StartingBlock: Imagine the Opportunity

submitted by Kevin Hoffman; photo by Margaret Murphy

Chandra Miller Fienen 9 5 2018

Chandra Miller Fienen pictured here with club member Charles Tubbs

Chandra Miller Fienen, Director of Operations & Programs at StartingBlock Madison, spoke to Downtown Rotary about what StartingBlock is and how it helps support and foster innovation entrepreneurs.

Recently opened in June 2018, StartingBlock Madison is supported by Madison Gas & Electric, American Family Insurance and the City of Madison.  In collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, StartingBlock Madison seeks to launch early-stage companies by creating a home base for innovation entrepreneurs.  Resources provided include affordable and flexible workspace, speakers on relevant topics, introduction to the startup scene, mentorships, and refining sales and marketing messages.

StartingBlock also helps fledgling companies grow by assisting with finding talent through an onsite recruiter, matching students for internships and paid positions, connecting with professional advisors and mentors, and workshops on financing and operating a business.  There are currently 20 companies, 7 partner organizations, and two venture capital funds involved with StartingBlock.

Innovation is further fostered by showcasing new ideas, collaboration with members of StartingBlock, connecting with investors and advisors, and working with experienced entrepreneurs to bring ideas to reality.

Last, StartingBlock seeks to cultivate a sense of giving back by encouraging supportive practices for employees and the community, staying in Madison once they are successful, and having a positive social conscience and impact.

Summing it all up, StartingBlock Madison’s vision statement is:  Creating intersections that cultivate entrepreneurs, build innovative companies, and drive ideas into reality.

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

“Show Your Rotary Pride”

submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Karl Wellensiek

DG Bill Hoel 8 29 2018

Bill Hoel, Rotary District 6250 Governor, inspired Rotary Club of Madison members to show their Rotary pride. Hoel suggested that Rotary is recognized worldwide for the success of its many programs carried out by its more than 35,000 clubs and 1.2 million members in over 200 countries. He further explained that the clubs are grouped into 529 districts and 34 zones. Rotary continues to grow in numbers, more in other continents than in North America. The  Rotary International website showcases projects that have been completed around the world.

The biggest project ever undertaken by Rotary is the Polio Eradication program that has a goal of total eradication of the polio virus.  No other major project will be undertaken until no more cases are reported and until no virus can be identified in samples of wastewater for at least three years. Although isolated cases are still being found in a few countries in Asia and Africa, occasional cases are reported in the U.S. One such case was recently reported in Minnesota from a boy who had visited a Canadian Amish settlement that had not received the polio vaccine.

Hoel also emphasized that cooperation between Rotary clubs and other organizations is important. Rotary has permanent representatives in the United Nations and indirectly with its subsidiaries such as the World Health Organization and the World Food Program. He described two efforts that involved Wisconsin clubs, one in 1986 and one in 1989. The first involved a period of starvation in Ethiopia, in which a concerted effort enabled tons of dried whole milk to be sent by planeload and cargo ship.  The second, called Hands Across the Heartland, sent food to Moscow during a period of famine.

Hoel suggested that Rotary Pride for all its accomplishments should inspire others to think of becoming a Rotarian. Because of its manpower, Rotary Club of Madison has many accomplishments to be proud of, but it may be able to do even more by collaborating with other clubs in the district.  He invited members to attend the 2019 District Conference, June 7-8, at the La Crosse Center.

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

 

Madison to Launch Professional Soccer Team

submitted by Bill Haight; photo by Karl Wellensiek

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Peter Wilt, managing director of Madison’s newly forming professional soccer team told Rotarians why Madison is ready for its own pro team.

Soccer is popular with young people and approximately 50% of Madison’s population is under the age of 30. Soccer has become the second most popular sport among the 12-24 age range and 4th among all ages. The Madison area has 40 youth soccer clubs and 20,000 registered participants.

People who began playing soccer in the 1980’s when youth soccer began to take off in the U.S. are now among community leaders and decision makers. A sustainable pro team will need passionate fans, a tribal culture, and community pride, said Wilt. Madison is ready.

