CURB Out of the Dark

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Athletes train

while you sleep


Theaters innovate to

attract new audiences


Drink and dine

across Wisconsin





ON THE COVER: UW runner Rowen Ellenberg trains at sunset along the Arboretum. His

team finished 11th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships in November. Read more

about him and other UW athletes who train before sunrise in Rise and Grind on p. 52. Cover

photography by Kalli Anderson.







Editor’s Note

Stars Under the Stars

Out Like A Light

Essentials in the Dark

Books to Keep You Up At Night

It’s Freakin’ Bats

Dark Academia

Check Out Wisconsin’s Northern


Curb 20th Edition


Badger ON




Continue on your UW journey with the Wisconsin

Alumni Association® (WAA). Share in Badger spirit.

Access all things UW. Strengthen campus

connections — and more! WAA is here for all alumni

and for every stage in your life as a Badger.



























Explore the stories after sunset

Amped Up

Alpine Adventures

Thinking Outside the Black Box

Evening Song

Let’s Go Out!

Embrace the moonlight hours

A Deep Dive

Darker Tails

Follow the Money

Indigenous Voices Light the Way

The Night Shift

Support for Survivors

A Circus Like No Other

DAWN Discover as the day breaks

A Watershed Moment

At Last

A Way Forward

“Even in darkness it is possible

to create light.”

Rise and Grind

Her New Medium

Culture Shift

Our Own Little Chapel

Seize the Day


By Kate Morton



No one can function without sleep, but many of us

lean into bad habits that keep us from getting a

full night of rest. Here are some tips that will have

you sleeping like a baby in the wink of an eye.

Scientists tell us that humans are born with only two innate fears: the fear

of loud noises and the fear of falling. Yet soon, often in early childhood,

many develop another: the fear of the dark.

As we grow up, we come to associate different things with darkness. For

some it’s the nighttime, crawling with nocturnal life while our own circadian

rhythms kick us into sleep. For others, life just begins — whether that means

work, play or a rest from the constant rush of the daytime.

I’ll be honest. More often than not, my most memorable tales happen after

12 a.m., whether that be staying up late working on this magazine, bartending

at a local student bar or enjoying my senior year in Wisconsin a little too much...

So this year at Curb, our team decided to challenge the notion that darkness

is inherently villainous. Yes, darkness can be sinister, mysterious and

even surprising. Yet some of our most important moments happen in the

dark, the peaceful and the joyful. As this collection of stories will come out

in December — the darkest time of the year — we are left wondering: can

anything good really happen after midnight?

In this issue, we will explore all types of stories rooted in the dark — both

literally and metaphorically. In reading “Out of the Dark,” we invite you to

challenge your beliefs about darkness and discover what it means to the people

of Wisconsin. We hope to reveal how they embrace it, expose injustices in the

shadows and highlight the unseen with a celebration of the dark. And hey,

maybe you’ll come out a little less afraid of it.


Margarita Vinogradov

Editor In Chief

There’s more to love!

Visit us at curbonline.com

Curb is published through generous alumni donations

administered by the UW Foundation and in partnership

with Royle Printing, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

© Copyright 2021 Curb Magazine


Margarita Vinogradov, Editor In Chief

Maya Fidziukiewicz, Managing Editor

Cailyn Schiltz, Lead Writer

Elea Levin, Lead Writer

Lauryn Azu, Copy Editor

Kate Morton, Copy Editor

Isabella Byrne, Copy Editor


Henry West, Business Director

Anna Aversa, Public Relations Director

Lilly Freemyer, Public Relations Director

Jack Murphy, Engagement Director

Claire Henneman, Marketing Representative

Mallory Pelon, Marketing Representative


Lili Sarajian, Art Director

Grace Landsberg, Production Director

Shannon McManus, Production Associate

Madison Mooney, Production Associate

Kalli Anderson, Photographer and Photo Editor


Molly Kehoe, Online Editor

Jessica Gregory, Online Associate

Joe Rickles, Online Associate

Tamia Fowlkes, Multimedia Producer


Stacy Forster

Editorial support from Jenny Price



The Starlite

14 Drive-In in

Richland Center


By Kalli Anderson

At one time in the 1950s, there

were 79 drive-in theaters in

the state of Wisconsin. Now,

there are only 11 left.

One of them is Starlite 14

Drive-In in Richland Center in

the southwestern part of the

state. When the previous owners

decided they wanted to retire after

32 years of running it, Holly and

Tony Johnson and Brent Montry

knew they had to buy the drive-in

to preserve this essential place in

the community.

Buying the drive-in theater in

July 2020, right in the beginning

of the COVID-19 pandemic, gave

Starlite 14 a new opportunity — not

only to keep running, but also to

offer a space for people to get out

of their homes.

Attendees showed up in all

forms, from being masked up and

barely rolling down the windows

to not having a mask in sight and

meeting up with people outside of

their household.

“This [was] one way families

felt safe to be out in public, and

also get to do one of the things

they love, and that’s watch movies,”

Holly says. “COVID has really

helped bring back the outdoor

movie theaters and really show

families how special they are.”

As one of the last drive-ins

standing in the state, Starlite 14

still has connections to its past.

The theater has made significant

upgrades — including remodeling

the concessions stand — but they

still use the old speaker posts to

direct cars on where to park.

Still, a huge part of the attraction

of an outdoor movie theater

is the connection between the

motion pictures on a screen and

being out in nature.

“Everybody loves the movies,

just to be under the stars, be outside,

have the fresh air and reunite

with each other,” Holly says.

Don’t use screens right

before bed. Screens emit

blue light, which suppresses

production of the sleepinducing

hormone melatonin.

Avoid heavy meals before

going to bed. The body

needs time to process big

meals. At the same time,

avoid going to bed hungry

by eating a light snack.

Dairy foods in particular can

facilitate sleep.

Limit napping during the

day. Daytime siestas can be

tempting, but if you struggle

with insomnia, avoid naps

longer than 30 minutes after

3 p.m.

Create your own bedtime

routine. Completing

prebedtime tasks in the same

order helps tell your body it’s

time to go to bed.

Avoid using your bed for

anything other than sleep.

Your bed should be a place

of rest. Set up a designated

area away from the bed for

work and other non-sleep

tasks that distract the brain

from sleep.




By Margarita Vinogradov

While we all spend at least

some of our day in the literal

dark, here are some products

guaranteed to brighten up

these hours.




By Claire Henneman



A destination wedding results

in a murder. Complicated

relationships and pasts are

revealed, keeping you guessing

whodunit all the way




In this complicated mother-daughter


that is told through multiple

generations, Blythe Connor

is determined to have the

relationship with her children

that she always wanted to

have with her mother as a

child. This novel will keep

you guessing until the final





Monique Grant, an average

journalist, is contacted to

write the story of a lifetime

about iconic actress Evelyn

Hugo. Hugo has not invited

media attention in decades,

but with Grant she shares

details of her personal and

professional life that have

never been told before. The

biggest question of all: Who

is the love of Evelyn’s life?

And why is Grant the one to

tell the story?



Verity Crawford, a highly

successful novelist, has a

tragic accident that leaves

her unable to write again.

Lowen Ashleigh is hired to

finish Verity’s renowned book

series. During Ashleigh’s

stay at Verity’s house, some

unsettling events occur. Plot

twists will keep you guessing

and incredibly creeped out.



Elle Bishop cheated on her

husband with her best friend

last night, and “The Paper

Palace” tells the story of how

she got there. A dark family

history and upbringing is

revealed between a blended


For the Night Owl

Happy light

$30, verilux.com

Created to simulate sunlight for

those that do not get enough

during the daytime hours, this light

is proven to enhance mood, energy

and sleep without the harmful

effects of the sun’s UV rays.

“All The Light We Cannot See”

by Anthony Doerr

$24, amazon.com

Like the double meaning of this

very issue, this title is both a literal

reference to the spectrum of light

beyond the ability of human eyes

to detect and a metaphor for the

invisible stories within World War II.

Cable holder

$7, amazon.com

This adhesive cable holder set will

be sure to keep all of your messy

cables organized.


For the Midnight Snacker

Chamomile tea

$3, target.com

A popular herbal tea with

a variety of health benefits,

evidence suggests that its

antioxidants can reduce

inflammation, lessen symptoms

of anxiety and depression, boost

the immune system and promote



$7, target.com

Almonds have been shown

to lower the risk of developing

chronic diseases like Type 2

diabetes, which research

attributes to their

monounsaturated fat and fiber.

For the Beauty Sleeper

Sleeping mask

$10, amazon.com

Gentle on the delicate skin around

the eyes, this face mask will block

both natural and artificial light,

ensuring a deep and undisturbed


Lavender essential oil

$24, pharmaca.com

Studies show that lavender oil

increases the amount of slow and

deep-wave sleep as well as vigor

in the morning.

Beauty and sleep vitamins

$17, target.com

This blend of melatonin, biotin and

vitamin E will ease you into a deep

sleep while strengthening your

hair, skin and nails.

