2017 Ethics Symposium Highlights

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski

dsc_0106More than 200 students from 20 area high schools assembled at Monona Terrace Convention Center on February 17 for the 17th Annual Rotary Ethics Symposium, underwritten by our club’s Madison Rotary Foundation. They were welcomed by 2017 Ethics Symposium Chair Steve Johannsen, who noted that we all face ethical dilemmas several times a week. He explained that often it’s a small matter, for example, what to do when your cell phone starts ringing in a meeting. Other dilemmas can be gut-wrenching. Steve introduced the students to a hierarchy of four stages of ethical decision-making:

  • Stage 1: What action benefits me most? (Egoism)
  • Stage 2: What actions would my friends or group members think I should do? (Social Group Relativism)
  • Stage 3: What action would produce the greatest amount of good and the least amount of harm? (Utilitarian)
  • Stage 4: What action best respects the rights and dignity of each person? (Rights)

dsc_0046The First Wave Hip Hop Theater then opened the event artistically with dramatizations of three ethical dilemmas that teens might have to face: what to do when the friend who drove you to a party gets drunk; what to make of a famous athlete’s protest during the national anthem; and how to talk with a friend about a decision he has made. First Wave is a cutting-edge, multicultural, artistic program for UW-Madison students. It was the first university scholarship program in the country centered on the spoken word and hip-hop culture. The actors portrayed the dilemmas with humor and insight, and the moderator (a First Wave alumnus who now teaches in the Verona schools) invited audience participation between acts.

The students then participated in three consecutive breakout sessions in which they considered an ethical dilemma and analyzed it according to the stages of ethical decision-making. The scenarios focused on drunk-driving, affirmative action and transgender locker rooms. Designed by Edgewood College Business Ethics Professor Denis Collins and others, the breakout sessions were led by Rotarians with assistance from Edgewood College students, all of whom had been trained in a half-day session at Edgewood College before the symposium. With 18-20 students in each breakout, the facilitators led the students through a series of small-group discussions in which they deliberated about what action would reflect each level, or stage, of decision-making. The goal was to push students toward higher-level thinking.

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I found the students in the three groups that my team facilitated to be open-minded and thoughtful. They were generally familiar with the issues in the three scenarios, at least through the news. Whether they were personally connected with an issue or not, they found the discussion to be eye-opening. For example, one small-town student said that although he had heard about the transgender issue, he had never talked with anyone about it.  A student from Shabazz City High School responded that in her school there are many transgender students, and anyone may use any restroom or locker room. She added that the discussion at the Ethics Symposium helped her understand why the issue, which she said is “normalized” in her school, is an emotional one for others.

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Rotary President Michele McGrath applied her impressive skill in communicating with teens by asking how many wanted to be a CEO of a company or organization in a few years, how many want to lead impactful change in their community, and how many want to lead impactful change in the world. She got an enthusiastic response to all three questions. She explained they can do that through Rotary.

The impact of the day may have been best articulated by the students themselves at lunchtime. Almost 40 of them responded when Steve Johannsen asked what they thought about the experience. Here are some of the things they said:

  • Even though people disagreed, I appreciated that people could talk and be respected.
  • Listening to other people’s opinions made me more open-minded.
  • It’s not OK to isolate someone for being different.
  • If you feel comfortable in school, then you can’t learn.
  • I gained some ideas for our upcoming Awareness Day at school this spring.
  • It was cool how many people think outside the box, not just levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • It helped me understand other schools, and not just the stereotypes about schools.
  • I was shocked by how many people were not mad at each other about their opinions.
  • I was surprised by how easy the ethical framework was to use after the first time.
  • It was good to talk with students about topics I don’t even talk to adults about.
  • I usually don’t share my opinions with people I don’t know. I was comfortable doing that here.
  • I was surprised how insightful and deeply thoughtful people were even though we’re “just teenagers.”
  • As an openly transgender student, I was happy to see how accepting people were of me.
  • I recognized that there was no single right or wrong answer in some issues.
  • I was impressed by how open people were to listening to others. It makes me optimistic and hopeful as we get ready to become the leaders of this nation.

Educating the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs at UW-Madison

–submitted by Mary Borland

olszewski_danielEntrepreneurship is one of the most important drivers of economic and job growth in our state and across the globe. It is also a topic that is of growing interest to today’s college students. On February 15, Dan Olszewski, the Director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship at UW-Madison School of Business, spoke with us about how UW-Madison is one of the leaders in teaching and inspiring students interested in entrepreneurship as a potential career.

Today, people under the age of 30 will have held eight different employment positions! The entire economy has become very dynamic and large and small companies in all industries are looking for employees with an entrepreneurial skill set to drive innovation in their companies. Whether a future student starts up their own company or goes to work for another company, entrepreneurship is important to society for job and wealth creation which leads to a more robust economy and innovation for consumers.

Anyone can become an entrepreneur, though the average age to begin is 40 years old.

The ways entrepreneurship is taught at UW-Madison includes classes, student start-ups (experimental things to sell) and via a link to alumni and practitioners.  For students, it is about action and doing.