The team’s name and head coach will be named very shortly and the team’s first of 14 regular home games is planned for April, 2019. The new team will be part of a Tier III division, with teams from mid-sized cities such as Tucson and Toronto.

The team is owned by Big Top Events, which operates the Madison Mallards baseball team and concerts at Breese Stevens Field, also the home of the new soccer team.

Investment in Breese Stevens by the City of Madison and Big Top Events will eventually bring capacity to 5,000 and add suites, upgraded restrooms, club seating, a rooftop deck and enhanced food and beverage options. A season ticket will be in the neighborhood of $274, with game tickets comparable to movie prices, noted Wilt.

Players are being recruited internationally and will also feature local and state players, said Wilt. The new team’s players will be mostly in the 21-25 age range and will be full-time Madison residents, unlike Mallard players who stay with local housing hosts during the season.

The sizable and growing Madison soccer fan base is finally getting a hometown team of its own.

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

TR Loon Brings Fun & Games to Rotary

submitted by Ben Hebebrand; photo by Mike Engelberger

HO7A6660The Rotary Club of Madison treated its membership at its August 15 Club meeting to fun and games – highly appropriate in that the day represented the Club’s annual Bring-Your-Child or Grandchild to Rotary Day.

Sitting up front and center, about 50 Rotary children were treated to the wacky magic of TR Loon – The Truly Remarkable Loon, also known as the “Juggler from Madison.”

In a highly engaging performance, TR Loon held kids captive and adults entertained by completing the incredible feat of spinning ten plates or as TR Loon reminded the audience “simultaneously at the same time.”

In inviting the kids to help him count the number of plates spinning, he reminded the audience that “there are three kinds of jugglers – those who can count and those who cannot.”

Humor aside, TR Loon indeed had ten plates spinning simultaneously, all the while receiving help from the kids, who alerted him when any one of the plates appeared to be at the brink of no longer spinning and thus crashing. The absolute highlight, however, was when TR Loon invited the kids in the audience and a few fun-loving adults to launch flying monkeys to bring the ten spinning plates down. The image of spinning plates being brought down by flying monkeys represented to this fun-loving news reporter our Club’s finest moment, and elicited a comment from a Club member that the scene was not much unlike what happens at the State Capitol.

At the end of TR Loon’s presentation, Stephanie Richards, CEO of the Madison Circus Space, informed members that her organization is in the midst of a capital campaign to build a new center in Madison. Circus Space promotes the circus arts as an important art form by teaching interested children and adults on various circus arts such as juggling or aerial stunts.

Closing the Achievement Gap in Madison Schools

submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Karl Wellensiek

Kaleem Caire 8 8 2018Rotarians heard that over nine months of deliberations, surveys and thought, one project was chosen to receive a major grant of $100,000 from our Madison Rotary Foundation, One City Schools.  The school is led by Kaleem Caire, School Founder and CEO, and a member of our club.  He shared the school’s formula for success at the August 8 club meeting.

Caire shared a video illustrating the goals of the school: equalizing advantages.  The school is designed to be a place where young students can feel school was a home, and where other families can experience diversity.

“Our goal is to decrease the achievement gap while meeting the needs of our community,” Caire says.

Ages one through five, with a total of 97 children, are served at the school.  The school has been open three years and offers breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack with their own in-house chef.  They offer learning, not just education.

They address the health of the family, their financial situation, and are a resource center for the families.  “If we can decrease stress, we can increase opportunities and the student is happier,” Caire says.

They have many partners, the first of which was the Madison Children’s Museum. They are supported by 1,216 individuals and 63 institutional donors. This fall, the school splits into two schools with a 4k and 5k charter school addition.  This will also provide new funding through charter school funding.

Why is it called One City?  “People kept telling me they don’t know what to do to help,” Caire says.  “Yes, you do. Invest in early childhood with deep, student driven-learning for success.  “You are going to hire young people one day, and we need them to be innovators in life and in work.”  Caire says.