For the Early Riser

Sunrise alarm clock

$100, amazon.com

Popularized by TikTok and chosen

as the top pick by The New York

Times, this alarm clock simulates

the sunset and sunrise during any

time of day — which is especially

useful in rooms without windows.

“The Little Book of

Mindfulness” by Tiddy Rowan

$10, amazon.com

This small book promises wisdom

on how to calm your mind and

lighten your spirit. Read it in the

morning to help declutter your





By Joe Rickles

Bats — nature’s only flying mammal — may seem

like a creepy concept out of Transylvania, but

Wisconsin has its own species of native bats

that are vital to our ecosystem. Yet the state’s

population of these misunderstood critters is in danger,

and they need our help.


White-Nose Syndrome is a mysterious fungal disease affecting

bats that originated in upstate New York around 2007. Since then,

it has spread across the country and has done significant damage

to bat populations across North America. Although numbers of

bats have stabilized in recent years, they are far from the pre-

White-Nose years.


Bats live all over Wisconsin — maybe even in your own backyard.

“If you’re there at sunset, you’ll often see lots of bats flying over

Lake Mendota or Monona,” says Amy Wray, a postdoctoral research

assistant at the University of Wyoming who studied Wisconsin’s bats.

“They’re pretty common at Picnic Point, [which] has a little bat house

so there’s usually bats flying over the water there.”


The Badger State is home to eight different kinds of

bats. The most common are little brown bats and big

brown bats, which hibernate together underground

during the cold winter months.


You don’t have to be a biologist or expert to help bats. One of the best

things to do is build a bat house. Here’s some tips from conservation

biologist Heather Kaarakka of the Wisconsin Department of Natural


• Do a little bit of research into where you can place it and what type

of house you’re going to build.

• Generally, the bigger the house the better success you have.

• Bats tend to like it warm. It helps them gestate and the pups mature

quickly. Paint your house a dark color.

• Place it 10 to 15 feet in the air. Avoid putting it in a tree because trees

can provide too much shade and offer easy access for predators like






By Mallory Pelon



By Grace Landsberg and Anna Aversa

When the first edition of Curb was published, most of the current Curb staff was just a year old. Now, 20

years later, this issue of “Out of The Dark” is in thousands of hands. Join us in reflecting on two decades

of Curb by taking a look back at our past covers.

The northern lights are a natural

phenomenon that many people only

dream of being able to see. The northern

lights have fascinated people for ages,

and lucky for the people of Wisconsin, the

northern lights are visible from time to time

in the state because of Wisconsin’s northern

location and its various areas with low light

pollution. The best time to see the northern

lights in Wisconsin is January through March

because of the long and cold nights. So,

grab your winter coat and head out there!

2002 2003 2004 2005 2006



By Jessica Gregory

Literature. Poetry. Existentialism.

The dark academia aesthetic

is perhaps best described as a

pretentious, scholarly demeanor

accentuated by moody clothing

and a classic novel. It’s essential to

maintain a mysterious composure,

a hunger for knowledge into the

unknown and wallow in nostalgia

for the romanticized past, just for

the aesthetic.

Enjoy a curated gallery of students

who donned their dark academia

garb, placed in particularly

studious locations on UW–Madison’s


Think this aesthetic might be for

you? Try it out!

Get the look yourself

Clothing pieces: blazers, slacks,

collared button-ups, vintage

university sweaters, turtlenecks,

chunky sweaters, knitted vests,

plaid pleated miniskirts.

Shoes: brown, black or gray

oxford loafers, Dr. Martens black

platform boots.

Accessories: full-framed glasses

with round lenses (real or fake),

vintage gold, silver jewelry or

jewelry with unique gems, leather

book bags, hardcover notebooks,

Pilot G-2 Premium Ink black pens.

The Apostle Islands

Just off the tip of Wisconsin, the Apostle

Islands are a group of 22 islands located

off the shore of Lake Superior. Since these

islands are surrounded by Lake Superior,

they offer a great view of the northern lights

with little obstruction.

Door County

The Door County Peninsula extends into

Lake Michigan and is home to Newport State

Park, an internationally recognized dark sky

park — a location that has little to no light

pollution, which means the views of the night

sky are extremely clear. Grab a cup of hot

chocolate and camp out at this park for a

breathtaking view of the night sky, with or

without the northern lights.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

Located in northern Wisconsin, the

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

covers more than 1.5 million acres. This vast

area offers low levels of light pollution, which

make the chances of seeing the northern

lights much higher.


2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

2017 2018 2019 2020


Athletes train

while you sleep




Theaters innovate to

attract new audiences



Drink and dine

across Wisconsin

Singer-songwriter Noah Kahan sold

out the Majestic Theatre in Madison in

October 2021. A year before this show, the

venue was still closed and silent.


The return of live music brings excitement

and new challenges

By Anna Aversa


The music blasts through

the speakers so loudly

that your ears begin

to ring. You can feel the

floor beneath you shake as

the crowd screams out the

familiar lyrics. As you jump

up and down, your feet stick

slightly to the beer-soaked

floor while you smile ear

to ear, remembering the

days when standing next to

sweaty strangers was the

last thing on your mind.

The intoxicating feeling of

standing in a sea of people

singing your favorite song

with your favorite artist 50

feet in front of you is what

live music is all about.

One hundred and fifteen

years ago, the Majestic Theatre

opened its doors, and

21 months ago, the Majestic

closed its doors due to the

pandemic. For 17 months,

it stood empty and dark.

A building that was once

home to lively concerts from

rock to folk and everything

in between didn’t host a

concert for over a year. But

now, we’re back — maybe

with masks and vaccines,

but once again that familiar

sensation of hearing

the pulse of live music from

the speakers is alive in

the Majestic.

On the night of Oct. 16,

Noah Kahan, a pop singer

from Vermont, took the

stage. The energy vibrated

through the venue while the

audience sang the lyrics to

his songs almost as loudly

as the speakers delivered

his voice. Live music exists

to give comfort in the dark

times and to make the joyous

times even more exciting.

Finally, it seems like we

are out of the dark hold the

pandemic put on live music.

Kahan’s show took work

from dozens of people who

will never be thanked; individuals

who came to the theater

long before he was on

stage and stayed long after

he exited.

People like Reanna

Roberts, Frank Productions’

venue director for

the Majestic, the Sylvee,

High Noon Saloon and the

Orpheum Theater, work

behind the scenes to ensure

the magical feeling of live

music for all who attend a

show. Roberts has spent 12

years in the live music industry,

10 of which she spent

working exclusively at the


Show days can vary considerably

in length, and

Roberts says she works an



average of 14 hours per show day. With

schedules well beyond the typical 9 to 5,

it is apparent that those who work in the

live music industry love what they do.

“It’s so weird to me now that I don’t

work in it to go to [concerts] because

it almost makes me emotional because

I’m like, I can’t believe I literally did this

every day,” says Cassidy Schrader, former

event manager at Pabst Theater Group

in Milwaukee.


Roberts arrives at the venue, opening the

doors for other staff who are essential to

setting up, such as the catering team. The

groundwork begins, trucks are unloaded

and staff begin to show up. The touring

crew gains familiarity with the Majestic as

its members begin to put together their

set. Roberts begins her work communicating

with tech workers and stagehands.

“You get goosebumps and you get

chills, and you can feel all the people in

the room have that same sort of wavelength

energy,” she says. “That’s the

best part. And you can’t get that from

listening to Spotify or from a livestreaming

of a concert, you can only get that

at shows.”

7 p.m.

Doors open to the public and audience

members begin to file into the building.

One member of security works his way

up the line checking vaccination cards

against photo IDs, while another strikes

up conversations at the beginning of the

line while he waves a metal detector over

the audience members.

“Show me some real estate!” one security

member jokes, and the man in line

happily opens up his arms and steps apart

his feet. After one last check-in to prove

drinking age, audience members move

toward the stage.

Ahead of the show, various staffers

work on the out-of-venue side of shows

to ensure shows are booked and executed

properly. Grace Parshall, a marketing

coordinator with Frank Productions,

helps spread awareness of shows and

get tickets sold through various marketing

efforts. For Parshall, this means

posting on social media in real time for

shows, but that usually requires more

work on the front end on such things

as advertising and digital ad spending.

Parshall and the rest of her team ensure

that the Madison community knows

about the show — after all, if the show

isn’t made visible to the public, it can’t

be successful.

“It really is like a teamwork between us

and the public because we need people

to come to shows. We can put them on,

but we want the community to come to

them,” Parshall says.

8:02 p.m.

Blake Rose, the opener, saunters onto

stage in a striped sweater, while the crowd

is still trickling in. Rose is grinning ear to

ear when he tells the crowd that this is his

first-ever tour. Some people are chatting

among themselves, others are grabbing

a drink at the bar. The majority of the

crowd, however, is nodding their heads

along to the first song as Rose begins to

strum his guitar.

At the bar you can overhear a couple

conversing about Kahan, hoping that

he will play his song “Maine.” The bartenders

are smiling and exuding positive

energy while slinging drinks, making it

apparent that even the staff is happy to

be back here.

