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Thank you, Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health recently received a prestigious national award for its outreach and community service throughout Wisconsin. We are extremely proud to receive the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Service from the Association of American Medical Colleges. We are grateful to all of our partners on campus and from communities across the state. This honor would not have been possible without their vision and commitment to a healthier Wisconsin. We thank our partners, and you, from Milwaukee to Marshfield, La Crosse to Green Bay and everywhere in between; we are all serving the Badger State. Thank you, Wisconsin. Sincerely,

Robert N. Golden, MD Dean, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health



THE POWER OF CHEESE by Emily Rappleye

A MAGICAL CAMP by Kim L’Herault

THIS LAND IS MY LAND by Meredith Lee





SAVING PAPER by Steve Horn









Hill Heroes Next Steps Theater Seed to Table Urban Garden Brookfield Mosque

24 28 32 36 47

Little Free Library Underground Food Peter Olesen HIV in Wisconsin Modern Adoption


LEGACY 13 14 21 34 39

Mark Johnson Death’s Door Spirits Wisconsin Inventions Apple Picking

10 16 22 58



I’m proud to call myself a Wisconsinite. As a little girl, I remember eating brats and fresh corn on the cob for dinner and playing freeze tag in the nearby field. On windy days in high school the smell of the dairy farm down the road was hard to miss. Now that I’m older, there are few things I appreciate more than sitting down to watch a Green Bay Packer game armed with cheese curds, a cold beer, and the camaraderie of my fellow cheeseheads. Wisconsin has shaped me, just as it has shaped all of the generations that came before. Most outsiders look at Wisconsin and see only cows, beer, people who are immune to sub-zero temperatures and cheese headwear. But as Wisconsinites know, that’s not all our state is. As our staff and I began to explore what makes this state unique, I was both amazed and inspired by what I saw. We uncovered the lives of Wisconsin legends, saw children with autism express their creativity on stage, found teens fighting to be the voice of change for their people. We discovered a town fueled by the power of cheese.

We witnessed the heartbreak of a prairie lost. At the center of these stories is Wisconsin in its many forms. At the heart of them, however, are its people. Our state is filled with dedicated people who make, create and innovate. Business owners and workers, farmers and manufacturers, native people and immigrants; the state of Wisconsin has left its legacy on each. Wisconsin’s people have left their impression on the state too. Our state is a place where unique cultures and legacies come together. It’s home to rapidly changing industries and complex and diverse communities. It’s where people stay true to tradition but continue to move forward. I invite you to look past the ordinary Wisconsin and unearth the communities, cultures and legacies within. People and ideas are irrevocably linked to Wisconsin’s identity. Join us in uncovering that connection and discovering what it truly means to be “Made by Wisconsin.”

Katelyn Youngblood, Editor

THE CURB STAFF EDITORIAL Katelyn Youngblood, Editor Samantha Kurutz, Managing Editor Meredith Lee, Lead Writer Emily Rappleye, Lead Writer Sean Zak, Lead Writer Julia Birkinbine, Copy Editor Bridget Ryan, Copy Editor Katy Culver, Publisher

BUSINESS Katie Hermsen, Marketing Director Ann Marie Steib, PR Manager Alyson Pavela, Marketing Representative Kim L’Herault, Marketing Representative ONLINE Lauren Simonis, Online Editor Rachel Bozich, Online Associate Timothy Hadick, Online Associate Jenny Slattery, Online Associate

DESIGN Steve Horn, Art Director Claire Silverstein, Production Editor Sami Ghani, Production Associate Taryn Grisham, Production Associate Jessica Chatham, Photo Editor

Why Schlep to Another Airport?

What’s the Opposite of Schlep?

The definition of “schlep”– a tedious or difficult

Dane County Regional Airport. A nice, short

journey – perfectly describes the long, hard drive in

ride from anywhere in the Madison area–no major

a kid- and luggage-burdened car in order to fly out

traffic jams to navigate; easy, affordable parking

of some faraway, big city airport.

right across from the terminal; beautiful, modern

Stop the Schlep! Do you really like waking the kids up before dawn, paying a fortune for gas, almost missing your flight

facilities with great amenities. Not to mention non-stop service to 13 major destinations, including New York, Orlando and Denver.

because of traffic and then parking miles away from

Next time you travel, do yourself and your family

the main terminal?

a favor. Fly from Dane County Regional Airport. After all, it’s all about the journey.

Go to It’s all about the journey.

CURB | 2013


CHEESE By Emily Rappleye



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n the sparkling waters of Upper Turtle Lake, residents are taking out their fishing boats for the season. The leaves are just beginning to turn and it appears to be another beautiful fall in the small town of Turtle Lake. But something big is happening. People are talking about the new place in town. A place that spits fire out the back and emits a rancid odor that wafts over the RV park next door.


Just past the antiques shop and across from the local dairy, the newest addition to Turtle Lake sits on a bed of fresh asphalt. However, this fire-breathing, foulsmelling curiosity may be the solution to one of the most pressing issues facing the Wisconsin dairy industry today: waste management.

Like most Wisconsinites, he grew up around cheese. But for Tom Ludy, cheese was a family affair. His father owned a cheese factory in Almena, and later Tom started his own in Turtle Lake called Lake Country Dairy.

“We’re turning waste management on its head,” Eric Ludy says, a smile slowly spreading across his face. Eric Ludy’s father, Tom Ludy, partnered with two dairy waste haulers to found a state-of-the-art anaerobic digester facility called GreenWhey Energy Inc., which, as odd as it sounds, is capable of harnessing the power of cheese. GreenWhey Energy takes in 300,000 gallons of wastewater per day from several regional cheese factories and a soy processor. The wastewater is filtered through an anaerobic digestion process in which bacteria break down waste without oxygen. This process produces biogas, which is then collected and converted into electricity. GreenWhey Energy is currently the world’s largest operating digester facility of its kind. Running at full capacity, the facility can produce 3.2 megawatts of electricity. “To put that in perspective, that’s about enough to power 3,000 homes, or three Turtle Lakes,” Eric Ludy says. What makes GreenWhey Energy unique is that it was not founded expressly to produce electricity. It was intended as a solution for the waste disposal issues threatening many Wisconsin cheese factories.

“I’ve been a cheesemaker for a long, long, long time. Fortyone years to be exact,” Tom Ludy, president of GreenWhey Energy, says as he reclines in an office chair at the new facility, wearing a Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt. Tom Ludy is fiercely loyal to his state – to his Wisconsin teams, but also to his fellow Wisconsinites.

A few years ago, an issue emerged in the cheese industry. Cheese factories began to face huge fines from the Department of Natural Resources for their waste disposal. “When I first started in the dairy business, we dumped our waste out the back door, down a crick and into the river,” Tom Ludy says. “That was 40 years ago. Since then, now we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t even haul it on the ground. You’re not supposed to haul on frozen ground, you’re not supposed to haul during the rains and you’re not supposed to haul on ground that’s planted. So that really leaves you with about one month in the year when you can do anything.” This is no small problem. Cheese factories have to dispose of wastewater from rinsing down factory equipment every single day. This processed wastewater is full of organic material, which for years was used as a fertilizer. However, the organic material from milk contains a lot of phosphorus and nitrates. If the material leaks into lakes and rivers, it can starve waterways of oxygen, kill fish and cause algae growth. Facing pressure from the Department of Natural Resources and local lake associations, Tom Ludy searched for a solution. In other areas of the state, dairy plants

Photos by Emily Rappleye CURB | 2013

The waters of Upper Turtle Lake are minutes away from the state-of-the-art energy facility.

spend money to treat their waste, isolating proteins and converting waste into whey products. The sale of these whey products helps many cheese producers actually make a profit on cheese production, according to Dairy Processing Technologist Karen Smith. However, the necessary equipment is likely too expensive for the amount of whey byproduct produced by the smaller scale factories in northwestern Wisconsin. Then, Tom Ludy came across a man named Raj Rajan, who was giving a presentation on alternative waste solutions at a regional conference in Wisconsin. Rajan worked for Ecovation, which is now a subset of Ecolab. His company specialized in producing energy from food and beverage waste. Tom Ludy got in touch with Rajan to discuss whey disposal alternatives and finally decided on a solution. Tom Ludy partnered up with the waste hauling company Northern Liquid Waste Management, run by father and son Larry and Tim Peaster, to create the large merchant facility in Turtle Lake. The facility brings in wastewater from several dairy plants throughout northwest Wisconsin. It was then, in

2007, the idea behind GreenWhey Energy was born.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WHEY “It was a long four years of getting the plans together, coordinating with EcoLab to draw up the process, and finding financing was a huge deal,” Eric Ludy says. “Getting all the permits; everything that goes into starting a $28 million anaerobic digester in Turtle Lake. There was a lot to it and a lot of people helped.” The state program Focus on Energy provided an initial grant, while several organizations like Caterpillar Financial and the Wisconsin State Energy Office provided grants and loans to help the company get started. “I will tell you, we’ve had nothing but good support from the state of Wisconsin,” Tom Ludy says. Work on the Turtle Lake plant began last year and finished in June. In September, the $28 million facility officially opened its doors, ready to take up to 4 million gallons of wastewater in the digester reactors. “Just because it’s renewable doesn’t

mean it’s free,” Tom Ludy says. “Just because it’s new doesn’t mean everything is perfect.”

SOMETHING SMELLS They haven’t achieved perfection yet. “We’re trying to get our odor issues under control, but we’ve emitted some kind of foul odors and there have been some complaints,” Eric Ludy says. One whiff downwind of the plant confirms it. GreenWhey really does pack a pungent odor. “When I leave work for the day, I dream about the smell,” Eric Ludy says. “It makes things unpleasant.” Luckily, the robust scent is only temporary. “The smell that you are seeing is the smell of hydrogen sulfide,” Rajan says. “That smell will disappear over time once the plant is fully commissioned and operating as intended.” However, residents are curious about more than just the new aromas GreenWhey brought to town. “There’s this big torch with a flame shooting out of it and when we fired that up, people kind of freaked out,” Eric Ludy says. “They’re like,


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GreenWhey will help reduce algae growth caused by waterwaste runoff.

‘Why, your building is on fire! What’s happening over there?’” The fire is perfectly normal though. Excess biogas is burned and flared out the back of the facility for safety, creating the flame. People have concerns, but overall, both Ludys agree the village has been very supportive of the project. Several hundred people went to their open house in September for a tour and explanation of the facility. The way the plant works is fairly simple. Wastewater enters the plant by the truckload and by an underground pipeline from the dairy across the street. The wastewater from each plant is held in separate tanks until the pH level, the amount of organic content and other chemical properties are determined. The wastewaters are then combined with each other to achieve a precise chemical balance for the anaerobic bacteria in the two digesters. “We have our own ecosystem behind that wall,” Eric Ludy said, referring to a 2 million gallon reactor in the plant. The bacteria in the reactors digest the food in the water. The digestion emits biogas, a combination of methane and carbon dioxide, into the reactor.

Most of the gas is collected and burned in one of their two generators. This produces electricity that is sent straight to a grid. Any gas that remains in the water is removed with the solids. For now, the solids are recycled back into the reactor in order to build a layer of sludge that will aid digestion. In a year, the layer will be thick enough for optimal digestion. After that, excess solids will be collected, dried and sold as a fertilizer. At the end, the plant emits water that is clean enough to re-enter waterways. “I’d swim in it, but I wouldn’t drink it,” Eric Ludy says. “Just like a lake water.” That’s the bottom line at GreenWhey: to reduce waste by purifying cheese wastewater.

