Offer safe escape from cabin fever
The virtual reality of one family, zoomed in
Health professionals fight racial inequality
THE LIVING ROOM
CONNECT ON LEARN ON DISCOVER ON ACHIEVE ON CELEBRATE ON ON CHEER ON TRAVEL ON SUPPORT ON
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06 Pause Essentials 07
It’s Your Move
08 Pause That. Play This.
REWIND Reflect on our surroundings and history
For What It’s Worth
Reduce, Reuse, Revolutionize
Farm to Fork
Love Finds a Way
A New Wisconsin Experience
Safer at Home Doesn’t Mean Stuck at Home
PAUSE Look around, listen and absorb
404 School Not Found
Tale of Two Weddings
As the World Burns
Check the Tag
Faith Communities Meet the Moment
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
Press forward for progress
Take What You Need, Give What You Can
Music That Heals
Viral During the Virus
A Perfect Storm
Worth the Risk?
The Tipping Point
White Coats for Black Lives
Business Abby Radewahn, Business Director Amanda Mizera, Public Relations Director Holly Anderson, Engagement Director Samantha Idler, Events Director Celia Golod, Marketing Representative Brighid Hartnett, Marketing Representative Design Abby Meyer, Art Director Channing Smith, Production Director Lizzy Stein, Production Associate Genevieve Vahl, Production Associate Brian Huynh, Photographer and Photo Editor Online Ellen Pucel, Online Editor Will Cioci, Online Associate Paige Haehlke, Online Associate Daniel Ziolkowski, Online Associate Hunter Ellis, Multimedia Producer Publisher Stacy Forster Editorial support from Jenny Price 4 CURB 2020
Cara Suplee Editor in Chief There’s more to love! Visit us at curbonline.com Curb is published through generous alumni donations administered by the UW Foundation and in partnership with with Royle Printing, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin © Copyright 2020 Curb Magazine
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
Editorial Cara Suplee, Editor in Chief Elise Goldstein, Managing Editor Molly Liebergall, Lead Writer Ashley Obuljen, Lead Writer Ayaka Thorson, Lead Writer Dana Brandt, Copy Editor Laura Schultz, Copy Editor
he average person spends one-third of their life working and another third sleeping. So, this leaves us with the existential and painstakingly unanswerable question: How can we spend the remaining third of our lifetimes in a way that counts? Society and the world tell us that we need to be in constant motion and intently focused on ourselves in order to be productive. However, sometimes the most deliberate thing you can do is stop moving, pause your ambitions and attempt to understand your surroundings more deeply. That’s what this issue of Curb strives to accomplish. 2020 has challenged us in ways we did not foresee. The world is experiencing a new era of unrest and uncertainty, wrapped in a pandemic and spurred on by the ever-widening gap between those debating the best path forward. Instead of trying to sort through the noise and find what’s at heart of it, we have stopped listening. This is why Curb invites you to join us in taking an intentional pause to reflect and notice the many voices that have gone unrecognized. In our stories, we explore the ways so many Wisconsinites have experienced both universal and deeply personal obstacles, as well as how they are staying close to one another, even during a time when it’s not physically possible. By reading Curb Pause, you will have the opportunity to get in touch with the Wisconsin outdoors, admire the strength of local business owners and peer into the sustainable world of thrifting. The fabric of empowerment and hope is threaded through each of these stories, and we sincerely believe that together we’ll create an environment where a moment of silence can lead to a movement.
Once COVID-19 emerged as a global health crisis in March, it was easy to forget about the many other notable things that happened this year.
The raging fires took over the states of New South Wales and Victoria in January, and more than 27.2 million acres of bush, forest and parks across Australia burned.
BY AMANDA MIZERA
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHANNING SMITH
THE ROYAL SPLIT
Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their “Megxit” from the British royal family, giving up their royal titles and stepping back from their official roles.
“TIGER KING” TAKEOVER
Binge-watching became a favorite quarantine hobby, and early on, everyone was watching “Tiger King,” a docuseries focused around zookeeper Joe Exotic and his life as the owner and operator of an exotic animal park. “Tiger King” was one of Netflix’s most popular series in recent years, with over 34 million viewers within 10 days of its release.
SUPER BOWL LIV
The election year started with President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate on two counts: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. He was acquitted on both counts by a Senate vote.
SPACE HISTORY MADE
On May 30, SpaceX launched two NASA astronauts toward the International Space Station in the Falcon 9 rocket as people around the globe watched. This milestone marked the first time in history that a commercial aerospace company sent humans into space.
Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s performance made them the first Latina artists to headline LEGEND a halftime show during the LOST big game. As for football, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers before a huge crowd at the Hard Rock Stadium MURDER Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, in Miami Gardens, Florida — his daughter Gianna, and seven back when fans were still able HORNETS other people died when their to attend live sports in person. helicopter crashed on the way to a basketball game near Calabasas, California, on Jan. 26. A species of Asian giant hornets THE found their way to the U.S. This OSCARS new species, nicknamed “murder hornets,” created panic after their discovery in Washington state. IOWA Not only are these Asian giant CAUCUS The South Korean film “Parasite,” hornets the world’s largest ever directed by Bong Joon-ho, was recorded, measuring at 2 inches, the night’s big winner with four but they can destroy entire hives trophies, including Best Picture, of honeybees and also cause becoming the first international a painful sting to humans. feature film in over 92 years of Officials removed a nest that was On Feb. 3, Iowans caucused Oscars history to win that prize. found in late October near Blaine, to choose between a dozen Washington, which might be Democratic candidates still in the a sign that 2020 is making a turn race. But there was a glitch in the for the better. app used for tallying votes, and voters waited for days before learning the final results.
PAUSE ESSENTIALS This year, we’ve all been forced to bend and stretch like we’re playing a game of highstakes Twister, yet we gained an opportunity that we may never have had otherwise. This moment to pause, catch your breath and get your bearings offers us the chance to mindfully change our lives for the better. These products will help you get there.
For the CEO in Sweats
For Self-Care Enthusiasts
For the Activist
Bala Bangles shopbala.com, $49 Make your steps count with these 1-pound ankle or wrist weights.
Ember Travel Mug ember.com, $179.95 Skip all those trips to the microwave with this mug that keeps your coffee hot all day.
Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice target.com, $9.99 If “Becoming” is one of your favorite reads, this journal will help you discover your own voice.
Made to Move Mask 3-Pack athleta.com, $25 These breathable masks made of athletic material are perfect for a socially distant protest.
Muse Apothecary Mat Cleaner amazon.com, $9.98 This eucalyptus mint yoga mat cleaner is sure to leave your mat smelling as fresh as you feel after a good yoga flow.
AirPods Pro apple.com, $249 These headphones are not only wireless, but cancel out the sound of your kids in Zoom school while you work. 2021 12-Month Agenda riflepaperco.com, $16 If you’re having trouble keeping track of all your Zoom meetings, an old-fashioned planner is just the thing for you.
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Solid Silk Eye Mask by Casaluna target.com, $15 Sometimes the world looks a whole lot better after a nap. Try this sleep mask to catch some afternoon zzz. Acure Brightening Day Cream and Brightening Facial Scrub acure.com, $16.99 and $9.99 Fight “maskne” with these vegan products that will make you glow.
THICK: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom amazon.com, $18.99 A collection of personal essays from an unapologetically “thick” Black woman who discusses race, gender and capitalism.
ART DIRECTION BY ABBY MEYER
For the Displaced Gym Rat
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
BY ABBY RADEWAHN
IT’S YOUR MOVE In 2021, should you take a pause, hit rewind or press play and live life in fast-forward? START HERE → BY HUNTER ELLIS
How has the pandemic left you feeling? I’m lost...
What pace have you set for yourself this year?
Has this year made you more conscious of germs?
Do you take time for yourself?
How do you like to get your groceries these days?
Masked up! Delivered.
Are you informed on current events? What events?
Rewind ILLUSTRATION BY ABBY MEYER
Feeling stuck? Reflect on ways that you have been successful in the past and implement those practices in your life moving forward. Remember that change is a good thing!
How long does it usually take you to adjust to big changes? I don’t.
Pause You deserve a break! Take a moment to stop what you’re doing and appreciate how far you’ve made it in a less-thanperfect year. Now think of some ways to keep moving forward and begin!
How have you adjusted to working in different environments? Love it.
Do you find yourself lost in thought about the last couple of months? Never.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Running on coffee.
Play You have paused and reflected on the past few months. Now, it’s time to hit play and live life in fast-forward! Do this by implementing a new routine, helping others and continuing to learn from your surroundings.
PAUSE THAT. PLAY THIS. If the pause of COVID-19 has left anything on play, it’s this: podcasts. While some keep a strict rewind of classics, others seek to fast-forward, venturing to unchartered artists, influencers and experts. Here are the top four podcasts to play now: BY LIZZY STEIN
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s asked myself this question. Dumping relationship books and deleting dating apps, I was hopeless — until I came across Nicole Byer. Bringing her humor and wit, Byer never fails to answer the question we’ve all been itching at: Why won’t you date me? Where to start: “Rock Bottom”
FOR THE CSI BINGERS MURDER SQUAD
Grab your trench coat and badge as you ride with retired cold-case investigator Paul Holes and investigative journalist Billy Jensen in a hands-on attempt to solve the greatest of unsolved murder mysteries. Warning: not for those prone to nightmares. Where to start: “What Happened to Carole Baskin’s Husband Don Lewis?”
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FOR THE FAME FANATICS ARMCHAIR EXPERT
FOR THE NEWSLESS NEWSIES THE DAILY
Dedicated to honoring the “messiness of being human,” this podcast celebrates individuality and innovation through a fresh lens. Actor Dax Shepard relays struggle, strength and success in ways we can all connect to, successfully branding him the “Armchair Expert.” Where to start: “Jon Bon Jovi”
If you’re going to start your day off with anything, make it this. Timed perfectly with your morning brew, “The Daily” serves the hardest scoop in the easiest way. Host and journalist Michael Barbaro is sure to deliver all today’s facts before you even walk out your door. Where to start: “What Happened to Daniel Prude?”
ILLUSTRATION BY CHANNING SMITH
FOR THE HOPELESS ROMANTICS WHY WON’T YOU DATE ME?
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PHOTOGRAPH PHOTOGRAPH BY BY WILL WILL CIOCI CIOCI
Demonstrators call for a policefree campus during a march organized by the UW–Madison BIPOC Coalition.
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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH Two generations of Madison protest culture collide BY WILL CIOCI
illiam A. Draves arrived at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War. A transfer student from a small liberal arts school in Minnesota, he had been looking for firsthand experience in the co-ops he had studied in class and found one on the shores of Lake Mendota. The campus was an epicenter for social revolution then, Draves remembers, where the progressive “counterculture” of the time was really, perhaps, the majority philosophy. The anti-war movement was in full swing. Protests were ubiquitous, and Draves was eager to help. He says he was “half observer and half on the second line” of the protests. He organized an event in his hometown of Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, and invited his cousin, Peter Tork of the Monkees, to speak about the Vietnamese national liberation movement. He traveled to Washington D.C., with a group of other students to protest the federal government. He made sandwiches for striking Teaching Assistants. “I was torn between going to class and going out on the streets. Not to do something so much on the streets, but to learn something,” Draves says. Now, half a century after that movement for peace culminated in a deadly bombing at the university’s Army Math Research Center in Sterling Hall, the UW–Madison campus once again finds itself in the midst of a social revolution. Sparked by the killing of George Floyd in late May and sustained through the summer and beyond by relentless devotion and a string of new violence at the hands of police officers, protests have wracked the city and
the country in a reckoning over racial injustice. A new generation of students have stepped into their roles as citizens and changemakers, walking in the footsteps of those that came before them and grappling with a foe that, to them, feels larger and more deeply rooted than the war abroad. Like Draves, current UW‑Madison senior Tarah Stangler came to school in search of something new. From a small town in Minnesota, the daughter of a Korean immigrant and a white American, she has always been active in protests and social justice movements. At college in Chicago, Stangler was struggling to find the community and opportunities she had hoped for when the Wisconsin Idea — the UW’s guiding notion that education from the university should influence the world beyond the classroom — piqued her interest. Stangler was living on State Street in Madison when George Floyd was killed by police in her home state. As crowds of protesters and police gathered outside her window, she got a call from a friend in her community and nonprofit leadership program who knew she had training as a street medic. She did not hesitate. “You make community really fast when you’re trying to scrub each other’s eyes out from the pepper spray,” Stangler says. Looking back now, Draves sees the 1960s peace movement’s story as a success, if not a perfect victory. In the end, he says, students’ efforts to end the war made a difference. Their clear-cut demands — an end to the war — make for an easy way to measure that success. “The protests saved thousands of American lives, and hundreds
of thousands of Vietnamese lives,” Draves says. Troy Reeves sees things differently. Reeves has been head of the oral history program at the UW–Madison Archives since 2007. As part of his job, he interviews alumni and community members to get their account of campus events like the anti-war protests and the Sterling Hall bombing. He views the protests as one aspect of a broader movement for students’ rights to be part of the university’s decision making, such as the choice to allow recruiters for Dow Chemical Company, which made napalm for the war, onto campus. Also included in that era is the Black Student Strike of 1969, which led to the creation of the university’s African American Studies Department and little else, despite a considerable list of demands. In his mind, students did not achieve the change they were after. “In the end, I think the structures that were in power before the war stayed in power,” Reeves says. “It’s still a faculty– and administrationdriven campus. It was in 1964, it was in 1974 and it is in 2020.” The question of how students seek to be heard and taken seriously on such a campus is a contentious one, with a tragic history at UW–Madison. On Aug. 24, 1970, at 3:42 a.m., a bomb set by four students in a stolen university van exploded outside Sterling Hall. The target was the Army Mathematics Research Center, which was housed in the building. The explosion destroyed almost everything but the math lab, and killed Robert Fassnacht, a 33-year-old postdoctoral student and father of three. Reeves says that in his interviews, almost everyone can recount the
sound of the blast. One subject claims to have heard it from 17 miles away. Draves was instantly awake. “We did know immediately upon hearing of [Fassnacht’s] death, that this was different, and not good for the peace movement,” Draves says. “Protests kept going, but they were more sober, and we were no longer perceived by others as being all right and all perfect.” Draves says he doesn’t believe the bombing was justified, although in his view the crimes committed by the U.S. government during the war far outweigh those of the peace movement. Though unintended, Fassnacht’s death changed the meaning of the bombing for many, including some in Draves’ circle. “When they heard the explosion, they went over to see it. And they just assumed nobody was injured, so they
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supremacy,” Stangler says. The breadth of that goal, in her mind, sets the current movement apart from the anti-war protests of half a century ago. “They knew that they wanted out of the war. There wasn’t a simple way to get there but it was a simple ask. And for us, what we’re asking is for the university to address the history of white supremacy,” she says. “We’re asking for people to change a way of life that has existed in this country for so long. It’s not like we’re just saying, ‘We want the war on BIPOC people to end.’ Well, what does that look like? We don’t know what a time when there isn’t racism in the country looks like.” Translating those lofty goals into tangible change is difficult. With so much ground to cover, there is plenty of room for disagreement and sticking points. Some of the coalition’s demands, like the removal of the university’s iconic Abraham Lincoln statue at the top of Bascom Hill, or abolishing the campus police force, have been met with strong pushback from other segments of the student body. “I know that I want police reform. But there’s some people out there that want the police completely abolished, which I don’t think is right,” Griffin says. “I don’t know the common goal of people right now. I think that’s a problem.” For all the difficulties in fighting systemic racism, Stangler seems optimistic. She says the coalition has been successful in building its platform and the necessary relationships to make change. The group takes inspiration from the campus’ past protest movements, she says. “It leaves a legacy behind that is something that future student activists can look back on or look at and think: They were able to do this,” Stangler says. “They were able to organize, even if it meant that their words weren’t heard. They made enough of an impact that I can be here today still hearing about these things.” Draves reflects on the group of students he lived and worked with amid the turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s, and comes up with some defining traits. “One, we were and still are optimistic. Two, change-oriented. And then three, democratic and embracing diversity,” he says. He sees all of those things in the young people on the streets today. X
PHOTOGRAPH BY J.D. PATRICK, WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL ARCHIVES
While protesting against Dow Chemical in October 1967 for its production of napalm, a destructive Vietnam War weapon, two student activists take a break to hit the books.