Local venues have to find staff that

keep the concerts alive. While concertgoers

are itching to get back inside, stagehands

and security are at a disadvantage.

With dwindling staff numbers, those on

hand fill extra shifts and work longer

hours, doing what needs to happen to

keep the show going.

“At its core, it’s just like customer

service, whether you’re interacting

with patrons or with the actual band,

and just making it a good experience,”

Schrader says.

9:06 p.m.

A hush falls over the crowd ever so

briefly, followed by screams that echo

across the Majestic as a shadowed figure

makes it to the mic. The lights go up

and Kahan appears, his long, black hair

shining under the light. You can feel the

buzz radiating off of the audience and,

almost as if in a trance, everyone starts

to dance.

After his first song, Kahan addresses

the crowd: “Thank you for singing the

words, I write a lot of songs and to be

completely honest I forget a lot of the

lyrics. To know that you guys are right

there with me is just wonderful.”

“We love you, Noah!” a fan screams

from the balcony next to the stage. Kahan

closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and

moves on to the next song.

In the dark, audience members stand

side by side, connected through the

music, connected through an energy that

radiates from the stage. The concert staff

ensures that the energy is there, whether

by making sure the touring artists have

soft towels or that the audience feels safe

and comfortable.

“I think it’s such a unique service you

provide, it’s an experience for people that

can be really cathartic, and really joyful

and a memory that will stick with them,”

Parshall says.

10:56 p.m.

The lights turn on brighter, but this

time the stage is dim and the audience

is bathed in light. Audience members are

smiling and taking their last selfies of the

night, then turning to leave. But work

for the venue staff is far from over. The

venue must be cleaned, and every piece

of Kahan’s band’s equipment must be

broken down and loaded onto the tour

bus. The bar must close and be cleaned,

and eventually the venue must be locked

up. The audience files onto the sidewalk,

where Kahan’s name has already been

removed from the marquee so the next

artist can take the stage.

And just like that, the Majestic is silent

and empty for the night.

“Even on the absolute worst day

when everything is an entire dumpster

fire and everything goes wrong, it is still

better than a day without a concert,”

Roberts says.

Royle Printing is proud to support the

University of Wisconsin-Madison School

of Journalism and Mass Communication

and all contributing students who

produced Curb Magazine.

As part of our growth, we’re looking for

passionate, creative and hardworking

team members to join our family.

Schedule a tour today and learn more at


Proudly celebrating over 70 years.




A skier heads into

the main chalet at

Christie Mountain.

Get hooked on night skiing in Wisconsin

By Grace Landsberg

On one of the last runs of the

night, Dimi Schweitzer and

I decided to extend our poles

out to one another and glide straight

down the hill without making any turns.

Together, we gradually picked up speed

as the trees blurred together on either

side of us.

After spending the majority of

my junior year of college staring at a

computer screen, night skiing at Devil’s

Head Resort, about 50 minutes from

Madison, was the closest thing to normalcy

I had felt in a long time.

However, my love for skiing only

slightly outweighed my overwhelming

anxiety about interacting with the very

real snow monsters that were surely

hiding in the depths of the woods

and were sure to only be active at night.

For a first-time night skier, navigating

in the dark felt daunting. But for kids

at the Blackhawk Ski Club, navigating

dark trails is just an exercise in trusting

themselves and their abilities.

“There are places, especially on the

Nordic trails, that are really dark, and

it is so cool to watch the kids learn to

navigate that and be confident,” says

Blackhawk executive board president

Amy Grunewald.

A typical night at Blackhawk Ski

Club starts the moment kids get

released from school. The private,

not-for-profit ski club is located in Middleton,

Wisconsin, roughly a 20-minute

drive west of Madison.

“There’s no lights,” Grunewald

says. “So if you forget your headlamp,

you just have to let your eyes adjust,

and you’re skiing in the total dark.”

Although Grunewald jokes it would

be ideal to have greater funding to replace

all of the lights, she doesn’t dwell on their

shortcomings. Rather, individuals are

challenged to navigate terrain in the

dark. This ultimately becomes an exercise

of trust.

For talented ski racer Martha Daniels,

under the fluorescent lights is where she

will do some of her best skiing.

Daniels’ childhood was defined by

night skiing. She grew up in a suburb

just outside of Milwaukee and spent as

much time as possible on the hill both

with her family and friends, and later

with her competitive high school team.

While many of her peers spent their

after-school hours finishing homework

or socializing with friends, Daniels was

on the slopes until late into the night. It

was second nature to her.

“I love night skiing, and I love night


practices,” Daniels says. “It was just so

fun to go. I don’t know, it’s just cool.”

In her freshman year, Daniels wasn’t

sure she wanted to join the UW–

Madison alpine ski team. She remembers

missing the deadline to sign up, but later

realizing she wanted to continue skiing.

UW–Madison’s alpine ski team is

most active at night. Practice typically

starts once team members have finished

classes for the day, says the team’s senior

director Alec Riddle. The team then

carpools in fleet vehicles up to Tyrol

Basin, a ski hill roughly 40 minutes outside

of Madison, sets up the race course

and then trains through the night.

For Wisconsin natives Daniels and

Riddle, skiing at night is second nature.

As lifelong competitive skiers, the

fluorescent lights simply illuminate their


While COVID-19 put a strain on the

UW–Madison alpine ski team’s ability to

practice, the pandemic may have been a

saving grace for Christie Mountain. The

small ski hill in Bruce, in northwestern

Wisconsin, saw more traffic on the hill

than ever before.

Christie Mountain didn’t have

limitations on the number of skiers

who could purchase lift tickets in a

given day, says manager Andrea Vohs.

Without those limitations, skiers flocked

to Christie like never before.

Vohs is hopeful that some newer skiers

that tried Christie for the first time last

season will return this coming season.

Without the flexibility of an entirely

remote school schedule, I am also

hopeful to return to the slopes this

coming winter.



Professor Megan Reilly uses

her body to demonstrate her

favorite lighting styles in the

UW–Madison lighting lab.

Journalism that

brings truth to light.

Read our fact-checked, nonpartisan

investigative reports at wisconsinwatch.org




Theater reinvents itself to bring

audiences back

By Lili Sarajian




You enter a barren landscape, dry

patches of grass spotting the flat

dirt plains in every direction. As

you take a few steps forward, trees sprout

up to your left and a river materializes

ahead. You whirl around, looking behind

you to find five masked and cloaked figures

standing in a line, silent. Suddenly,

the action begins.

Each figure takes its place to perform

a scene from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

But what you’re seeing is not a

normal theater performance. It’s happening

entirely in virtual reality.

This is the future of theater.

While isolation during the pandemic

has yielded a new appreciation for in-person

experiences — like watching a show

at the theater — the entertainment landscape

has shifted irreversibly to digital

platforms, and the performance arts

“Light creates a

space, so if you

want to create an

intimate space,

take down the


industry is due to catch up. Directors

embrace the use of digital media in theater

performances to increase audience

engagement, a direction that parallels

avant-garde theater throughout the

20th century. This new wave of theater

is capable of revolutionizing the entertainment

industry as we know it.

Avant-garde playwrights of the 1920s

and 1930s, including Antonin Artaud,

Vsevolod Meyerhold, and Maurice

Maeterlinck in Europe strayed from

the trend of grandiose productions

to create more intimate and evocative


These leaders threw out all of the preconceived

standards of theater — down

to the theater architecture and the stage

itself — and started from scratch with

just an empty black box.

Black box theaters are flexible spaces

that allow theater companies to produce

a wide variety of shows with little to no

scenery or props. They gained popularity

in the 1960s when educational

institutions across the country built

black boxes on their campuses. The

flexibility of these spaces was ideal for

teaching and producing small-scale student


These black boxes are just what they

sound like: empty square or rectangular

rooms often painted black or draped

with black curtains. Portable risers

allow the stage and seating arrangements

to be configured in any way the

designer chooses.

Black box theaters allowed actors and

producers to focus on content and performance

rather than impressive scenery

or mechanics. Traditional proscenium

stages only allow the audience to view the

action from one direction at a distance,

but black box theaters force the audience

to sit much closer to the actors.

“There’s an electric connection when

you realize that person on stage just saw

you and you saw them and you saw them

seeing you,” says Rob Wagner, the scenic

studio supervisor at the UW–Madison

Department of Theatre and Drama.

“You can lose that in a proscenium piece

really easily because the actors are playing

the fourth wall.”

Because the audience is so close to the

action, lighting designers can play with

shadows. They don’t have to flood the

stage with light to make sure the audience

can see everything in the same way

they would in an opera house or for a

musical. Instead, black boxes can be lit

with just a spotlight or even a single candle

held up to an actor’s face.

“Light creates a space,” says Megan

Reilly, assistant professor and lighting

designer at UW–Madison. “So if you

want to create an intimate space, take

down the lighting. Create a smaller circle,

create a smaller lit area, to the point of,

if you just light a candle, that’s the most

intimate space you can get.”

Modern experimentation with digital

media, virtual reality and alternate reality

is an evolution of those early avant-garde

movements that sought to make theater

more immersive.

And this new evolution is just in time.