A FRESH FUTURE “As far as an energy provider, we’re tiny. But as far as a digester goes, we’re huge,” Eric Ludy says. A typical nuclear plant can produce 100 megawatts of electricity, over 31 times the amount of GreenWhey Energy. However, the plant produces more energy than the grid in Turtle Lake can support right now. Tom

Ludy is looking for other ways to channel GreenWhey’s excess energy. The plant generates enough heat to warm the dairy across the road all winter. He hopes to use the biosolids in greenhouses and look into the production of compressed natural gas. The fleet of trucks that haul in the wastewater could be fueled solely on this gas. “I think those kinds of projects, like GreenWhey, you’re going to be reading about more and more of those and maybe less and less about solar and wind,” David Jenkins, director of commercialization and market development at the State Energy Office, says. While the technology isn’t new, the concept is unique. GreenWhey is the first freestanding facility to take in waste from several different providers in the U.S. This could help the Wisconsin cheese industry by reducing phosphorus waste and keeping disposal costs down, while providing an affordable source of renewable energy. “We’ve turned a waste from a liability into a commodity,” Eric Ludy says.

Photos by Jessica Chatham


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MIRACLE OFF ICE By Rachel Bozich


eople know Mark Johnson as a member of the 1980 Olympic gold-winning “Miracle on Ice” team, an NHL player and the head coach of the UW-Madison women’s hockey team. They know him for coaching 16 All-Americans, winning four national championships and being a UW-Madison career-goal leader with 125 goals in 125 games. As I tried to garner the facts and figures in my mind, I opened his office door, ready with my first question. I caught a glimpse of the 5-foot-9inch hockey legend and panic rushed over me. While trying to regain some form of composure, my frantic mind was interrupted. For the next hour, I wasn’t leading an interview; I was in a conversation. I had come to ask Johnson about his legacy, and he wanted to know about mine. I soon found out that’s just who Johnson is. He’s more than a sports icon. Behind the trophies, titles and an Olympic gold medal is a run-ofthe-mill guy with an extraordinary disposition.A Wisconsin Badger to the core, Johnson has dedicated the past 20 years of his life to coaching the next generation of leaders, and helping them create their own legacy where he began his.

It’s 1977. The sound of the rowing team awakens Johnson, making sure he makes it to his 7:45 a.m. class on time. It’s a normal day for the Badger freshman. Post class, he lugs his smelly hockey bag into the back of a car, making his way to the Dane County Memorial Coliseum for practice. After spending an hour-and-a-half being coached by his father, “Badger Bob,” Johnson rushes back to his dorm. It’s time for the daily race: will he make it before the cafeteria closes or be left with the deep fried food that no one else wants? It was a great year for Johnson and for the Badgers. Wisconsin became the first team to win the NCAA Championship, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association title and the Big Ten Championship in the same year. Johnson’s 38 goals and 42 assists contributed to the team’s success and made him the first Badger to win WCHA Freshman of the Year. “I mean, those moments are special,” Johnson says, reflecting on his return to Madison after beating the University of Michigan Wolverines in overtime to snag UW-Madison a second National Championship in 1977. “And if you’re lucky enough to have one [of those

moments], then you feel fortunate.” Johnson has had many of these “fortunate moments,” and he insists whether you’re playing on the winning team or coaching it, they never get old. “You always see those players who are going through it for the first time and you know the excitement and the smile. I mean, those are memories they’ll have … forever.” Under Johnson, the UW-Madison women’s hockey team has won four national championships. Senior and forward Madison Packer agrees that winning the 2010 National Championship is something that will stick with her forever. Within minutes of talking to Johnson, I began to understand why people want to play for him. Meeting someone who attributes every success he’s had as a player or as a coach to his team is unique. Packer says having the privilege to learn from someone who she’s never heard anyone say a negative thing about is life changing. “He has definitely taught me a lot about just being a good person,” Packer says. “He just puts everything he has into his players … [and] is far less concerned with getting

CURB | 2013

recognition for what he’s done, and more concerned about how [he can] help [a] person get better at what they’re doing…no matter how much it takes out of him.” Johnson began student teaching at La Follette High School before becoming the assistant boys’ coach at his alma mater, Madison Memorial High School. He coached around the Madison area until becoming the UWMadison men’s hockey assistant coach in 1996. Johnson made the switch to women’s hockey in 2002 and says it has been a rewarding experience. Since becoming head coach, Johnson has not only reshaped UW-Madison’s women’s hockey program, but he has also helped expand women’s hockey as a sport. Through The Bob Johnson Ice Hockey School, Johnson provides opportunities for players of all ages to experience the sport. The longevity and success of these camps is a testament to the Johnson family passion for hockey. Johnson believes that an underlying passion for what you do is what fosters success. “Whatever job you have, if

you’re a leader of a group of people and you can create a culture where they enjoy coming and they look forward to being a part of my world as a coach for whatever [time] we have … then you got ’em. And I think I probably learned that from my dad most,” Johnson says.

Johnson’s decision to accept the head-coaching job at UW-Madison is keeping the Johnson family legacy alive. Packer sees there is something special about playing for someone who has left an enormous impact on UW-Madison, the Madison community and college hockey.

Johnson’s daughter Mikayla Johnson is a sophomore on the UW-Madison women’s hockey team, says her father rarely talked about his hockey past as she grew up.

“When you think about the University of Wisconsin, you think, ‘That’s Mark Johnson’s team,’” Packer says.

Mikayla’s decision to play for her father was simple. It had always been a dream to play for UW-Madison, and once her father acquired the headcoaching job, her heart was set on being a Badger. “My dad also played for his dad, so when I was younger I heard a lot about that and he kind of told me before I decided [to play at Wisconsin] what it was going to be like … and I was 100 percent for it. And it’s been great ever since.” From playing under his father in the 1970s to now coaching his daughter,

Johnson is a legend, glorified for his many accomplishments. But if Johnson could choose how he’d like to be remembered, it wouldn’t be for his accolades. “If my time’s up,” Johnson says jokingly before switching to a more serious tone, “[I’d want people to remember that] I was a good husband, I was a good father and hopefully I’ll be a good grandfather. And probably the biggest thing is, depending wherever I was working or playing, as I left those areas, it was a better place because I was there. And I think if people can talk about that, I must have done some pretty good things.”


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LITTLE FREE LIBRARY TOP 5 DESIGNS By Julia Birkinbine The idea for Little Free Library first began in Wisconsin in 2009, when cofounder Todd Bol crafted a library to model a red, one-room schoolhouse in memory of his mother in his front yard in Hudson. The sign reading: “free books.” Just four years later, Little Free Library has grown into an international social movement promoting community involvement and literacy with 10,000 registered libraries in 55 countries throughout the world. Our five favorite Little Free Library designs:






ATLANTA, GA. A tribute to the city’s 1939 Plaza Theatre.

MADISON, WIS. Modeled after Doctor Who’s Tardis time machine.

WINSTONSALEM, N.C. This grandfather clock was this city’s first Little Free Library.

IOWA CITY, IOWA A “haunted” library that houses horror and mystery stories.

MANHATTAN, N.Y. This Little Free Library’s made out of an old water tank.


CURB | 2013



f you are what you eat, shouldn’t you know where your food comes from? If so, what could beat getting all of your food straight from the farm? Farm-to-table is a new model for growing food that has seen growth with the continuous cultivation of small markets and sustainable farms. One Madison company’s true soul lies in the importance of knowing where your food comes from and how it is presented to its consumers. Texan brothers Ben and Jonny Hunter had dreams of one day owning their own restaurant where they would be able to show their passion for food. After opening Catacombs, a small coffee shop on the UW-Madison campus, in 2001, the Hunter brothers gathered a group of their friends who were equally passionate about food and started cooking and running a small catering business on the side. The brothers drew inspiration from working with small, local farmers, sustainability, the sense of community


in food and the importance of knowing where your food comes from. This inspiration caused their small catering operation to expand and turn into their very own farm-to-table, locally sourced food catering company, which ultimately birthed the Underground Food Collective. Working as a collective, Underground prides itself on the fact that the employees all share a passion for their work and the food that they create daily. As a company that sees little turnover in staff, the workers all take part in multiple aspects of the company and have a lot of say in what decisions are made. “Your staff kind of becomes a family. Once someone comes in, they’re our friends, and they’re our family and we love them, says Peter Baisden, the current host at Forequarter restaurant. “I think that’s one thing about the Underground staff. We always have each other’s backs. I really enjoy working here and I think everyone else does as well.”



305 State Street Madison, WI 53703 (608) 294-1000


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The production of dry-cured salami and dry-cured whole muscle products is the trade that sets Underground Meats apart from any other meat business in the state of Wisconsin. Though it is often confused as being the same business as the Underground Butcher shop, both operations are housed in separate facilities. Underground Meats uses old world techniques to produce dry-cured salami and whole muscle cures, often referred to as charcuterie. Photo by Taryn Grisham


Underground Catering uses farm-to-table style catering techniques, but with a twist. They are dedicated to using farm-fresh vegetables and animals in all of their dishes. Unlike most catering companies, they have no set menu, but rather look to the customer to choose their own dishes based on the event they are holding. Typically, they offer suggestions on plates they’ve created in the past, including a charcuterie plate and a meat and cheese plate made with their self-produced meat products. Photo by Taryn Grisham


Unlike most butcher shops, Underground Butcher brings in whole animals rather than pre-packaged sections of meats. Each week, Underground brings in one whole cow and anywhere from 6 to 10 pigs. Bringing in whole animals allows Underground to produce cut-to-order meats for their customers. “If they’re looking for a certain type of roast, we can cut it right there on the spot. Or, if they want a thicker steak, we can cut that on the spot for them too. We’re working with the whole animal and also doing our own sausage production right behind the counter,” says Jerry Traczyk, general manager at Underground Meats.

Photo by Taryn Grisham


Underground is no stranger to the restaurant scene. After a fire destroyed Kitchen – Underground’s first attempt at running a restaurant – in 2010, the owners took a brief hiatus from that component of their business. June 2012 brought Forequarter, a restaurant that provides an intimate neighborhood hangout with an emphasis on serving local food from local producers. Forequarter works closely with a number of farms to ensure that their produce is always fresh, and with the Underground Butcher shop to get some of its meat products. A unique aspect of this relationship between businesses is that customers of Forequarter can actually stop by the butcher shop after a meal at the restaurant to take home a replica of the pork loin or steak they may have eaten for dinner.

Photo by Jonny Hunter

CURB | 2013


GOOD By Alyson Pavela

Photos by Alyson Pavela CURBONLINE.COM


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cattered fields of golden wheat stretch for over a thousand acres across the century-old farmland on Washington Island. Surrounded by lush trees and rolling hills, this hard red winter wheat stands tall with roots firmly planted in Wisconsin soil. Out of these fields has grown a local craft distillery with national reach – Death’s Door Spirits.

on the island, and are still the only two farmers growing wheat for Death’s Door.

Brian Ellison, founder, president and CEO of Death’s Door Spirits, initially began a project to restore agriculture back to the economy on Washington Island in 2005.

“[The wheat grown for Death’s Door] definitely has brought agriculture back to the island,” Ron Doetch, the agriculture director for Death’s Door, says. “It brought up the significance of agriculture on the island and the possibilities for agriculture to provide economic benefit to the island.”

“They wanted to bring farming back to Washington Island,” Death’s Door Spirits National Brand Manager John Kinder says. “The fields had laid fallow for years.” Ellison and his like-minded co-workers desired to create an economic opportunity for the island other than tourism. With the help of Capital Brewery, Island Wheat beer was born. With this success, Ellison looked into creating distilled spirits out of the island wheat. “At that time, it was just one of those things that there weren’t many craft distilleries around,” Ellison says. “I couldn’t find anybody to really make the product for us and so I started learning distilling myself.” Out of the hard red winter wheat from Washington Island came Death’s Door’s vodka in early 2007. Gin with a spicy, citrusy flavor and white whisky with notes of vanilla and dark cherry followed. “As the success grew, it became more and more evident that it seemed like there was a really big opportunity for locally made spirits, with a specific ingredient grown somewhere locally, connected to farmers,” Ellison says. These farmers are islanders and brothers Tom and Ken Koyen, who partnered with Ellison in 2005 to grow wheat

“We’re inexorably linked to the success of our product and our product is inexorably linked to Washington Island,” Ellison says. The place and the product have found themselves in a reciprocal relationship.