were kind of laughing, because I think there’s all sorts of documentation on the war-related things that some people were doing in this building, resulting in who knows how many Vietnamese deaths,” Draves says of some of his friends at the time. “So they were kind of laughing — until a police officer informed them.” Students and residents of Madison faced a similar dilemma, though to lesser extremes, this summer as some protests against racial injustice and police brutality turned violent. On one night in June, demonstrators toppled iconic statues around the Wisconsin State Capitol building and assaulted a state senator. That mode of protest makes some students like Jayda Griffin uncomfortable. “There’s a lot of people that are going out and being violent, which I can understand the frustration, but I don’t think that it’s necessarily the right way to approach a situation,” says Griffin, a UW–Madison junior from Racine and a member of the Wisconsin Black Student Union. But to both Griffin and Draves, public perceptions of their respective activist movements were unfairly colored by bad actors and what Draves calls a “guilt-trip on a generation” after the Sterling Hall bombing. “I feel like with any movement, somehow we get skewed out of proportion, because there are people that take it way too far,” Griffin says. For Stangler’s part, on-campus activism is about making noise. Near the end of the summer she and a number of other UW–Madison students organized a local march to coincide with the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. The university took notice of the event, and the students decided “then and there” to be a formal activist group, the UW BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Coalition, in order to “utilize [that] moment and attention that we had gotten as organizers to uplift BIPOC voices on campus.” While the coalition has a list of 10 specific demands — one of which is for the university to revisit the unfulfilled demands of the 1969 Black Student Strike — their overall goal is a bit more difficult to itemize and act upon. “The biggest enemy we have to fight is the comfortability that people have with accepting systems of white
REDUCE, REUSE, REVOLUTIONIZE Female farmers cultivate sustainability and equality BY CHANNING SMITH
Dela Ends loves to experiment in the kitchen with all the fresh vegetables she grows. Scotch Hill’s website features some of her favorite recipes.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHANNING SMITH
ood and wine. That’s the foundation of Soil Sisters, Dela Ends says. Ends and I sit on the patio outside her house on Scotch Hill Farm in Brodhead, Wisconsin, about 40 minutes south of Madison. The top of her sunburned nose pokes out from her gray cloth mask, the marking of long days in the sun. An array of plants in mismatched pots decorate the patio among the first of falling autumn leaves. At Ends’ feet, an old Jack Russell terrier and a corgi puppy whip around, competing for her attention. The dogs are in good company with the sheep, pigs and chickens who also call this farm home. Although the world paused to curb the coronavirus, the hard work of running a farm doesn’t stop. Farmers like Ends continue to work long days with seed trials, harvesting crops and tending to her animals. Luckily, she has the Soil Sisters as a network of support. Soil Sisters is a group of female farmers assembled by Lisa Kivirist in the fall of 2008. After attending a women in farming workshop at the Willy Street Co-op in Madison, Kivirist went home, dug out a map and drew an hour’s drive radius around her own farm. She identified all the womenowned farms in her area and invited the owners to a potluck dinner. “So, we just started sharing thoughts and ideas — it was a safe place,” Ends says, remembering the first Soil Sisters gathering. “Food and wine is the foundation.” And as most of these women were growing their own food, the meal was top-notch. Female farmers now make up 36% of farmers in the United States, an almost 27% increase from 2012, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture by the USDA. While running a female-owned farm in a male-dominated industry posed its own challenges to building
community, Kivirist was excited and eager to meet a group of like-minded women. “We had no agenda, no master plan. We just thought, ‘Let’s gather,’ and not surprisingly, we wanted to gather again,” Kivirist says. About a dozen women met for dinner on Kivirist’s farm that first night. Some were organic farmers, some were gardeners, some were homesteaders, but they all had a passion for sustainability. While the group has its roots in a simple social gathering, the Soil Sisters are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Collectively, the group has successfully sued for the right to sell home-baked goods in Wisconsin, one sister has run for both the state Senate and Assembly, others have served as town clerk and treasurer, started over a dozen CSAs (communitysupported agriculture farms) and other farm-related enterprises, and advocated fiercely for sustainability and independent farming. While the pandemic hasn’t made things easier for the Soil Sisters, they are finding ways to pivot and adapt. April Prusia shifted her farmstay to long-term rentals. Jen Riemer of Riemer Family Farm now offers curbside pickup and delivery of her selection of hormone-free meats. “There’s a lot of creativity there — reinventing in different ways,” Kivirist says. “But I think there’s a lot of opportunity because, again, people are looking for the kind of things we’ve been doing, we’ve been growing, we’ve been promoting for years now.” What people are looking for is food that’s grown and sourced locally, with an emphasis on sustainability. Several of the Soil Sisters’ farms are engaged in community-supported agriculture, a direct subscription-like
“The current pandemic has created even stronger connections between people wanting to know where their food comes from.”
Even on an overcast day, Scotch Hill Farm, home of Dela Ends, is vibrant and picturesque.
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partnership between consumers and farmers, which has seen an increase in subscriptions since March. “Suddenly investing in a CSA seemed like it was another potential source of food security at a very basic level,” says Diane Mayerfeld, a senior outreach specialist for the UW–Madison Division of Extension Agriculture Institute. Large industrial farms operate within a complex supply chain involving producers, consumers, processors, storage and transportation. When one of these points of contact is affected, as many are due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire system risks collapse. “The current pandemic has created even stronger connections between people wanting to know where their food comes from,” Kivirist says. “It’s shown us that the large industrial food system doesn’t work in times of crisis, and we need to get back to knowing our farmer.” Jacob Grace, of UW–Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, agrees the pandemic has created a number of short-term
benefits for local farms. But in the big picture, Wisconsin’s agricultural industry is suffering. In 2019 more than two dairy farms per day went out of business in Wisconsin, Grace says. Independently owned farms continue to lose out to major corporate farms, since larger farms can sell their products below the cost of production for longer periods of time. “It would be easy for me to say, ‘Get to know your local farmer and try to get food as locally as you can,’ but I think it’s a little more complicated than that,” Grace says. Grace works closely with farmers to implement sustainable grazing practices. However, down the line of consumption, he acknowledges that there is a certain economic privilege involved in buying locally sourced food. “I would say it’s definitely great to do what you can to buy your food locally, but I think also it’s important for us to think about the bigger systems that we’re operating in and how to turn those towards more of a local or regional food system,” he says. According to Grace, while the pandemic has generated some interest in local food systems once again, these changes must be long-term to promote lasting change. The perks of sustainable agriculture are plentiful. Not only are there human health and environmental benefits, such as reducing the amount of harmful pesticides and hormones in our food, but sustainable agriculture may be the key to reducing the gender pay gap in the farming industry. A study from the American Economic Association first published in December 2016 tracked the correlation between a rise in sustainable agriculture and the simultaneous rise of women in farming. The study found that farms engaged in CSAs, a form of sustainable farming, reduce the gender wage gap by one-third as compared to conventional farming.
“The CSA movement fundamentally alters many aspects of traditional agriculture and the farm itself — such as shedding patriarchal norms — which can explain the reductions in the gender gap and the increased participation of women principal operators in CSA farming,” the study says. Not only are there more women per capita in sustainable agriculture, there are also more opportunities for leadership. “I would say overall, the more towards that sustainable end of the spectrum you get, the more you see close to equality,” Mayerfeld says. While she does not work on a farm, Mayerfeld works with the Division of Extension educators to promote sustainable practices to farmers. When she attends conventional farm events, they are male dominated. But at events such as the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service Organic Farming Conference, the ratio is more evenly distributed. “I think there is very much a role for groups like the Soil Sisters because even within that sustainable world, there are things that are just more comfortable for women to talk about to each other,” Mayerfeld says. She uses the example of operating tractors and other heavy machinery, which traditionally fall under the responsibility of male farmers. Kivirist echoes this statement. “[Differential treatment] still very much exists. When you go to the mechanic shop to repair your tractor, they’ll ask, ‘Where’s your husband?’” Kivirist says. The Soil Sisters know that advocating for sustainable agriculture means taking steps to preserve our environment, while also reshaping the culture of farming. And according to Ends, when the Soil Sisters put their minds to something, opposition should beware: “You get a bunch of women together, fighting for a cause, you’ve gone into the lion’s den.” X
BY MOLLY LIEBERGALL
PHOTOGRAPH AND ILLUSTRATION BY CHANNING SMITH
n the biting cold of Wisconsin winter, a hearty, wholesome meal feeds more than just the stomach. Restaurants across the state take special care to provide customers with food for the soul that originates from small Wisconsin growers. Organic, locally sourced meals connect patrons with farmers, a bond that some establishments manage to maintain even amid the COVID19 pandemic. Whether you’re looking for a socially distant dining experience, a carry-out meal or more, these five farm-to-table restaurants hit the mark.
3. Braise With a heated rooftop deck, Braise is set to withstand the coming cold while offering its patrons a safer way to dine. If you’d still like to avoid public places altogether, though, you can replicate Braise’s bolognese and other wholesome meals in your own kitchen by calling them up and ordering a recipe kit, updated daily. 1101 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee
4. Twisted Willow
In the land of farmland and comfort food, Graze serves up both. The restaurant’s team puts detailed care not just into its dishes, but into the diets of the crops and cattle. Graze gets almost all of its ingredients from small farms throughout Wisconsin, taking extra care to choose locations where food is raised with its own well-being in mind — from grass-fed beef to acorn- and whey-fed hogs.
“Come as you are, leave like family,” reads the Twisted Willow’s homepage. Staffed by culinary experts with decades of experience and passion for good food, the restaurant specializes in heirloom recipes and handcrafted cocktails that source ingredients from its namesake farm. Executive Chef Dan Wiken has catered for political and entertainment elites like Barack Obama and Elton John.
1 S. Pinckney St., Madison
308 N. Franklin St., Port Washington
5. Field to Fork
Unlike other farm-to-table restaurants, Lark uses local ingredients to spotlight the wide variety of influences on American cuisine. The word “lark” can mean an adventure or quest for amusement, which is what the restaurant’s team attempts to serve, according to its website. Fried stuffed olives to start, followed by Tuscan sausage soup and then hazelnut carrot cake for dessert, is just one combination of Lark’s colorful assortment of plates.
This restaurant/café/grocery store hybrid puts its receipts right on the menu. Field to Fork lists the farm where each ingredient came from, which lets you know that if you order The Ranger Omelette, for example, you will be getting eggs from Yuppie Hill Farms in Burlington, ham from Willow Creek in Prairie Du Sac and cheddar cheese from Widmer’s in Theresa.
60 S. Main St., Janesville
511 S. 8th St., Sheboygan
GENERATION COVID Will the kids be all right? BY AMANDA MIZERA AND LIZZY STEIN
ightening her pigtails as she zips her down jacket, a jump off the third stair passes as an Olympic landing. Skipping to the kitchen table, a morning hug from mom followed by a homemade smoothie is all that’s needed for the long day of Miss Brettler’s first-grade class that lies ahead. This should be the norm for 6-year-old Joey Mclees. But not this year. Instead, the threat of COVID-19 has kept students home from school, replacing the rich experience of a classroom with online platforms, redefining learning and interaction. For children, pivotal moments have been halted, challenging them in a crucial time of fundamental development and learned socialization. The outcome has left children across Wisconsin and the world, at large, reconstructing normalcy and navigating the uncharted path that lies ahead. Though stress poses an adverse impact on anyone, it deeply affects children. As school closures have increased the risk of widening the achievement gap, experts worry about growing components of inequality imposed on students. Virtual learning has targeted not only the level of learning, but the ability to learn at all. A 2020 brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which uses data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and National School-Based Health Care Census, polled parents of children undergoing school closures. More than two-thirds of parents reported concern for their child falling behind socially and emotionally as a result of limited social interaction, including missing out on organized activities and personal engagement. The study also found that one in four families live in neighborhoods without access to walking trails and sidewalks, potentially limiting a child’s access to the
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outdoors — a critical component in health maintenance. Further, a June 2020 survey by Gallup Panel found nearly three in 10 parents report their school-aged child experiencing emotional or mental health problems in light of distancing practices. The risk for children with preexisting behavioral conditions is even greater. For children of color, pre-pandemic mental and behavioral problems were significantly higher because this group is least likely to receive essential care. As statistics of the pandemic’s harmful effects on children continue to rise, so do the concerns among parents. Jason Horowitz, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health at UW–Madison, reflects on the detrimental, but also promising, elements of the pandemic as both a professional and a parent. He admits the effects of COVID-19 are a “societal stressor,” which inevitably “affects people disproportionately based on what kinds of privilege or lack of privilege they had before it started.” One trend that ties in with how online learning will affect children moving forward is the competitive pressure put on children at an increasingly younger age. It’s no longer a rarity to be welcomed into the world in a Bucky onesie awaiting the self-proclaiming bio of “Wisconsin Class of 2038.” “In America, there is a push for more and more academics at younger and younger ages. My worry is that there might be this focus that’s just strictly academic. We’ve lost a year. We need to make up the gap and there will be this push to accelerate learning,” Horowitz says. “What I really want to focus on is, what did we learn about our community? What does our community need to heal? What moral lessons do we learn here? This is something I talk
about with kids a lot. One of the silver linings, and maybe the biggest one, is a chance to teach about what it means to be part of a community.” Perhaps Horowitz is right: The thickest silver lining this pandemic has produced is the value of community — a community that exists within the walls of our own home and well beyond them. “In some ways, it allows parents to see and get to know their kids even better,” Horowitz says. “It’s a chance to slow down and make life simpler. We, as a society, are guilty of not looking or learning from our history. I think we would all benefit from being a little more humble and open to information as we form our own judgments about what to do here.” From changing parenting styles to learning how to navigate through this new experience with their children, parents have had to deal with many obstacles when it comes to watching their children undergo such a life-changing event.
“The thickest silver lining this pandemic has produced is the value of community — a community that exists within the walls of our own home and well beyond them.” Carol Mottram, from Middleton, a suburb of Madison, has five children ranging in ages from 3 to 13 and offers one word on how life as a parent has changed since COVID-19: exhausting. “When all the children are home, you don’t have the outlets that you once had as a stay-at-home parent,” Mottram says. In raising kids through a crisis, Mottram says her parenting style has
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
Sienna (right) has substituted softball practice and other pre-pandemic activities for more family time, like playing in the leaves with her sister Ari (left).
adapted to being “a more understanding, loving parent and trying to really enjoy this time that we have, because we have more time with our children, and that can be a benefit.” Enforced stay-at-home time with their families can make children feel as though they are being punished. The dreaded feeling of not being able to go to school or play with their friends can take a toll on how children are able to communicate with others. Many parents have turned to a new way of doing things when it comes to helping their children socialize and maintain meaningful connections with friends. Karyn Riddle, a professor of strategic communication in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UW–Madison and mother of two, has done extensive research on the effects of media violence on children. Despite her previous habits, the pandemic has offered a new outlook on the way her children socialize. “My thoughts on screen time have changed so dramatically,” Riddle says. “I’m letting my son have a phone in his bedroom at night. I never, ever allowed him to do that before.”
Among the pandemic’s harmful effects is the lack of human interaction offered, specifically to children. Although technology has made socializing with others possible, it is still a two-dimensional experience. Many parents have struggled with the consequences of their children not having enough face-to-face interaction with friends. “It becomes a balance between having to protect our kids’ physical health but also needing to think about their mental health,” Riddle says. Mental health is a critical concern for children experiencing a pandemic, given the extensive time away from friends, teachers and other meaningful connections that teach self-confidence, social skills and other developmental traits. “I really like being around my friends,” 12-year-old Sienna Baldwin says. “I really tried to FaceTime because I miss them a lot.” Sienna and her younger sister Ari, who live in the Madison suburb of Waunakee, have not been able to participate in many of their regular group activities. Father Mike Baldwin says that Sienna was typically involved in
karate and softball, but that “those things kind of disappeared.” For Joey Mclees of the Madison suburb of Monona, the loss of time with her friends hit hard now that her first-grade classroom has moved completely online. “Well it makes me really mad that I don’t get to see my friends much,” Mclees says about her time at home. Although COVID-19 has put children all over the world on pause, they will overcome whatever future obstacles come their way. “People are resilient. Kids are especially resilient,” Horowitz says. Though COVID-19 means less social interaction, this pause has also promised a new way for children to think creatively, as well as a chance for them to get closer to their family and community. When asked what would be the first thing she would do if she didn’t have to socially distance around her friends, Mclees says, “I would just go up to the friend of mine and say, ‘Hi!’ to greet each other, and we would get to hug.” •
LOVE FINDS A WAY Three couples navigate love in quarantine BY PAIGE HAEHLKE
leni Tongas spent her seven-hour flight to Dublin, Ireland, staring at the tracker on the seat in front of her as the distance grew shorter and shorter. She walked through the empty airport to find her boyfriend, Osgar O’Hoisin, eagerly waiting with flowers in hand. After spending four months apart, they finally had four days together in October to celebrate their two-year anniversary. Three couples who quarantined and lived together for part or all of the pandemic have so far found silver linings in the unexpected circumstances thrown their way. They appreciated the new ways they came to know each other, and they grew stronger as a result. Osgar, originally from Dublin, Ireland, played tennis at UW–Madison when he met Eleni three years ago during Thanksgiving break. The couple started dating about a year later, in 2018. After Osgar graduated in December 2019, life — and love — got a lot more complicated. When the coronavirus pandemic worsened in mid-March, Eleni, now 22, was studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Osgar, now 24, was in Mexico, playing tennis professionally. The couple then quarantined together for 90 days in Brookfield, a suburb of Milwaukee, before Osgar returned to Ireland when his visa expired. Eleni and Osgar made TikToks and binged shows like “Normal People.” They assumed Osgar would return to America soon after he left, but it became clear as the coronavirus spread and borders closed that he wouldn’t return for a while. “The last two weeks we were so sad,” Eleni says. “I feel like I was crying the whole time.” Less than three months after Osgar left, Eleni was set to fly to Ireland to
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surprise him for his birthday. Her plans fell apart when she woke up to a text from his mother that said he tested positive for COVID-19. “It was a terrible birthday,” Osgar says. They stay connected by texting and trying to FaceTime daily, but the time difference has complicated things. Sometimes their timing or moods don’t line up. “When you’re both on completely separate pages and you can only talk over a phone line, then that’s where I feel like you can clash,” Osgar says. “Whereas if we were together, it’s easier to kind of help each other through it.” Eleni is still in Madison for her senior year, and not having Osgar there with her has been difficult. But if anything, the challenges they’ve faced instilled a new level of resilience in them. “Overall, I would say that our relationship has just gotten stronger, because it’s not an easy thing to do, to be away from someone that you’re in love with for so long,” Osgar says. “I think it just becomes more clear what you want. It sucks, though, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.” Eleni is planning to go back to Dublin during the holiday season, but is only cautiously optimistic. Days after her visit in October, Ireland reinstated strict lockdown measures. They don’t know for sure when they’ll reunite. But they view this challenge as a testament to the strength of their bond. However their situation changes in the coming months and years, they’ll take it on together. “If anything, it just makes you realize that it’s all going to be okay, and even though we haven’t seen each other in four months, we’ve just made it work,” Eleni says. •••
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
It wasn’t love at first sight for Molly Burki (left) and Anna Kotecki (right), but it didn’t take long for their relationship to grow. Now, they’ve lived through quarantine together and have come out even stronger on the other side.