“Traditional theater is in trouble,”

Reilly says, speaking to the challenges

of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond

that, with the array of digital media vying

for audiences’ attention — social media,

Reilly demonstrates

the variety of colors


Reilly uses the

lighting board to

create different



television, film, video games — theater

simply can’t offer the same level of convenience

and immediacy.

“We’re losing people from live theater

because they can get a better, more

immersive experience with their 52-inch

flat-screen TV, Dolby surround sound,

sitting on their couch in their jammies,”

Wagner says.

So, directors are embracing the use of

digital media on stage to increase audience

engagement and immersion during

the performance. It’s all about trying to

offer a unique performance that audiences

can’t recreate in their living rooms.

According to Reilly, the term “immersive

theater” has already become somewhat

meaningless because every director

has their own perception of what it

means. For her, immersive theater is

“where the actors and the audience share

the same space,” she says. “The fourth

wall is broken and the audience is on

its feet, exploring the same space as the


Now, some theaters are removing

that fourth wall by experimenting with

video game design and VR technology

to develop virtual spaces in which actors

and audience members can interact.

“The Under Presents,” a live, interactive

virtual reality game, produced and

performed Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

entirely in VR. Audience members

joined the game as anonymous avatars

that could interact with one another

while waiting for scheduled virtual performance

times to attend within the

game. During the downtime between

“There is an electric connection when you

realize that person playing that person

on stage just saw you and you saw them.”

shows, actors hung around the virtual

common area and interacted with audience


Even live, in-person theater is making

room for digital experimentation.

The UW–Madison theater department

produced a research project called The

ALICE Project (Augmented Live Interactively

Controlled Environment) in

2015 that explored the use of various digital

technologies to enhance the audience

experience and the actors’ interaction

with their stage environment.

The team consulted with a game

designer to sync the actor’s movement

with a digital projection behind her using

sensors from an Xbox video gaming

system. The actor moved forward on a

treadmill, triggering the Kinect sensor,

which would cause the digital projection

to move according to her speed. When

she raised her arms to jump down the

rabbit hole, the Kinect sensors picked

up on the motion, triggering the flying

harness to lift her off the ground.

“It inverted the usual actor-digital

interaction and put the live actor in control

of the environment in a way that

hadn’t been done before,” Wagner says.

Instead of matching the actor’s blocking

and action to a prerecorded projection,

she was essentially in control of the entire

production, from the projection to the

stage lights to the flying harness.

With experimental forms of theater

on the rise, it’s easy to question what is

lost from the live, in-person experience

of theater. For theater professionals like

Dan Lisowski, chair of the Department

of Theatre and Drama at UW–Madison,

the goal is to “replicate the feelings

of the live entertainment experience in

a different medium so that people still

experience the art form in a way that

is meaningful to them and touches

them and kind of changes them going


This was the same goal of the experimental

theater movements in the 20th

century. Theater always aimed to create

immersive spaces where the action is performed

right in front of you, but the

challenge faced by the industry today is

finding a home in the digital landscape

of the entertainment industry — offering

something more immersive and evocative

than audiences can find anywhere else.




The sun sets in Horicon,

Wisconsin, a popular

destination for birdwatchers

due to the variety of species

that inhabit the area.


Wisconsin’s birdwatching community

thrives after sunset

By Lauryn Azu

It’s 5 p.m. in Horicon, Wisconsin. We

have one hour before sunset, and the

sun hangs lazily to the west, shining

down on a brisk fall day. A couple of

retirees, a family of four, two bird experts

and one reporter with her photographer

in tow, gather on the edge of a hill to

witness the majesty of birds in flight.

After a long day of feeding off crops

from nearby farms, the birds will return

to the marsh to roost, where they are

protected from predators before the sun

dips below the horizon.

The beauty and drama of the endless

skies at Horicon are what birdwatching

aficionados travel for miles to see. And at

dawn and near dusk is when the drama

reaches its peak — when birds begin to

take flight, feed, continue migration or

rest after a long day’s travel.

Over 300 species of birds have been

identified in Horicon, America’s largest

freshwater cattail marsh. Before European

colonization, it was the home of the

Potawatomi and Ho-Chunk. Beginning

in the 1800s, the marsh was dammed,

drained and dredged, and its fauna was

exploited for commercial purposes. In

the 1920s, conservationists advocated

for the state to make the land a wildlife

refuge to reverse the rampant destruction

of years past.

Today, Horicon Marsh is divided

between the federal government and

the Wisconsin Department of Natural

Resources. The marsh encompasses

33,000 acres, and is an isle of

wilderness amid civilization in southcentral


According to Jeff Bahls, president of

Horicon Marsh Birding Club, almost

80% of birds migrate at night, but migration

happens year-round. In the fall,

birds who summer north are heading

back south. In the spring, it’s reversed.

Because waterfowl such as ducks, geese

and swans migrate in fall and spring

and inhabit the marsh’s wetlands,


tonight’s watch is a guaranteed display

of their V- and J-formations moving

cohesively above.

Night chasers

Birders chase night skies for several reasons.

A serious birder gains a different

perspective of a favored bird in the dark.

A novice would need to learn fewer birds

to make initial discoveries.

Some birds, like owls, are nocturnal,

meaning the greatest opportunity to

see them active is at night. Others, like

nightjars and American woodcocks, are

crepuscular, meaning they are most active

at twilight.

A few elements distinguish the night

birder from their daytime counterpart.

A healthy sense of adrenaline, for starters.

A keen sense of sound, so you can listen

to know whose neighborhood you’re in,

and direction, so you don’t find yourself

wandering in circles. It doesn’t hurt to

nail your bird calls either — Brian McCaffrey,

a longtime birder based in Bayfield

County in northwestern Wisconsin, can

nail the call of the American woodcock.

For some birders, it helps to hear a friendly

voice call back to you in the darkness.

About five minutes into our watch at

the Horicon Marsh, a red-tailed hawk

soars overhead, meeting up with another

hawk. We began our watch seated neatly at

picnic tables, but now everyone is on their

feet and out from underneath the shelter

to get a good view of the commotion.

The crowd collectively gasps when the

hawks get aggressive, hovering around

each other, and a battle ensues.

Down below, a gale streams through

long grasses on the knoll we’re standing

on, which makes our birdwatching leaders

raise their voices a few notches. When

McCaffrey goes out at night, he’s looking

for times when the wind is low. Night

birders need their ears to tell who they’re

looking at in poor visibility.

“I go on AccuWeather and see if it’s like



… five, six miles an hour. That’s usually

suitable for hearing,” he says.

In Horicon, wind speeds hovered

around six miles per hour that night, but

as we’re huddled on the side of the hill,

the gales feel stronger.

After 15 minutes, we get our first gull

sighting: one returning to roost, perhaps

after dining in a landfill in Mayville less

than 10 miles away from here, says Liz

Herzmann, a wildlife educator for the

Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education

Center who is leading tonight’s discussion

with Bahls.

“We’ve had some nights where this

whole area up here is just white with gulls,

just hundreds and hundreds of them,”

Herzmann says.

Not so scared of the dark

Here on the state-owned side of Horicon

Marsh, hunting and trapping is permitted.

Around a half-hour into the watch, the

sound of gunshots in the distance reminds

those of us on the hill that we’re not the

only ones here, nor is birdwatching the

sole objective of human activity on these


Birders can’t be naive about the dangers

at night that accompany the beauty

they’re seeking. Sometimes the wildlife

they’re looking for can pose its own kind

of threat.

“I was once scraped by a saw-whet owl

in the twilight just before dawn,” McCaffrey

says. “I’ve been calling it, and it had

been calling back. And then, I wasn’t

quite sure where it was, and suddenly,

out of my peripheral vision I saw it coming

right at my head across the top of my

car and ducked, and on my recording,

you can hear my shuffling as I’m ducking

from this little teeny owl that was going

for my head.”

When McCaffrey is out night birding

in Bayfield County, he’s more often than

not looking for owls. He also drives to and

from where he’s birding to avoid the risk

of getting lost in the woods at 1 or 2 a.m.

“I’m more comfortable doing it up

here than I would in a more populated

area,” McCaffrey says. “Because really, my

greatest concern is encounters with people

on these back roads where it’s not many

people doing what I’m doing, so it’s like,

what are they doing back here?”

For birders in more urban settings, risk

is a certain reality of birding at night. Madison

birder Jeff Galligan, who’s seen over

300 bird species in Wisconsin over the

years, describes himself as “very careful”

during his night outings as a Black man.

Galligan says he’s attuned to his surroundings

and where he’s pointing his

camera and binoculars when he’s birding

at night because people, like police, can

make assumptions.

He and Dexter Patterson co-founded

BIPOC Birding Club of Wisconsin this

year precisely for this reason, with the

goal of getting people of color involved

in the predominantly white world of

birding and feel comfortable exploring

Wisconsin’s outdoors. He’s excited about

its potential to expose Madison youth

of color to different perspectives and


“Environmentalism and stewardship

and having a vested interest in things like

reducing the carbon footprint, being

aware of global warming … is something

I want people of color to be seeing and

experiencing more because we all are here

and our children are all going to be inheriting

the same Earth,” Galligan says.