The biggest economic benefit to the island is the increase in tourism, Doetch says. “Ferry trips are up. The number of people … who want to come over and learn the story of Washington Island, drink Death’s Door Spirits when they are over there.” The annual Juniper Festival celebrates this, bringing increased tourism to the island. “The Juniper Harvest Festival for us is an opportunity to connect with people and give back to the island,” Ellison says. “It’s our way to say thank you to them, and in some ways, hopefully just [show] a mutual appreciation.” In 2007, Death’s Door distributed between 700 and 900 cases of product. The brand has received national press recognition and won an award for its gin. This year, Death’s Door hopes to distribute close to 40,000 cases of product to 47 states and 12 countries. “The fact that we are a super premium product made specifically from the grains and the story of Washington Island is a part of what we are doing,” Ellison says. “I think that what we do and where our story is and sort of where our soul is, is with the people of Washington Island.”

CURB | 2013



KESEM By Kim L’Herault


s Lauren Simon was losing her dad to leukemia the summer after her freshman year in college, his words continuously echoed in her head. “You’re going to cure me.” “I’ll be better.” “You’re magic to me.” Magic was more than just a phrase. It was her father’s nickname for her, the word he used in place of Lauren, on letters when she was away at camp or out loud as she walked in the door. As she thought of ways to honor him, she considered a tattoo, but simply “magic” seemed cliché. She turned to a friend, who said “magic” in Hebrew was beautiful: “kesem.” She liked the sound of it and turned to Google. As she sat in front of her laptop screen, the initial results for “kesem” washed their own wave of magic over her. Camp Kesem: a summer camp for kids whose parents have or had cancer. That result opened the door to a more inspiring way to honor her father. Simon spent countless hours over three years developing Camp Kesem’s UW-Madison chapter, which hosted their first 15 campers in 2010. As one of 54 U.S. universities with Camp Kesem chapters, the UW-Madison group spins its magic for one week each summer. For those seven days, students provide a supportive camp community that recognizes and

understands the unique needs of kids whose parents stare down cancer. Camp Kesem is the place these kids get to go to just be kids. During one magical week these kids don’t have to worry about the horrible disease that made their mom bald, forced their dad to continuously be sick or, in too many cases, took one of their parents from them forever. At Camp Kesem, kids don’t use their real names. Everybody gets to be somebody totally different as they go by their camp names all week long. Despite the humorous nature of some of these camp names, such as Sir Dogington VI, this is a serious Kesem tradition. Coming to camp for the first time as a 15-year-old, Nico, known as “Teen Wolf,” was skeptical of the idea of a summer camp. “There was no way I was singing any of those songs,” he says. But his attitude quickly changed after the first few songs on the bus ride to camp.“Who cares? You’re being a kid. You’re having fun,” Teen Wolf says. Teen Wolf ’s 8-year-old sister Olivia, whose camp name is “Kitty,” put her feelings into words simply: “It’s a good place, and it makes me feel safer, and it makes my feelings better,” Kitty says.


MORE THAN SUMMER CAMP The magic of Kesem goes beyond the campground setting or the week long time frame. Bill Mulcahy has sent all three of his sons to camp for the past two years. As a psychotherapist, he was hesitant to expand his sons’ circle of protection outside their nuclear family. “When you lose a parent, you can shut your world down or you can grow it,” Mulcahy says. “And it was at that moment [when encouraged by a client to send his kids to camp] that I decided my world had to get bigger.” He realized somebody else could help his kids, and today Mulcahy emphasizes the support his family gets from the UW-Madison chapter. “I know there’s this great support network out there that’s always pulling and praying and thinking about us in our corner,” he says. The camp network reaches beyond the weeklong attendees and connects families fighting cancer. When Andrew Veith was nearing the end of a losing battle with cancer last year, two counselor alumni and another Kesem family took his four kids to a Build-aBear Workshop to create bears with recordings of his voice into them for each of the kids.

NOT THE SAME CAMPERS Karl Kesem, a light green and blue cartoon caterpillar, is the symbol for Camp Kesem. He represents the transformation caterpillars go through to become butterflies, which represents the transformation that occurs in campers and counselors at Camp Kesem.

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Kimberly Carr has had two sons attending Camp Kesem Wisconsin. Carr says she noticed a significant difference in her 10-year-old son Miles, known as “Kilo” at camp, after his first year at Camp Kesem. She says that Kilo found his own voice and became less dependent on his older 14-year-old brother Graham, whose camp name is “Undies.”


Since attending camp, Carr has noticed her sons wanting to volunteer for things and help others more.

In 2013, Camp Kesem served only 2,863 of the 3 million kids dealing with a parent’s cancer.

Cancer affects 1.7 million people in the U.S. each year. This results in over 3 million kids whose parents are or have been affected by cancer. Camp Kesem is the only national organization that is serving these children, according to Jane Saccaro, Camp Kesem’s national CEO.

“Being able to to share where nobody’s going to judge you for what you say was a really good experience.” Nico “Teen Wolf,” 15 An important turning point occurs at camp midway through the week. On Wednesday night each year, the entire camp — campers, counselors, nurses and other staff — sit in a circle and share what brought them to camp and what Kesem means to them. This is called the Empowerment Ceremony. Before his first Empowerment Ceremony, Teen Wolf did not understand its significance. He thought, “Why are they having us do this? This is so depressing.” “But then after I got my turn and shared what I thought and what happened to me and Olivia, it was like a weight off your shoulders because you were able to tell someone,” Teen Wolf says. “Being able to share where nobody’s going to judge you for what you say was a really good experience.”

Over 75 percent of the college students involved with Camp Kesem have a family member affected by cancer. “Bad things happen to people every day,” Saccaro says. “What is unique about Kesem is we have student leaders who are taking really crappy things that happen in their lives and they’re using them to transform and better the lives of kids just like them.” UW-Madison’s chapter has had significant growth in its first few years. From 15 campers in its first year, to 38 campers the second, to 66 campers the third year, to 88 campers last year, UW-Madison is aiming to provide camp for over 106 campers in 2014. Despite Camp Kesem Wisconsin’s rapid growth, there is still a huge need to serve this unique group of kids in

CURB | 2013

Wisconsin, according to Lenny Kass, a Camp Kesem UW advisory board member. UW-Madison is looking to expand to serve more of the kids who are affected by a parent’s cancer in the Milwaukee area. Since Kesem is free for the families, fundraising is crucial as chapters expand. For the UW-Madison chapter, the cost this summer will be $500 to send one child to camp. “If I ever win the lotto, half of it’s going to Camp Kesem,” Simon says.

NOT LIKE OTHER CHAPTERS Every Camp Kesem chapter needs to meet specific requirements from the national organization. That being said, Camp Kesem Wisconsin, which Katie Roth co-founded with Simon, is a Kesem of its own breed. Any of the parents of campers who have attended Camp Kesem Wisconsin’s camp could tell you this chapter takes its school pride to another level. From singing “Varsity” in the closing circle every night before bed to donning Badger bibs at camp for at least one day during the week, UW-Madison counselors cannot contain their love for their school. Almost all of the Camp Kesem campers aspire to be Camp Kesem

counselors when they grow up. More specifically, many of them want to be Badgers.

says Camp Kesem means an enduring love that the Kesem family has for his kids.

In addition to school pride, Camp Kesem Wisconsin has a deep understanding of the importance of the leadership aspect of the organization.

“It’s what the magic is,” says Mulcahy.

A camp director by trade, Kass was initially skeptical of a group of college students hosting a summer camp. But he has since seen the magic made at camp and has become an active advisory board member for Wisconsin. “UW-Madison has set a benchmark that I have yet to see another chapter follow,” Saccaro says.

MORE THAN MAGIC Kesem means magic, but Camp Kesem is more than that. “Magic is an amazing thing,” Teen Wolf says. “There’s different kinds of magic. You go downtown and someone does a magic trick for you. You make someone fall in love with you with magic. And I think there’s all of those things at Camp Kesem.” Mulcahy struggles to describe what Kesem means to him, but he settles on one word that’s not magic: love. He

It has been four years since Simon first learned about the word “kesem” in her search for an appropriate tattoo to honor her dad. Today she has her kesem tattoo. It’s on her wrist, right beneath her Karl Kesem silly band. “When I first reached out,” Simon says, “I was in a pretty terrible place having just lost my father, and trying to get back to school and pretend like everything is normal.” Having a parent diagnosed with cancer is not normal. And Camp Kesem is not a normal summer camp. Carr said that some of her favorite memories connected to Camp Kesem include going into her backyard and seeing her youngest son swinging and singing the camp song “Razzle Dazzle” to himself. Reflecting on the first time her sons returned from camp, Carr says, “When they came back in the house, they were the kids I had before I had cancer. They were kids again, and they were so excited and so happy.”

Photo by Matthew Arceo



By Ann Marie Steib You can’t head to Racine without hearing about “Kringle,” a flaky and buttery Danish pastry that has defined the city since its founding. This southeastern Wisconsin delicacy was made the state pastry in 2012. O&H Bakery, a Racine institution consistently voted “Best in Wisconsin,” makes their community - and their kringle - a top priority. With a legacy rooted deep in family pride and tradition, O&H has spent the past 60 years focused on bringing the people of Wisconsin and the world their famous Kringle. Curb caught up with vice-president Peter Olesen, a UW-Madison grad and future president of his family’s business.

WHY IS DANISH HISTORY SO IMPORTANT TO RACINE? Racine is a melting pot of immigrants. Around the turn of the 20th century, the concentration of Danes in Racine rivaled just about any city in Denmark, besides Copenhagen. The popularity of Kringle and Danish Bakeries in Racine to this day has maintained the deep-rooted history of Danish immigration. HOW HAS THE FAMILY BUSINESS EVOLVED OVER TIME? It was started by my great-grandfather in 1949. Our bakery has seen each generation work hard to maintain the legacy and traditions brought to us by our ancestors, but we continue to evolve the business as we’re looking forward. In 1949, the first O&H was less than 900 square feet. Today we operate four stores in Racine and southern Milwaukee County, plus a mail-order business with nearly 60,000 square feet of combined retail and baking space. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO TAKE ON A BUSINESS WITH SO MUCH LEGACY (AND THE BEST KRINGLE AROUND)? THOSE ARE BIG SHOES TO FILL. I work hard every day to ensure we are staying true to our family roots, while focusing on continual improvement. Our mission statement is "To make great bakery, provide our customers with outstanding customer service, and be an active partner in the local community." Our family and employees fully believe in our mission and each day provides us with another opportunity to take part in fulfilling it. WHAT KIND OF RELATIONSHIP DOES O&H HAVE WITH RACINE AND ITS COMMUNITY? HOW DOES IT GIVE BACK? Our mission statement is to be an active partner in Racine. Our family and employees are proud of our daily efforts to give back to the locals of our city. We support lots of local organizations, including donations to food shelters, crisis centers and other non-profits that show a clear need and have an appreciation for what we do.

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CURB | 2013

WISCONSIN’S INNOVATIVE PAST By Jenny Slattery Wisconsin is more than America’s Dairyland. It’s the place we found solutions for everything from the smoothie to Social Security.