When Mary Ryan worked as a nurse in Chicago in 1982, her patient’s son left her a rose and an invitation for a glass of wine as a thank you for caring for his father. She has now been happily married to that man, Dennis, for 33 years. Mary, 60, and Dennis, 69, live in Madison and both worked from home during the pandemic until the end of September, when Dennis went back to working in-person four days per week as an assistant district attorney for Waushara County. While marriages have been put to the test — divorce rates rose in China after lockdown ended there — Dennis sees being home with his wife as a blessing he’s grateful for. “It’s allowed me to not just see the person that I visualize as wife, mother; there’s a whole other dimension,” Dennis says. “To see that, and to see how Mary does that — keeps the house going, keeps the family going, and puts herself last — it’s opened me up quite a bit.” “He’s just saying that because I made him a peach cake tonight,” Mary says, laughing. They established long ago how to create space for each other. Mary is more extroverted and social, while Dennis likes to keep to himself. Now Dennis walks their dog, does the dishes and helps with laundry more than he did before, which Mary appreciates. “You’ve got to be willing to change, to accommodate, but I think most of all, you have to be sensitive to the needs of that other person,” Dennis says. “Those have to come first. You have to put yourself aside. And I don’t know how much I do that, obviously not a lot since she’s laughing.” When Dennis went back to work in person at the end of September, neither of them were thrilled. They came to love their new normal of being together all the time. “Dennis is going back, and it’s breaking my heart,” Mary says while tearing up and taking her glasses off to blot her eyes. “It’s been a spoiled couple of months,” Dennis says, rubbing Mary’s back. “We’ll make it work, and we’ll take advantage of the time that we have and focus on that, not on the difficult things, which is how we got through this situation.”
••• When Anna Kotecki, 21, and Molly Burki, 22, first met in 2018, they didn’t get along. But a mutual friend playing matchmaker put them in a group chat together, and now they’ve been in a relationship for over a year. Anna and Molly are both seniors at UW–Madison. When classes moved online in mid-March and a state public health order limited nonessential gatherings, the couple spent the next six months quarantining together — making forts in their living room, rewatching dystopian movie series and choreographing dances — and their relationship flourished. “[We found] ways to make life exciting when you can’t go anywhere, like getting dressed up and doing dates in the living room,” Molly says. In mid-August, Anna and Molly moved into new apartments they signed leases for before the pandemic. They had become emotionally dependent on one another and had to relearn how to be alone. “It really felt like my emotions didn’t know how to regulate on their own,” Anna says. “Just being around someone else all the time, never being alone, the few times then that I was alone, my brain didn’t know how to function.” Both Anna and Molly struggle with depression and anxiety, but living together helped them learn how to support one another on bad days. “When I get really stressed or my anxiety is bad, it’s really easy for [Anna] to calm me down,” Molly says. “If [she’s] gone I’m just in my head about it.” Quarantining allowed them to preview their life together after college. They both want to pursue arts careers in bigger cities, but they know those dreams might have to wait. “We know now that if we do stay in Madison, if we have to, then we’ll live together, and we’ll make it work,” Anna says. “If we do move somewhere else, we’ll know that we can live together, and we know that we can handle a pandemic.” •
WISCONSIN EXPERIENCE UW–Madison students recount the pandemic’s effect on campus life BY SAMANTHA IDLER
aturdays in Madison are reserved for Badger football. A year ago, home games meant “Jump Around” blasting throughout my apartment building, breakfast sandwiches at MacTaggart’s Deli and tailgates along the lake. However, that was then. Game days, along with so many other traditions that have defined “the Wisconsin Experience,” fell away because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Aside from the handful of UW– Madison students dressed in full red for the first game on Oct. 23, State Street was relatively empty. It doesn’t truly feel like we’re on campus. “Students are struggling. Face-toface socialization is critical for mental health and well-being,” says University of Florida psychiatrist Marcia Morris, as reported by CNBC. Students are ridiculed for unsafe behavior even when reckless people remain among the outliers. According to Morris, there needs to be more sympathy for the people trying to figure out the next chapter in their lives during this unprecedented time.
A New Day in History On March 13, the U.S. declared a national emergency concerning the coronavirus, and I got sent home from Europe. I spent the spring of my junior year studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I went from having the most freedom I’ve ever had, traveling the world, to returning home and transforming my childhood bedroom into my classroom for the remainder of the semester. Five days after returning to the U.S., I tested positive for COVID-19. Though today there is still so much uncertainty surrounding the disease, at that time no one knew what they were talking about at all. I would get a call every day from a different doctor telling me different things to do and giving me different requirements for how long to stay in quarantine. This confusion only continued after I was cleared: Can I get it again? Does this mean I have antibodies? What will the long-term effects be?
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Summer of Uncertainty Despite a general anxiety for the future, this summer, I was hopeful for a normal senior year. “Once the bars opened up and [people] stopped caring as much, [coronavirus] started to spread again,” says UW–Madison senior nursing student Mallory Marsherall. Marsherall spent the summer in Madison. While nursing students were able to continue clinicals during the start of the semester, as cases began to rise they took a three-week hiatus, causing students to lose 30 potential hours toward graduation.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
“I went from having the most freedom I’ve ever had, traveling the world, to returning home and transforming my childhood bedroom into my classroom.”
Left: Samantha Idler, a UW-Madison student studying strategic communication, prepared herself for the typical last firsts of senior year. She never imagined that it would include surviving a global pandemic and virtual schooling.
“In the beginning everybody thought that [the pandemic] was going to be over by the time school started,” Marsherall says. “Then once [cases] kept getting worse and worse, everybody started getting more scared.” According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, as of October, 44% of schools surveyed were fully or primarily online, 27% were fully or primarily in-person, and 21%, like UW–Madison, were hybrid, meaning a mix of both. Despite UW–Madison’s Smart Restart plan for the fall, there was still a lot of confusion over the logistics of bringing over 30,000 undergraduates back to Madison. Emma Grellinger, a senior who has been working as a University Health Services COVID-19 tester since August, says she was nervous when students returned to campus. “I knew people were taking flights and coming from all over different parts of the state, which obviously led to that influx in cases.” There were — and still are — so many questions: What if I get COVID-19 again? What will online finals look like?
Will there be a graduation? Will I ever get the “normal” senior year I wanted? Reality came and I quickly realized my hopes for the upcoming semester would remain a fantasy. Campus Chaos When I drove up to campus, there was an overwhelming sense of normalcy. While my suitcase included a few added essentials this year — masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and Lysol wipes — the pontoon boats and kayaks lining the shores of Lake Mendota gave the illusion of a typical Madison summer. This changed when I saw State Street. Small shops and restaurants that had fallen victim to the pandemic lay abandoned, and the sidewalks were eerily empty. The local art that took over the plywood on storefront windows turned State Street into a gallery highlighting community goals and drawing attention toward pressing injustices. There’s a grave misconception that college students don’t care about contracting COVID-19: getting it, spreading it and everything in between. “There’s obviously people still living their lives, but I would say the majority of the student body is [being safe on campus],” Grellinger says. While Dane County did see a decrease in case rates after its early semester spike, the New York Times COVID-19 data tracker shows the state consistently among the very worst in the country for new cases. “[In Wisconsin] I don’t think [the COVID-19 outbreaks] are due to the campus,” Grellinger says of the initial autumn uptick in Wisconsin’s caseload. “A lot of the places that have been affected so severely are more northern, rural areas who probably didn’t have any direct impact from the university resuming.” While students continue to navigate new challenges, several think it’s unfair to only blame students for spreading COVID-19. “I don’t think it’s fair to put the blame on college students,” says Michael Ovsak, a first-year UW–Madison student from Bloomington, Minnesota. Along with added pressures, two
UW–Madison dorms — Witte Hall and Sellery Hall — were put under a two-week mandatory quarantine in mid-September following a rise in cases among students. “When it first happened, it really felt like prison because you could not get outside,” Ovsak says. “As it progressed, you were allowed a 30-minute period outside ... so that definitely helped.” TikToks and memes helped capture student experiences as people spent their time reviewing quarantine meals and spelling out “help me” and “save us” in Post-it notes across dorm windows. “It’s pretty difficult on a student because your whole world, everything is shifted,” Ovsak says. “Not only has the school aspect [changed], but also the social aspect. Making friends is a lot harder.” Last Firsts With senior year comes the impending “last firsts.” Your last first day of school, your last first football game, your last first midterm — although this one I cannot say I will miss — all leading up to graduation. “Campus is a lot more sad in general,” Marsherall says. My apartment has become where I sleep, where I have my classes, where I eat, where I work out, where I socialize. It pretty much houses every other aspect of my life, too – including all of my last firsts. I stood up from the couch in my apartment before the fourth quarter to prepare for the infamous “Jump Around” during that first game in October. Though I doubt the Richter scale in the geology department was able to pick up signs of an earthquake, nearly 22 years later, students are still carrying on this part of the Badger legacy in their apartments across town. While it is easy to note the hundreds of missed experiences, it is also important to recognize the opportunities COVID-19 has afforded us. “[Alumni] are not going to remember quarantining for two weeks — I will never forget,” Ovsak says. “I feel like that’s a huge part of college now, these crazy experiences with COVID.” •
A bicyclist rides along a walking path in Grant Park in South Milwaukee.
SAFER AT HOME DOESN’T MEAN STUCK AT HOME Wisconsinites find respite in the outdoors
BY HOLLY ANDERSON
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he last thing Zach Roberts expected to do this summer was camp in the middle of a Utah canyon. Through a set of chance circumstances — largely driven by the coronavirus crisis — Roberts, a Madison resident and college student on a gap semester, found himself embarking on a backpacking adventure with two friends during the final weeks of summer. They invited him on a road trip departing from Madison to backpack and camp in seven national parks. Deciding to join them was a spontaneous decision for Roberts. “My friend planned the whole thing and another one of their friends couldn’t make it — two weeks before, they were like, ‘Do you want to do this with us?’ And I’d never backpacked in my life before, or even been out West, so it was really split second — in the moment, I just said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go,’” Roberts says. The three friends drove 11 hours from Madison, stayed one night with a friend in Denver and then began their 11-day camping and hiking adventure. They visited the “Mighty Five” national parks in Utah: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. The group also stopped at Great Sand Dunes at the beginning of the trip and Rocky Mountain, both in Colorado, at the conclusion of the trip. Roberts is not alone in pursuing adventures in the outdoors, which provide a pandemic-friendly slate of activities. Many Wisconsinites have opted to go outside, engaging in everything from hour-long rooftop yoga classes to renting a boat or Jet Ski. While there are seasoned veterans, there are also plenty of people like Roberts who are trying new things. “I was anxious. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life,” he says. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s Department of
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
“I was anxious. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life.” Natural Resources sold about 55,000 conservation patron licenses — which provide privileges for hunting, fishing, trails and more — to state parks by May 12. Weekend attendance at Wisconsin state parks was up 44% compared to 2019 for the weekend of May 16-17, and up 52% by June 14 as camping began to open. In addition, there were 11% more campsites reserved in July and a 14% increase in fishing licenses and stamps since 2019. Jamie Christianson is the head golf professional at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Egg Harbor, located in Door County in northeastern Wisconsin. Back in March, Christianson was apprehensive about how summer amid a pandemic would look for the club. He was in for a nice surprise. “When the summer kicked in, we saw a lot of people stay in Door County that typically wouldn’t,” Christianson says. Members of the club come from 30 states, including Massachusetts, New York, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona. People used the pandemic to spend more time at their Door County properties. “They feel safer, they feel like there’s less risk being in Door County than there is being in a big city,” Christianson says. Working from home allowed golfers even more freedom. Christianson knows some members personally who used remote work to spend more time away from home. “We have members who own businesses in Chicago, and this is the first year they kind of realized they can work abroad, they can work via computer or by phone,” Christianson says. Thor Johnson, owner of Sister Bay Boat Rentals and Fish Creek Boat Rentals, both also located in Door County, noticed a similar uptick in business. “It was all kind of up in the air ... you just could only stay positive
and hope that there was going to be a summer,” Johnson says. Both Christianson and Johnson noticed an increase in novices in their respective activities. Johnson says many tried boating for the first time because it’s easy for groups to physically distance themselves. “We had a lot of first-timers doing boat rental because they didn’t want to be with other crowds,” Johnson says. Nicole King manages Dragonfly Hot Yoga, a studio in downtown Madison with additional locations in Madison suburbs. She quickly modified her operations when the pandemic hit, which included moving certain classes outdoors. “We opened for maybe like three weeks in the summer before the mask mandate went into effect,” King says. “At that point, we realized that people are not going to want to come inside in 95 degrees with a mask.” King and the other studio staff worked with their landlords to use their outdoor space at the downtown Madison location. At their other locations, they blocked off ample space in parking lots. Instructors also designed classes that could be done without equipment to minimize contact. Dragonfly also developed a mobile app to offer yoga classes virtually. While the studio had wanted to create an online platform for a while, it was the pandemic that finally provided the push — and the time — to do it. King noted that adaptability was essential, both for in-person yoga classes and maximizing the reach of remote sessions via the app. “We had to think quick on our feet — what are we going to be able to do not only for our clients, but for ourselves?” King says. “Our ‘new normal’ has been shaken ... we need to figure out what to do, and we need to figure it out quickly.” X
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404 SCHOOL NOT FOUND A look at one family’s day of virtual learning BY BRIAN HUYNH
n orange T. rex lies on its side at the exact spot on the wooden floor where Skyler and Sofia lost interest in it. Nearby, action figures with missing limbs lie face down on the ground only feet away from the small plastic folding table littered with pencils, an assortment of crumpled paper filled with past assignments and a school-issued Chromebook right in the middle. For the next few hours, Skyler will stare at the dim screen from the leather ottoman bench tucked under the lip of the white makeshift desk. To his right, his cousin Linda Huynh acts as his tutor behind a cloth face mask she sewed after months of boredom. It’s a role she reluctantly accepted along with Skyler’s uncle, Vanchhoeng, who is making the best of his freshman year of high school in an adjacent bedroom. He’ll have to battle through the constant noise of running water, traffic speeding past the living room windows and, of course, his restless kindergarten student and niece, Sofia. She will run and scream through the house to pass the hours until it’s her time to learn. This is what a classroom looks like in 2020.
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In homes all across Wisconsin, some version of this scene plays out every school day to varying degrees of success and frustration. Many school districts opted to start the fall semester online or with a hybrid model, giving parents the option of in-person or virtual classes. This choice, however accommodating it might appear on paper, is often not as simple as it might sound for many families like Aylin Sok’s. We’re cousins and Skyler’s tutor is my older sister, so I see and hear this struggle from multiple perspectives. 8:45 a.m. As a single mother of two, Aylin has to be up at 7:30 a.m. every school day to get her kids ready for their Zoom meetings at 8:45 a.m. Her son Skyler, 8, and her daughter Sofia, 5, sleep for an extra 30 minutes before she makes sure they brush their teeth and change their clothes. She tries to simulate a normal school day — so no pajamas in the virtual classroom. Aylin starts the school day managing the chaos of two separate Zoom calls, on two separate school-issued Chromebooks, at the exact same time. She wishes there was more time to run from one to the other. Once the
kids are done, they have a cup of milk while their mom heads to the nail salon to start her 8-hour work day. 9:40 a.m. Shortly after Aylin leaves, Linda arrives to assume the role of Skyler’s tutor and Sofia’s babysitter. Normally, Linda would only babysit on occasion. But in a pandemic, family roles are redefined and those who are capable, though not necessarily qualified, take on new responsibilities. Linda is a 23-year-old taking a gap year after graduating from UW–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in psychology last summer. ELA For the first part of the day, Skyler focuses on English Language Arts. He watches an instructional video from his teacher before reading independently for 20 minutes. His current book of choice is the brightly illustrated “Doctor Strange: Mystery of the Dark Magic.” Linda helps sound out words and guides him through reading assignments that range from annotating key passages in the story with sticky notes to writing plot summaries to recording videos where he describes the book.
Above: Skyler presses a stuffed animal against his face while working through an assignment at his home in Greenfield. Opposite, top left: Sofia hugs a stuffed bear named Tomato as she starts her lessons in the virtual classroom. Top right: Sofia eats a cracker and joins Skyler as he watches a video for class. Middle: Linda walks her young cousin Skyler through an assignment. Bottom left: While the kids eat lunch, Linda gets through science class, which usually consists of short videos. Bottom right: Skyler reads the brightly illustrated “Doctor Strange: Mystery of the Dark Magic” as part of his ELA lesson.
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PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN HUYNH
A Bored Kindergartener Kindergarten is a time for kids to play. To interact and learn the basic rules of the game. Teachers are authority figures who are caring but strict, and Sofia needs this kind of structure to learn. Aylin says Sofia is more challenging than Skyler because, “...she wants to play more and she will listen to her teacher more than me. Because I’m her mom, she says, ‘You not my teacher. You my mom.’” Linda doesn’t exactly fit the bill either. At the end of the day, they’re family and that comes with a different set of expectations. Because Sofia has nothing to do in the morning, she wants to steal some of the attention Linda gives to Skyler. Sofia will often sit next to her brother or on Linda’s lap and listen to Skyler’s videos or doodle. Linda has to make sure Sofia doesn’t bother Skyler too much, which is hard given the endless amount of noise a bored 5-year-old is capable of generating. Skyler enjoys talking to the camera and thinks of it as making a movie. For those assignments, Linda becomes a production manager and editor, ensuring Sofia stays quiet and out of frame. In the morning, she guides Skyler
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through virtual third grade using Google Classroom. Sofia has to wait to learn until her uncle is done working through his own virtual schooling for the day. The kids have come to expect this assistance. While it may seem normal to them, this isn’t a guarantee for every child. That’s why Aylin says she feels lucky to have her younger brother and Linda, “Because without them, I can’t go to work, and then I wouldn’t have any income. And I have to choose between my kids’ school and financially supporting them. So it’s hard. Sometimes I don’t know what to choose.” Noon Despite the pandemic upending virtually all aspects of the school day, the kids’ appetite and excitement for lunchtime has not changed. As noon approaches, they become increasingly less focused and silly. Throughout the day, the kids repeatedly ask when they get to eat as if their constant questioning will make the clock skip ahead to lunchtime. For Skyler and Sofia, being at home has its benefits. They raid the refrigerator and cabinets for snacks whenever they want. It is
not uncommon to see Sofia stuffing her face with marshmallows or Skyler playing with a crinkled candy wrapper as he works. To maximize time, Linda knocks out science class while they eat since they’re generally just quick videos. Skyler says it’s his favorite subject but, “...it’s too easy. All we have to do is look. They don’t really teach us anything.” Time to Type Once their stomachs are filled, Linda summons her remaining patience and directs what’s left of Skyler’s attention to online math games and his sworn enemy: typing lessons. Linda says doing so much on the computer frustrates him. He struggles using the trackpad to navigate. Skyler wishes there were less glitches. If Skyler had it his way, Linda would do his typing for him and he’s not afraid to ask. She tries to get him to progress from typing exclusively with his index fingers, which never fails to frustrate him. Skyler drags on through the assignment, oscillating between periods of intense focus and moments of unbridled energy. Linda rolls her eyes in frustration while battling to stay awake.