Other activities enrolled students participate in include:

  1. Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Showcase – where stories can be shared and inspiration given
  2. Distinguished Entrepreneurs Lunch – where question and answers of an entrepreneur happen
  3. Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp – five, 12 hour days for a specific subset of students
  4. WSB Business Plan Competition – students pitch ideas; winner moves on to Governor’s contest

Enrollment in these classes is coming from sections of campus and most from outside the business school. Several graduates locally have gone on to obtain over $50M in venture capital. In approximately 10 years, we will really see the fruits of this teaching with people making this world a better place by solving problems with high energy and optimism!

Rotarians can support these UW students by being event sponsors, providing student scholarships and by encouraging students they know to take these entrepreneurial courses.

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

Winter Hike Near Lake Wingra

–submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photo by Herman Baumann

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From left: Ted Waldbillig, Mike Crane, Cindy Waldbillig, Leslie Overton, Katie Ryan & Andrea Kaminski

It was 37 degrees when we got to Wingra Park Saturday morning. The ice conditions looked poor, yet people were fishing on the lake. Then again, people who fish through the ice are a particularly intrepid lot, and they are not burdened by the pesky survival instincts that keep the rest of us on terra firma or even indoors in the winter. The surface ice had thawed and refrozen a couple of times, leaving a slippery surface and there were large patches that were covered by water. Although some members of our group were willing to try it, we decided instead to hike a wooded trail that leads from Wingra Park to the duck pond at the northern tip of the Nakoma golf course. This led us over an open, spring-fed stream with a crop of fresh, green watercress. The spring rises from a rock outcrop called Council Ring, which was designed in the early 20th century by landscape architect Jens Jensen. We all managed to stay upright, thanks to cleats on our boots, walking sticks from a store or the forest floor, or a combination of skill and luck. Then six of us piled around a table for four at Colectivo for coffee and treats.

 

What Will Madison Look Like in 2050?

–submitted by Mary Helen Becker; photo by Karl Wellensiek

mayor-paul-soglin-2-8-17Madison’s Mayor Paul Soglin, serving his 20th year as mayor, made his 26th appearance at our club. Here to discuss what Madison might be like in 2050, he gave a few facts about Madison in 1950: a population of 96,000; about 95% white; occupied an area of approximately 33 sq. miles. Today we have a substantially more diverse population and occupy about 80 sq. miles. By 2050 Madison will probably be a city occupying about 103 sq. miles. In 1950, the major employer was Oscar Mayer. Today the largest employers are UW Health, Epic, the UW Hospital, and American Family Insurance. Madison is one of 5 U.S. cities considered a bicycling community which is rare among metropolitan areas not in the south, but that is growing. It is also the 3rd coldest — after the Twin Cities and Anchorage, Alaska. Epic has created an atmosphere hospitable to tech companies and entrepreneurial businesses. As household numbers decline, we need more units; 1,000 new units per year barely keeps us even.

In 1950, there were about 108 days with the lakes frozen enough for ice fishing. Today, there are about 68 such days. Whether man-made or not, climate change is real.  An important environmental issue is water supply. Salt continues to affect the water resources. We need someone to figure out how to take used salt from water softeners and make it available for street use.

A politically sensitive issue is the subject of the book, The Politics of Resentment, in which Madison and Milwaukee are called the M&Ms by some other parts of the state. Between 2001 and 2015, Dane County has seen a 15% growth in number of jobs, while the rest of the state has a 3% increase. We need to find a way that is not offensive to reach out to the rest of the state.

In 1950, high school student studied civics and had access to classes in industrial arts. In 2015, they do not. Madison College is ready to prepare students for society, but the high school students are not ready. Madison is working on BRT — bus rapid transit.  Affordable housing is increasing in the community; 193 homeless veterans have found housing; by the end of this year, there should be no more homeless veterans.

Our community is making progress, but much remains to be done. We will have to wait and see what Madison is like in 2050!

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

Carson Gulley’s Legacy

–submitted by Moses Altsech

5130078da3521-imageWhat happens when you live in a society where the government and the majority of the people show a complete disregard for social and civil rights? Well, if you’re Carson Gulley you defiantly march on in the face of adversity and accomplish greatness against all odds.

The son of a former slave from Arkansas, Carson Gulley came to Madison in 1926 at a time when Jews and people of color were not allowed to join fraternities or sororities, hotels and restaurants banned African Americans, and there were even restrictions on trying on clothes at a department store if you were a person of color.

Thirty years later Carson Gulley had become one of the first instructors of c
olor at the University of Wisconsin, had written cookbooks, and had become a celebrity chef with his very own radio and television programs co-hosted with his wife Beatrice. He traveled across Wisconsin and to neighboring states for speaking engagements, having to drive home right away because usually the town would not have a hotel that allowed people of color to stay there.

seyforth-scott-2-1-2017As Scott Seyforth noted, in 1954, Gulley was a speaker at our [then all-white] Rotary Club. It’s natural to think of Carson Gulley’s odyssey with admiration for his courage, yet one can’t help but think of the torment that he endured during a lifetime of discrimination.

Although he retired from the University after 27 years of service and after having been routinely passed over for promotion, he became the first African American to have a building named after him at the University in 1965, three years after his death.

If Carson Gulley’s life story is inspirational, let it also be a call to action to stand up against all forms of discrimination and make our country better tomorrow than it was yesterday–just as he did. That’s Carson Gulley’s legacy and that should be ours as well.

You can watch the YouTube video, “The Life and Times of Carson Gulley,” 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.