UW-Madison economist and professor Edwin Witte

John C. Koss, Milwaukee

Stephen J. Poplawski, Racine




Matt Younkle, Green Bay

Charlie Nagreen, Hortonville

Seymour Cray, Chippewa Falls




Margarethe Meyer Schurz, Watertown

Wisconsin physician Dr. Fritz Bach

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CURB | 2013

HEROES OF THE HILLS By Bridget Ryan PROLOGUE Sitting in an empty cabin on the shores of Lake Superior, I find myself wishing I had packed a jacket. Just the end of September, the crisp air gives the feel of mid-October. It is not long, however, before Joe Rose’s voice begins to warm the room with stories of his childhood on the Bad River Reservation. His slow, deep voice starts out soft, but grows suddenly louder, angrier, as he tells me he fears the traditions of the Bad River Band have now fallen to the wayside for many on the reservation. With a proposed mine in the nearby Penokee Hills, Rose sees the voice of his people slowly being silenced as outside corporations try, he says, to exploit their land. But some are making sure their voice is not silenced. With a new documentary, three Native American teenagers help to celebrate the Indian tradition of storytelling while giving a voice to an often-ignored people.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS I came to the Bad River Reservation to better understand the controversy provoked by the proposed mine in the Penokee Hills. But it is not mining executives or legislators or tribal leaders that I speak with. It is three teenagers. Shania is a serious, sweet 14-year-old. The most reserved

of the three, she nervously plays with her shoe throughout our talk. I cannot help but notice the interesting juxtaposition of her soft voice and shy demeanor with her pink and glittery gold Jack Sparrow T-shirt. Jordan is also 14, but is loud, enthusiastic and about as goofy as you can get. An avid Chicago Blackhawks hockey fan, he shares with me his love of science and his dreams of becoming a biochemist, jokingly warning his mother, who is sitting nearby, “If something blows up, Mom, you’re going to get a call.” Falling on the middle of the spectrum is 15-year-old Ahpahnae. Confident, composed and a trumpet whiz, he’s the first Native teen to be selected as a Wisconsin Music Ambassador. Ahpahnae will be on a 10-city concert tour of Europe next summer. To outsiders, the teens’ only similarities might appear to be their age and strong ties to the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa. But what brings these teenagers together is their incredible passion to protect their land, their people and their culture.

SETTING The Bad River Reservation stretches across northern Wisconsin’s Ashland and Iron counties, reaching to the southern beaches of Lake Superior.

The area is known for its beautiful landscapes, wide varieties of animal species and, most important to the people of the Bad River tribe, wild rice. Harvested from the sloughs of the Bad River, wild rice, or manoomin, is the cultural center for the Ojibwe, another name for the tribes of Chippewa. The story of manoomin goes back to when the Ojibwe first settled on the land. Ever since, the people of Bad River have taken great pride in the harvest of their most precious crop. Just south of the reservation is the home to another natural resource: the Penokee Hills. The hills are also home to large iron ore deposits, which have attracted the attention of a Florida-based mining corporation, Gogebic Taconite (GTAC). Working with Wisconsin legislators, GTAC has proposed opening a 22-mile-wide, open-pit iron mine. GTAC contends the mine will help bring hundreds of jobs to an otherwise economically destitute area. But tribal members fear that what the mine will bring is environmental destruction. The hills where the mine would be are about 1,000 feet higher than the surrounding area. Any pollution from a mine would flow down the Bad River and into Lake Superior, most likely destroying the wild rice sloughs in the process. For

Photos by CURBONLINE.COM Bridget Ryan

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Shania Jackson, 14, stands with tribal elders Joe Rose and her father, Dana Jackson. L-R: Joe Rose, Shania Jackson, Dana Jackson


the people of Bad River, the benefits of protecting their resources far outweigh the job growth, however desirable, that mining would bring to the area. “We may be poor in a Western economic sense, but I think we are rich in a lot of ways,” Dr. Patty Loew, a Bad River tribal member and a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication, says. “We have rich culture, we have a rich history and we have amazing natural resources.” Though the Ojibwe people feel they are fighting for their livelihood, their voices often go unheard because of a lack of scientific representation in the Indian community. Because of this, bills backing the mine are passing through the Wisconsin legislature with relative ease.

PLOT Loew could not just sit back and watch. “One of the things that I really want to do is help grow this next generation of land stewards, and I want to do it using the traditional ways we communicate,” Loew says. “We have this amazing storytelling tradition in Indian Country. This is the way we communicate. We’re an oral culture.” In the past, Loew would go to Bad River in the summer to teach a workshop to groups of youth who would make their own short documentaries. But with the timeliness of the proposed mine combined with the fear of her people, Loew knew she had to do something different this year. Having worked with Loew in the past and having a strong connection to the subject matter, Shania, Jordan and Ahpahnae were eager to work on the project. Ahpahnae says working on the documentary seemed like a good opportunity not only to better educate himself on the subject, but also to better educate others. “I wanted to get more information about [the mining] so I could tell others the same information,” he says.

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“As the kids started interviewing the cultural people and the scientists in their own community, it was clear that people were so passionate and furious and angry and felt so deeply about this issue and felt that nobody was listening to them,” Loew says. “It seemed that [to them] this was more important to have [the documentary] reflect the community because those other perspectives were out there and the community’s perspective was never shared.” “Protect Our Future” was born. Creating the documentary was more or less a full-time job in June and July of 2013. After a month of reporting, writing and composing, a rough cut of the documentary was shown to members of the tribe. “It turned out what I wanted it to be, to educate the public about what’s going on,” Ahpahnae says. “I’m pretty excited for it.”

EPILOGUE In November, Shania, Jordan and Ahpahnae will begin showing their documentary at film festivals across the state. Though they all admit to being a bit nervous about showing the film to and getting critiques from strangers, they are excited knowing they are helping educate the public. “I see the transformation and the transformative powers it has with young people and I see how confident they get,” Loew says. “When you know something and you’re able to transmit that knowledge, it’s a very empowering kind of  process.” For a group that has felt ignored for so long, empowerment just might be the first step in finally being heard.

CURB | 2013

Acting Through The

NEXT STEPS By Lauren Simonis


group of nervous kids gathers at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center. They all wear the same gray T-shirt, featuring a green, abstract person and navy blue words that read, “Life skills through stage skills.” Many of these kids get bullied at school and haven’t yet warmed up to their peers. By the week’s end, these same kids, who were once quiet, are running down the hall and volunteering to improv a scene in front of the group. They validated the words on their shirts and gained one of the most important life skills: confidence. The program that teaches the kids this valuable lesson is Next Steps, a one-week program offered during spring break and at the end of August by the First Stage theater company in Milwaukee. Next Steps isn’t your typical theater group; they focus specifically on teaching students on the autistic spectrum who are in grades 6 through 12.

atmosphere that accepts everybody and celebrates us for all our differences,” Jennifer Adams, the program director and headmaster of Next Steps, says. To ensure the kids feel comfortable in the environment, the instructors at Next Steps inform the kids where they need to be, how everything is going to work and what is going to happen. But just because kids with autism have some challenges in certain environments doesn’t mean they aren’t talented. Many children with autism have incredible memories or musical talents, which allow them to thrive in theater. Kelly Lawrence’s 10-year-old son, Beck, experiences some of these challenges.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a person interacts and communicates with others. The disorder is set on a spectrum, encompassing varying degrees of the challenges associated with the disorder, meaning that while some kids had success in the regular classes, others needed a different classroom approach.

“[First Stage] wasn’t an option,” says Lawrence as she wipes the moisture from the corner of her eye. It was hard for her to come to terms with her son not being able to participate in this theater community because of the challenges he faces. She knew First Stage would be a good fit for Beck, but at the time, he couldn’t be in one of their regular classes.

“Students [on the autism spectrum] have done really well [in our classes] and they found a place where many of their social anxiety is lessened because we use such an accepting

By adding a program like Next Steps, First Stage was able to broaden their reach to kids like Beck, which has broadened the theater community as a whole.

CURB | 2013

Lawrence remembers when she found out about Next Steps. One day, Beck came home with a flier about the program in his take-home folder, which Lawrence initially thought would be perfect for him. However, because there aren’t many things for kids like Beck to participate in, Lawrence was wary of how successful this program would be. Luckily, Lawrence found out that First Stage did their homework in creating Next Steps. The program uses special education professionals as well as organizations, such as the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, to help make sure the program is a success. One technique the instructors use to help students overcome their challenges is the use of puppets, which helps the students to calm down. Beck

also talk about the kids’ interests, which they work into the program to keep the kids interested. Each day of the program starts and ends with an assembly led by the headmaster. Before they start performing, they all participate in the First Stage cheer, a cheer written by kids, for kids. From there, the students go to acting class. On a stage with shiny wooden floors and a dark red curtain pulled closed behind them, a couple students at a time act out finding a table in the lunchroom or dealing with a confrontation in a friendship. The kids get really into it, showing intense concentration and emotions on their faces as they pretend to get fired or go to the movies. Other times, they act out parts of a script and develop the character they

“Next Steps helped me realize that you don’t have to be normal to do the other class.” Beck, 10 remembers one of the acting teachers giving him a furry, brown dog puppet with a red bandanna to help him show emotions. To Lawrence, one of the most important things the program does to make sure the instructors understand the individuality of each student is an interview before the program starts. The students sit with an instructor of the Next Steps program and discuss how they would react to or handle themselves in particular situations. The instructors not only discuss the problems the kids may have, but they

are playing. These character exercises can help students expand their points of view by trying to understand the motives of a character that they don’t relate to. The students can then translate this skill to other people around them. After practicing their acting skills, they all get together on the stage and move on to a musical theater class, where they dance, sing and show off their musical talents to each other. At the end of the week, the students put on a final performance. Some of the kids become nervous at the thought of acting and dancing in

front of all the students’ friends and families. “I was afraid of the final performance we did, but once I got to it … it was fun and I had a lot of fun doing it,” Beck says. Beck has participated in the program twice, and has acted in two final performances. At the first performance, Lawrence was heartbroken to see her son affected by some of his “stuff ” on stage, a word she uses to describe the struggles that Beck experiences. “I felt like Next Steps was the exact right place for him to be, but in my heart, sometimes I wish that he could be with all the other kids,” Lawrence says, remembering that day he was on stage. Lawrence could tell by his mannerisms that her son was nervous, but all it took was one more session of Next Steps for Beck to find his confidence. At his final performance in his second time participating in Next Steps, Lawrence saw him standing tall on stage and smiled as she remembered how his “stuff ” was no longer up there with him. “I learned that ... nothing is too hard to do. You can do anything,” Beck says. The influence of Next Steps didn’t stop at Beck’s confidence. One of Beck’s acting teachers recommended he join one of her regular acting classes, Lawrence says with a big smile. Beck brings tears to his mother’s eyes by explaining that his challenges don’t restrict him from being with other kids. “[Next Steps] helped me realize that you don’t have to be normal to do the other class,” he says.