Linda struggles to get Skyler to focus after lunch.
Early Afternoon Sofia finally gets her turn in the virtual classroom when Vanchhoeng finishes his classes for the day at around 2:30 p.m. At 15, he looks like the prototypical high school freshman — lanky and bright-eyed with a touch of acne he is well aware of. Sofia’s desk sits adjacent to Skyler’s. It’s the same wooden table where they eat lunch. He removes the remnants of their food with a Clorox wipe before setting down his new touchscreen laptop to start her lessons. Vanchhoeng is being forced to grow up much faster than most kids his age, and it shows. He has the quiet and calm demeanor of an adult taking one for the team. He doesn’t want to do this, but he understands that this is a sacrifice he has to make for his family. He says, “I mean, Sofi — no one’s gonna teach her so, I have to do it.”
Skyler stretches across the ottoman that doubles as his desk chair after typing lessons — his nemesis.
Full Classroom The classroom reaches peak volume as Skyler finishes his work while Sofia starts her first lesson. Skyler says he can’t focus, and neither of the siblings can resist the urge to talk across the classroom with their outdoor voices. Randomly, Skyler or Sofia will check on what the other is doing. Every now and then, an uncertain peace washes over the room as the kids try to focus.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN HUYNH
Three Long Hours Vanchhoeng sets aside three hours for tutoring Sofia. In that time, she learns about syllables using chopsticks to clap to the beat. Then, the living room transforms into a gym where she breaks a sweat running around. Her heartbeat returns to normal with a coloring activity. Vanchhoeng directs the last of Sofia’s energy to the alphabet and reading comprehension. His irritation gets the best of him here, and he raises his voice whenever Sofia clicks random answers — it’s self-imposed stress from his decision to actually teach rather than give her the answers. Waiting for Mom When they’re done for the day, the kids head to the playroom littered with years of birthday and Christmas presents. The multicolored scribbles on the walls offer a glimpse into Skyler’s mind. They were his sketchbook before he started making his own comics. The kids pass the time playing until their mom comes home. X
A bored Vanchhoeng watches Sofia’s instructional video for music class as Sofia taps chopsticks together to practice syllables.
Sofia dances along to a music video for physical education class while Skyler watches.
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TALE OF TWO
WEDDINGS When and how to say ‘I do’ in a pandemic BY ABBY MEYER AND ABBY RADEWAHN
Michael Mulhaney and Alex Schad pose for a photo in Yosemite National Park. The couple was engaged to be married in fall 2019, but after weighing the threats of the pandemic, they decided to postpone the reception until next October.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNY COLLEN PHOTOGRAPHY
t was the best of times, it was the worst of times. They had everything before them, they had nothing before them. Brides and grooms recently engaged and planning their dream weddings were trapped in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Families could not travel to attend, venues limited guest lists and even a first kiss as a married couple felt suspect. Couples were not worried about catching cold feet, but lived in fear of common cold symptoms that could be the coronavirus. Even under normal circumstances, wedding planning pressures couples to meet high expectations. With limits on in-person gatherings, both couples and vendors have had to find ways to celebrate in more creative and intimate ways. Couples are worried about something much bigger than a rowdy uncle who had one too many at the bar — how to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. In April, state officials implemented restrictions on gatherings and nonessential travel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, group gatherings should be restricted to fewer than 50 people, while state guidelines currently propose no more than 10 people. Couples are faced with the moral dilemma of holding a wedding during a public health crisis or a potentially costly postponement. Coronavirus couples are now searching for creative solutions to get hitched, while still abiding by ever-changing coronavirus guidelines as they redefine the traditional wedding ceremony and reception.
I Do, Take Two Wisconsin native Alex Schad dreamed of being surrounded by family and friends at her fall wedding. She met Michael Mulhaney, her future husband,
at Concordia University Wisconsin in physical therapy school, and they have been trekking across the country together ever since. The couple set their wedding date for October, but the state went into lockdown in March. Their reception venue did not offer an option to postpone without losing their deposit, so Alex and Michael continued with their plans despite growing concerns from their family and friends. As the big day grew closer, the guest list got smaller, bridal shops were closed and ring shopping was put on hold. The threat from the virus grew and relatives began to express their concerns about attending. “That was really hard, because everyone wanted to give their opinion, ‘Oh, you should postpone!’ But we literally couldn’t unless we wanted to lose all of our money,” Alex says. Torn between protecting her loved ones and her dream wedding, Alex did not know what to do. The wedding she had planned went from fairy tale to nightmare seemingly overnight. “I honestly felt like I was planning a funeral,” Alex says. Just two months before their wedding date, Alex and Michael’s reception venue allowed them to postpone until October 2021. “It was so hard,” Alex says. “I’d say it probably was the hardest decision we’ve had to make so far as a couple.” Postponement poses the chance of losing expensive deposits on venues, catering, photographers and other vendors. Opting for a smaller and more intimate outdoor wedding isn’t always cheaper either, according to Kirstie Warren and Mallory Wedel, sisters and co-founders of Elevate Events, a wedding and event planning firm based in Madison.
PHOTOGRAPH BY RACHEL NICOLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Still Getting Hitched After rescheduling twice, Sarah Best and Dan Bjerre were forced to make a difficult decision: stream the ceremony online with no family present or delay for an indefinite period of time. With only 10 people allowed at their church ceremony, the Bjerres’ guest list already included a pastor, tech crew, a photographer and a live string quartet. Music was an integral part of their love story, since they met at an orchestra, so having live music made their day special. “Even though people weren’t there with us in person, it filled the space. It filled the space with joy and love and music,” Sarah says.
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While the church pews remained empty and their family members were scattered around the globe, they livestreamed the ceremony on YouTube and played a photo slideshow of friends and family in place of a wedding party. “While the musicians were playing their final songs, we got to look through everyone’s comments, and that helped because that made us feel like they were there, too,” Sarah says. Instead of a traditional wedding reception, the couple sat on their front lawn with a “Just Married” sign fixed to their picket fence. Local guests stopped by to throw confetti at the newlyweds and enjoy celebratory doughnuts. Vendors have seen these non-traditional weddings become more popular, says Rachel Nicole, a wedding photographer in Milwaukee. Her clients had to think creatively if they wanted to pull off their weddings this year. “Moving forward, obviously it’s going to be traditional, big weddings. Absolutely,” Rachel says. “But I think fewer people will do that and more people will go elope somewhere. And I think the wedding industry has been moving towards that for a while.” Specifically, Rachel has seen a huge uptick in small, backyard weddings (think “Father of the Bride” with 200 fewer guests) that have created space for more personal touches, like a wedding pizza instead of a wedding cake, something she hopes is here to stay.
Though her approach to wedding photography captures a range of moments from a couple’s special day — not just the picture-perfect ones — she has never photographed a moment quite like one of her favorites from this year: the bride and groom masked-up, kissing in front of a graffiti wall that reads, “Everything’s F---ed.” X
Above: A bride and groom wear masks while sharing a kiss in Milwaukee. Below: Sarah Best and Dan Bjerre relax on their front lawn following their live-streamed wedding ceremony.
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE KNOLL, SNOLL PHOTOGRAPHY
PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE NOLL, SNOLL PHOTOGRAPHY
“People are now thinking, ‘Well, I have a smaller guest count, let’s up the game in terms of floral and details,’ which is so fun and we would encourage that because now is the time,” Warren says. Once health officials deemed outdoor gatherings safer, Warren and Wedel encouraged their clients to move events outside or postpone to 2021. Many are opting for a more intimate ceremony now and making plans to hold a larger reception next year. “There are some couples who are like, ‘Let’s just make it small. Let’s just have a wedding.’ And they’re good with that,” Warren says. “I think it comes down to people’s priorities.”
AS THE WORLD BURNS Activists fight to keep climate change on the agenda BY LAURA SCHULTZ
ILLUSTRATION BY GENEVIEVE VAHL
isconsin is almost as far as can be from the parts of the United States where the effects of climate change are most visible. But remnants of a tropical storm fell here in June for just the fourth time in recorded history, and by September, plumes of smoke from the western fires drifted into the state. The crisis is at our doorstep, with no way to pause it. There is no shortage of pressing crises in the U.S. in 2020 — most apparent are the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice and historic levels of political division. With all of these issues demanding our attention, it’s understandable for climate concerns to fall to the wayside for the average citizen this year. But the climate emergency looms. In October 2018, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report declaring that the world has until 2030 to cut human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With that deadline now less than a decade away, 2020 is starting to seem like a climate tipping point. Despite the numerous obstacles that this year has presented, Wisconsinites still press on to continue the fight for a livable planet. •••
Stephanie Salgado was in the thick of activism when COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March. The UW–Madison sophomore, an organizer with the Wisconsin-based Youth Climate Action Team, was giving three
speeches a week, planning events connected to Earth Day and lobbying legislators — all while working and keeping up with school. For Salgado, the sudden end to climate activism as she knew it first brought anxiety and panic attacks. But slowly, she began to understand that 2020 was going to be a year of change no matter what — a feeling solidified by the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement later in the spring. “COVID changes all,” Salgado says. “Activism has to look a lot more like online petitions, a lot more donations and showing support by sharing important information about protests, and that’s why I admire so much all the leadership or the planning or energy that it took to make all the protests for the Black Lives Matter movement.” Though traditional climate activism did take a hit, other climate work continued on. Salgado continued her role virtually as a representative on the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change, led by Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. The group, which Democratic Gov. Tony Evers established in 2019, delivered formal recommendations at the end of October to help the state reach 100% carbon-free energy by 2050. While Salgado says many of the original recommendations the task force discussed were deemed too expensive by legislators when so much immediate community investment is needed in the wake of the pandemic, its progress has not been completely stalled. Task force member Dylan Jennings, a Bad River tribal member of the Lake Superior Anishinaabeg and the director of the public information
office at the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission in Odanah, Wisconsin, is positive about the task force’s achievements. “We had a lot of different community sessions online, and we were able to reach quite a wide swath of people from throughout the state to get input from them. We’ve met multiple times throughout the year,” Jennings says. He values the diverse backgrounds and expertise of task force members, which helped with analyzing data and information to make policy decisions for climate mitigation and adaptation. In state government, Maria Redmond, the director of the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy, is responsible for coordinating with state agencies and utilities to reach the state’s 2050 carbon-free energy goal. Redmond, who started the job in January, is currently the only member of the office. But she doesn’t work alone. “I’m working with a ton of people who have a ton of subject matter expertise, and it’s a matter of connecting the dots and bringing the people together and bringing different perspectives, different communities together to have the conversation to figure out the path forward,” Redmond says. The sudden switch to virtual work soon after beginning a new job was definitely not easy, she says. Redmond had hoped to launch a clean energy planning process for policy options in April, which would focus on clean energy workforce development in the state. But with so many state workers focused on the pandemic and other core duties, the planning process has been moving along more slowly — but is still coming. For others, the switch to primarily virtual work was not too much of a challenge, especially in academia. Greg Nemet, a professor of public policy in the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at UW–Madison and a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s upcoming Sixth Assessment Report, had already decided that he was traveling and flying too much for someone working on climate change. “It gives a blueprint for how to continue in the future to not be traveling as much,” Nemet says, noting
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the writing and collaboration tools that have sprung up. “But in terms of actually sitting down with people and getting on the same page and brainstorming ideas together — boy, I think that really helps to be in person.” Despite so much public attention on the pandemic, Nemet doesn’t think that means people care any less about the climate. He remains optimistic both for his work writing about low-carbon policy solutions on the assessment report and the ability of the planet to tackle the climate crisis. “There’s co-benefits of opportunities to grow businesses to have more jobs; and then co-benefits of cleaner air and more active lifestyles that come out of this transition that we can look forward to, and not be afraid of as a sacrifice — it’s a good thing,” he says. Nemet also finds optimism in the youth movement for climate action and the shift of young Republicans calling for climate action to be incorporated into their party’s platform. However, Salgado and Crystal Zhao, also a UW–Madison sophomore and Youth Climate Action Team organizer, hope to see more progressive avenues of political climate action pursued after this year’s election. “I think the most important thing for us right now is to get people out to vote,” Zhao says of the group’s pre-election priorities. Both emphasize the importance of voting to elect candidates with climate-friendly political views at all levels of government. East Madison pediatrician Andrew Lewandowski, a non-voting member of the Healthy Communities & Strong Economy subcommittee of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change and several other health and medical organizations devoted to climate action, agrees with the need to elect climate-friendly politicians. He says it’s critical for the public to value information they get from public health experts on issues from pandemic response to the climate and racial inequities. “We need to find a way to let people know that they shouldn’t be upset when public health recommendations disagree with their political candidates. And instead, we need people to
A pillar of smoke emerges from a factory behind the Hoan Bridge as the sun rises over Lake Michigan in Milwaukee.
understand that they should be upset with their political candidates when they disagree with our public health recommendations,” Lewandowski says. ••• Climate activists and policy advocates acknowledge the need to incorporate justice and racial equity more fully in climate action moving forward, which was already a priority for the governor’s task force, because there is a growing recognition that communities of color are often on the frontline of climate changes. “What 2020 has done, if anything, for the better, is it’s really propelled the idea of a climate justice movement,” Lewandowski says. In the wake of George Floyd’s death in May and the ensuing protests across the country, “racial justice is climate justice” became a common rallying cry for climate activists seeking to center racial equity in the climate movement. Historically, the mainstream American environmental movement often excluded people of color and could be explicitly racist. In July, the Sierra Club’s executive director posted an essay acknowledging for the first time the racism of its founder, famed naturalist John Muir, and the harm
What do you know about climate change in Wisconsin? What is the biggest “climate risk” that faces the state? a. Extreme rainfall b. Water stress c. Extreme heat d. Wildfires
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
that the group has caused Black and Indigenous communities throughout its history. Climate justice uses a “human rights lens” to look at the climate crisis, because the impacts of the warming planet are not borne equally among us, as defined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals blog. Though the U.S. is not a developing country, climate injustice still exists here. It’s often people of color who live in the most environmentally hazardous locations, whether that means in the shadows of toxic chemical plants or in rapidly warming cities with little vegetation to cool the areas where communities of color live. In Wisconsin, an estimated 10% of the population lives within one mile of a hazardous chemical facility — the majority of which are people of color. None of those challenges or others of climate injustice can be easily resolved, though public awareness of them increased so quickly this year. But 2020 may prove to be the best opportunity for change in a generation. “I do think that COVID and racial justice incorporated into climate justice will be everlasting,” Salgado says. “If we take the whole idea and actually solve the problem from the root.” X
Wisconsin’s intensifying water cycle will make droughts in the state worse. a. True b. False
Which climate change factor would not impact Wisconsin tourism? a. Beach closures from increased disease pathogens after a storm b. Declining lake water levels, resulting in less attractive beaches c. Longer and colder winters that will shorten the tourist seasons d. Damaged fisheries from wetland loss and increasing erosion
Which is not an increasing threat to Wisconsinites’ health due to climate change? a. Distribution of ticks and mosquitoes carrying disease (like Lyme or West Nile virus) b. Life-threatening heatwaves c. Flooding d. Food insecurity Answer Key: 1. (b) 2. False 3. True 4. (c) 5. Trick question, all are serious threats!
ILLUSTRATION BY GENEVIEVE VAHL
Climate change will ease burdens on Wisconsin’s dairy industry and might end the “dairy crisis.” a. True b. False
CHECK THE TAG
Look good while doing good BY ELLEN PUCEL
hrift stores are like magic. They are vibrant and mysterious in a way that intrigues a shopper to keep sifting through the racks and tables of clothes until they find the perfect piece. Once they do, the mystery builds behind each piece of clothing. Who wore this once? What decade was it made in? What type of closet was it in before mine? Thrifting can help reverse the overconsumption trend in fashion; in the last two decades, American textile waste has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, Newsweek reported in 2016. It starts right in our own closets: recycling clothes, buying from thrift or vintage stores, and donating items that sit in closets for years on end. Why Thrift? Clothing that ends up in landfills contains dangerous chemicals and synthetic materials that don’t biodegrade. With the right tools and information, consumers can look to update their buying patterns to reduce waste. Many local thrift stores work to promote sustainability and community involvement, including those across Wisconsin.
Thrifting keeps fashionable clothing out of landfills.
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Sustainability in Wisconsin Since the spread of the coronavirus, there has been a correlation between stay-at-home orders and a spike in clothing exchanges at stores like ReThreads, a sustainable fashion boutique that promotes a new way of shopping for clothes. Shopping secondhand keeps clothes out of landfills and harmful fabrics from polluting the land with synthetic fibers and dyes. With more people at home sifting through wardrobes and dressers, prospective consumers are eager to donate and resell their items.