Back at Horicon, two sandhill cranes,

the night’s main attraction, fly about 15

feet from the top of the picnic shelter and

give their strangled honk that jolts me

back into the moment.

River of birds

After 40 minutes a flock of mallards

loops around the picnic shelter, and one

of robins follows soon after. Of all the

waterfowl, wood ducks are the last to

roost tonight.

“If you get a good night you’ll see this

river, of waterfowl, or cranes or whatever,

going from one spot to the other

because they’re just kind of following one

another,” Bahls says.

It’s 5:50 p.m. now, and as the sun sinks

in the sky, the Rock River glistens in the

distance. Still, Bahls and Herzmann don’t

miss a beat at identifying birds for the

thinning crowd. Off in the distance is a

sedge of sandhill cranes, says Herzmann.

“A lot of it is just training your eye in

silhouettes, is how I look at it, so every

bird has a different shape and flight. …

They have different wing beats,” she

says. Bahls can name birds at the drop of

a hat because he’s been birding in Dodge

County his entire life.

The orange band of the sunset thins

away, until night envelops the marsh completely.

Herzmann and Bahls fold up the

scopes they carried in.

It’s 6:24 p.m., the sunset was 15 minutes

ago and just a few of us are left. I hear

the gurgling motor of a duck hunter and

his dog in his airboat first, and then see

the flashing green light that guides him

through the winding Rock River.

As a writer, I chose Horicon because I

wanted to see birds in all their glory and

what brings people to them. But what I

found instead was how nature brings out

“I want people of color to

be seeing and experiencing

more because we all are

here and our children are

all going to be inheriting

the same Earth.”

the best in us. Sure, “...it’s fun to at least

be aware that a huge number of birds can

be flying over you at night at this time of

year,” says Madison Audubon director of

education Carolyn Byers.

But more than that, birders find it

empowering to develop a lifelong connection

with the natural world, to make

new discoveries in familiar places and see a

side of creation while the world is sleeping.


Six essentials you need to get started

Story and Illustration by Lauryn Azu

Be sure to bundle up, as evening

temperatures in Wisconsin can drop

fast after sunset. “I usually try not to

have synthetic fabrics on the outside of

what I'm wearing, because they can be

surprisingly noisy,” says Brian McCaffrey,

a birder in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

He likes to wear a Carhartt coat or a

wool sweater to muffle the sound of his

steps and not spook off the birds he’s

looking for ($110, carhartt.com).

These are essential for spotting

birds from far away. Pick up a

pair of Nikon Prostaff 3S 10 x 42

Binoculars ($140, rei.com), to

bring small creatures to eye. Add a

harness ($28, rei.com) so you don’t

have to carry them, BIPOC Birding

Club of Wisconsin co-founder Jeff

Galligan recommends.

Though bright lights are necessary

for navigating dark trails, they can

damage the eyesight of nocturnal

creators if flashed directly at them,

according to Carolyn Byers, director

of education at Madison Audubon.

Still, take extra nighttime precautions

with a 3-in-1 safety light, lantern

and flashlight from L.L. Bean ($15,


Birders like to use a variety of apps

to make their nighttime treks more

rewarding. The two apps most favored

by birders are eBird and Merlin.

Madison birder Neil Gilbert calls Merlin,

“like Shazam for birds,” where you can

record a bird call and generate an

instant identification. Birders who record

their observations in eBird are citizen

scientists because they contribute to

data used for scientific research and the

conservation of birds. Wisconsinites have

submitted more than one million

checklists to eBird, according to the

state’s Department of Natural Resources.

Also, for safety reasons, a phone is a

must in case of an emergency.

Keep track of field observations the

old-fashioned way, using paper and

pen. For gold standard note taking, try

out Moleksine’s Pocket-Sized Classic

Soft Cover ($16, moleskine.com), and

Muji’s 0.38 Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen, which

will provide enough ink flow for on-thego

notes in cooler temperatures ($1.50,


Stay awake and warm in the dark hours

with a tumbler of hot coffee or tea.

Madison-based JBC Coffee Roasters

offers light to medium roasts in whole

bean or a variety of grinds

($15-20, jbccoffeeroasters.com).



et’s Go Out!





Wisconsin’s signature drink puts a

modern twist on a classic cocktail

By Joe Rickles

It was a dreary Monday afternoon in

Madison. I sat on a bench outside the

Capitol with headphones in and tears

welling up in my eyes. It was one of those

days where no amount of good news

could lighten it. After a few minutes, my

friend and photographer Kalli came by.

I took a deep breath to hide the soulless

look behind my eyes and walked behind

her into The Old Fashioned, the classic

Wisconsin supper club on Madison’s

Capitol square.

As I slouched over the bar, a bartender

asked for our orders. I asked for a classic

old fashioned. When he asked if I wanted

it sweet or sour, I hesitated and said

sour for no other reason than that I was

having a sour day.

When Kalli finished taking pictures,

I was able to take my first sip out of the

et’s Go Out!

paper straw. I’ll never forget the thoughts

that ran through my head.

“That sucks.”

Then I took a second sip. There was

less brandy in that one, so it was more

doable. I took one more sip, sighed and

put the drink down. Suddenly, something

inside me opened up and I began to

talk; about the pressure of school, about

the fear of letting down my teammates

with a crappy story.

The Korbel brandy old fashioned has

been a Wisconsin tradition for as long

as most people can remember. Its story

is one of mistaken origins, countless

variations and above all else the idea of

“gemütlichkeit” — an undefinable German

word that still perfectly describes

the quietly hypnotic feeling of sipping

a cocktail with close confidantes.

To understand how the classic Korbel

old fashioned came to be one of Wisconsin’s

most iconic traditions, we have to

explore two pieces. First, where the old

fashioned itself came from, and second,

how Korbel made it to Wisconsin.

In a 2005 piece for Isthmus, the late

Jerry Minnich wrote that the original

drink dates back to the 1890s, when

Louisville clubs made a drink honoring

whiskey maker Col. James E. Pepper.

Because it was made to honor a

Kentucky whiskey distiller, the

original cocktail understandably used

whiskey or bourbon as its base. The rest

of the drink consists of simple syrup and

bitters. Some mixologists made some

changes to the original recipe, but that’s

the gist of it.

The story of Wisconsin’s brandy

A maraschino cherry

and a slice of orange

top off an old fashioned

made with traditional

Korbel brandy.


obsession is a little more complicated.

For years, it was widely accepted that

Korbel’s presence at the 1893 World’s

Columbian Exposition in Chicago was

the main reason for the state’s fixation

on brandy. But Jeannette Hurt of The

Alcohol Professor blog explains that

Wisconsin’s love for brandy stems

more from necessity than choice. It

wasn’t the exposition or the deep

German roots of the state but rather a

shortage of high-quality liquor during

World War II.

Whiskey distilleries were converted

to torpedo fuel producers and most

crops were diverted away from distilleries

to feed soldiers. So when Wisconsin’s

liquor distributors found out that

brandy maker Christian Brothers had

tens of thousands of barrels of brandy,

it was a no-brainer to buy them up and

spread them around the state.

Once it was clear that Wisconsin

had a fervent taste for the fruity liquor,

brandy distillers started advertising

heavily to Badgers.

The rest is history. Nowadays,

Korbel — the Badger state’s brandy

of choice — ships 35% of its yearly

output of 400,000 barrels here.

Where did the rest of the drink

come from? The bitters seemed to be

the only piece of the drink that has

been consistent throughout time.

Jim Draeger, co-author of “Bottoms

Up: A Toast to Wisconsin’s Historic

Bars & Breweries,” says much like how

brandy infiltrated the state, the rest of

the cocktail’s components sprouted

from necessity and convenience over

actual taste.

As the drink evolved, fruits like

cherries and oranges began to adorn

the pudgy glasses that held these

drinks. Sometimes, they’ll be Wisconsin-made,

like Door County cherries.

Other times, it’s just a simple maraschino

cherry from a jar and an orange

slice on a toothpick.

The tangible components of the

old fashioned cocktail in Wisconsin

have their own tales and history worth

exploring, but that’s only part of the

story. The brandy old fashioned is

inseparable from Wisconsin’s supper

club culture and everything associated

with it.

Supper clubs, a strange but charming

amalgamation of a restaurant, a

bar and a family’s dining room, are

scattered across Wisconsin. The key

components of a supper club are a

set menu for each night of the week,

a cozy atmosphere and, most of the

time, a generations-old family tradition

of running the place.

Supper clubs aren’t just integral to

Wisconsin’s culture; in a lot of ways,

they defined it.

When I was sitting at the bar on that

drab October evening, it’s not like I

was visited by some kind of ancient

German being that imbued my Korbel

old fashioned with the spirit of generations

of Wisconsinites who sat at

their favorite supper clubs every week

for a Friday night fish fry. But there’s

definitely something there. Something

homey and familiar. You don’t need

to understand the complex mythology

behind the drink and where it came

from to feel the comfort of sitting at

a cozy bar with a stiff, classic drink in

hand. But it sure doesn’t hurt.