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SEED TO TABLE Photo by Jessica Chatham

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CURB | 2013



By Samantha Kurutz


pen a map of Wisconsin. Locate Milwaukee and draw a small circle around the downtown urban center. That circle, tiny though heavy, holds 60 percent of Milwaukee’s black population. It is a loop around someone’s mother, someone’s son, someone’s hero. Struggling with disproportionate levels of unemployment, poverty, incarceration and segregation, that tiny circle is a ring around just six zip codes. And yet, that small circle on a large map holds the lives of 70 percent of new HIV infections in the city of Milwaukee. Researchers at UW-Madison, along with community partners, are working to break the cyclic and devastating health disparities in Milwaukee County, combating homophobia and the transmission of HIV with lessons of love and tolerance. Black men in Milwaukee County are three times more likely to contract HIV in their lifetime than white men. Acceptance Journeys, a project led by UW-Madison Assistant Professor

Shawnika Hull, and Diverse and Resilient, a Milwaukee-area lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health organization, is a mass media campaign aimed to negate the health disparities in Milwaukee County; namely, the disproportionately high transmission rates of HIV among a specific demographic in the black community. They utilize promotional narrative cards, one side detailing the story of a brave journey taken toward inclusivity and unconditional love, the other showing a picture, perhaps an image of two sisters embracing or a mother holding her son’s hand. The program, whose slogans and photographs are covering city buses, hang at Amtrak stations and are plastered across billboards, challenges people to reframe the way they think about LGBT individuals. By including narratives that highlight the power of love and acceptance, partners of the project hope to combat the area’s rampant levels of homophobia, ultimately leading

to lower levels of HIV in the most segregated city in the country. While the larger Wisconsin community now experiences generally low transmission rates of HIV, some groups in Milwaukee County, specifically young, black, gay and bisexual men, experience transmission at a rate unseen anywhere else in the state – mostly due to massive disparities across racial and socioeconomic status divides. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, the city of Milwaukee accounted for 48 percent of HIV diagnoses in Wisconsin in 2012, but makes up only 10 percent of the state’s population. “Disparities are a consequence of disproportionate transmission of HIV, a consequence of the individual decisions we make, the circumstances in which we find ourselves, the social situations in which we’re placed and the disease burden in our community,” Hull says. “If we’re going to do something about it, we have to take a multi-pronged approach.”


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“We are all human. I think parents should love their children. I’m not ashamed of my daughter … she came from me.” Autry Fay, mother According to Acceptance Journeys, there are four major components to higher transmission of HIV among particular groups in Milwaukee County – housing instability, the severe stigma surrounding HIV, internalized homophobia and a general code of silence among the community – each combining to create a social environment where men who have sex with men experience a heightened risk of coming into contact with HIV. By looking to the underlying cause of the problem, Hull believes that all four of these factors can be assessed and dealt with. “If a young man comes out to his family and he’s put of the house – he needs somewhere to go. He has to find housing, he has to find food. And who’s a better candidate for support than someone whom a person has an intimate relationship with?” Hull says. She explains that, with the likelihood that this person is older and more established, their disease burden is higher in the community – meaning that he’s more likely to be HIV positive. “So we think that by impacting homophobia, we’ll reduce the likelihood that [young man] will be put out on the street in the first place. And we think that by improving acceptance in the community, we can mitigate that internalized stigma that people experience … so all of these pathways – we think that homophobia gets at the root of these problems.”

“If we can get somebody to use condoms, that’s great. That’s one pathway,” Hull says. “But if we can get at homophobia, we can get at a bunch of them. That’s the plan.” Gay and bisexual men account for four to eight percent of the population of Milwaukee County and yet represent 63 percent of HIV positive individuals. But segregation, both racially and socio-economically, remains one of the largest factors in HIV rates in Milwaukee. Acceptance Journeys says that sometimes, pushback from the community is difficult to deal with. The demographics with the largest health disparities are also among a population with disproportionate rates of violence, imprisonment, unemployment and poverty. It may be difficult for some people to respond to a campaign promoting acceptance when they themselves have been shunned or forgotten by many community and state institutions. “It’s hard to say, ‘What you should be thinking about is stigma,’ when what they’re really thinking about is, ‘My landlord is on my back about rent and I just got let go from my job,’” Hull says. Whose life could you change with love? A final card shows a woman and her daughter embracing, and, on the back, tells the story of a mother’s love.

“When Joyce first told me she was gay, back in 1982, she was crying. I think maybe she was afraid that I would change towards her if I knew. But that’s my child. I birthed her into this world,” writes Autry Fay. “We are all human. I think parents should love their children. I’m not ashamed of my daughter … she came from me. I always say, ‘God bless everybody in the whole world, no matter what.’ We need to love each other.”

CURB | 2013




By Claire Silverstein

few blocks from where a 17-year-old boy was shot to death nearly four years ago lies a beautiful organic garden, filled with seasonal vegetables, fruit trees and native flowers. The garden is part of a violence prevention initiative by Public Health – Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) to improve Madison’s southwest side, where a Madison Memorial High School student was shot in the back and killed on June 9, 2009. Since the early 2000s, this area has faced dramatic racial and generational tensions, social inequality, poverty and violence. In 2008, public health nurses Jessica LeClair and Kim Neuschel were paired up to develop a public health approach to improve health outcomes in Madison’s southwest area. They are a part of the Place Matters Team, a team that is focused on addressing the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. Their overall goal is to build a deeper connection to the community through improving neighborhoods and neighborly relations, improving employment opportunities, and building community representation and crossgenerational interaction. They pored over police data and began working with the police to understand how perceptions and reality of neighborhood safety were matching up. “One of the things that we found over and over again was that kids were seen as the problem. Through the qualitative interviews, there was absolutely concern for the kids but there was as much of a concern about the kids, and their behavior and their disrespect,” Neuschel says. “But if you looked around at the opportunities that they had for meaningful engagement, their experiences in the school district, not to mention the living environment that they

Photo by Claire Silverstein

were in, it didn’t lead to many opportunities for positive social behavior.” As part of LeClair and Neuschel’s PHMDC Violence Prevention Model, in late April 2010, the community successfully planted the Russett Road Front Yard Gardens, which comprises a series of rain gardens, vegetable gardens and flowerbeds. Once community gardens are planted, roots of security and community health begin to flourish. “I’ve had conversations with people who have had cookouts with their neighbors using the produce from the gardens. Like going and picking green tomatoes and frying up tomatoes and knocking on doors. All eating together,” Neuschel says. The Russett Road Front Yard Gardens were so successful that in early 2012, the Public Health Department and its partners decided to work together to create a model that could be sustainable and replicated throughout Dane County. The coalition is now called Gardens for Empowerment (G4E). G4E provides employment for youth referred by the community, schools and law enforcement. The coalition aims to use beautiful flower and food-production gardens to build social capital and empower residents to advance community goals and quality of life. This is done with a comprehensive approach, in a participatory fashion, using the principles of community, economics and youth leadership development, and guided by the principles of equity and inclusion. “Part of what’s being uncovered, and it’s not a surprise, but it’s very reassuring, is that the kids are starting to see themselves as assets,” Neuschel says. “As the neighborhood is shifting their view of them, and seeing them as doing good work, and feeling positive about them, the kids are internalizing that. And that is huge. That is life-changing.”


KEEP ON As long as Badgers keep on doing what we do—so uniquely, s o p a s s i o n a t e l y, s o a s t o u n d i n g l y a n d s o j o y f u l l y — w e w i l l continue to change the world.

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TWO AND A HALF MEN By Timothy Hadick Illustration by Mary Sedarous


ark is speeding down I-196 in the rural hills of Michigan. He looks in the rearview mirror and sees something he thought he had long ago decided against. He sees a boy savoring blueberries from a roadside stand. Michigan and blueberries are a part of Mark’s past and present.

But when Mark’s sister called with a story of a boy in trouble, Tom and he began to talk again. What would it mean for two men in their 50s to take in an 11-year-old? How would their gay partnership be seen by the boy and by the system? And can two men nurture a child in all the ways he needs?

This boy may be his future.

But the questions persisted and then later amplified when they learned more about the boy’s situation. Mark and Todd knew they needed to act.

Mark thought he had left the idea of being a dad behind a long time ago. At 54 and a graduate student at the UWMadison, he’d come off a long career in advertising, bought a bucolic farm and downshifted into days of reading and teaching and nights of movie watching and Badger hockey. He and his partner, Todd, 53, a child psychiatrist, celebrated their 19th anniversary as a couple in October. “As a gay couple, we had talked about adoption a long time ago, and I was like, ‘I don’t think so!’” Mark says.

Their decision led to the boy with the blueberries in the big, blue Toyota Tundra. But the story is neither a fairy tale nor near its conclusion. For as many questions as Mark had at first, he now has many more. Ultimately, it’s a story about two men raising a child they never expected to have. And about a boy adapting to a loving home, something he’s never known.

Read the story of a new family finding its way at

CURB | 2013

Photo by Jessica Chatham


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MY LAND By Meredith Lee


t all started with this prairie: this stretch of barren land between the green, rolling hills of Baraboo and Prairie du Sac. It’s been stripped of the big white farmhouses, tall, waving oats, towering, knotted trees and the most beautiful, black dirt in the state of Wisconsin. Chain-link fences topped with barbed wire guard the yellowed, desolate wasteland; a few empty buildings and rusted signs that read, “U.S. Army. Restricted Area.” The wind now blows a hollow echo across this land where my grandfather ran barefoot 85 years ago.

My grandfather, Robert Litscher, who everyone calls Bob, was born on April 20, 1924, in a cozy farmhouse near this prairie. America was prospering in the midst of the Roaring Twenties, Calvin Coolidge was president and my greatgrandmother bought 50-pound sacks of flour at $2.50 each to feed her growing children and tall, broad-shouldered husband. His steady dark blue eyes illuminated from behind a mask of caked, black field dirt as his tired, calloused hands rested on the heavy oak kitchen table. Life was hard, but it was good.

Thousands of years before that, glaciers lurched to a stop, carving this depression out of the Baraboo Hills and leaving behind rich soil that brought the Sauk tribe, pioneers and finally my grandfather’s family to this pristine stretch of the southwestern Wisconsin River valley. But that all changed with an unfamiliar knock at the door of my grandfather’s childhood farmhouse on a cold February day in 1942. A war effort that consumed the nation would eventually consume this wooden farmhouse, this seemingly unbreakable German-Swiss family, this rich, black earth and the other 78 family farms in Sumpter. Years later, my grandfather would realize his life ended and began that day.

Beginning at the age of 5, my grandfather and his five siblings woke up at dawn to milk cows, gather eggs and clean horse stalls. After returning to the house for breakfast, they biked a half-mile to their one-room schoolhouse to learn about reading, writing and arithmetic. “Oh, he was just like all the rest of us,” my grandfather’s youngest sister, Elaine, remembers about him as a boy. “Rambunctious,” she says, her shock of white hair bobbing as she slowly nods, staring off in the distance, beyond the beige walls of her nursing home, remembering a simpler, slower time of sunshine, wide-open blue skies and giggling children.

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Photo from Sauk County Historical Society

But, the events of a December day thousands of miles away in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, would soon destroy those happy pastimes. The knock on the Litschers’ screen door that cold February day was a group of men in dark suits and hats from the U.S. government. Rumors had circled the area for months that the Sumpter community was being considered for a large ammunition plant to build bombs for World War II.

‘Here’s a dollar. Here’s your option. Move in 30 days.’ That was the guy’s idea of an option,” LeRoy said.

household goods and even some houses that could be lifted off their foundations to their new farms.

The news reached a group of neighborhood men working in a Sumpter field. “Let it come,” one of them challenged, believing World War II was being fought on some foreign land separated from the rich, black dirt they were standing on by thousands of miles and the invincible Uncle Sam.

Some families stripped the boards off their homes to keep or sell for lumber. Most were forced to leave their mirrors, curtains, light fixtures and other furnishings behind, as their homes were to be used as U.S. Army offices.

My grandfather’s beloved brother and lifelong friend, LeRoy Litscher, who has since passed away, remembered the devastation that day brought to his family in a local newspaper article in 1997.

The Litschers soon found out President Roosevelt had authorized $65 million to build the largest ammunition plant in the world right on top of their own 262 acres, the land of their close friends and neighbors, the Shimnioks, plus nearly 7,000 acres of surrounding farmland.

“It was a sad day in 1942 when the government man came to our farm on the first of February and told my dad,

A great exodus began as residents furiously moved loads of hay, livestock, farm machinery, gates,

My 18-year-old grandfather watched as his mother and father, the proud children of European immigrants, were forced to leave the house they bought in 1925 and the home where they weathered the Great Depression while raising six young children. But, the house could be replaced. The land, on the other hand, the beautiful black dirt that the family had poured every possible cent and bead of sweat into, could not be replaced.