ReThreads owner Jacqueline Irivarren also looks to incorporate labels that promote local artists and sustainable practices and is selective with items since ReThreads aims to provide unique clothing with a second home. The store’s mission is “to give others the opportunities to wear those items that are still in great condition, that still have many, many miles on them, and that are great labels, and are fashionable and are clean,” Irivarren says. When preparing to donate or exchange clothing at a secondhand store, make sure each piece is in good condition with no rips, holes or stains, so it is able to make it through a second life. Open a Virtual Closet If there are no local thrift stores or secondhand shops within the area, buyers and sellers can look toward online consignment. Poshmark allows consumers to buy and sell right from their closets at home by adding items to their virtual closets. If you’re looking for higher-end goods, The RealReal sells authenticated luxurious consignment items, and has both an in-store and online presence that allows shoppers to buy secondhand clothing and accessories for discounted prices. Users send in their clothing, and if it is accepted for resale, consumers are offered store credit or a check in return. Subscribe, Don’t Buy Rent the Runway cultivates a new way to get “new” clothing that further pushes sustainability by encouraging shoppers to rent instead of buy. The subscription-based retailer offers monthly subscriptions for those looking to frequently rotate their closets in an eco-friendly fashion. Once shoppers
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN HUYNH
choose a plan, they are able to pick out inclined to research its guidelines and a certain number of items and then brand mission. In 2018, a report from return them by the end of the month. Accenture Strategy found that 62% of consumers want to buy products Time to Avoid Cotton from companies with ethical values One reason we have so much to donate and authenticity. is that we’ve simply overshopped withWhile green marketing has proven out thinking about how our clothing is to be a powerful business tool in made. Today’s mass cotton production strengthening a company’s brand practices are hazardous, require large reputation, consumers are also amounts of water, energy and materi- seeing a rise in greenwashing — an als, and leave traces of toxic chemicals exaggeration of green marketing and in clothes and waterways. overemphasis on possibly dubious Erin Schaut, a senior studying eco-friendly practices. In recent years, textiles and fashion design at UW– some companies have been exposed Madison, points to cotton as an for over-promoting their only slightly example of a material with a harmful sustainable products. effect since it’s a common textile used H&M, the Swedish retail fashion widely across the fashion industry. company, was recently accused of greAs consumers purchase new items, enwashing a new line, the Conscious they should learn what companies Collection. This line was marketed as are doing to incorporate sustainable eco-friendly, but these products still supply chain practices. Information use new materials and don’t necessarabout what a business stands for can ily slow down textile overconsumption. often be found on company websites, Some businesses are straying in stores or even printed on tags. from green marketing altogether and instead are urging consumers to parBeware of Green Marketing ticipate in alternative buying habits Before deciding to buy an item from such as thrifting new items, donating a specific brand, shoppers are more clothes and shopping local.
ReThreads, a recycled fashion boutique in Madison, provides a second home for unique clothing.
GOLD PLATED • WATER RESISTANT • STUDENT-OWNED
EVIE JEWELRY WWW.EVIEJEWELRY.COM
Shopping Vintage A different form of recycling involves vintage stores, which sell retro pieces of clothing from different eras. Shoppers in Madison can visit Good Style Shop, a vintage clothing store that features unique and stylish articles of clothing. Many shoppers consider vintage to be a sustainable clothing choice, though Good Style Shop owner Peter Benck says the true mission of the store
is to cultivate style, authenticity and art, and create a community for people to discover a creative side. “More specifically, that’s about what you can find on our racks of clothing — as fashion, as art, the ever-changing perspective of what you could make out of your own wardrobe or the people you might meet or the people you might interact with on social media,” Benck says.” X
FOLLOW FOR A FIND @patagonia Patagonia is a clothing brand that aims to create clothing and equipment for outdoor activities. The brand consistently spreads awareness about the changing state of our ecosystem and aims to educate consumers on what they can do to help. Additionally, Patagonia offers a lifetime warranty and is dedicated to recycling old clothing and repairing rips and tears to encourage the cycle of sustainability.
@thepangaia Pangaia is a London-based clothing brand that is doing its part to combat climate change. It has a strong mission statement pledging to use only sustainable fabrics to make its clothing and other products. Along with clean fabrics, it participates in direct change such as planting or restoring one tree for every product purchased.
@renttherunway As consumers start to look for new ways to shop vintage and buy secondhand clothing, check out Rent the Runway, an online shopping platform that allows customers to swap, buy and rent clothing that has been worn before. Consumers can sign up for a subscription and rent clothes on a monthly basis, which helps encourage the continuous cycle of wearing secondhand clothing.
Veja is a shoe company focused on being transparent to the public with its mission and supply chain methods. It has started “project transparency” to answer all questions consumers may have about the brand, such as how its shoes are made and what materials are used.
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ILLUSTRATION BY ABBY MEYER
FAITH COMMUNITIES MEET THE MOMENT From outdoor worship to text messages, congregations find pandemic-friendly ways to connect BY ELISE GOLDSTEIN
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
Gaven Foster (above) is a student leader of Chi Alpha, a UW-Madison Christian organization that overcame physical distancing this fall with virtual community group meetings via Zoom.
ozens of people gathered under a group of old maple trees at the tip of Door County’s peninsula every Sunday morning during the months of April through October. The people spread out on the lawn beside the white building, sprinkling their blankets and lawn chairs out on the grass at a safe distance from their fellow congregants at Bethel Baptist Church. “There’s a lot of people that are third, fourth, fifth generation that have lived up here and worked up here, which is kind of an unusual thing because it’s such a transient area of people coming and going,” says Joel Rose, the church’s pastor. The tight-knit setting in Door County allows congregations there to work in cooperation with one another to serve their communities. When the local fire department asked Rose and a local Moravian church pastor to organize a way to help those who might be lonely or more susceptible to the coronavirus, the pair set up a phone call system among churches in the area to offer a friendly and helpful voice to their most vulnerable neighbors. Churches and synagogues across Wisconsin have established unique
ways to foster a sense of community since the outbreak of COVID-19 — which has limited people’s access to houses of worship — as a quarter of adults report their faith has become stronger, according to a Pew Research Center study. Religion has a material side, a physical side and an essential side, says Ulrich Rosenhagen, the director of the Center for Religion and Global Citizenry at UW–Madison and an ordained Lutheran pastor. This means that materially, communities might celebrate religion with singing, liturgy and prayer. Physically, religions have a meeting place and religions have an essential aspect of their faith, such as weekly Shabbat for the Jewish community. “So now the question is, what is there now instead of that regular experience of before?” Rosenhagen asks. “You can’t go and celebrate in a religious community and put yourself at risk or put other people at risk,” Rosenhagen says. “You just can’t. Putting someone else at risk would be totally unethical.” Now that it’s too cold to be outside, Bethel Baptist Church has moved services inside to its gymnasium and main sanctuary, while
still following all protocols and precautions at 25% capacity. While other religious organizations might wish to consistently serve their communities in person each week, it’s not possible under current COVID-19 conditions based on their locations and environment. Faith Beyond Walls There are approximately 100 students involved with Chi Alpha, a Christian organization at UW–Madison. The group strives to live by the motto “everyday, everywhere, always,” meaning that they live for Jesus wherever they are. “I do believe that the church of Jesus Christ is not bounded by walls,” says Chi Alpha student leader Gaven Foster. “It’s more of a lifestyle and how you live, and the building is just a place where we meet.” The members can now join “connect groups” on Zoom, created with the goal of building community with others. The groups — ranging from movie appreciation to cooking and baking to the great outdoors — sustain feelings of community beyond watching a sermon each week. “We actually do things together,” Foster says.
High Holy Days During COVID-19 This year’s Rosh Hashana was the largest Jewish event ever on the UW–Madison campus for the Rohr Chabad house. In previous years, High Holy Day events at Chabad hovered around 500 students. In September, 718 students broke into pods of four to five people to pick up homemade kosher to-go meals from Rabbi Mendel Matusof and his wife, Henya. Matusof distributed 230 pounds of brisket, 190 pounds of challah, 110 pounds of honey and 85 kugels along with honey cake, rice and vegetables. Students also picked up candles, High Holy Day guides and cards for reflection. Before the dinner, the pods joined together on Zoom to feel the energy of their religious community on campus and to ring in the Jewish New Year.
based on the guidelines, then I think it’s my responsibility to do it,” he says. Off campus, similar sentiments resonate with the Chabad of Madison. There, Matusof ’s brother, Rabbi Avremel Matusof, helps with weekly food distributions for families with children, supplying a week’s worth of food for anyone who signs up. Chabad in Chicago does the bulk of the packing and then sends it to Milwaukee Chabad, where Avremel hauls it to Madison for pickups and deliveries each Thursday. This year, Chabad of Madison also created 60 “High Holiday Toolboxes,” geared towards children to help them experience the holidays with different crafts, challah, sweet treats and shortened prayers to do at home. “As in any time of uncertainty and a heightened level of stress and worry, it’s crucial for us to sort of be the anchor in everyone’s lives,” Avremel says.
Chabad uses a new text message system for students to reserve and pick up Shabbat and holiday meals. It’s also used to RSVP to attend a Shabbat dinner, which has a maximum capacity of 25 people with four shift options, and once the shift is full, the texting system automatically closes. Of course, like many things in the pandemic, countless plans have also fallen through for religious groups. In May, Matusof planned to lead his largest Birthright Israel trip yet, with 162 students signed up to tour the country for 10 days. Looking forward, Matusof is planning one step at a time to stay aligned with campus protocols in hopes of making the trip next year. Matusof feels that it’s his duty to uphold feelings of unity and togetherness for Jewish students on campus. “If I can do it in a safe way, in a legal way,
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the care packages. “In order to love like Jesus does, and to love the city, we’ve been doing things online,” says Michael Knapstad, pastor of college aged and young adult ministry at the church. Each week the evangelical church records a story with worship songs and a brief message and encourages people to get together with their friends or family to watch together on its YouTube channel. Knapstad also includes tools that can help the ministry during this time by sharing different spiritual practices. One week was centered around anxiety, which included the clinical definition and also tied to an ancient practice called “breath prayer.” Each week, the general Blackhawk community can tune into the Next Steps Podcast on multiple platforms, produced by Blackhawk Church, where
they can further explore the message from that week’s sermon and apply it to their lives. Knapstad says a significant number of people who don’t usually go to church actually feel more comfortable tuning into Blackhawk’s current online events. “It’s really cool that a lot of people have placed their faith in Jesus, but also a lot haven’t and they’re just like, ‘There’s something here we feel, but we still feel comfortable to watch from our home,’” Knapstad says. •
In September, Rabbi Mendel Matusof and his wife, of the Rohr Chabad House near UW-Madison, distributed hundreds of hot meals and candles to students for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
“As in any time of Spreading Love uncertainty and a Through Care Packages heightened level of When the coronavirus crisis hit, 1,000 students in the Witte and Sellery stress and worry, it’s dorms at UW–Madison received snack packages and letters from Blackhawk crucial for us to sort Church, which has a college-aged ministry to reach youth between the of be the anchor in ages of 18 and 25. Students quarantined in hotels and student athletes everyone’s lives.” at Edgewood College were also given
Purposeful Pause BY ABBY MEYER
ILLUSTRATION BY ABBY MEYER
“Take a few minutes at the start of each day or in the evening to pause and think about what matters most to you,” Christine Whelan says. “Then, make a plan for how to make it happen.” Whelan, a clinical professor at UW–Madison and author of “The Big Picture: A Guide to Finding Your Purpose in Life,” advises making a daily purpose statement to guide your day. While there are many ways to pause, it is more important than ever to make time, even for just a few minutes. The Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin recommends taking purposeful pauses to reset. Finding moments to reset your day will leave you feeling more fulfilled as you accomplish your goals and practice your values.
TAKE WHAT YOU NEED, GIVE WHAT YOU CAN Community fridges cast a lifeline BY GENEVIEVE VAHL
here are a lot of double takes as passersby wonder at this anonymous fridge. Necks crank back as bodies continue onward. It sits out front of a baby blue house with white shutters and a side porch decorated like ornaments on a fir. The fridge is a retro green, like something you would see in a 1950s kitchen. A droopy-eyed face is painted on the front with its mouth gaping open like it’s going to eat all the food inside. It has a four-fingered arm bent at the elbow and an ear of a mythical creature drawn on its side. A white board reading “Free Produce” sits between its blue eyes. Community fridges like this alien ice box located on East Johnson and Brearly streets in Madison have filled gaps this pandemic has exacerbated. The fridges are plugged in and stocked at the disposal of the community, providing aid in the fallout from the coronavirus.
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PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
The Madison Community Fridge is free to anyone. It contains fresh produce usually with adjacent shelves for additional free items like canned goods and pasta.
Wisconsin’s community fridges are a part of a national trend. A New World In Our Hearts, an anarchist network of autonomous collectives and projects in New York City, served as inspiration for many of these fledgling fridges. In an interview with The Cut, Thadeaus Umpster, a member of A New World In Our Hearts who spearheaded much of the work to get the 13 community fridges plugged in across the city, said, “We believe in organizing in a way where there is no hierarchy. I started the fridge, but that doesn’t put me in a position of power over anybody else. I think that’s the difference [between] charity and mutual aid.” Where charity can imply a wealthy savior allocating to those believed to be lesser, mutual aid exists on a community-based exchange of resources for mutual benefit. “Share the wealth, share what is coming from your kitchen, share what you would eat,” says Hataya Johnson, a co-founder of the Milwaukee Community Fridge, hosted at The Tandem restaurant on 18th and Fond Du Lac Avenue in Milwaukee’s Near North Side Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The free fridges are filled with a grocery-store quality selection of goods, including fresh produce, usually with an adjacent pantry holding shelf-stable items. “This isn’t just, ‘You cleaned out your fridge,’” Johnson says. “We don’t want to just give something that is already kind of accessible … we want to give new things to show that even if you don’t have the greatest income, you still deserve quality food.” One woman perusing the fridge shared how she stops by on her way home from the store — the fridge supplements her grocery runs. Everything offered at community fridges is free for the taking. No questions asked. “That is the one thing that sets us apart,” says Sarah Tramonte, the other co-founder of the Milwaukee Community Fridge. At places like Feeding America, “you have to jump through so many hoops to be eligible, and if you’re just not eligible enough, ‘Ope, you can’t have it, sorry’ … At the Milwaukee Community Fridge, you can just walk up and take food and nobody is going to ask you … [to] prove to me that you deserve this food. Everybody deserves it, it is a
basic human right.” Food insecurity — defined by The Journal of Nutrition as the inability to afford enough food for an active, healthy life — has left one in six children in southwestern Wisconsin hungry, according to Second Harvest Foodbank. Black and Hispanic people, as well as those with lower socioeconomic status, are those most affected by food insecurity, increasing their odds of developing mood, anxiety, behavior and substance disorders while fostering chronic disease, poor metabolic control, less healthful eating and decreased mental health and cognitive performance. And that was without a pandemic ravaging the globe. “The pandemic has laid plain how flawed a lot of our systems that we rely on are,” says Caitlin Cullen, the owner and chef of The Tandem. “It didn’t seem like anyone was going to come help. Anyone.” Johnson and Tramonte both saw the potential for a community fridge in Milwaukee after separately encountering A New World In Our Hearts on social media. They acknowledged that communities of color are too often stranded in food deserts — lacking access to clean, fresh food, especially in Milwaukee — finding gaps they wanted to fill. Each sent the organization a direct message on Instagram, asking for suggestions or resources to start a fridge of their own. In Our Hearts connected the two instead, the best resource each other could have had, initiating a powerful collaboration operating through October. Supporters stock the fridge through food and monetary donations via their social media pages. “This project gives us both a way to channel … wanting to specifically help people who are food insecure in Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in the U.S., that is largely the Black community,” Tramonte says. Food insecurity’s consequential poorer health conditions are feeding ground for the coronavirus, threatening already vulnerable communities with a higher likelihood of contracting a potentially lethal virus. Most low-income people cannot usually afford to buy goods for the immediate future, much less large shopping purchases for a quarantine. Most low-wage jobs cannot be
performed at home, so workers are either losing wages or continuing to work at the cost of their health. For those who do continue to work with children at home due to school closures, child care costs arise, and children lose access to meals typically provided during the school day. The genesis of the Madison fridge drew inspiration from those in larger cities such as Milwaukee, New York and Los Angeles. An overgrown lawn serves as its backdrop. A makeshift bench made out of two 5-gallon buckets connected by a wooden plank holds squash of many varieties. A blue, three-level bookshelf used as a pantry mingles with the flowering bushes grasping their last bit of color before winter strikes. It’s stacked with canned green beans, pasta, a bag of red sauce and lentils. A case of plastic water bottles sits on the ground.