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

National Parks – The Joy Trip Project; “Closing the Gap” & Ensuring Access to Our Parks by Diverse Populations

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

James Edward MillsAugust 1 guest speaker James Edward Mills grew up in a family steeped in the civil rights movement in Los Angeles. His father, who served on the city council and was called the “de facto Mayor of LA” for a time, was an advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. His parents strove to make it possible for children of color in their community to achieve, excel and become anything they wanted. They supported James in what he wanted, which was to excel in outdoors adventure.

Right out of college Mills took a backpacking trip from the rim to the floor of the Grand Canyon. He explored Yosemite National Park and climbed the tallest mountain in California, Mount Whitney. He couldn’t help but notice that there were not many adventurers in these places who looked like him.

It’s true. African Americans make up only two percent of the visitors to the National Parks and an even smaller percentage of those who participate in more strenuous adventures. Mills wanted to change that. In 2012 he was part of an expedition of six men and three women who were the first all African American team to climb Denali. In 2016 he won the lottery – that is, the lottery to have a permit to raft through the Grand Canyon. On that adventure the guide told Mills that he was the first African American to join one of his rafting trips in his 40 years on the Colorado River.

As a freelance journalist who has worked in several roles in the outdoor industry since 1989, Mills wants to change the narrative. He learned from documentarian Ken Burns, who produced the series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” that African Americans have long been engaged in the preservation of natural areas. For example, the “Buffalo Soldiers” were members of peacetime all-black regiments of the U.S. Army in the early 20th century. Burns said they were, in effect, the first national park rangers, and they were instrumental in preserving the giant redwoods in California.

Mills figured that if he had not heard that story before, most other people had not heard it either. He launched a blog called The Joy Trip Project (joytripproject.org) to document stories of African Americans engaged in outdoors adventure. Mills also is the author of a new book, “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors.”

Mills believes that if equality means you can do anything, that includes climbing mountain peaks. He takes literally the words in Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech: “Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York… from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania… from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado… from the curvaceous slopes of California!”

But you don’t have to go to one of these spectacular places to change the narrative, Mills said. He lauded places in Madison, such as Troy Gardens, the Ice Age Trail and the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, which are making intentional efforts to show a broad diversity of people who enjoy natural areas and work to preserve their beauty. He said children need to be introduced to nature from a science perspective, not just for recreation.

“Nature isn’t just the national parks,” Mills said. “Every time you enjoy a sip of water, a fresh salad or a breath of clean air, you benefit from the preservation of natural areas and resources.”

Saving and Improving Lives: One Drop at a Time

submitted by Linda Baldwin; photo by Pete Christianson

Ben Merens 7 25 2018

From left: Program Committee Chair Sara DeTienne; Ben Merens & Marcia Whittington

This week’s Rotary presentation by Ben Merens, a “storyteller” for the Blood Center of WI Blood Research Center, was one where I left having learned amazing information about a subject of which I knew nothing.

Merens did indeed tell stories…

The young man at Verizon who had had a double lung transplant, survived, married his nurse and had a family.  Ricky owes his life to doctors like those at the BRI because blood research found a way to get the body to accept transplants.

Chaos, Merens describes, is what the blood system looks like and scientists determine what patterns do exist, how they are supposed to work and then find out how to fix things when they don’t.

BRI scientists patented a test to determine whether the regularly used blood thinners would work for a specific patient and if not, doctors could substitute a more effective blood thinner.

We watched with Merens as he described a heart being harvested and then rushed down the hall to transplant into a waiting patient.  The heart was successfully inserted…then the action stopped, and they waited. The heart, still in the open chest, began to beat.

Merens described a WI Donor event when a mother spoke about the joy and sadness when she realized her son is living because another person’s child has died.  Then she said, he’s an active two year old being held by the mother of the donor who heard her child’s heart beat in the chest of my son.

We think about research being a scientific activity with words and practices that most of us don’t understand.  Merens brought the results of research into our hearts and minds at Rotary today.  And we do understand.

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