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Photo by Jessica Chatham

Residents flooded the Wisconsin state government’s offices, and even President Roosevelt’s office, with letters and petitions pleading that the plant be built on less valuable soil farther north so the Sumpter community could be preserved. One letter from the farmers read: “These are our homes. We could buy other farms, but that would not make them homes. It is family life that has made these farms, homes. We and our forefathers have lived here for generations. Some of our ancestors settled on these lands almost one hundred years ago to carve their futures out of what was then an uncultivated prairie and wilderness. These ancestors and some of our present families are buried in the little cemeteries in the area. It is our own

little bit of America, loved by the living, and sacred to the dead.”

would go in there and move them out ... if you want to call it that.”

My great-grandfather and other farmers, including the town chairman, Garth Premo, took the U.S. government to court in an attempt to keep their land. But, the government had spoken.

My great-grandfather didn’t receive more than the initial one-dollar payment until a year later.

“Couldn’t do much to stop it, I guess,” my grandfather says with raised eyebrows and a cocked head in a matter-of-fact tone. Premo was informed his two sons would soon find themselves enlisted if he didn’t sign his land away. “Oh yeah, powder plant, that was the government talking to you,” Elaine says, with the same expression on her face as her brother. “I don’t know what they thought,” she says, her voice trailing off. “They just thought they

The spring of 1942 brought thousands of workers from all over the country to the Baraboo area. The prairie soon filled with roads, production buildings, housing for 12,000 workers and their families, a school, a childcare facility, a hospital, cafeterias, a 15-mile fence around the plant and a railroad track. One of those workers was Carl Dineen, a construction worker from Amherst Junction who came to Baraboo with his wife, Hertha, to work in the bustling newfound city. Dineen became a supervisor at the plant, overseeing a largely female workforce that packed propellant and gunpowder into rockets and bombs.

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Their two daughters, Bonnie and Marjorie, came to Baraboo a year later after Marjorie finished high school at the age of 16. Six years later, after Marjorie attended UW-Madison and had started working as a secretary with Elaine (Litscher) Pierce at the agriculture office in Baraboo, Elaine brought Marjorie to a local dance hall on a blind date. It was 1949 and the dance hall was roaring with music, laughter and the stomping of 20-somethings jitterbugging. Marjorie’s cheeks

She would give a curt, pursed smile and an embarrassed shake of her head. “And, I thank God for that damned potato famine. None of you would be here without that famine,” he said. He was always thankful for the Irish Potato Famine that forced my grandmother’s great-grandparents, starving and destitute, across the Atlantic to America; but never the powder plant that brought my grandmother’s father to Baraboo. I never even heard him speak about the plant until I asked a few

The land, on the other hand, the beautiful black dirt that the family had poured every possible cent and bead of sweat into, could not be replaced. blushed against her brown eyes and curled coal black hair as a tall stranger with short, dark curly hair, walked toward her and Elaine. It was Elaine’s older brother and Marjorie’s future husband.    They were married two years later in 1951, moved to my grandfather’s newly bought farm and had their first child, my mother, Kristine, two years later. As a child at family holidays, I remember my grandfather’s booming voice cutting across the chaotic table chatter as he looked straight ahead. “Now, I just want you all to know how thankful we should all be for Margie.” He would glance over to my grandmother who was bustling around the kitchen like the good 1950s wife she was.

months ago. “It’s like talking about war,” my mother told me as we drove down Highway 12 through the orange and gold Baraboo Hills on a warm autumn day, bracing me for a conversation with her father she never had.

farm work all day for 50 years can no longer support his 6-foot-1-inch frame. He stares forward as he recounts the night he met my grandmother on a blind date at a dance hall — the blue dress she was wearing and the pinned back black curls that framed her brown eyes. My mother and I look away, clenching our jaws and wiping the tears from our faces, trying not to cry. We are, after all, the daughters of Midwestern farmers. Our fathers taught us to overcome, not break down. My grandmother lives in a memory care assisted living center across town because of the Alzheimer’s that took her from us. In some cruel twist of fate, my grandfather can remember that cold February day over 70 years ago, but needs two nurses to help him to the bathroom. While my grandmother can walk around her courtyard for hours, she can’t remember the name of the man she’s been married to for 62 years.

I didn’t know what she meant. But, after looking into my grandfather’s cloudy blue eyes as he relived an event that ripped his family from their home, and the unbearable stress and physical demands that drove his mother to her early death a year later at age 46, I’m beginning to understand. Now, he stares forward, silent, out the window of his nursing home room where he sits in a wheelchair because those long legs that strained through

“She was pretty and smart,” he says about my grandmother, slowly shaking his head up and down and smiling, remembering a woman who no longer remembers him. Together they make one person – one complete, functioning unit. Body and mind. But that’s how it always was. My grandfather was a charming, unwavering patriarch who came in from milking cows at night exhausted and hungry, while my grandmother


was a kind and dutiful wife who was always ready with supper on the table – usually too busy waiting on her husband and children to actually sit down. They needed each other to survive. But now, my grandparents live on opposite sides of the town where they met, fell in love and raised a family. My mother, grandmother, grandfather and I sit in the entryway of my grandmother’s assisted living center. Her wide-open brown eyes slowly gaze around at the overstuffed chairs and fireplace, as if seeing for the first time a place she’s sat a hundred times. My grandfather sits next to her, holding her hand, searching those brown eyes for the smallest spark of recognition, silently willing her to come back to him. She never does. She can’t remember his name or how he’s connected to her, but immediately, her delicate, wrinkled hand reaches to brush away the crumbs on his shirt as her head shakes and her mouth lets out a small, disgusted sigh. Her hand then carefully smoothes his ruffled, white hair. Her body continues this 62-year-old ritual her mind is unable to remember. “Oh my. And now, how are you doing?” she asks me, slowly chuckling as those patient brown eyes wait for

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my reply. Never mind she doesn’t know who I am, and I can see the masked worry on her face when she can’t place my face. Perfect social etiquette in the face of Alzheimer’s; her mother would be so proud. Her unconscious fussing demonstrates the innate sense of family within the Litschers, whether my grandmother consciously remembers or not. Now, preening my grandfather is her only connection to the life she once lived. This family was built on the values of hard work and love. It’s hard to imagine I might not be here without the powder plant that brought both defeat and victory, without the sacrifice and perseverance of my grandfather and great-grandfather.   Now, the defiled prairie sits. The U.S. Army has spent over $200 million since the 1980s in an attempt to purge the once beautiful, black dirt of contaminants, and the federal government divided the land among the Department of Natural Resources and other government programs. A memorial sits on the silent prairie, just outside the barbed wire topped fence The memorial reads: “A Tribute to the families who gave up

Photo from Kristine Litscher-Lee Robert Litscher and Marjorie Dineen married on Sept. 29, 1951, in Baraboo, Wis.


their land and homes for the defense of their Country in World War II to the Badger Ordnance Works.” A map outlines the families’ homesteads of Sumpter who were forced to give their land for their country. Near the top lies a rectangle marked “98.” Now, all that’s left of the black dirt my grandfather and great-grandfather worked with horse-drawn plows and the farmhouse where the family gathered around that big oak kitchen table on Sunday nights is a 2-inch rectangle on a slab of rock, and the story – the story of love, happiness, tragedy and family – that lives on in my grandfather’s memory, and now in me.

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PEACE By Sami Ghani


s members of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee West turned over the first shovelfuls of soil at the groundbreaking of their new mosque, they broke ground in a bigger, more impactful manner. After more than a year of vocal minority pushback and delays, the new Brookfield mosque project was finally beginning construction, something this community had fought hard to make a reality. But it wasn’t just the Muslim community of Brookfield that allowed this house of worship to overcome the negative views of some opponents - it was the unification of interfaith communities and Milwaukeeans of all types that made this project come to life. And now it is the entire community that has the possibility to benefit from this place of prayer and community center, all beginning with one shovelful of dirt. The Muslim community in the greater Milwaukee area is not new: the community traces its roots to immigrants from the Middle East and Asia in the 1940s and 50s. Their story is a classic one of immigration for a better life, and their roots are firmly set in Wisconsin’s soil.


Photos by Othman Atta CURB | 2013

An imam leads a prayer service at the site of the groundbreaking for the new mosque in Brookfield.

Othman Atta, who currently serves as the executive director of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, looked into the history and origins of Muslim immigrants to Wisconsin for the 25th anniversary of the organization in 2007. The community of Muslim immigrants settled in the Milwaukee area, but also spread throughout Wisconsin as early as the 1940s. According to Atta, “There were Arabs who actually started to come into the Milwaukee area from the 1940s and even the 1950s. At the same time, there were individuals who were coming from Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s. Then you had the black Muslims that started out in the Nation of Islam.” The Nation of Islam built its third house of worship, a temple, in Milwaukee. Once the majority of the organization was absorbed into the

general Muslim community due to the actions of Warith Mohammed, those temples were transformed into mosques. The Islamic Society of Milwaukee maintains the Clara Muhammad School in the former Milwaukee temple, paying homage to the old ways of the Nation of Islam and allowing it to maintain a strong connection to the black community of Muslims. Janan Najeeb, who serves as the president of the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition, recalls the story of her family choosing to move to Wisconsin. “My paternal grandfather was a merchant and he traveled between the Middle East and the U.S. For whatever reason, he took a liking to the Midwest and Milwaukee. He is actually buried in Milwaukee. He brought my father here as a teenager to study and work. My grandfather died at a young age and my father was still in high school.

My father remained here with his uncle, who was also a merchant; my father finished high school and technical school and served in the U.S. Army. Then he went overseas, got married and after having his first two children, he brought his family to warm Milwaukee.” Wisconsin presented a different and new environment for the Muslim immigrants who often traveled enormous distances in search of a new life, according to Mushir Hassan, one of the leaders of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee West Task Force, a group that is helping oversee the mosque construction. Many of the immigrants to the greater Milwaukee area have been professionals, educators and parents looking for better education opportunities for their children. These immigrants have folded into the greater Wisconsin community over the past 60 years, helping to form


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Muslims finish prayer service at the current Islamic Society of Milwaukee.

the fabric of the towns and cities of which they are a part.

Islamaphobia are often referred to as Fear Inc.

“People have a genuine curiosity about learning about other cultures, and that is pervasive in Wisconsin,” Hassan says. From his experience as a Muslim living in Wisconsin, Hassan has found the non-Muslim residents of the state to be friendly community of people curious to learn more about different cultures.

“There has been a vocal minority clamoring with usual ‘fear the Muslims, they are all terrorists’ tripe, but they have been the minority. The opponents used typical Fear Inc

Unfortunately, not all have been welcoming to Muslims living in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. Members of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee faced some of this adversity head-on when they proposed a new mosque for the Brookfield and greater Milwaukee community. Some opponents of a stronger Muslim presence in the U.S. have accused all American Muslims of terrorism in an attempt to inspire fear in the general population. These sources of

a reality. “Overall there was minimal, loud, opposition. I really need to stress the word minimal. Overwhelmingly, there was not any rejection, if you want to say that, or any difficulty that the Muslim community had,” Atta says.