Chefs adapt to a

challenging era

for restaurants

By Jack Murphy


generous cut of pineapple rests

on top of a steaming, porous

upside-down cake. A spoon

glides straight through, revealing a deliciously

sticky cake inside. Served amid

a halo of sprinkled sugar, the Tornado

Room’s signature dessert looks like its

usual delectable self.

This time, however, pastry chef Natalia

Chehade baked it out of her home

and not the industrial kitchen where it’s

usually made.

The pandemic put the heart of a

restaurant — its staff — in situations

that tested their every resolve. In the summer

of 2020, the Wisconsin restaurant

industry lost 20% of its workers.

On the edge of Madison’s Capitol

Square, the staff of Tornado Room was

already stretched thin. Instead of five

chefs, a team of two now operated every

station in the kitchen. Chehade added

salad chef and delivery driver to her role

as a pastry chef so the team was at its best.



“I love this, this is my job. This is my

second home,” she says.

Every industry is facing unique challenges

as we emerge from the pandemic,

and for the restaurant industry, those go

beyond the menu. When COVID-19

hit, the lights went out and businesses

lost their staff as sales spiraled without

a visible solution to guide the way. In a

time when everyone is straining under

this new reality, innovation behind the

scenes is bringing restaurants into a

post-COVID-19 world.

You might not see the difference if you

visited Ardent, a restaurant tucked into

Milwaukee’s east side. The staff pivoted

to offer one seating a night and a prepaid,

fixed-cost menu.

Owner Justin Carlisle built a working

philosophy around his employees: the

walls of the restaurant were not just his

— they belonged to every staff member.

COVID-19 extinguished the certainty of

stability, but the camaraderie of the staff

kept the engine running.

“The family and the strength that

we have — we made it through this.

We pivoted every day we showed up,”

Carlisle says.

With the staff revitalized from the initial

shock of the pandemic, their focus on

consistency made them a James Beard

Midwest semifinalist in the past.

Inside Liliana’s Restaurant, in the

Madison suburb of Fitchburg, hues of

purple, green and gold radiate within.

Chef Dave Heide works with his team

to bring the soul of New Orleans to the


Heide effuses knowledge on Louisiana’s

cuisine and loves the role his food can

play in people’s lives. His focus is on the

well-being of his community and the

passion of his chefs.

Amid the pandemic, the staff continued

a favorite tradition. Every Tuesday, the

chefs brainstorm a three-course meal,

and after 13 years, they have yet to offer

a repeated menu item.

While new problems will arise, every

innovation rediscovers the passion that

led these chefs to their profession. The

leading light that drives chefs to find a

way is apparent again.

“For me, it’s all about making sure that

the people who are in the kitchen

continuously stay in love with food,”

Heide says.




For a nourishing dish to

warm up your Wisconsin

night, Carlisle recommends

a rice-based mushroom

porridge. In a mushroom

stock, cook down the rice,

then add several sliced raw

mushrooms on top. Hard

herbs, like rosemary or

thyme, are perfect for a

winter flavor profile. If you

want, root vegetables like

carrots and potatoes can

add another dimension to

your porridge before the

next venture into the cold.






Bartender Ariana Rios

pours up an order at

Chasers 2.0 in Madison.

By Margarita Vinogradov

Chefs at Liliana’s Restaurant

push through dinner service

as a braised short rib waits to

be taken out to its expectant

There’s a running joke in New

York City. When you tell somebody

you’re an actor or a dancer,

they ask at what restaurant.

That’s according to Helen Rothberg,

who says she got to where she is

now after bartending her way through

life, making up for what she didn’t have

in money with moxie.

“From all my consulting and all my

teaching, the truth is everything I do,

I’m just bartending,” says Rothberg,

now professor of strategy at Marist

College in Poughkeepsie, New York,

and author of “The Perfect Mix: Everything

I Know About Leadership I

Learned as a Bartender.”

In fact, she learned so many lessons

from bartending that she developed a

model to train executives of a multitude

of Fortune 500 companies: action,

determination, vision, integrity, communication

and empathy, which form

the acronym ADVICE.

(A)ction: “Do more, say less.”

Behind the industrially remodeled bar

at what used to be a bank on the east

side of the state Capitol is Sawyer Barron.

He’s been in the industry since

he was 18 years old, working his way

up from barbacking — dropping off

waters and cleaning up dishes — to

bartending and managing at Lucille, a

locally sourced cocktail, beer and pizza


Barron says that after the pandemic

slightly simmered down in early 2021

and Lucille reopened its doors last

June, there has been a fight every single

night on the block — almost like

people have forgotten how to behave


“They like to over-consume. And

there’s not the maturity that once was,”

says Barron, now 26 years old. Despite

this, he continues to do the most with

his actions for everyone in the surrounding

Main Street bartending community.

(D)etermination: “Get things

done with civility and


On the west side of the Capitol is bartender

Caity Mongeluzo. Now 20,

Mongeluzo started bartending the

summer after her senior year of high

school, first at a Long Island concert

venue, then eventually a Hamptons bar





While the affluent residents of the

Hamptons could afford to throw away

large sums of cash, Mongeluzo says her

co-workers there were looking to rake

in enough money within two or three

months to keep up with rent for the entire

year. Yet despite how they behaved

for this reason, she became determined

to find ways to take it in stride.

(V)ision: “Know where you’re

going and turn the lights on for


Alex Mack is just a block and a half

away from Mongeluzo at Whiskey

Jack’s Saloon, a Wild West-themed bar.

She started working there in February

2021 and says keeping up with the

crazy hours wasn’t a problem for

a night owl like her. However, it’s

between the hours of 1 and 2 a.m.

when she’s noticed the most eyeopening

incidents concentrate.

“Men come up to me while I’m working

behind the bar and offer me hard

drugs,” Mack says. No matter what she’s

presented with, she knows what is ethical

during these hours and makes sure to

shine light on it for other customers, too.

Ultimately, Rothberg says having

a vision of what is right like Mack is a

trait that can shape careers — especially

for women. When men assumed she

was the support person walking into

their boardrooms in the ’80s and ’90s,

she learned how to give people the

stink eye.

(I)ntegrity: “Tell the truth all the

time and own your own sh*t.”

“Even if you’re smiling and you’re being

yourself, that can be taken as a little flirty,

and drunk guys are so aggressive and they

don’t understand,” Mongeluzo says.

She has since changed the way she

acts when bartending to what she

describes as a “bro girl” or makes her

disinterest in any romantic connections

extremely clear.

(C)ommunication: “Try to create


Barron has never been one for social

media platforms, but he finds his

bartending job has created enough

meaning to replace this aspect of

modern digital life.

“This is my social media, but it’s like

bar media,” Barron says about both his

regulars and other bartenders on the

block. “You get to talk back and forth.

… It’s just something that you don’t

really get in day-to-day life, especially

at work.”

However, the true bartending communication

test for Rothberg is making

people feel noticed in conversation

while realistically paying them little


(E)mpathy: “Dare to care.”

No matter how long bartenders like

Barron, Mongeluzo and Mack remain

in this service role, Rothberg is certain

that being able to shapeshift throughout

their careers by applying the

ADVICE model comes down to caring

most about the customer.

“When you’re a bartender, so little of

it really is about knowing how to mix

drinks, especially if you’re in a smaller

neighborhood place, and so much

more about it is understanding how to

read somebody,” Rothberg says.



Discover the treasures and terrors

of Lake Michigan’s shipwrecks


By Madison Mooney

When hunger strikes past bedtime, it can be hard to find somewhere to grab a

bite. Here are some favorite Wisconsin restaurants and bars with late-night grub.

By Jessica Gregory



The Dogg Haus

Closing Hours:

8 p.m. Mon

10 p.m. Tue-Thurs, Sun

3 a.m. Fri-Sat

If you find yourself

wandering the streets of

Milwaukee past midnight

on a weekend, the Dogg

Haus should be your first

stop. Serving Chicagostyle

hot dogs, sausages,

burgers, chicken sandwiches

and more, you’re sure to

find something you like. This

restaurant stays open until 3

a.m. on Friday and Saturday


satisfying the hunger of

Leff’s Lucky Town

Closing Hours:

2 a.m. Sun-Thurs

2:30 a.m. Fri-Sat

Looking for somewhere

to watch a game in

Wauwatosa? Leff’s

Lucky Town is your place.

Established in 1994, Leff’s

is famous not only for its

burgers, but has become

a go-to for the many large

screens it has positioned

around the restaurant.

After finishing your meal,

stay and throw some darts

or hang out at the Golden

Tee Golf and Buck Hunter.

Ian’s Pizza

Closing Hours:

Varies by location

Ian’s Pizza is a late-night

favorite in Madison and

Milwaukee. Serving pizza

by the slice, the line often

leads out the door. Stop by

after a night on the town

and enjoy one of Ian’s

Pizza’s iconic offerings —

the macaroni and cheese



Master scuba diver Rich Laiacona

floats down to the sunken SS

Milwaukee like he’s her fairy

godfather, gaping at the beautiful mess

she’s got herself into. Not just anyone

can reach out their hand to the ship’s

wreckage and offer their condolences.