“...even if you don’t have the greatest income, you still deserve quality food.” “I got some hamburger last time for Taco Tuesday,” a woman told me in her deep Midwestern accent. She was a middle-aged white woman with a cloth mask around her chin, wearing a quilted fall jacket and backpack, smoking a cigarette as she perused the selection. A social worker shared with the Milwaukee organizers how clients with mental disabilities have especially benefited from the community fridge model. “They don’t have to talk to people … they don’t have to show proof of who they are … because just interactions alone for some people is too much and will deter them from getting what they need,” Tramonte says. The anxiety about seeking help is even more acute for underrepresented groups, Johnson says. “All that you have to do to prove yourself that you do need this [help] — it can make people not even accept the help that is there for them.” Hosting community meal and tutoring programs out of The Tandem, while also hosting the community fridge, has
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understand its impact. “The reciprocity and the mutuality of mutual aid is something I am still working to understand,” Douglass says. “The shared livelihood that I would love to have is one of sharing resources that we have access to.” And how to do that ethically is a point of interest for the organizers. Douglass says there is a lot of power, and consequently disparity, when those running nonprofits — who are often white — dole out resources to others of varying identities with unique needs. “Every idea of food justice comes from … Black organizers, and they’re still and will always be at the cutting edge of the design of what the next step in this society should be,” Douglass says. “I am not saying we have done anything really particularly different with the community fridge,” Levine says. But Tramonte says the fear of doing something perfectly should not stop you from doing it. Douglass supplies the Madison fridge twice a week with excess produce during harvest seasons from Troy Farm, a community garden on the north side of Madison. He also brings the excess industrial food waste donated to the farm from Healthy Food
The Tandem restaurant in Milwaukee hosted the community fridge (pictured above) at 18th and Fond du Lac Avenue in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
For All, a Madison grassroots project working to ensure all Dane County families have access to food for a better quality of life. Beyond that, the fridge relies on the community to function. “The food pantry just gives me so much that I bring a lot of it here,” says one donor, an already food-insecure person donating his limited excess to the community. He was off to deliver another box of food for his blind friend across the street next. It’s exactly this cycle of reciprocity community fridges look to facilitate. “I have seen Festival [Foods] employees pull to the side of the road … and they put out turkey sandwiches, and whatever else they have, and then drive away,” Levine says. In a text message, Levine shared with me how she expressed her concern to a fridge regular that not enough people in the neighborhood know about the fridge. But he reassured her: “There is power in the word of mouth. If you were to advertise it and have a bunch of signs, maybe then people will come and take a lot of the food, and feel like there isn’t enough to go around. But when people get to discover it themselves, they feel a sense of responsibility to it.” X
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
been Cullen’s attempt to help those in need more quickly, without any strings attached like the “clunky institutions.” It’s at this intersection of collaborative organizing that the two parties witnessed their impact in real time. “We had these four young women under the age of 10, walking to the fridge to get food … completely by themselves, at all times of the day,” Cullen says. “Seeing that, and knowing that was what they were going through: They were hungry, they’re interested in some attention other than whatever the hell is happening wherever they are coming from, they’re clearly not engaging in school if I see them five or six times a day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.” “It was like three or four girls came up and grabbed a ton of strawberries,” Tramonte later says. “They were literally like, ‘Ooo, strawberries!’ So excited … We brought like six containers and they were like 7 years old, and these four girls grabbed all of them. One, I have never seen a kid that excited for fruit. Two, I have never seen a kid take that much fruit. It is because they don’t normally have access to it.” Julia Levine and Sam Douglass, facilitators of the Madison fridge, recognize they have never been food insecure themselves, so it’s hard to
MUSIC THAT HEALS When tragedy strikes, volunteers grab their instruments and show up for the community BY CARA SUPLEE
mid clouds of tear gas, police barricades and impermeable crowds of protesters, an orchestra plays. A symphony of violins, violas, cello and bass resist the trauma beginning to blister in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting. This is what Dayvin Hallmon calls a “peacekeeping mission.” His orchestra, The Black String Triage Ensemble, travels alongside other musicians to places like Kenosha to soothe tensions surrounding incidents of racial injustice and violence. Although this effort is relatively new, Hallmon’s vocation as a musician is not. Since the age of 9, Hallmon played the piano at church, often in the face of grief. This experience showed him that music has the capacity to heal in a way that nothing or no one else can. This understanding became the catalyst for The Black String Triage Ensemble, the all-Black and Latinx orchestra Hallmon founded to play at crime scenes. The purpose of the unusual venue is to interrupt the cycle of trauma before it has a chance to form. “I’m accustomed to walking people through all phases of their lives — weddings, funerals, baptisms,” Hallmon says. “In a lot of ways, this is simply an extension of that work.” The ensemble has 15 volunteers who practice together weekly, socially distanced in public parks more recently, and reserve certain days to be “on call.” This means that musicians wait for Hallmon’s signal, instruments packed at their doors.
On these days, Hallmon sits at his desk and monitors Milwaukee 911 call logs, looking for situations that could involve the most turmoil, pain and damage to the neighborhood. Most of the time, these are scenes of fatal gun violence. “With shootings, it just seemed like there had to be something that occurred in the space between the time when the event occurs and just when it sinks in,” Hallmon says. The trauma that’s experienced in predominantly minority neighborhoods in Milwaukee is only a microcosm of what happens across the United States. According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, a nonpartisan, independent organization that advocates for a fair criminal justice system, homicide rates increased substantially this past summer across 27 U.S. cities, including Milwaukee. With the chaos from the 2020 election wrapped in a pandemic and topped with a resurgence in the civil rights movement, these rates are unfortunately unsurprising. What is surprising, however, is the lack of focus on how to reflect, heal and repair to move forward from these moments. That’s where music comes in. “In the absence of effective de-escalation, the first thing the music does is it activates the entire brain at once,” says Dale Taylor, a worldrenowned music therapist based in Eau Claire. “If that music can be heard by every person there, then automatically and immediately, you have every person responding to the same stimulus, and depending on the
quality of the music, it can be a very nice, beautiful stimulus.” This phenomenon that Taylor describes is exactly what Hallmon and his ensemble aim to do. In the aftermath of a crime, they play music at the scene to try to refocus people’s minds on something calmer than the situation around them. “That is when we should be there,” Hallmon says. “Between the time of the event happening and the time that the investigation is over and everybody is gone, the anger, the unease, all of that, by that point in time has calcified because there has been no response to those emotions.” The Black String Triage Ensemble responds in the form of soulful, elegant notes from string instruments. Hallmon selects the pieces the group plays based on the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Each stage of grief is tied to a specific style of Black music. There is no need for lyrics: the tone matches that of the scene and the space to allow the community to channel its reaction through the outlet of music. All of the compositions are written by musicians of color, and some are dreamed up by Hallmon himself. One piece he wrote stems from Psalm 137, which is interpreted as being about prisoners who are forced to entertain their captors. Hallmon uses this as a parallel to the anger of how Black people in the U.S. feel as though they are refugees, trapped and ordered to entertain their oppressors. With the group being entirely Black and Latinx, the members often have profound levels
of connection to the music they play and the crime scenes where they perform. “They’re showing their compassion and showing their, not only protest or disgust with the situation, but their emotion and sadness,” says Isaiah Spencer, a Chicago-based jazz and blues drummer and an active figure in the minority music scene. “This is a living testament to what this music is, and what art is and why it’s needed.” Spencer spoke to his own experience with the curative properties of music and through this, knew undoubtedly of the sincere empathy and relief that The Black String Triage has to offer. The ensemble deviates from the five stages of grief by adding a fundamental step: faith. In their eyes, there must be one step beyond simple acceptance. There must be hope. “If we do not believe things will be better, we as humans cease to move forward,” their mission states. This addition fills a space that many therapists have attempted to articulate themselves. Brenna Liebold, a music therapist based in Milwaukee, appreciates the ensemble’s addition of the sixth stage of faith. Liebold works with mainly geriatric patients, some of whom are just now learning to connect with trauma-related emotions that they have held onto for 30 to 40 years. This experience gives her an even better lens on how important music therapy is for grief and how powerful it can be in the moments when posttraumatic stress disorder is forming in real-time. “When you’re going through the stages of grief, there’s a lot of chaos, in your thoughts and in your feelings and by the time you work through those stages of grief, hopefully, you’ve reached a balance where you accept the emotions, you understand what they are and you begin to understand what you need to do to get to the place you desire to be,” Liebold says. “That balance can happen with music.” According to Liebold, music can
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activate the entire brain unlike anything else and get people’s minds thinking in unison. When The Black String Triage Ensemble plays, it brings everyone’s minds toward the music, as opposed to all of the predisposed emotions and prejudices that they bring to a crime scene. There is also poetry in the ensemble’s choice of string instruments, which can produce notes that mimic tones of the human voice and embody a unique form of empathy. “People who are on the verge of tears, who might be trying to be real strong, they might sense that those tears are building up in the music instead of in themselves,” Liebold says. “So they’re kind of letting go in a different way, without directly doing it. They can sense that the music is doing it for them.” This notion is the foundation of music therapy and fuels The Black String Triage Ensemble to continue lending its sound to cushion the grief others feel. Especially in the case of recent incidents of police brutality and subsequent protests, Hallmon has made it his mission to continue his art, even if it puts him and his orchestra in dangerous situations. “I think we all also realize by coming together and playing, it’s the best way for us not to be dragged down into hopelessness and despair and anger,” Hallmon says. What Hallmon and his ensemble undertake has everything and nothing to do with music. It’s far more complex and threaded with empathy for the human condition. The orchestra uses music as its avenue for compassion. Hallmon feels this is at the heart of what art is about. “I know there are 30,000 different ways we can use art,” Hallmon says, “but if we’re not using it to bring people together, to have a different sense of who they are and who they can be, particularly in this moment, then I wonder what we’re doing.” X
ILLUSTRATION BY CHANNING SMITH
“[There is a] lack of focus on how to reflect, heal and repair in order to move forward from these moments. That’s where music comes in. “
VIRAL DURING THE VIRUS TikTok creators find global fame from home BY CELIA GOLOD
hen 31-year-old Geo Rutherford moved into her parents’ Madison basement in March, she knew this meant one thing: lots of burritos. Four years ago, Rutherford and her family started a tradition of getting burritos every Sunday from their favorite burrito shop, El Rancho. “We don’t order a lot of food out,” Rutherford says. “But that was one of the things that we always do.” So, when Rutherford saw the Park Street restaurant’s “open” sign, to signify they were back in business during the coronavirus outbreak, she knew she wanted to take action to preserve her family tradition. The plastic sandwich board sign bore neon green poster paper, ducttaped thoroughly, with “We R Open” scribbled across the front in black Sharpie. “As an artist, it hurt my soul
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a bit,” Rutherford says. Rutherford had 100,000 followers on TikTok at the time and wanted to use her platform to help. “It was also thinking about, ‘How can I motivate my audience to do something good for the world?’” she says. She enlisted her two sisters, who got to work building the restaurant a more eye-catching sign. The three spent a month and a half sawing, screwing, nailing and painting. All the while, Rutherford recorded the process. When Rutherford finished the sign in mid-September, she dropped it off and uploaded the video to TikTok. “I wasn’t sure if [the video] would work. So I didn’t tell [the owner],” Rutherford says.“I just decided to do it. And I knew that if it did well, then his business might do better.” By 3 p.m. dozens of people who saw Rutherford’s video on TikTok flooded
the store. In the following days, the video reached 1 million views and gained thousands of likes. “We still have people coming in, even people from Milwaukee and Eau Claire have driven all the way here just because of that,” store owner Jose Torres says. TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times and amassed more than 800 million active users. The app’s visitor count doubled during the first three months of 2020, driven by a surge of new visitors in March following the coronavirus lockdown. Social media experts studying emerging technologies cite many reasons for the app’s growth during quarantine. “In a pandemic with the social and political unrest, you need things that are lighthearted,” says UW–Madison faculty associate Don Stanley, who teaches courses on social media in the Department of Life Sciences
Irish dancer Mary Papageorge went viral on TikTok over quarantine for choreographing and performing Irish step dances to pop songs. Her videos reached millions of viewers.
Communication. “I think that TikTok provides that, an opportunity just for little bursts of silly, goofy content that’s quick and clever.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
Lakes Get Likes While Rutherford is known in the Madison area for her viral burrito video, she is known around the globe for her educational lake videos. Rutherford, @Geodesaurus to her followers, downloaded TikTok right before the pandemic but started to use it more when lockdown hit. A scroll down her feed leads to older videos of her papermaking, a tour of her parents’ living room and footage of her dog playing in the snow. A quick swipe up reveals a collection of videos Rutherford posted in July about her artist book, a work of art featuring items she has collected over the last year on the shores of the Great Lakes.
to his 1.9 million followers, was no stranger to TikTok by the time Wisconsin entered a mandatory quarantine in March. By then, he already had 950,000 followers under his belt. Vicchiollo joined TikTok a year earlier as a joke when he was still a student at Hortonville High School. He downloaded the app while sitting with his friends during lunchtime in the cafeteria. “We thought it was stupid,” he says. But he experimented with the app and filmed a few clips of himself walking around his bedroom. He added a few comical captions and hit upload. Overnight he went viral. “That first video that I made ended up getting 1.8 million views, and ever since then, I continued making videos, and it just spiraled into what it is today,” Vicchiollo says. In the months leading up to quarantine, he felt unmotivated to post on TikTok and got into a pattern of making videos that were not doing well. “My follower count was at 950,000 followers for four straight months, and I remember thinking I could not get to a million, I cannot grow anymore,” Vicchiollo says. “I was struggling, and I just couldn’t figure out why I was stuck at that number.” When Vicchiollo returned home from school in mid-March, he turned to his built-up platform TikTok as an outlet to distract himself from reality. “I was like, f— it,” he says. Vicchiollo says he began posting what he wanted to post. And when he finally did that, he got the boost he needed to hit the 1 million follower milestone. Lockdown not only brought the resurgence Vicchiollo’s account needed, but also smiles and laughter for his fans coping with quarantine. “If I have the power of making someone’s day better, I’m going to do everything I can to do that,” Vicchiollo says. “To think that I can have such a big impact on so many people — not just in Wisconsin, not just in the country, but across the world — is insane to me.”
Viewers seemed to like what she had to share. Her first artist book video collected over 1 million views and almost 300,000 likes. Rutherford continued to share more about artist books, with each video raking in thousands of views. But Rutherford knew she needed to prepare for when she ran out of content. She transitioned her feed to educate her growing follower base on the Great Lakes and other important lakes across the globe. “There’s a gap in people’s education when it comes to lakes, but everybody has a relationship with lakes,” Rutherford says. “This is what’s so funny about this as a topic.” For months, Rutherford continued to post educational lake content, ranging from lakes as close to home as the Isthmus to those as far as Mars. Today, Rutherford’s page features dozens of lake videos, each with hundreds of thousands of likes. For Rutherford, TikTok has become more than a quarantine hobby — it’s a call to action. “You need to worry about the lakes in your neighborhood,” Rutherford says. “You need to worry about the lakes in your region. And you need Famous For Her Fast Feet to vote to try to protect those lakes.” When Mary Papageorge walks around
the UW–Madison campus this semesSmall Town Star ter, she might not be recognized by her Sam Vicchiollo, a UW–Madison stu- followers on the street. But there is a dent who goes by @Samvicchiollo good chance they have seen her feet.
Papageorge, @Marypapageorge to her 645,000 followers, became a TikTok sensation this June when a video of her Irish step dancing to Fergie’s “Fergalicious” exploded on the app. Celebrities ranging from Jason Derulo to Diplo to Will Smith used TikTok’s “duet” feature to photoshop the top half of their bodies onto Papageorge’s legs. The video, the most famous of Papageorge’s choreography videos, now boasts 34.6 million views and 4.7 million likes. Papageorge hung up her Irish step shoes in August 2019 as she prepared for college. A back injury led to surgery in January and, ultimately, bed rest. While she recovered, she turned to the app for entertainment, sometimes uploading an old dancing video. In April, Papageorge started to feel better and began uploading new content. “Having coronavirus hit and the boredom of that just really sparked my interest in [dancing] again,” Papageorge says. “I never expected to get back into it to the point that I’m at right now, especially physically, and at the rate I was going this summer, considering my back surgery as well, I never would have expected it.” Since returning to Irish step, Papageorge has shared the sport with followers across the globe. “It’s really not that big of a sport, it’s growing, but it’s just pretty unknown for the most part,” Papageorge says. “Since this whole TikTok thing blew up, people in the industry alone have started reaching out to me and saying how cool it is that what I’m doing is giving Irish dance more attention,” Papageorge says. Wisconsin TikTok creators like Rutherford, Vicchiollo and Papageorge connected with individuals across the globe during the pandemic. Social media experts like Stanley say that’s a testament to the app’s ability to connect people and allow them to share laughs over little things like jokes, dance moves and music. “In this day and age, with all the heaviness and the way algorithms pummel us with heavy content and stuff that often makes us feel disempowered and at the mercy of what’s going on in the world,” Stanley says. “I think things like TikTok are more important than ever before.” •
BEATS Even a pandemic can’t stop the music in the digital age
BY MOLLY LIEBERGALL
n their final moments together, Matthew and Vanessa tearfully nestle into each other’s arms. “I was really getting strong feelings for you,” she says into the nape of his neck. Matthew lets out a sob into Vanessa’s shoulder, barely able to utter a word. The mood in the villa is somber — and tense. “That was the fakest cry I have ever seen in my — ” Vanessa, now talking to two of her friends elsewhere, says before freezing. Jack Wright sits up, remote in hand, while Vanessa remains plastered on-screen. Wright, a UW–Madison senior, turns to his bandmate William Lorenz with an idea. It’s March in Twin Lakes, on the border of Illinois, and the pair, known on stage as the musical duo Staring in Spaces, haven’t seen a soul in days.