Wisconsin presented a different and new environment for the Muslim immigrants who often traveled enormous distances in search of a new life, according to Mushir Hassan. smears about Muslims that were easy to counter, as they were so baseless. Many people saw past the opponents hiding behind ‘concerns about traffic’ being raised by the mosque,” Hassan says. Much of the community has been helpful, however, and has attempted to make the construction of the mosque

The presence of those interfaith groups proved to be essential to the success of the project in Brookfield. Hassan is confident that the mosque will serve as a hub of connections between the entire greater Milwaukee area communities. “Numerous people have expressed interest in an open house to learn more about Islam. We

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are already engaged with our local interfaith group. I see the mosque serving as a resource for people wanting to learn more about Islam. I think it will be an education center for both Muslims and non-Muslims.” Atta attributes the continued happiness and support of the Muslim community to the positive attributes of Milwaukee. “After you have lived in other cities, you recognize what they mean by

Midwestern values. It is a nice place to raise children, we sit on a great lake and, for years growing up, the school systems and park systems were the envy of many states,” Najeeb says. For now, the groundbreaking remains an exciting event for Muslims throughout the Milwaukee area, but it is just the first step in the struggle to improve Muslim and non-Muslim relations. Many of the current Muslims work as professionals in the Milwaukee community, and have

integrated themselves into the average lives of many non-Muslim people. “The next step is volunteerism and community engagement. This is starting to occur in pockets and will likely increase with a center of activity such as the mosque,” Hassan says.

Steenbock’s on Orchard + 608.204.2733 + 330 N. Orchard Madison, WI 53715 +

Photo by Adam Jacobs CURBONLINE.COM

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he Door County peninsula is best known for its high season, the summer months that grind travelers to a crawl on Highway 42 as it bends and weaves up the shoreline.

Known for its natural beauty, Door County is home to five state parks, each of them containing hiking trails and the kind of scenery people map vacations around.

But much like the glaciers that melted and formed a landscape of opportunity, the warmth cedes to winter chill, and Door County is modified for new sights and activities.

When dressed with snow, these hiking paths transform into cross-country skiing trails. More than 45 miles of groomed ski trails keep the state parks in use when the harsh Wisconsin winter climate would favor them otherwise.

The area known for its summer and fall attractions does anything but freeze up in the winter.

Snow and frigid temperatures might arrive by Thanksgiving, but those trails require more than a simple dusting to be

Photo from Erin Sutton CURB | 2013

Bowling on the ice between stacks of hay is just one of the many quirky events that take place during WinterFest in Fish Creek.

cross-country worthy. Though a Wisconsin winter can end in March or limp through April, the skiing season hits its stride during January and February. The transition between these two months marks one of Door County’s beloved winter events: candlelight skiing.

The silence is broken only by the whispered conversation of fiberglass and snowflakes. With just 25 devoted volunteers, the candlelight ski event is limited to just one night a season. The eighth annual event takes place in February 2014.

Using the depth of night and the reflecting snow, a group, led by creators Nick and Gail Anderson, ignites the forest with about 300 luminaries scattered throughout a onemile course at Peninsula State Park.

But cross-country skiing in Door County isn’t something that needs darkness and luminaries – or even the Andersons. The state parks are open daily and multiple stores rent or sell skis throughout the season. It’s a winter-long deal at Door County’s parks, weather permitting.

The night ski epitomizes leisure, blending a hobby with exercise and blanketing the trees and snow with candlelight and shadows.

Adam Jacobs finishes his typical workday around 4 p.m. and heads out to the frozen shoreline of Green Bay. Alongside him are a kite and a

pair of skis, different from the ones used by the Andersons. Jacobs takes his alpine, or downhill, skis, locks his boots in like an Olympian and instead of letting the wind get in his way, he puts it to use. Jacobs is a snowkiter, or a windskier, whichever unofficial name fills the purpose. He uses an 86-square-foot kite, which flies about 100 feet in the air, is anchored to his body and is maneuvered by the reigns in his hands. Similar to sailing, the kite fills with wind as he aims the nylon to catch and direct him. There are no ski lifts for Jacobs and rarely anyone on the open ice that is his ski hill. All he needs is wind. If he gets enough, it’s the perfect winter sport for him in this less-than-mountainous state.


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“It’s nice if you’re out there at sunset and the light is shining against the bluffs. It’s an amazing experience.” Adam Jacobs, Door County Resident

Jacobs, who has been snowkiting since 2011, expertly flows along the shoreline, up to 45 mph by his estimation. With the wind at his back, cruising over the ice and snow, he surveys the cliffs and ledges of Door County’s summer obsession. “It’s nice if you’re out there at sunset and the light is shining against the bluffs. It’s an amazing experience,” Jacobs says. Bob Yttri is the owner of the Red Putter miniature golf course farther north in a town called Ephraim. Entertaining tourists all summer long from his tiny booth at the Red Putter, it’s clear to see that Yttri adores his course. Simply put, he loves mini golf and is a fan of anyone lining up his or her next hole-in-one. Every New Year’s Day, Yttri, joined by his daughter and son-in-law, reopens the course for the Frostbite Tournament, geared for the ultracommitted mini golfer, the only qualifications being a will to brave January temperatures and the ability to plan around the bustle of the holidays. So far, the timing has worked out well for the Red Putter. The 2014 Frostbite Tournament will be the fourth-annual competition and it continues to grow

each year. Yttri expects between 40 and 50 golfers to compete, paying $25 for a shot at the winner’s pull of $700. Yttri doesn’t make any money on the event; he’s there for the love of the game and for others who love the game. January is not June, so he might not be sporting his iconic black top hat and red polo, but on New Year’s Day, with his face turning red from the cold, it’s clear to see how he feels about mini golf at the Red Putter: “It’s just all fun,” Yttri says. If the typical harsh February weather doesn’t warrant recreation or fun on the mini golf course, Door County residents might attend Fish Creek’s Winter Festival, a quirky, yet signature event every February in one of the county’s quaint townships. “Winter Fest started … before things stayed open in the winter, people needed something to do up there,” Erin Sutton, marketing coordinator for the Fish Creek Civic Association, says. “So they wanted to get all the locals together and celebrate, and it’s become more than that now. It is truly just kind of a celebration of winter.” What started as an event geared toward the local residents has now

grown into something that draws nearly as many tourists as locals, according to Sutton. People seem drawn to the eccentric events that keep the county awake during the stagnation of winter. The event is a frozen spin on the typical county fair, with bizarre games centralized in and around Clark Park. In 2013, this included a bike toss, where participants simply wind up and launch a bicycle as far as they can. Then there’s minnow racing, in which contestants pit their small swimmers against others in a 10-foot sprint. The clear fan-favorite is human foosball, like soccer, but with players only able to move laterally on the snow-covered ice, connected to rope within a boarded arena. The three-day festival wraps up Sunday with the “Fruit Loop Run,” in which contestants run or walk around a few town blocks, downing free Fruit Loops and milk when they finish. Costumes are highly encouraged and affectionately judged. “It’s a unique event,” Sutton says. “People enjoy playing in the tournament and they also enjoy watching it.”

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Saving PAPER By Steve Horn


he smell of sulfur is never easy to stomach. Eggy and pungent. Anyone who has been around a paper mill is all too familiar. Every morning, at the crack of dawn, the smell wafts across northeastern Wisconsin from Neenah to Menasha then upward to Appleton and Combined Locks, the aptly named “Paper Valley.” But this morning in Kimberly, the air is crisp. So fresh it’s almost harsh, nose hairs standing straight, grasping for every ounce of purity. For most, this is a beautiful thing, a sign of life. For the 600 some-odd workers who used to

wake up to the smell of sulfur at the NewPage Paper Mill in Kimberly, it’s the opposite. The NewPage mill was pieced, parted and leveled in March 2012. “If you were to go look at the NewPage mill, all you would see is a construction fence with mountains of rubble behind it and a water tower,” Ferko Goldinger, marketing manager at Appleton Coated Paper, says. “There are physical reminders all over the area.” Photos by Steve Horn


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“It’s the perfect storm for those kinds of communities. It all works so well until there’s nothing there.” Reed Jones, Spectrum Resources

NewPage isn’t alone, as buyouts and consolidation have put families out of work across Wisconsin paper mills over the last decade. “It’s kind of the perfect storm … for those kinds of communities,” says Reed Jones, a printing consultant at Spectrum Resources who has worked in the commercial printing industry for nearly 30 years. “It all works so well until there’s nothing there. It’s not like these people are warned. All of the sudden work is there one generation and completely gone halfway through the next.” Wisconsin and her industry have been fundamentally shaped by those people, by those generations, by paper. For decades, the Wisconsin paper industry led the country in paper production and profit margin. Until now. Amid pushes toward new technology, pleas to use less paper and foreign competition, many rightfully question what will become of paper. Moreover, they ask what will become of the industry that has played such a huge part in shaping the state of Wisconsin. On the surface, and the leveled surfaces of mills, the picture is grim.

But for many behind the scenes and in the know, this is a story — not yet finished — of an industry fighting misconceptions to show that it may just have a future in a digital world. But to understand the future of paper in Wisconsin it is paramount to know its past.

PAPER’S HISTORY Paper production rose to monumental status in the state because sometimes, a state doesn’t have to work very hard to find its leading industry. With a heavily forested landscape from north to south, lined with rivers like arteries for carrying timber, this state was made to move wood. “Wood products are core to Wisconsin’s industrial base and paper is certainly a very significant part of that on a dotted line basis,” says Goldinger. “It’s a very manufacturingcentered state with great workforce.” In the seven years after the state’s second paper mill opened in Appleton in 1853, Wisconsin was already producing the most paper of any Midwestern state, with an annual output of nearly 1.7 million pounds.

The introduction of railroad lines to the Northwoods allowed trees to move to the Fox Valley area for processing even faster, making the greater Green Bay area the undisputed national hub for paper. In 1967, Wisconsin was employing an industry peak of more than 21,000 people. Times have changed since 1967.

CONSOLIDATION NATION Looking back to the NewPage mill, massive beams and wells and machinery that were once undoubtedly integral to making paper now sit dusty and idle, reduced to mere garbage. Signs that warn “CAUTION: MOVING MACHINERY” still stand in the grim irony. Consolidation has swept through and hit hard. “You have some huge conglomerate come in and purchase and consolidate and decide rather than keep this mill open, with perhaps its unionized labor force, let’s shut the mill down and just replace that particular line of paper with some foreign sheet that we also represent,” Jones says.

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Consolidation, buyouts and shutdowns have made for tidal shifts in not just the physical and economic nature of the paper industry, but also the lifestyle and culture of the Fox Valley area. “It cuts across hourly, salaried. It hits the village’s tax base and income base. There are huge ripples,” Goldinger says. “Think of all the people that are not going out to eat, not buying lunch, all the rest.” Consolidation’s effects are clear. However, consolidation is the endgame in a process that begins with, among other things, threats from digital technologies.

THE SUSPECTS In a society that is increasingly digital, paper has no part. At least that’s what the skeptics say. No doubt, making our lives more

digital has its upsides. It also has had and will continue to have a dramatic, measurable effect on paper, for print. However, paper is not just printing paper. “Everyone needs to recognize that the paper industry isn’t simply 8½-by-11 copy paper,” Jeff Landin, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, says in his article, “Paper Industry still Strong in Wisconsin.” “Think medical supplies. Microwave popcorn bags. Food packaging. Receipts at gas pumps and restaurants. Lottery tickets. Beer and wine labels. Toilet tissue, paper towels and napkins. Cardboard boxes. Gift-wrapping paper.” While books and notebooks may have met their demise with the Kindle and the like, paper still has a fighting chance. “Where you see less paper being used is from the publishing industry,” Jones says. “The publishing industry is

what’s dying.” “If we don’t buy the book, we’re still buying the Kindle and the Kindle is still coming in packaging and that is probably getting mailed to us in more packaging,” Tom Eggert, senior lecturer at the UW-Madison School of Business and executive director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, says. Moreover, those who do actually make an all-digital switch are most likely interacting with paper without even knowing it. “There’s all kinds of papers that you don’t even know. The paper that’s actually inside that is the label of a Tide bottle that you would swear is plastic is actually paper,” Goldinger says. “The data that suggests we are using less paper is dead wrong. I just don’t think there is credible data that says we’re using less paper,” Eggert echoes.


