to lobby our legislators to support civics education. Much civic behavior is learned in childhood: We should pass on to our children our belief in the importance of being an educated citizen, able to make informed political decisions.

Our thanks to Wisconsin Eye for videotaping our meeting this week.  You can watch the video here.

The Latinx Story: How They Came to Wisconsin

submitted by Linn Roth; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Sergio Gonzalez 5 30 2018

From left: Dawn Crim, Sergio Gonzalez and Club President Donna Hurd

Professor Sergio González of Marquette University gave a lively and informative presentation chronicling the growth and importance of the Mexican population in Wisconsin, using his family as one example of how that evolution took place.  The journey for this group of people – not an easy one – began in the 1920’s when laws were passed that limited immigration from Eastern Europe and resulted in an increased need for factory workers, particularly in and around Milwaukee.  These early Latino workers were considered “scabs,” and integration into the greater community was largely non-existent.

Subsequently, these immigrants established their own communities, which grew as the demand for agricultural and other workers increased.  In the 1940-1950’s, an average of 15,000 immigrants came to Wisconsin for each growing season, and, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, a much larger population began to unionize and advocate for basic rights in housing, schools and treatment by police.

By 1980, the population of Wisconsin residents of Latino descent was less than 70,000 but mushroomed to over 400,000 by 2010.  In 2016, state legislators proposed a law to tighten this immigration pattern, but their effort was met by large public protests and an outcry by Wisconsin’s dairy industry which was dependent on this Latino labor pool.

Today, Wisconsin’s Latino population is over 420,000, and contributes greatly to Wisconsin’s economy and culture.  Although many of them live with uncertainties created by the US’s fractured immigration policy, this vibrant community is critical to the future of Wisconsin and is doing everything possible so they can be considered “true Wisconsinites.”

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

Ted DeDee on His Tenure at Overture

submitted by Dave Nelson; photo by John Bonsett-Veal

Ted DeDee 4 25 2018Ted DeDee outlined the challenges he faced when he became president and CEO of the Overture Center for the Arts in 2012 and the achievements at Overture during the six-year period that will end with his retirement at the end of the 2017-2018 season. DeDee inherited a public dispute about the management of Overture, as Overture was transferred from city management to private nonprofit status.  He organized Overture as a start-up company while respecting the history of the Center and the role of the extraordinary Frautschi contribution. During those six years, Overture maintained a positive financial situation with donor support going from $12.4 million to $22.6 million; generated a cash reserve of a million dollars; and developed programming that included 11 weeks of Broadway shows that brought ticket buyers from all over the Midwest. DeDee particularly noted that the Frostiball had become an invaluable part of the Overture fundraising program.

Another change under DeDee’s leadership was an increase in diversity and inclusion. People of color now comprise the Overture Board, and Overture works with over 200 community partners to make performances accessible to students who might not otherwise afford performances. Club 10 offers $10 tickets to more than 50 shows during the year.

As DeDee’s retirement approaches, Overture is beginning to develop a “living strategic plan” that will provide flexible directions for the next decade.

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

Madison Public Market Coming in 2020

submitted by Rich Leffler; photo by Mike Engelberger

Trey Sprinkman & Amanda White 4 11 2018Two Rotarians, Trey Sprinkman and Amanda White, are part of the effort to create a public market in Madison, and they reported to us today at the Alliant Energy Center. In addition, nine vendors were available prior to the meeting to provide free samples of the goods they might have available at the new market. These vendors remained after the meeting to show and sell their goods (including dog treats made from Wisconsin trout!).

The new Madison Public Market, which will be located at First Street and East Washington Avenue, seeks to replicate public markets that exist in many cities in America and elsewhere. It will open in 2020 after groundbreaking next year. The project will be financed with $8.5 million in contributions from the city, $2.5 million in tax credits, and perhaps $4 million in contributions from the community. A major fund-raising effort has been launched. When the Market is opened, it is expected that thirty-five new businesses will be launched in the first year and that the Market will attract 500,000 visitors every year, with sales of from $16 million to $20 million annually. One hundred and eighty businesses already have expressed an interest in participating.

The market will celebrate local cultures and the local economy. It will make available food that is to be found nowhere else in the city. Unlike the farmers’ markets, it will be indoors and year round. Its 30,000 square feet will become a hot place in town. It’s the “next big project” in Madison. After three years of city support, the Public Market will be self-sustaining. It will be a driver of entrepreneurial development and diversity: 83 percent of the workers will be people of color, 60 percent will be women, 33 percent will be first-generation immigrants. There will be a hybrid of old established businesses and new ones. Trey and Amanda encouraged members to join in the effort to create this Madison Public Market. Their brochure invited people to visit their website, www.madisonpublicmarket.org, to learn how they can support this “next big project.”

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