Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Adversity — An Opportunity for Growth”

submitted by Larry Larrabee; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien

Melvin Juette 12 11 19

Club President Andrea Kaminski pictured here with Melvin Juette

The presenter at our December 11 meeting is the Director of Dane Counties District Attorney’s Office of Deferred Prosecution, Melvin Juette.  He gave a very inspirational presentation starting with a brief history of his life from the time he was paralyzed by a gunshot wound at 16 on the south side of Chicago.  As he says, “My life went from earning respect by intimidating others to earning it by hard work.”

Wheelchair basketball inspired him and carried him to two gold medals in the Para-Olympics before moving to Dane County.  His story is about those who positively affected his life and helped him realize it’s ability that counts, not disability.

In 2008 he authored Wheelchair Warrior.  Melvin says, “I can control how I react to adversity.  Adversity is an opportunity for growth.”  He and his wife have been foster parents to 82 children, seven of whom they have adopted.  He uses his life experiences in his work with those who choose differed prosecution to help them realize that it’s not about blaming others but about using adversity to become a better person.

He used the story of his life to inspire us, and his life is truly inspirational.  Melvin can be proud of his life, and we can be proud to have him as a part of our community where he serves others.

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

The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War

submitted by Carole Trone

Bradley WernerRotarians were treated to excerpts of some of the most memorable hit songs of the 1960s while presenters Doug Bradley and Craig Werner explained the purpose behind their recent book, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War. The title of their book comes from The Animals’ song, popularly known as the “national anthem” of Vietnam veterans. In fact, there is no such thing as THE Vietnam War experience.

Authors Werner and Bradley emphasized throughout their talk that we cannot do justice to this era without truly understanding the variety of experience and listening to the voices of those who served. Just fifteen to twenty percent of soldiers were officially designated as serving in combat roles, and so much of each individual soldier’s experience came down to when, where and what they did while serving in Vietnam. The strength of the book’s narrative comes from the more than 200 veterans who were interviewed, from every branch of service and at all rank levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Popular American music served to comfort these mostly young soldiers and remind them of the homes that they desperately wanted to return to. Different songs held sway for different kinds of soldiers. Depending on the stress of the day or the time back at camp, soldiers might take solace in different genres of popular songs and these, too, could become flashpoints among a military assembled from all walks of American life.

So while this group of Rotarians readily hummed along to the timeless music of Marvin Gaye or Peter, Paul, and Mary, presenters Werner and Bradley reminded listeners to understand the individual experiences of this shared cultural soundtrack.

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

 

Wisconsin Gay and Lesbian History Revealed in a New Book

submitted by Dave Mollenhoff

Dick WagnerWho knew about early Wisconsin’s gay history?  Really, no one.  But now, thanks to Richard Wagner, this story is out of the closet with his new, scholarly, and extensively illustrated book, We’ve Been Here All Along (Wisconsin Historical Society Press).

In a surprise-filled presentation Wagner summarized Wisconsin’s remarkable story from 1895 to 1969.  During most of these years, being gay in Wisconsin was downright dangerous.  Gays were almost universally regarded as criminals or suffering from organic illness or a psychiatric disorder, and this interpretation was upheld by the police, the courts, and even universities.  Men convicted of sodomy were routinely sent to prison or an insane asylum.

Not until the 1930s and 1940s did a few academics begin to view homosexuals as a legitimate subject for research.  For example, a UW professor interviewed prisoners at Waupun who had been convicted of sodomy and from this experience came a series of books and articles that softened society’s harsh caricatures.

Wagner noted that Madison gays and lesbians played significant activist roles by forming social clubs, creating gay bars, and forming organizations such as the Homophile League.

Curiously, Wisconsin society lavished a more benign interpretation upon lesbians describing them as “domestic friends.”   In 1962 when the UW-Madison launched a purge of homosexuals, lesbians escaped, thanks to Dean of Women Margaret Peterson, who was a lesbian.

Wagner began collecting documents for his book 40 years ago but did not begin to write it until 2008.  A second volume, Coming Out, Moving Forward, covering the period from 1969 to the present will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Press in 2020.

Our thanks also to Wisconsin Eye for videotaping our meeting this week and to the Wisconsin Historical Society Press for selling copies of Wagner’s book.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Trent’s 10 Principles

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Mike Engelberger

Trent Jackson 5 29 2019   After congratulating 2019 Rotarian scholars, UW Foundation Sr. Director of Development Trent Jackson shared his Principles of Life.  Many Rotarians remember Jackson as the sixth all time leading scorer of the UW Badger basketball team.