A NEW HOPE To better appreciate paper in the future, it would again be a disservice to not address a key myth about paper itself: the fact that it’s not sustainable. There always seems to be a push to print less, buy less and carry less in paper. In fact, paper has repeatedly proven itself as a recyclable industry. “All of the documents that we print at work these days are all printed on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper,” Eggert says. “Which means this is paper from the offices around the state that is re-gathered, recycled, repulped, and new paper is created out of paper that has already been used once.” Also, trees for paper production are essentially a crop. They are grown and regenerated as such and have been for centuries. Nearly every mill in the country is working with groups like the Forest Stewardship Council to document their production process from standing tree to final sheet.

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“To have that kind of linkage between groups that were formally enemies speaks to how much change has occurred in the industry and how deeply vested the forest products industry is in being sustainable,” Goldinger says. On a related note, it may be a disservice to digital in giving it endless praise. Between the new must-have smartphone that comes out every month and the planned redundancy of withheld features, paper may in fact be just as environmentally friendly as digital tools. “You look at the environmental footprint of a new phone or a new computer and it’s substantial,” Eggert says. “We’re going to need to find some more sustainable ways of providing that technology.”

THE FUTURE That is where things are today. Where will paper be when the dust settles? Are we always going to have paper and


a need for paper? Eggert, Jones and Goldinger unanimously say yes. It appears that paper does indeed have more than a fighting chance. Generally, it appears that the longstanding American industry may stand longer. In the same sense that the American automotive industry has shown fight, it seems that despite leveled and consolidated mills, the tide may be turning. Specifically, though, the jury is still out on its future in Wisconsin. “Paper in Wisconsin?” questioned Eggert. “There’s a lot of questions about what the future is going to be.” What is the future of other towns like Kimberly? Will the air go from pungent to pure for the worse? The beauty, perhaps, of an old industry is that it has had to prove itself as strong and durable time and time again. What lies ahead may be unknown, but what lies in the past, even if it’s no longer standing, is promising.

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By Jessica Chatham

Fall is the time for apples, pumpkins and outdoor fun for everyone. Sutter’s Ridge Farm in Mount Horeb, owned by Matt and Julie Sutter, features a variety of you-pick crops, fun games and amazing views of the countryside. Photos by Jessica Chatham


Matt and Julie Sutter are the third generation of Sutters to own the farm, which took on a you-pick style when they realized how much people really enjoy being on the farm and picking the fruit themselves.


Apples have a very long growing season, starting with pruning in March and ending with picking in September. Sutter’s Ridge Farm offers about 20 different kinds of apples.


A typical day for Matt Sutter includes feeding the farm animals, picking Honeycrisp apples before they fall on the ground and cleaning up the farm from the weekend before.

SWEET TREATS Pumpkin bars and cider are favorites on the farm, which are sold alongside apples at the Dane County Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. FUN IN THE COUNTRY

Sutter’s Ridge Farm is open on weekends offering apple picking, raspberry picking, wagon rides in the pumpkin patch and a threeacre corn maze. It is interactive fun for the whole family.


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hree years ago, it was a normal day for Green Bay native Glen Christensen as he walked to the mailbox outside his home near Dallas. Still reeling from the recession, his thoughts were crowded with worry over whether or not his printing company could withstand the economic downturn. In his mailbox, instead of finding bills or notices from the bank, he found a letter from over 1,000 miles away. He had been waiting for the letter since the 1960s when he spent his childhood Sundays sitting on the curb near Lambeau Field, listening to the stadium roar. “I opened that mailbox and right on top was a bright white envelope with the Green Bay Packers logo and I seriously started to shake,” he says, recalling his joy at receiving the letter. “There’s the thing for my season tickets, we’ve finally moved up.” Not

the least bit embarrassed, Christensen adds, “I had tears in my eyes.” For Christensen, the Green Bay Packers have been a part of his family’s history nearly since the team’s birth. His mother, Germaine, was a majorette for the Packers Lumberjack band in 1938. She was hand-picked by Curly Lambeau himself when he saw her perform at Green Bay East High School. She passed her adoration for the Packers along to her son and he grew up watching Bart Starr throw touchdowns on television.

Becoming a season ticket holder has only gotten more difficult over the last 50 years. In fact, the Packers ticket office says there are more than 100,000 people waiting their turn to purchase a set of the coveted season tickets. Karl Kallio was put on the waiting list as a Christmas gift in 2004 when he was 12 years old. Currently, he is 89,786 spots away from his own set of season tickets.

Despite his mother’s history with the team, Christensen didn’t see much of the stadium’s interior.

“I’m still excited,” he says with determination, unfazed by the daunting number of fans who stand in his way. “It doesn’t mean anything, but it’s just cool. It’s more of a Green Bay pride thing, to do as much as you can for your football team.”

“I never really got to go to any games when I was a kid because, even then, Packers tickets were just ridiculous to get a hold of,” he says.

That Green Bay pride is nearly as old as professional football itself. The Green Bay Packers played their first season in 1919, making them one of

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ULTIMATE COLLECTION By Katelyn Youngblood Glen Christensen is not your average Green Bay Packers fan. Christensen owns one of the largest collections of Packers memorabilia in the world, with pieces that rival even those in the Packers Hall of Fame. The Green Bay native began his collection in 1992 with his mother’s keepsakes from the 1930s and 1940s and hasn’t stopped since. His collection has since taken over two rooms of his house near Dallas and boasts well over 10,000 items -- most of them priceless. Here are Christensen’s favorite Packers items:

1. Aaron Rodgers’ game-used and signed helmet. 2. Brett Favre’s game-used and signed NFL Pro-Bowl jersey.

3. The entire “P” from the Packer’s end zone from Super Bowl XLV, which now carpets one of his collection rooms.

4. Sideline bench from the 1967 “Ice Bowl”. 5. Ray Nitschke 1968, and Paul Hornung 1962, NFL Player of the Year Awards.

6. Reggie White’s signed and game-used helmet. 7. Two game-used footballs from Super Bowl II. 8. Jim Taylor’s iconic #31 sideline coat from 1966, signed by the team.

9. The first ever Super Bowl ring prototype. Vince Lombardi rejected it because of its emerald stone, supposedly saying, “Get that green stone out of there. My boys deserve diamonds.”

10. Green Bay Packer season tickets. To see photos of the collection, visit


the oldest professional football teams in the country. The team’s nearly 100-year history is characterized as much by financial struggles and faltering leadership as it is by success against all odds. The Packers’ early dependence on the citizens of the Green Bay area to keep the team afloat allowed for the formation of one of the most unique ownership models in professional sports. “It’s a community that has literally saved the team from bankruptcy,” says Aaron Popkey, director of public affairs for the Packers. “We’ve had five stock offerings … each time, the fans have come forward and helped the team financially to be put in a better position.” This exceptional ownership model allows both parties to benefit. Packers stockholders own stock that will never increase in value, never pay dividends and can never be sold. Yet this publicly owned, absurdly smallmarket team has allowed its fans to feel a sense of belonging and family that goes unrivaled anywhere else in the NFL. Other cities with NFL teams are large and culturally diverse places with professional baseball, basketball and hockey teams. Green Bay has the Packers.

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over the last 95 years. Perhaps the most notable years of success, the 1960s, were the glory years of head coach Vince Lombardi, who came to Green Bay after the Packers had suffered through more than a decade of losing seasons. Lombardi led the team to five championships between 1961 and 1967. Back then, Lambeau Field could seat only a fraction of the fans it can today, but among Lombardi’s long list of accomplishments is the beginning of the season ticket waiting list. Although the 1970s and 1980s saw a marked decline in the Packers’ field performance from the glory years, Packers fans, ever supportive, still clamored for tickets. Every game since 1960 has been played in front of a sold-out crowd. During the 1989 season, the Packers posted a record of 10-6, their best since 1972. According to Popkey, this was when season ticket waiting list numbers began to skyrocket.


June. She joined the list at number 9,347, only a few short years before the legendary day a young backup quarterback named Brett Favre would substitute for an injured Don Majkowski and eventually lead the Packers to practically uninterrupted success from 1992 to 2008. Since 1992, the Green Bay Packers have had 17 winning seasons and have clinched 15 playoff berths. And in that time, the season ticket waiting list has grown exponentially, reflecting the Packers’ spike in popularity and victory rate. This year, with Lambeau Field’s most recent renovation, 7,000 new seats were added to the south end zone. This allowed a significant amount of people to make it off the waiting list for the first time since the major stadium renovation in 2003, when the seating capacity was raised from 60,890 to 72,928. With the newest addition, the stadium will seat 80,750 people. Because of these renovations and the lucky timing of when Niemi was added to the list,

“For me, the tickets are far beyond going to see the Packers. It’s going back home and reliving my childhood.”

The miracle of the team’s corporate structure ensures that the Packers will never be moved to a different city; they will belong to the people of Wisconsin and their stockholders forever. Because of this, Green Bay provides a home for the Packers better than any other city ever could.

“There were about 7,000 or 8,000 names through the ‘89 season and then it really took off in ‘89,” Popkey says. “That was really the best year in many, many years.”

Affectionately and appropriately dubbed “Titletown,” Green Bay has seen its Packers win 13 championships

It was in this year that Brianna Niemi was added to the list in November by her parents, following her birth in

Glen Christensen, Season Ticket Holder she now finds herself all of eight spots away from the top of the list. “It kind of scares me. I thought I’d be more financially ready when my time came,” she says, unsure of how to pay for both the user fee to secure her tickets and the price of the tickets themselves. “I’m a grad student right

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now so I already have undergrad loans and grad loans. I don’t want to pass it up but I have to find options soon enough so I don’t have to lose them.” Popkey says that as far as the Packers know, they have the longest active season ticket waiting list, along with

the slowest turnover. Since the waiting list is so long and many fans won’t receive tickets during their lifetime, waiting list positions are transferable between immediate family members, just like the actual tickets themselves. This is good news for Kallio, who plans to keep his waiting list position alive for a family of his own someday. “Being able to pass that on would be really cool,” he explains. “The best present I could give my kids is a chance to go to Packers games.” Others never give up hope that their name will make it off the list during their lifetime. “In an average year, we have about 100 names that come off the list. So if you were to do the math, you would discover that it’s not even really worth an estimate,” Popkey says. “Being on the waiting list is more of a source of pride and connection amongst Packers fans.” Doing the math might lead new members of the waiting list to become overwhelmed, thinking about the 1,000 years they’ll have to wait before their number comes up to receive season tickets. However, not everyone on the list can accept the tickets when they are offered. In fact, according to the Packers organization, only about 77 percent of those on the waiting list who are offered

season tickets actually purchase the tickets. The other 23 percent, many of whom cannot afford the initial investment or have moved away, give up their spot on the waiting list and there’s no turning back. The significance of Packers season tickets to many fans seems to more than justify the magnitude of the waiting list.This sentiment is echoed by season ticket holders who call not only Green Bay, but Lambeau Field itself, their home. “No matter how long you’ve been gone, it’s always home,” says Christensen. “For me, the tickets are far beyond going to see the Packers. It’s going back home and reliving my childhood.” Popkey feels similarly, citing how the community takes responsibility for the continuing legacy of the team. “We feel we have a treasure here and we need to nurture it along, ” he says. Those who are lucky enough to have season tickets understand how special it is to have them. Christensen describes the event he attended at Lambeau three years ago for new season ticket holders to see their seats. “The coolest thing was … they let us go sit in our actual seat. And it was kind of rainy out but we went up there and we sat in those seats in the rain and it was the coolest feeling ever, to know that those were my seats and I’m finally a season ticket holder of the Packers,” he says. “We absorbed not only the rain but the experience … it’ll never get old. I grin every time I get down to row nine and I know that those seats are mine.”

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