January 4 Guest Speaker Nic Mink: Seven Acre Dairy Company

–submitted by Jessika Kasten

Nic Mink, an academic and entrepreneur, was looking to open a pizza restaurant when a completely different opportunity presented itself. Nic came upon an old cheese factory on the banks of the Sugar River, and through many conversations and research, moved his focus to honoring and preserving the building’s important history. Mink is in the process of restoring the building, which he has named Seven Acre Dairy Company. The complex features a restaurant, café, boutique hotel, micro-dairy plant and outdoor space. Nic is hopeful the building will be as relevant today as it was for generations of the past.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMjqj_e3X2o&list=PLD8FIDQlj8al6JvWDHjRYyMuH637UAnM9

December 7: Ja’ Malik Talks About the Future of the Madison Ballet

–submitted by Kevin Hoffman

Before speaking to members and guests, Ja’ Malik, the Artistic Director for the Madison Ballet, treated us to a small snippet of The Nutcracker featuring three ballerinas from the Madison ballet.  He then shared with us his vision of diversity, inclusion, opportunity and exposure to the arts that he encouraged members to help facilitate as they consider their consumption and support for the arts. 

This can be a life-changing experience, just as it was for him as an 8-year-old child of color.  He was enthralled after seeing a performance of The Nutcracker with his mother and ballet ended up being his career.  It has taken him around the nation and world.  The performing arts changes lives, and his vision of accessibility to all seeks to make that a reality.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/5ekHWxRUdco.

November 30: Dr Niraj Nijhawan on Recent Brain Science Discoveries

–submitted by Larry Larrabee

Dr. Niraj Nijhawan’s presentation, Brain Science Discoveries to Boost Resilience and Character, revealed the role brain neurology plays in communication of “the lower brain,” largely the limbic system and “the higher brain,” largely the orbital prefrontal cortex, i.e., our selfish side and our better character side.

He described how the Life Ecology Organization (LEO) teaches individuals in groups “Hope Narratives” that can control or limit the effects of the “Destructive Narratives” we get from our “lower brain.”  Data was presented showing the positive effect of LEO with adults and teens in the areas of meaning, love and purpose, while significantly reducing suicidality, anger and selfishness.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/QwI28w6S5z8.

2022 Mitch Javid Award Recipient is Ron Luskin

–presented by Bob Sorge, Member Recruitment Officer

Our Member Recruitment Committee continues to encourage all of us to think about individuals in our circle of friends, work colleagues and family members who would make good additions to our Rotary Club. 

The committee created an award several years ago to recognize a member who is exceling at sponsoring new members into our club since this is key to maintaining the size of our club.  The award is named the Mitch Javid Award to honor Mitch who holds the club’s record for sponsoring the highest number of new members. Since 2014, we annual recognize the member who has served as the primary sponsor to the most new members for the past 3 years–and who are still in our club. 

For those who did not know Mitch Javid for which the award is named, Mitch was a member our club from 1968 until his death in 2021.  Mitch sponsored 56 members and co-sponsored another 10 members.  This distinguished and very busy member who was chairman of the UW Department of Neurosurgery used to say, “I love Rotary.  It is very dear to me. I believe in it and so I want to share it with other good people.”  Mitch received the first award in 2014.  Melanie Ramey and Rob Stroud are past recipients as well as Susan Schmitz who received it for 3 years.

This year’s recipient, for a second year in a row, is Ron Luskin.  Ron joined our club in 2014. 

Since joining, Ron has been active on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Ethics Symposium, Program, Rotaract and Swarsensky Award Committees. He also chaired our Vocational Opportunities Committee and is a mentor to one of our Rotary scholars.  Ron also served as our club’s Member Recruitment Officer last year.

Ron has served as the primary sponsor to 11 new members since 2019.  They are: 

Kalvin Barrett, Jason Beloungy, Shawn Carney, Bill Connors, Baltazar De Anda Santana, Rebecca Dopart, Jason Fields, Peter Gray, Alan Klugman, Kyle Nondorf and Jeremiah Robinson.

Congratulations, Ron, on receiving this year’s Mitch Javid Award! 

November 16: Behind the Mid-Term Election Results

–submitted by Sharyn Alden

In speaking to the Madison Rotary Club November 16, Professor Barry Burden offered an important overview and political narrative pertaining to the 2022 mid-term elections.

“There were a complicated set of stories intersecting this year,” he noted.

Nationwide, the mid-terms brought out 40 percent of voters, one of the highest numbers in several years. In Wisconsin, known for strong voter turnouts, 60 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

Interestingly, Burden pointed out some candidates who lost races might have won if it weren’t for their lack of experience or funding.

Concerns about the mid-terms were abundant before the election. They ranged from worries about keeping the integrity of democracy nationwide, possible violence in the streets, or election losers’ failures to concede. “None of that happened,” said Burden.

There had also been concerns that redistricting would shake things up, but across the country that didn’t appear to make a dent in the results.

Historically, it’s true that during midterm elections seats are typically lost within the party of the current president. “You pay a price for being the guy in the White House,” Burden said.

In tabulating votes in Wisconsin’s 72 counties, Governor Tony Evers was elected by a larger margin than projected while Senator Ron Johnson won by a smaller margin than expected.

One of things anticipated prior to the election was a “red (Republican) wave” of victories across the country. But Burden concurred with the amusingly proffered result offered by a Washington Post article that called it more of a “red puddle.”

Burden explained there was less shifting back and forth of voters of party preferences this time around because there are fewer blocks of swing voters as there were among hotly contested swing states in previous elections.

Many topics brought people to the polls to cast their ballots. A vote against Trump was one, along the pro-choice movement. In Wisconsin abortion and inflation were important voting motivators.

But at the end of the day, it appeared, at least by Wisconsin’s large voter turnout, people simply wanted to get involved and have their choices counted-a good sign of democracy in the works.

Our thanks to WisEye for videotaping our guest speaker on November 16. You can watch the video here: https://wiseye.org/2022/11/16/campaign-2022-rotary-club-of-madison-prof-barry-burden-post-2022-election-results/

November 9: Women Veterans Then and Now

–submitted by Janet Piraino

Jodi Barnett, Women’s Veteran Coordinator at the State Department of Veterans Affairs,  spoke to the club about the challenges of being a woman in the military.  She talked about the discrimination she faced, such as the time she was told at a veterans’ meeting that the women’s auxiliary met on Tuesdays.  Or, the time she was told at the VA Hospital that she could not sign in for her husband.  

She also highlighted the gains women veterans are making as the fastest growing demographic of veterans. She credited State DVA Secretary Mary Kolar (the first female Wisconsin DVA secretary) as helping her and other women veterans break the glass ceiling. She praised the election of Verona Veteran Denise Rohan as the American Legion’s first female national commander in the group’s 100+ year history.  She also applauded the first all-female Wisconsin Honor Flight that took 88 women veterans to Washington, D.C. in May to visit the nation’s war memorials.

Barnett praised Wisconsin services for veterans and encouraged club members to check out the I Am Not Invisible campaign currently traveling around Wisconsin to increase awareness of and facilitate dialogue about women veterans. 

If you missed our Rotary meeting last week, you can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M501l0I7aT0.