These principles have helped Jackson through adversity ranging from childhood stuttering to a 2017 hate crime attack. His principles include:

  • We’re told to love, not like, your enemies.
  • Draw this from deep inside…or from above.
  • Have peace in mind and spirit, with your family and at work. Peace is related to integrity and honesty.  Make sure to live it.
  • Have faith; are you ready for good things to happen?
  • If you squeeze compassion, out comes kindness and friendless.  Squeeze harder and you’ll find grace, mercy and forgiveness.  Jackson coined the term “forgetness” which is important as so many people think they can forgive but not forget and forgetness is possible.
  • Wisdom is ROUGH: Reach Out, Up and Get Help!
  • What is the why behind what we do?  Why did this happen?  But we don’t need to understand everything.  Love, Obey and Trust (LOT).
  • If understand is the what, knowledge is the how. Ask how to get done what you want.
  • Jackson has a long list of Ds, both positive and negative.  Positive words that begin with D include discipline, determination, drive; he encouraged Rotarians to meditate on those Ds. Negative Ds to avoid include distraction and disunity.
  • Finally, have courage to work on all these principles in your life.

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

Housing Stability

submitted by Jerry Thain; photo by Mike Engelberger

Marah Curtis 5 15 2019

Marah Curtis (left) pictured here with Club President-Elect Stacy Nemeth

Marah Curtis, assistant professor at the UW School of Social Work, addressed the Club on May 15th on the current state of knowledge on addressing homelessness nationally and statewide.  She began by emphasizing that housing exists on a continuum from those who have consistent, stable housing to those who are homeless.  Most of the homeless experienced poor housing conditions before becoming homeless.  Professor Curtis noted that concern about homelessness involves the related issues of labor market success, health and education – not just shelter alone.

In Madison, low income rentals are very hard to obtain for those with poor credit, records of  incarceration or inconsistent earnings.  There are four approaches to addressing homelessness: Usual Case: Subsidy; Community Based Rapid Relocation and project Based Transitional Housing.  A major HUD study indicated that subsidy provides not only housing but lower rates of psychological duress, domestic abuse and number of schools attended by children.

“Housing First” is the most wide-spread program in the world to deal with homelessness and is used in Madison.  Studies of the program show that in 11 of 12 widely varied areas using the program, it produced greater housing than other approaches but results differ as to whether the program had a beneficial impact on amount of drug and alcohol abuse and other problems.  There was no indication that these problems were any worse than with other efforts to address homelessness.  Professor Curtis concluded her remarks by answering a number of questions from members focusing on the situation in Madison.

Her talk left members with much food for thought as well as specific information on one of the major issues of our time.

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

Fun, Not Fine, Dining Theme for Culinary Arts Fellowship at Vignette

submitted by Valerie Renk; photos by Richard Merrion

IMG_0021 (1)“Amazing Tastes” is how Fellowship Chair Loretta Himmelsbach described the five-course event held at Vignette Dining Club April 15.  Owner and Chef Mark Wroczynski introduced each course and completed the evening with a short presentation on risotto.  The meal included unusual treats such as caramel seasoned with cinnamon cayenne, pimento goat cheese in a salad, and lavender poppyseed cake.

The group learned there are three types of risotto rice; the one sold most in the US is Arborio.  The chef’s tips for cooking include cooking for 20 minutes in hottest liquid, serving piping hot, and if adding vegetables to sauté them separately and add at the end, rather than cook with the risotto.  He suggests adding a little parmesan and butter at the end, but no cream.

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The 23 Rotarians and guests were invited to join the invite-only list for future dinners online.  Future dinners at Vignette include a July 20 Brazilian Carnival with fire dancer, and an Aug 17 dinner co-hosted by Chef Mark’s pastry chef mentor from Chicago with roller derby experience.

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Mark and his partner, Brian, started the business hosting dinners in other people’s homes before buying the property in Fitchburg on Caine Road.

The next Culinary Arts Fellowship event will be at Heritage Tavern, Madison.

Economic Outlook 2019

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Valerie Renk

Steven Rick 2 13 2019While 2019 is just starting, economists are already looking at their crystal balls. Steven Rick, CUNA Mutual Group Chief Economist started his Feb 13 Rotary speech with a “five-minute Federal Reserve Board Meeting.”   Rick asked, “What is the economy’s most important price?”  It’s money, measured by interest rates.  The Federal Reserve (Fed) is targeting 2% interest.  They also want labor fully employed and capital resources fully employed.

The Fed has five critical measures:

  1. First, we are hitting their two percent inflation (interest) goal. The 2019 forecast is slightly above this and will drive interest rates.
  2. Second, the unemployment rate goal is 5%; actual is 4%. This is one of the tightest labor markets in history, hindering economic growth. Rick expects this to rise again by 2020 and hinted at a slight recession a year and half out.
  3. The third measure is the economic output gap. The Fed’s goal is no gap. Actual is 2%. This is GDP output vs. federal funds rate.
  4. The fourth measure is Feds Funds Interest rate (overnight bank loan rate) which has a goal of 3% and actual of 2.4%.
  5. Fifth is the 10-Year Treasury Rate. That goal is 4% with actual of 2.75%. This means what you earn at your financial institution for savings and CDs will rise.

Rick said four things cause recessions: financial imbalances or excesses; external shock such as war; high inflation; and high inventories.

Home prices are rising 6% while incomes increase 3%. This could lead to another housing bubble.  “But this time is different because there is not excessive demand due to low inventory,” Rick said.

Rick shared a quote:  “Stability leads to instability. The longer things are stable, the more unstable they will be when the crisis hits.”

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