Laiacona has five minutes. With one

oxygen tank at a depth of 120 feet in

Lake Michigan, he has limited air at the

bottom before he must make his gradual

return to the surface. Flying around the

ship, peering curiously into its nooks and

crannies, Laiacona feels weightless in the

frigid water and his senses are restricted.

When he jumped from the charter

boat that brought him eight miles

northeast of Milwaukee’s Breakwater

Lighthouse, he left the modern world

behind. There’s history at the lake’s

bottom that is entirely detached from

the world above, providing a glimpse

into the past, but only for those who

know how to access it.


In the case of the Milwaukee, Lake

Michigan disrupts time and space to

create a time warp. As the diver connects

with the mooring line and descends 100

feet in the water, he’s transported to the

late 1920s as he reaches his destination.

The Midwest’s Great Lakes served

as a highway of commerce before the

industry’s decline in the mid-20th

century, carrying passengers and goods

from port to port. Deep within its five

bodies of water, there are over 10,000

ships locked in a broken time machine.

Far past their operation, the ships have

proved their tenacity even at the bottom

of the Great Lakes. Beautifully preserved

by the cold freshwater, divers explore the

sunken ships beneath the surface and

bear witness to nature’s tragedies.


It was Oct. 22, 1929. The turbulent

gale of an unforgiving storm rocked the

Milwaukee and the 28 railcars stored

in the stern’s car deck. Colleagues of

the Milwaukee’s Capt. Robert “Bad

Weather” McKay placed ominous bets

Divers who reach

the ship’s intact

pilothouse can see

“Milwaukee” above

the door.


night goers in Milwaukee.



Only 30 feet shorter in length

than a standard football field,

the SS Milwaukee sets sail

loaded with railcars and its


on the likelihood of the vessel’s survival.

The ship and its 47 crew members met a

foe that boasted unmatchable strengths.

As the storm raged on, it broke local

wind speed records and carried forceful

waves. No one returned. The crew’s families

were left to cope with their grief just

two days before the stock market crashed,

leading to the Great Depression that later

washed over the United States.


Not all divers visit shipwrecks for

their ties to history. Bob Dankert, a Madison-area

diver and instructor, enjoys it

as a purely recreational activity.

“I love diving and it gives you something

to look at. Even though I might not

“There’s history at

the lake’s bottom that is

entirely detached from

the world above...”

be as into the history, it’s still fun to just

dive around on the things and see all the

different components of it. It gives you a

bit more of a challenge and you just see

some really cool things,” Dankert says.

In the summer season, maritime

archaeologist Caitlin Zant and her team

of historians and divers explore shipwrecks

to collect measurements, record

their observations and create scaled

model drawings of the ships. Archaeologists

like Zant who study shipwrecks

for a living digitize their records in the

winter, write grants for the upcoming

summer’s projects and submit historical

preservation reports for shipwreck sites.

A rule within the field is to leave

artifacts underwater as you found them.

When a wreck’s wood is removed from

the water by human contact, it quickly

deteriorates. The cold, dark, deep freshwater

is the key factor in their slow aging,

and Zant says some 150-year-old shipwrecks

in the Great Lakes look like they

could sail tomorrow. In these oxygen-depleted

waters, there are few aquatic animals

that could cause damage to the ship,

besides the invasive quagga mussels that

have dominated the waters in the past

20 years. In Lake Superior, the water is

so cold that some ships still have paint

on the exteriors. As long as the sunken

history stays in place, the site becomes

its own underwater museum. But what

is a museum without its exhibits?


Before it left port, the Milwaukee

loaded its 28 train railcars with vegetables,

butter, cheese, wood veneer, farm animal

feed, Kohler Co. bathroom fixtures and

three Nash Motor Company automobiles.

An estimated $720,000 in financial

losses from the cargo and railcars sank

with the ship.


In zero-current waters with fair visibility,

Laiacona can see 20 to 30 feet

ahead. With ease, he traverses obstacles of



preserved automobile frames and pieces

of bathtubs, sinks and toilets.

“Being able to fly around things [in

the water] and see it from every angle,

turn yourself upside down, it’s just so

much fun,” Laiacona says. “You can’t

do that in a museum, right?”

Several of the Milwaukee’s artifacts

that were detached from the ship by

crew members did make their way to

museums. Two life preservers branded

with “SS Milwaukee” are located at the

Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc,

81 miles north of Milwaukee.

Chicago’s regional National Archives

and Records Administration is working

to preserve one intimate artifact — a letter,

handwritten by a crewmate — that

describes the ship’s final hours.

On Oct. 26, 1929, a letter in a watertight

metal case was found in an SS Milwaukee

lifeboat off the coast of Holland,

Michigan — on the other side of the lake

from Milwaukee. Zant says these notes

were not unusual for the time.

“All these ships had a black box, essentially,

like airplanes do,” she says. “It was

a watertight case that if something was

going wrong, you could write on it, ‘This

is what’s happening,’ and then toss it


The author of the Milwaukee’s letter,

purser A.R. Sadon, succinctly described

the fateful scene.

“The ship is making water fast,”

Sadon wrote. “We have turned around

and headed for Milwaukee. Pumps

are working but the sea gate is bent in

and can’t keep the water out. Flicker is

flooded. Seas are tremendous. Things

look bad. Our [crew] roll is about the

same as on last pay day.”

The note was later authenticated,

becoming the only real, recovered record

from a lost ship in all of Great Lakes

shipwreck history. It did, however, raise

questions about what caused the ship to

sink. After reports of fishermen snagging

their lines in the area where the Milwaukee

sat undiscovered, two divers found

the ship in 1972.


Some experts theorized that a railcar

broke loose and smashed through the

sea gate, which was preventing water

from penetrating the deck. Zant says

this didn’t align well with Sadon’s note,

which indicated the sea gate was bent

inward. The Wisconsin Historical Society’s

investigation in 2014 determined

that there is no evident damage to the

inside of the car deck, which wouldn’t

be the case if a railcar was freely moving

aboard the ship during the storm. It is

thought that the sea gate was compromised,

allowing for water to flood in, and

its hatches might have been loose on the

car deck and lower decks.

Without any survivors, it is nearly

impossible to know why the Milwaukee

found its forever home in Lake Michigan.

Without maritime archaeologists and

scuba divers, the stories of failed voyages

would be unwritten in the cold, dark

Great Lakes. The Milwaukee remains a

favorite shipwreck for Wisconsin scuba






Shipwrecks In The Great Lakes Near

Wisconsin’s Borders








Pet owners embrace black cats despite age-old superstitions

By Shannon McManus

It is a cool, dark night. A black cat

crosses your path. You suddenly trip,

fall and end up with a bloody nose.


Your first intuition may be to think it

isn’t — it had to be the cat. For centuries,

the black cat has been thought to cause

bad luck, and those stereotypes run deep.

Without realizing it, we’ve been taught

to fear black cats.

Since early history, many people have

been wary of black cats and the bad luck

we think they bring. Over the years, this

led to mistreatment of these animals,

ranging from violence against them to

lower adoption rates, which has meant

more black cats on the streets. However,

in modern times, these creatures have

proven to be as affectionate, playful and

loveable as cats of any other color.

The superstition surrounding the

dark feline dates back to the Middle

Ages, when people didn’t understand

the scientific causes of illnesses and

deaths. There needed to be something

to blame, and the devil and subsequently

witches were convenient targets. With

their dark coats and sly nature, black cats

were connected with the sinister nature

of witches and often thought of as companions

to witches.

Amber Cederström, a folklorist and

acquisitions editor at UW–Madison,

finds that the beliefs about black cats

also stem from the understanding of cats’

roles in earlier societies. Cats were seen

closely related to humans in the spectrum

between God and the devil.

“Cats, who were around farms,

could have this human infant-like

existence, [which was] really distressing,”

Cederström says, speaking of the


Aries the cat

relaxes at his

forever home with

Madelyn Korbas.

relation of cats to humans. The shape

of cats worried people as they were so

similar to humans, yet not actually

humans themselves.

The rise of the superstition toward

black cats was more culturally specific,

with continental Europe largely associating

the black cats with evil. The exact

timeline of the origin of the superstition

varies, but the fear had a strong resurgence

in the 18th and 19th century in

Europe and North America.

“The color black has a negative association

in our culture and has for a long

time,” Cederström says, alluding to the

prevalence of the black cat superstition

continuing in America.

During the rise of the superstition

and years following, mass killings of

black cats occurred, and Puritans spread

the fear of black cats when they came

to America. The Puritans worked to

protect themselves from the devil and

all evil, thus the witches and black cats

were feared.

Now, even if people don’t know the

history of the superstition, the belief

is fed through reinforcement. Andrea

Kitta, a folklorist at East Carolina University,

notes the belief can continue

even if it is not always in the forefront

of someone’s mind.

“It kind of constantly gets reinforced

by popular culture ... hats and Halloween

decorations ... It’s a constant little

feedback loop of that association over

and over,” Kitta says.