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They’re holed up with their instruments and digital equipment in Lorenz’s grandmother’s house, where they will ultimately spend two weeks writing, playing and creating music while COVID-19 lockdowns commence across the United States. Safe from infection but isolated from the rest of the world, Wright says the lack of human contact sometimes led their creative process down rather interesting routes. “We started writing songs about people’s relationships in those reality TV shows,” Wright says over Zoom with a laugh. “When you don’t have any social interactions, you run out of ideas.” Matthew and Vanessa’s dramatic split in season two of “Love Island Australia” inspired Wright and Lorenz to write a breakup ballad that they may eventually release, but it’s on the back burner for now. At grandma’s house, the duo
ground out “a bunch of really cool stuff,” Wright says, including the music for their late August single “Float,” which outperformed most of their previous songs in Spotify streams within months. Just a few decades ago, none of this — the band’s creation, production and promotion of a new song — would have been safe or possible during a global health crisis. But with recent developments in music production technology and the rise of social media, countless independent artists like Staring in Spaces can keep making music from the same place where they always have: at home. Now sitting in his apartment in Madison, Wright holds a small keyboard — maybe a foot long — up to the camera. “MIDI is sick,” he says, admiring the pseudo-piano’s plastic ivories and thumb-sized buttons. MIDI stands for
ILLUSTRATION BY CHANNING SMITH
Musical Instrument Digital Interface, which is a device — typically a miniature keyboard or button pad — that connects directly to a computer to digitize the notes an artist plays. It’s programmable, so people can download a plethora of sounds that link to the keyboard. Buttons independently make multi-instrument tracks with just one MIDI, which can range from $50 to $100. An engineer created the first MIDI in 1978, but it took decades to slim the initial technology down to something so light and portable that Wright could wave it around with one hand. This technology grew up alongside its partner in 21st century music production: digital audio workstations. Digital audio workstations, commonly known as DAWs, are a 1980s marriage of audio recording and
computer editing that has since evolved into a stand-alone market of competing softwares and devices. Though it was not the first, Apple’s 2004 user-friendly GarageBand is undeniably the most widely-recognized program for creating, recording and mixing tracks of any genre all in one place. DAWs introduced this capability to the main frame, but much like the MIDI, it was a while before modernization and commercialization made them readily available and accessible. Now, for less than the cost of a decent professional session, which can be more than $200 per hour, artists and interested amateurs can effectively transform any space into a fully-functioning production studio, which is crucial in a time when people are largely confined to their homes. “In terms of self-produced music, this
is the best time to have a pandemic,” says Daniel Grabois, a UW–Madison music professor who teaches electro-acoustic ensemble. “Price points have made it reasonable, and available help has made it doable by everybody.” Aaron Zinsmeister, founder and audio engineer at White Raven Audio in Appleton, now spends more time virtually teaching clients how to set up devices and software for at-home production. While turn-of-the-century tech development improved independent music production, it also birthed the new and prolific social media. Each platform released since then had a greater emphasis on photo and video than the last. TikTok, the latest addition to the market, underscored this trend with its meteoric rise in popularity: from
11 million monthly active users in the United States in 2018, to more than 100 million this year. The app allows users to splice together video, sound and special effects to create skits, performances, public service announcements or just bizarre “randomcore” that they can post to the public. With the right hashtags and interactions, the platform’s algorithm can catapult any TikTok user to viral fame — and with them, the artist whose song they used. Clairo, formally known as Claire Cottrill, is a 22-year-old self-made singer/songwriter/producer who rose to the forefront of the bedroom pop scene — a genre of contemplative lyrics and hazy electronic rhythms that spawned from the availability of at-home production technology. Cottrill’s breakout song “Pretty Girl” kick-started her career on TikTok, garnering millions of views. Many artists have transferred TikTok fame to professional fame, aided by the crossover between social media and music streaming platforms — Spotify has a curated playlist dedicated to viral hits. It’s a combination of songs new and old, like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” which one TikTok user single-handedly revived this fall in a viral video in which he careens down the street on a skateboard while lip syncing happily to the 1977 classic. Combined with TikTok’s algorithmic affinity for new sounds, many up-and-coming artists flourished on the Gen-Z-dominated platform that received overwhelming attention over quarantine. But with any opportunity comes competition. Lorenz lives in New York but traveled home to Lake Geneva, near the Illinois border, to quarantine with his family before he met up with Wright, his Staring in Spaces bandmate. Since it was supposed to be spring break, he
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put music out of his mind and relaxed for a few days, but the calm quickly passed as the race to produce COVID19-related content ramped up. “It just felt like it was open season on the internet,” Lorenz says. “No one had made the coronavirus song, so people were like, ‘We have to do it ... this could be our opportunity to put something out that’s really good and timely.’” Lorenz composed a song in a matter of days and Wright added edits, but because they want their songs to sound better than what their “surface-level knowledge” of digital production can provide, Wright says, they regularly outsource an independent artist, producer and friend, Nick Pedraza, for mixing. Since the pandemic, collaborating from afar is possible, but Wright says scheduling challenges and back-andforth video chats and texts has made it take “five times as long to do everything.”
“In terms of self-produced music, this is the best time to have a pandemic.” Now, if he wants Pedraza to create and send over a sound, it could take a full day, which Wright says holds up the “flow” of working on a song. Nevertheless, he says Pedraza’s value to the band is worth their reliance on his production skills. “Nick is huge for us. Without him our music would definitely sound worse,” Wright says. “It’s a crutch for sure that we rely on quite a bit, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Technology managed to fill in many gaps left behind by social distancing, but some, says Jeremy Morris, UW–Madison professor of media and cultural studies, are unfillable. An expert on the current industry,
Morris says one crucial feature of the music landscape is still missing: concerts. Instagram live shows, a popular quarantine tool among artists, provide the real-time experience, but lack the third dimension of performance, which is being there. “Concerts are a unique and singular experience,” Morris says. “For independent musicians at least ... it’s entirely a business of you and your fans, and how you connect to your fans.” Zinsmeister says many independent or part-time artists in the Appleton area took a hit when the virus struck because they relied heavily on live gigs to propel their music careers. For some, it’s made an already-difficult line of work even harder to pursue. “A lot of them are in really rough states, and a lot of them are thinking about giving it up,” Zinsmeister says. “You’re always on the verge of giving up.” Until he can once again perform in person for packed crowds, Pedraza is devoting isolation’s “abundance of time” to channeling his passion for his own music into a surplus of new projects. Producing alone in his room, he says it’s difficult to gauge how well a song will be received, but he is trying not to overthink things. Musicians are staring down a tunnel. They know there is a light at the end of it, but no one can be sure of how far away it lies. Pedraza treks toward the exit one foot in front of the other and keeps his mind’s eye on the promise of reunion. “We are creating with reckless abandon right now, with everything to gain and nothing to lose,” he says. “So I am just making as much as I can, however I want, without getting too into my own head ... because the next time I’m on the stage, I know it’s going to be such a huge release for everyone.” •
STORM Black candidates navigate a dual pandemic on the campaign trail BY HUNTER ELLIS
ILLUSTRATION BY CHANNING SMITH
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
hayna Griffin was barely three weeks into her new role as a member of the Kenosha Common Council when a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. “Initially, it was kind of like being in shock, not knowing what to do,” Griffin says. Black women in elected office and on the campaign trail in 2020 face what amounts to a dual pandemic — the ongoing COVID-19 crisis disproportionately hitting communities of color and the ongoing reckoning with racial injustice. For Griffin, Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee, Rep. LaKeshia Myers
“I like to say we’re winning, because for the most part ... we’ve not stopped… ” of Milwaukee and Kimberly Smith of Oregon, the experience goes beyond the usual trauma and challenges of being a candidate or public official who is a woman — especially a Black woman — in Wisconsin. There was confusion and sorrow, along with new perspectives and experiences.
Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) Taylor was in arguably the most important race of her life April 7, the spring primary in Wisconsin, but she was also in the midst of one of the most controversial and problematic voting situations in state history. Like it did with everything else, the pandemic upended the normal routines of Election Day. Only five out of the usual 180 polling locations were open across the entire city. Something else was different about the primary: Taylor, 54, was running to become the first Black female mayor of Milwaukee. “The Republicans making us go out to vote, well, it’s horrible. But what the Democrats in Milwaukee did was even more horrific, and I’m disgusted by it. And I’m even more disgusted by the fact that people were silent,” Taylor says. The state’s Republican leaders decided to push through with an in-person election despite the rising number of coronavirus cases, but it was a local election commission in Milwaukee that limited the number of in-person voting sites to five, which the commission said was a decision based on a shortage of poll workers.
While Taylor lost her mayoral bid, she campaigned again in the fall, mostly virtually, to hold onto her Senate seat for four more years. And throughout the year Taylor fought hard to end voter suppression and create equity for Black people in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin. “We have gone from being the place that Black people came to for a better way of life. And now we are literally the worst place in the nation to raise a Black child and to be a Black American,” Taylor says. Even with some of the work being done in the state Legislature, like a task force on racial disparities, Taylor questions what potential outcomes and actions her colleagues might end up with. Taylor continues to be optimistic for Milwaukee’s future and the state as a whole. Her experience this year taught her not to take time for granted and to be more conscious of just how short life is. “You know, we’re winning. I like to say we’re winning because for the most part … we’ve not stopped what we’re doing, and I think that’s a good thing,” Taylor says.
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Kimberly Smith, Oregon Democratic candidate In the middle of June, when almost everyone was still getting used to the drastic changes happening around the state and country, Smith announced her candidacy for the state Assembly. It was just two months before the primary election. Smith challenged the 17-year Democratic incumbent, Sondy Pope. Being a fairly new candidate, Smith initially found it challenging to clear some of the early thresholds to start her campaign, such as raising money and collecting hundreds of signatures. “It was very tiring. It was taxing. And it was probably more difficult than it has ever been for people who are new,” Smith says. Even though Smith lost the primary election in early August, she pulled one-third of the votes despite a relatively short campaign. She doesn’t rule out running again in the future. Although Smith wasn’t successful in the traditional sense, she came out of her experience with new perspectives. “I learned a lot in this election, in this primary and in running for office. I believe that more people who are young need to run for office and have that experience, even if they lose,” Smith says. “More people need to be taught civics. More people need to be taught and go to the Capitol and lobby for their own cause and educate themselves.” Smith hopes her run can inspire other Black candidates to run and win offices, especially in Dane County. “How can I help bring other Black community members up and help them get elected? What’s my role?” Smith says. “It’s going to be taking action like that that’s going to produce the change that we need.”
Shayna Griffin, Kenosha Alderwoman Although Griffin, 31, has had little time on the Kenosha Common Council, she’s had plenty of experience. As a Black woman, Griffin felt the same shock and pain many in her community did after the police shooting that caught national attention. Griffin listened to members of her community and people of her district after the horrific event. She found that many in her community were looking for the same things she was: social justice and equity. “As a community, we’ve had some great feedback, and there are so many great people in Kenosha who really want to see things get better, just like me,” Griffin says. Events like Blake’s shooting are the reason Griffin sought a seat on the Kenosha City Council. As a practicing nurse working third shift since the pandemic started, Griffin’s care for others has always come first. She decided it was finally time to serve her community on a larger scale. After the events of this year, Griffin believes she is not the only one who notices the importance of being involved in the community and how the largest changes can happen at the smallest levels. “People are really waking up, really wanting to know how everything works,” Griffin says. “There’s been so many positive organizations, people really stopping to think about where they are, where they want to be and how important it is for them to be involved and to fight for what they feel is right.” X
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHANNING SMITH
Rep. LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee) In the midst of campaigning during a pandemic for re-election to the state legislature, Myers, who is 36 and has a compromised immune system, had two tough tasks. She needed to keep herself safe and try to save the lives of her constituents in her northwest Milwaukee district, home to multiple skilled nursing facilities filled with residents extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. Myers and others in her community focused on how to take action themselves. “We were in competition for protective equipment, company versus company or skilled nursing facility versus skilled nursing facility. And then the manufacturers drove up prices,” Myers says. “We didn’t have a good national response.” This concern for health and safety in Myers’ district at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak wasn’t the only thing adding to the chaos. Because of social distancing and the cancellation of many in-person events, many people in Myers’ district didn’t have access to the resources they normally would to learn more about voting and connect them with candidates. Because of this, Myers made it a personal priority to get out and help those looking for assistance and make those who were voting a little more comfortable while doing so. “I was passing out cheeseburgers to people in April to help them stay in line because the lines were so long,” Myers says. “[Voters] were wrapped around the high school that I went to.” Even with all the negativity in 2020, Myers believes one positive outcome is the emerging power and energy of young people across the state who are registering to vote and standing up for their beliefs. “I think there have been some blessings in disguise when it came from these dual pandemics,” Myers says. “I think the wool has been taken off of people’s eyes. They have been able to wake up and see what is happening.”
WORTH THE RISK? Youth basketball clubs find ways to play on BY DANIEL ZIOLKOWSKI
ILLUSTRATION BY DANIEL ZIOLKOWSKI
ot one athlete, coach or parent knew what awaited them when they walked into a gym for a basketball tournament over the summer. But the rapid growth of the club basketball scene throughout Wisconsin and the increased presence of college coaches at those events meant most were willing to take the risk — in the middle of a pandemic. Some tournaments went above and beyond to assure the safety of the players and their parents, intent on creating a safe environment for kids to win back a sense of normalcy. Others ignored or barely enforced mask mandates and social distancing protocols. I attended a high school fall league event at the Center Court Sports Complex in Waukesha in suburban Milwaukee, which also hosted club tournaments throughout the summer. While there were temperature checks at the door and signs that asked people to wear masks, no one stepped in to enforce those rules. Players walked around freely without masks and sat together to watch games, and there was no limit to the number of fans coming in through the single entry point. Yet parents came in droves to watch their sons and daughters play in fall leagues, which essentially offer a preseason for high school programs. The demand for competition is even higher in the summer for Amateur Athletic Union events, when the NCAA allots multiple time periods for college coaches to actively recruit high school athletes. “If you want to play basketball and you want to be serious, to get that college level or further, it’s something you have to do,” says Jason Coker, president of the Evolution Basketball program and head coach of the girls’ varsity team at St. Joseph’s High School in Kenosha. “We’ve sent several kids that had never gained interest through
their high school program, but did through us, that are playing in college.” The summer season was in jeopardy from the moment the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association shut down high school season in midMarch due to the coronavirus. Erica Cook is the program director of Wisconsin RAP, which operates primarily out of New Berlin and fields teams from the Milwaukee area. Instead of having open gyms running five-onfive games, Cook and the coaches sent out videos of driveway drills. Players won rewards in the form of merchandise for becoming “video champions.” The club expanded to holding team practices at local parks and in the yards of players who had outdoor courts at home so they could stay outside. Coker and his Evolution squad were the primary users of a Kenosha gym for much of the summer. Jasin Sinani, a senior at Oak Creek High School who played for RAP this summer, started playing club basketball in sixth grade. His goal from day one was to play Division I college basketball. Following a strong junior season, Sinani gained some interest from NCAA Division II and III programs, but knew he needed a big summer if he wanted to hear from bigger schools. On top of all the program’s drills, Sinani worked out with a private trainer and played on the half court in his backyard. “During quarantine I changed my focus onto working out, whether that was in the weight room or on the court,” Sinani says. But practices and drills don’t earn scholarship offers if no one can see what they’ve developed. So after roughly two months of deliberation, programs emailed parents to gauge their comfort level with starting a season. Of the 130 responses to RAP’s parent survey, over 80% wanted to “move forward with some sort of
season.” Evolution saw similar results within their program. “I’d say we lost maybe 10% to 15% of our players on our teams because they just didn’t want to come back with COVID. Everyone else was like, ‘Man, let’s go, let’s play,’” Coker says. Some other clubs saw similar reactions. Matt Bredesen is a head coach for teams from ages 15-17 of the Wisconsin Swing of Waunakee, as well as a teacher and boys’ varsity coach at Janesville Parker High School. Swing didn’t officially sponsor teams, but didn’t have a hard time filling out rosters and “got everyone” they wanted at their tryouts for next year. “What we ended up doing for the teams who wanted to keep playing, which was 10 of the 11 high school teams, was getting our own insurance and covering it,” Bredesen says. The coach also noted the importance of basketball for a lot of the kids goes beyond earning scholarships to their mental and physical health.
A nationwide survey conducted over quarantine by UW Health and the UW School of Medicine and Public Health showed a 37% increase in student athletes who reported “feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that would normally require medical intervention,” and found that physical activity levels were down 50% from before the pandemic. When tournaments finally started around Independence Day, coaches met a dizzying amount of paperwork and inconsistency. Especially before a state mask mandate which took effect on Aug. 1, sports complexes were largely on their own to determine the best way to curb the spread of coronavirus. They had Anthony Fauci’s guidance and a baseline document from the high school athletic association outlining safe practices to follow, but nothing was necessarily required beyond masks. Those who attended tournaments over the summer say some organizers were willing and able to enforce strict protocols to keep everyone safe — procedures included clearing and sanitizing entire gyms, requiring masks and temperature checks and limiting numbers of guests. Many only allowed one parent to attend. Some didn’t allow even that. In other cases, complexes asked for a flat-rate payment for 10 spectators, even if there were only four coming. Both Cook and Coker referred to the constant cycle of paying and getting refunds for canceled tournaments as a “nightmare,” but also necessary. Other facilities remained oblivious to what was happening around them. “There was one that didn’t have any restrictions, and I lost seven or eight
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players [who left] after that weekend because they didn’t have anything in place, it was like the wild, Wild West, and they didn’t even charge for people to come in,” Coker says. The coach also believed there may have been some teams and coaches “guilty of kind of sweeping it under the rug.” In the Wisconsin Dells area, JustAgame Fieldhouse was linked to an outbreak of at least 22 athletes, according to reporting by WISC-TV. The fieldhouse told WISC it had since added a mask requirement for people in the building except for those participating in a game. Where restrictions were well maintained, however, athletes say amateur clubs were successful in accomplishing their main goal of getting players to college. Sinani received heavy Division I interest by the end of the summer, after performing especially well against a team featuring four players in 247Sports’ Top 100 recruits in the Class of 2021. He is now committed to UW–Milwaukee on a full basketball scholarship. “Without AAU, to be honest, I don’t know if I would’ve received any Division I interest until the midway or end of my high school season, which is pretty late in the recruiting process,” Sinani says. “I don’t know if things would’ve worked out.” Now all attention turns to the high school season, which started in midNovember. The governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, announced the state would upgrade basketball to a “high risk” sport on Oct. 27, postponing the season. In Wisconsin, the Badger Conference in Dane County has already announced it will not host
winter sports through the fall semester, which ends Jan. 22. On Sept. 1, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association issued an extensive document advising athletic administrators how to safely operate athletic events for fall sports that largely aligns with what teams have considered safe. One thing that stands out, however, is a statement that says athletes should wear masks while practicing or playing indoors, which impacts winter sports more than fall sports. Cook doesn’t fully agree with the precaution, preferring rules that require players wear masks while entering and exiting facilities but not while they play, but trusts whatever the association decides. If the season is postponed or canceled, one big question remains: Will club programs decide to let high school level teams play on through the winter to fill the void? The programs’ representatives were adamant they prefer to see the high school season move forward because of how many more kids are involved — roughly 540,000 boys and girls participated across the U.S. in the 2018 season — but didn’t leave anything off the table. But a winter club season may also be a possibility. Cook has had RAP ready to go through winter for weeks now. “I support the high school season. And I think it’s really great for tradition and for kids,” Cook says. “But if for some reason the WIAA shut it down, and we’ve told our club members this too, we would step in and provide something for kids that was safe.” X
THE TIPPING POINT
A make-or-break moment for small businesses BY BRIGHID HARTNETT
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
nstead of hibernating this winter, Zak Koga is going to set up igloos. To combat the Wisconsin cold, Koga’s brewery, Karben4, is creating an outdoor space for customers to eat, drink and be merry — at a distance, of course. “I’m sort of a wartime-general-type of person,” Koga says of his plans to brave the winter and the tough climate for small businesses in the pandemic. “There’s a lot of focus that’s offered when stuff starts falling apart. It’s like, ‘OK, good. I know exactly what to do. Let’s do this, and this, and this — let’s survive now.’” Business owners across the state have shared Koga’s demanding experience over the past nine months. In March, Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency to stop the spread of the coronavirus, eventually banning all gatherings of more than 10 people. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also issued a saferat-home order, which required certain businesses to close or reduce their operations. The restrictions left many businesses reeling, with rent and utilities to pay but no customers coming through the door. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Secretary Missy Hughes likened the experience to a natural disaster — and businesses across the state are still trying their best to weather the storm. According to a
July report from the agency measuring the economic impact of COVID-19, Wisconsin businesses reported a collective $22 million in lost income since the state first went into lockdown. “[Their] dream has basically been turned upside down and shook out onto the floor,” Hughes says. For Koga, the shutdown demanded a pivot in Karben4’s operations. “Two-thirds of my business just evaporated in 24 hours,” Koga says, recounting the uncertainty he felt when Wisconsin restaurants and bars were restricted to carryout options only. “So in a lot of ways, I just dove right into action.” Karben4 Based in Madison, Karben4 beer is a staple in fridges and grocery stores across Wisconsin. One of its most popular brews, the Fantasy Factory IPA, features a label with a cat riding a unicorn. These types of quirks are what make Karben4 unique — the brewery doesn’t shy away from anything bizarre or amusing. In addition to an eccentric tap list and playful branding, Karben4 emphasizes community connections between local businesses — which is what inspired Koga to plan a COVID-19-safe drive-up taproom. Set up in local church parking lots, cars at Koga’s drive-thru events
Fantasy Factory, brewed locally in Madison, has become a staple in fridges and grocery stores across Wisconsin.
“The quote of the year: All we have to do is wait.” drove through the lot and filled their cars with a variety of food and beverages purchased from nearby businesses. Karben4 also partnered with area farmers, increasing the sales of locally sourced farm products. “[They were] hugely successful events that were able to generate over half a million dollars for dozens of businesses,” Koga says. “The direct-to-community model is what I’m starting to call it.” But Koga recognizes his work isn’t over — that’s where the igloos come into play. “We’re going to try to set up an array of igloos outside so that people can still have a place to go,” Koga says. “I’m definitely concerned for the general morale and mental health of our community in the winter.” Aside from plans to accommodate for Wisconsin’s harsh winters, Koga also hopes people will continue to explore options for safe connectivity and engagement — not only as a way to get out of the house, but to maintain flexibility as communities move into new seasonal realities. “We have to continue to look at the information that’s being made available to us,” Koga says. “We have to adjust.” But he notes that his community has already come together in some remarkable ways. Koga says at least one of his neighbors from Waunakee, Wisconsin, showed up at every brewery event or drive-thru taproom. “We didn’t have to explain how screwed we were as a food and beverage industry. Everyone knew it, and they acted,” Koga says. “They took the time to preorder beer, to preorder food, to show up, to wait for us to come out and put it in the trunk, all this really convenient stuff. They were willing to get on board with it.”
found renewed purpose in Butter Buds. The company, born out of a farming tradition passed down through generations, develops and manufactures dairy flavoring and butter products for restaurants and cafeterias and for sale at grocery stores. “I think it was definitely an impetus for getting into the business,” Buhler says of his dairy farming heritage. With beginnings in Racine, Butter Buds has expanded to distribute its products — including butter, cheese and dairy flavoring — on a global scale. But like Koga, Buhler couldn’t have foreseen an economic shutdown spanning several months. The coronavirus is something the company’s leadership team is still working to mitigate in both development and distribution. “We’re still adjusting and adapting,” Buhler says. Butter Buds’ main pivot occurred in its sales department, where employees typically make in-person appointments to work with customers on product development and selection. Due to social distancing protocol, these meetings have transitioned to a virtual format. But due to the worldwide scope of Butter Buds products, the samples travel well and salespeople can still engage with customers over video chats. While restaurant closures and limits on gatherings reduced Butter Buds’ sales to food service providers, Buhler noted a surprising uptick in a different type of clientele. “We were feeling the effects,” Buhler says. “And then we saw the opposite effect in the other side of the business, which is products that you find in a supermarket, where business was going up.” While the ratio is unusual within the scope of Butter Buds’ normal sales, Buhler says his business is up for the challenge. “It is an unprecedented time, and Butter Buds we don’t have a lot of best practices Though recent years brought a wave that we can turn to. So I guess that’s of reduced demand and dairy farm another way of saying we’re all trying closures, Tom Buhler and his family to figure it out,” Buhler says.
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The Purple Goose Halley Jones didn’t plan on moving her entire storefront during a pandemic — it was the sort of decision that came to her swiftly and without hesitation. “Long story short, I signed the lease the last week of May, and I opened there the first week of June. So that was a snap,” Jones says of her new store location. Jones owns and operates The Purple Goose, a clothing store that opened 15 years ago in Verona, a suburb of Madison. Now, the store has found its new home in nearby Paoli. As an instructor at the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology and a veteran in the retail industry, Jones is well-attuned to market fluctuations. However, the pandemic produced unpredictable retail trends, and Jones sought to meet the needs of customers by developing an app for her store. “We were able to build our online presence in the course of a month and ramp it up to not replacing our store inventory, but probably doing 30%
The Purple Goose is a women’s fashion store located in Paoli.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
of it online, which would have taken me five years and lots of marketing dollars and hair-pulling to try to get that,” Jones says. Jones is already looking to the future with plans to hold socially distant outdoor events to keep customers engaged throughout the winter season. “We’re Wisconsinites — there’s nothing to say that people won’t put on a winter parka and cute fuzzy Uggs,” Jones says. “We’re actually, in Paoli, putting in fire rings in outdoor areas that hopefully will go through the holiday season, and make it not only possible to sit outside, but almost inviting to come and enjoy a cup of cider or a beer.” These plans are consistent with many other businesses looking to ensure longevity as the pandemic persists. For Jones and The Purple Goose, it’s all a matter of observing how the next few months play out in order to plan for her next move.
“The quote of the year: All we have to do is wait,” Jones says. The process of shutting down the store, reopening and eventually moving locations reinforced the community-first attitude Jones fosters within her business. Now more than ever, Jones recognizes the importance of her store as a third space for local shoppers to develop interpersonal connections and establish relationships within the community. “People feel connected when they come to The Purple Goose — it’s not only a gathering place for the community, but it’s a place where people can get re-energized and feel good about themselves again,” Jones says. “Those places are definitely missing right now, and we need to figure out a safe way to bring an element of that back for those people who need it most.” X
How to confront racism in your own circle BY ASHLEY OBULJEN
A mural by artist Shiloah Symone (@blckslimshady) covers the side of the Overture Center for the Arts in downtown Madison. Many shops around State Street were boarded up during the summer protests and have become canvases for a variety of art.
e’ve all heard the news stories about racist acts: Black Lives Matter counter-protesters using the N-word, a white woman calling the police on a bird-watching Black man and even a woman at a gas station telling a Latina girl to, “Go back to Mexico.” But racism doesn’t always announce itself with bigoted, public rants. What happens when you encounter it in your own circle? Racism has always existed, but amid a social justice movement following violence against Black people at the hands of Kenosha and Minneapolis police this year, it has pushed itself to the forefront of Wisconsinites’ minds. UW–Madison sociology professor Pamela Oliver, whose research focuses on social movements and racial disparities in criminal justice, has confronted her family about their racist commentary. “The usual thing, if you’re trying to confront somebody else for what you consider to be racist attitudes, is
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to try to bring the issue up in a way that doesn’t attack them,” Oliver says. “You’re supposed to talk about actions, not personality.” It’s important to take into account the type of relationship you have with the person you’re confronting, Oliver explains. Whether the person is willing to listen to you at all is one factor, but if you’re trying to correct misinformation, another issue is raised: Will you agree on what the standards of evidence are? One debate about gun control with her brother-in-law showcased how honest conversations with people who are open to digesting new information can be promising. Oliver claimed most gun-related deaths were accidental, while her brother-in-law claimed they were mostly murder. But upon collective research, the two found out suicide represented a major chunk of gun-related deaths. “We were both shocked,” Oliver says. “You can disagree, but you can have a decent relationship and have a conversation in which you both
learned something.” Language also can be pivotal in these situations, Oliver says. “A term like white supremacy, which I use a lot, some people completely freak out about,” Oliver says. “So I think part of the problem is that in this area, all vocabulary has become really emotional.” Those who are committed to defending racist attitudes are not worth having these conversations with, Oliver says. “I have some relatives who are just straight-up white supremacists,” Oliver says. “There’s no point at all in engaging them, because engaging them just makes for wars.” Paige Anderson, a field organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin who grew up in a politically divided household in Stillwater, Minnesota, tries to avoid one-sided conversations. “Some people listen to conversations to actually hear what you have to say. Some people listen until you stop talking so they could tell you what they
were going to say either way,” Griffin says. While discourse between Anderson and the more conservative people in her life doesn’t always yield desired results, her Republican father remains supportive of her career ambitions. Her relationships with people who she disagrees with remain strong, but some over-the-line comments motivate her to respond. When she noticed people in her life were misinformed and trying to justify the murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in May, Anderson stepped in.
de Royston appreciated the women reaching out, but following up with conversations about anti-racist action produced telling results. “What actions are you engaging in, in the community and in society, to sort of shift these dynamics of power?” McKinney de Royston would ask them. Those conversations reveal if people understand how racism operates, she says. Some people who engaged with McKinney de Royston in 2016 missed the mark by asking her to explain the state of the nation and tell them what they should do to fix it.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN HUYNH
ILLUSTRATION BY GENEVIEVE VAHL
“You need to look at the whole picture, not just what you want to see.” Pointing back to the facts of what happened, Anderson says, was helpful in deconstructing arguments based on misinformation. She recommends “sandwiching,” a response to racism using this three-point process: “What you said is racist; this is why it is racist; just reiterating: what you said is racist.” Body language and cues are absent from phone calls and Facebook posts, but this new blueprint has benefitted Anderson. In-person debates can result in emotional responses that risk diminishing conversational goals, and people may not have accurate facts at their fingertips in live conversations, Anderson says. Dismantling misguided arguments is also effective for people who have misconceptions about what it means to be racist, including those who make the “I’m not racist because I have a Black friend” argument. Interracial relationships can expose people to others with different life experiences, but they are not evidence that someone understands systemic racism, says Maxine McKinney de Royston, a UW–Madison assistant professor of curriculum and instruction. “What I would tell people is, ‘I’m glad that you’re engaging in those kinds of relationships, but you need to reflect on those relationships,’” McKinney de Royston says. “Why do you have them? What keeps you all together? What is your role in this relationship?” McKinney de Royston, a Black woman, noted that multiple concerned white women reached out to her following the election of President Donald Trump in 2016. McKinney
“It’s also asking me for my labor, to help them make sense of things,” McKinney de Royston says. “If you’re really worried about my well-being, you wouldn’t be asking me to do more work right now. If you really understood how race works, to always put it on the onus of the minoritized person to do the work, then you wouldn’t be asking me those questions.” White guilt has also become a common encounter for McKinney de Royston. Though often unintentional, expressions of white guilt can place unnecessary burdens on marginalized people. Like Oliver and Anderson, McKinney de Royston says there’s a distinction between who’s worth confronting about racism and who’s not. “The line is different for every person depending upon what you’re trying to get out of it,” McKinney de Royston says. These conversations are less burdensome for white people because for people of color, it can be harmful if the person they’re conversing with denies their humanity. “These conversations on our campus and in white-dominated spaces are the work of white people,” McKinney de Royston says. “While I advise lots of white students and I teach lots of white students, I don’t think that it is my job to educate them about everything. I think it’s my job to begin to give them the tools to begin to help them speak in critical ways about race and about racism, anti-Black violence and anti-Blackness more generally. And then it’s their job to do the work for themselves.” X
GUIDE TO BEING
Do the Work.
Don’t ask others to do it for you. It’s important not to place unnecessary burdens on people of color — it’s not their job to inform you.
Reaching out to check in is okay, but ask yourself what you’re doing to change the situation: What actions are you engaging to shift dynamics of power?
Consider how asking for advice from people of color about racism could impact their well-being.
Avoid the Guilt Response.
Don’t tell your Black friends how badly you feel about what’s going on. This puts burden on them to make you feel better.
Remember that having Black friends or family does not exempt you from racism. Anti-racism is about acting on an understanding of systemic racism of anti-Blackness.
Reflect on your interracial relationships. Consider your role in the relationship: What work have you done to make sure that it is a healthy and not harmful relationship?
Listen & Learn.
Continue to listen and learn. Remember that your actions could result in unintentional harm.
Watch “13th” on Netflix or read “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi or “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Sources: Maxine McKinney de Royston, UW–Madison assistant professor of curriculum and instruction; Pamela Oliver, UW–Madison professor of sociology
FOR BLACK LIVES A UW medical student crusades for equity in health care BY AYAKA THORSON
60 CURB 2020
aillie Frizell would have never imagined herself to be standing before a crowd of a thousand people on a blazing hot day in mid-June. For two weeks after George Floyd’s murder, Frizell, a medical student at UW–Madison, made phone calls, distributed mass emails, gathered volunteers and sent press releases to every local media outlet to help spark a movement to dismantle systemic racism in health care. She expected no more than a few hundred people to show up outside the state Capitol to rally for the cause. But her exhaustion quickly turned to excitement as the crowd grew into a sea of a thousand white coats. At the beginning of the summer, Frizell, 23, and her mentor, Dr. Jasmine Zapata, an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, worked on an infant mortality research project — Wisconsin leads the nation with the highest infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic Black women. After Floyd’s death, they decided to shift gears; they needed to address everything that was going on. The coronavirus has exposed long-standing systemic health and social inequities. Black Wisconsinites are about five times more likely to be diagnosed or die from COVID-19 compared to white Wisconsinites, according to the UW Population Health Institute. Two years before the pandemic, the Wisconsin Public Health Association declared racism as a public health crisis in Wisconsin. The two women organized the statewide rally to launch UW–Madison’s Chapter of White Coats 4 Black Lives, a national student-run organization dedicated to dismantling racial inequality and racism in health care. It was an unconventional student research project — an initiative to mobilize words into meaningul actions. Medical students play an integral role in overturning one of America’s foremost public health crises: racism. “You need to start with these conversations on day one of med school as you walk in. Making sure that it’s known, that it’s important and it’s going to impact how you take care of your future patients,” Frizell says. The disparate impacts of COVID–19 on communities of color highlight the fact that people of color face discrimination in many aspects of their daily
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BRIAN HUYNH
lives, from police brutality and education to housing and health care. The White Coats 4 Black Lives rally on June 13 was a diverse event power-packed with speakers, physicians, medical students, residents and community leaders. Local hospital administrators ordered their employees to work together and cover shifts to ensure that everyone could attend, Frizell says. Zapata and Dr. Tracy Downs, an associate dean in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, kick-started the event, followed by speeches from physicians, residents and Black community leaders in Wisconsin health care. “The dean of the med school actually came, too and he stood at the front,” Frizell says. “I thought that was a super powerful statement, just showing how much our school cared to show up for us.” For many Black community members, it was the first time they had a platform to amplify their concerns and experiences with providers in the health care system, including the need for more Black doctors. “Doctors need to start taking their own medicine” was the most powerful refrain that emerged, she says. “It was powerful to see them get out there with the confidence they did to call out these issues, and I think a lot of people took it to heart,” Frizell says. “They are real people. They have lives. We need to listen to their wants and needs.” Frizell found a common theme among respondents in a survey conducted after the event: the desire to mobilize talk into concrete action.
Many rally attendants realized that being “not racist” wasn’t enough; they need to be affirmatively anti–racist. In the months that followed, Frizell helped assemble a network of leaders in Wisconsin health care to help dismantle systemic racism. She also organized a monthly webinar series for Black physicians to dive deeper on how they talk about systemic racism in health care. About 90 doctors, medical students and residents participated. The success of the White Coats 4 Black Lives initiative makes Zapata, Frizell’s mentor, hopeful for the future and proud of the next generation of medicine and public health leaders. “It took the burden off me knowing that there are so many outstanding and amazing up–and– coming leaders that will carry the torch,” she says. “I want them to know that we need them in this fight and they should never give up.” Frizell is now a second-year medical student at UW–Madison, where her peers describe her as brilliant and determined. She is the event coordinator for UW’s Student National Medical Association chapter, a national student organization for Black students in medical school that has long worked toward change. Highlighting her belief in “power by the numbers,” Frizell notes that her cohort is the most diverse class that the school has had until this year. This summer, she and her peers at the student organization worked together to advocate for hiring a new Black guidance counselor to improve the Black medical student experience
Frizell says discussion of health care equity should be integrated into medical school spaces from the start, as a central initiative of the UW–Madison Chapter of White Coats 4 Black Lives is to turn words into action.
and increase faculty representation. Administrators from the University of Washington also reached out for help creating a mandatory, anti-racism curriculum for its incoming first-year medical students. Frizell continues to attend regular meetings with the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health administrative board to improve the institution’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and increase its efforts toward addressing racism in medical education. “I can’t do everything, I’m a med student,” Frizell says. “It’s about bringing [issues] up to people who have the resources and the power and the ability to make changes. They’re actually doing more of the heavy lifting than us, but I think if we wouldn’t have said anything, that would have never changed.” The White Coats 4 Black Lives initiative helped Frizell gain confidence in her ability to bring people together and make a difference. She hopes that the rally will become an annual event, and she is determined to carry on the community movement for eliminating racism in health care. Frizell’s passion and energy radiates to the students and faculty around her as she works to pave the way for change for the next generation of doctors and medical professionals. “Being able to open the doors for students behind us to be like, ‘This is what we did, this is how we did it.’ That’s been huge,” Frizell says. “Some of the facilitators I was with told me, ‘You’ve done more in the last three months than we’ve seen in 18 years.’” X
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In a turbulent year of global crisis and civil revolution, many have been forced to put their regular lives on pause. For some it’s peaceful...
Published on Dec 7, 2020
In a turbulent year of global crisis and civil revolution, many have been forced to put their regular lives on pause. For some it’s peaceful...