Madelyn Korbas, a student at UW–

Madison, was aware of this belief when

she visited the Madison Cat Project

shelter in Madison. It had two available

kittens, one black and one gray. The

shelter seemed to have prepared for the

black kitten having a smaller chance of

adoption by lowering the price.

The superstition didn’t deter Korbas

— she left with her pure black kitten,


Often, there will be incentives for

people to adopt black cats at shelters

such as a lower price. Shelters around

the country also promote black cats on

special days or months related to them,

such as Black Cat Appreciation Day or

in October around Halloween.

While this fear of mistreatment of

black cats remains in many shelters, most

are pushing for the adoption of the cats

all year long to combat the effects of

the superstition. Cederström has volunteered

at shelters in the past in Oklahoma,

where she has found firsthand

how deeply rooted the beliefs still are.

While the impacts of the superstition

are higher in the South, Wisconsin

seems to show more positive attitudes

towards black cats from varying shelters

and rescues.

Sip & Purr is a cafe in Milwaukee

with an adjoined room full of adoptable

cats to visit. It is a popular place for cat

“It kind of constantly gets

reinforced by popular

culture ... hats and Halloween

decorations ... It’s a constant

little feedback loop of that

association over and over.”

lovers to visit and potentially meet their

new best friend.

Katy McHugh, owner of Sip & Purr,

sees little difference in adoption rates

of black cats compared with others.

This may be because patrons are able to

see more of the cats’ personalities, and

McHugh has strong photography to

show off the black cats.

In broader media, black cats are

becoming more popular in shows such

as Salem in “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,”

Binx in “Hocus Pocus” and Snowball II

in “The Simpsons.” These black cats all

show unique personalities that become

fitting companions for their humans.

Black cat advocates themselves have

also pushed for the adoptions of black

cats to combat the superstitions. Korbas

has joined Facebook groups that

talk about black cats as well as following

hashtags on social media to appreciate

the beauty of black cats.

With the recent push towards combating

the superstition of black cats, it is

encouraging to see how it can positively

affect adoptions. For Korbas, the joy that

she has gained from adopting her black

cat inspires her to encourage others to

consider doing the same.

“They are super loving, vocal and

sassy, and they make great little companions

with tons of entertainment,”

Korbas says.





How Wisconsin Super PACs stay in

the shadows to influence elections

Story and illustration by Tamia Fowlkes

When Kirk Bangstad plastered

a nearly 32-square-foot

Biden-Harris sign to the

exterior wall of his Oneida County

business in September 2020, he had

no idea that he had taken his first steps

toward becoming one of the most

prominent political action organizations

in the state of Wisconsin.

Now, donors have contributed more

than $375,000 under Minocqua Brewing

Company’s name and a slogan that

touts “dark money for good.”

As a political science student and

an avid reader of political news, I had

some questions: What is dark money

in politics, and what does it look like in

Wisconsin? And how can it be good?

I thought the answer would be

far easier to find than it proved to be.

Here’s what I found.

Part I: What is “dark money?”

In 0.53 seconds, my Google search for

“dark money” produces more than

2 million results of websites, videos,

articles and images that have some

relationship to dark money. Definitions

offered by Wikipedia to describe the

concept include “political spending by

nonprofit organizations” and organizations

that “can receive unlimited donations from

corporations, individuals and unions.”

What remained unclear was how

this issue impacted voters on a daily

basis and played a role in shaping



their political futures. For many, f inding

tangible examples of how dark money

affects the messages we hear is just as

perplexing as understanding its impact.

As I dug in more, I learned dark

money has the potential to cross our

path at any time and on every platform.

Whether it be Facebook or Instagram, in

your mailbox or on your television screen,

messages fueled by organizations with a

clear intention to sway political perspectives

are prominent and commonplace in

our everyday activities — even in years

between elections like now in 2021.

Part II: Dark Money In The Dark

In her book, “Dark Money: The Hidden

History of the Billionaires Behind the

Rise of the Radical Right,” journalist

Jane Mayer details decades of right-wing

campaign fundraising and spending that

plagued Wisconsin’s democratic system

and redefined the state’s understanding

of dark money.

During her visit to UW–Madison

in September, Mayer detailed her experiences

investigating Charles and David

Koch, the owners of the largest private

company in the nation, and the rapid

growth of their political influence.

“When they coached American

politics, they looked at it as engineers,

which I think gave them a great advantage,”

Mayer said during a Cap Times

Idea Fest panel with Washington Post

journalist David Maraniss.

Mayer spoke about efforts led by the

brothers preceding the 2012 presidential

election, detailing a dinner they hosted

that year with major conservative leaders

from across the country and some of the

wealthiest individuals in the world. At

the party, Charles Koch implored guests

to join a collection of more than 30 private

donors who had contributed more

than $1 million each to determine “the

life or death of this country.”

According to research by the Brennan

Center for Justice, powerful political

action committees and organizations

have poured more than $1 billion into

federal elections since 2010, focusing

their efforts on highly competitive races

locally and nationwide.

The most major pressure points

proved to be growing political division

and control over money.

Jay Heck, executive director of

Common Cause Wisconsin, has been a

champion for transparency in campaign

finance for decades. Leading the small

team at Common Cause Wisconsin,

Heck has seen firsthand the dramatic

shifts that Wisconsin campaign finance

policy has taken over the past 20 years.

The change is largely due to a pivot in

the mindset of business owners, who in

the past directly contributed to political


Now, more business owners choose

to put money into an issue ad group or

nonprofit organization, Heck says. By

taking that step in today’s political landscape,

there are no limits on the amount

of money someone can contribute, and

their commitment to a particular candidate

remains a secret.

“When they coached American politics, they

looked at it as engineers, which I think gave

them a great advantage.”

The reason why this donation privacy

exists is because dark money organizations,

typically referred to as “social

welfare organizations” and 501(c)(4)s,

have an IRS tax code designation that

requires that they spend no more than

50% of their money on politics.

As regulations continue to diminish,

seeking accountability grows to be an

increasingly challenging obstacle.

Part III: Dark Money for Good?

“Dark money for good” is a phrase that

comes up several times in my interview

with Minocqua Brewing Company

owner Kirk Bangstad.

Among political scientists and

experts, openly claiming this mantle

is rare.

“The big problem is accountability,

because with 501(c)(4)s you don’t

know who’s donating the money and

that’s why it’s called dark money,” says

UW–Madison political science professor

David Canon.

In Bangstad’s case, The Minocqua

Brewing Company Super PAC — an

independent expenditure-only Super

PAC — is not a dark money organization

but was created to challenge major

conservative spending initiatives in the

state and provide a stronger voice for the

northern population’s progressive ideals.

As an independent expenditure organization,

the PAC may receive unlimited

contributions from individuals, corporations,

labor unions and other political

action committees for political activities

in the state so long as the funds do not

directly support a specific candidate. The

organization is also required to report

spending and donation records to the

Federal Elections Commission.

The effort started when the company

was trying to sell its last few barrels of

blonde ale before its quickly approaching

expiration date and Bangstad decided it

was time for a rebrand.

Gaining nationwide attention with

its celebratory “Biden Beer,” the company

took advantage of its newfound visibility

to pivot its efforts on progressive

policy goals in the state by contributing

5% of its profits to the Minocqua Brewing

Company Super PAC in addition to

an influx of online donations from people

across the country who supported

Bangstad’s efforts.

“Instead of running a political nonprofit

where one has to constantly ask

for donations to exist, The Minocqua

Brewing Company is able to sell a product

that people want and fund our political

activism through those profits,” he says.

Listen to Curb Conversations

for more on this story and

other “Out of The Dark” pieces.




Indigenous communities bring attention to

missing and murdered women and girls

By Molly Kehoe

Jeneile Luebke is a survivor

of an abusive relationship.

Sasha Maria Suarez

is a survivor of sexual violence.

Cherie Thunder was attacked as a

college student and then raped

years later.

I set out to interview these people

based on their careers in research,

academia and advocacy surrounding

the missing and murdered

Indigenous women crisis in

Wisconsin. Only in our conversations

did they each tell me about their

personal experiences with violence,

each in an effort to explain the

prevalence of this crisis. The story

of the missing and murdered

Indigenous women crisis is not one

that can be told by looking at data,

but rather through narratives of

resilience from survivors and their


Wisconsin Attorney General

Josh Kaul defines this crisis as

the “significantly disproportionate

impact for missing persons

cases, as well as homicide

cases, within Indigenous communities.”

Homicide rates alone

are 10 times higher for Native

women than the national average.

According to the Center for

Public Integrity, an independent



journalism organization, more than

half of Native women have reported

that they were sexually assaulted.

State Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) of

the 36th Assembly District proposed

legislation in 2019 that would create

a missing and murdered Indigenous

women task force. In his role as chair

of the State and Tribal Relations

Committee, Mursau’s Indigenous

constituents brought this crisis to his


He and his colleagues subsequently

wrote a bill for the creation of a task

force that ultimately did not pass in the

Assembly, but Kaul decided to move

forward with the proposal anyway.

A byproduct of stark cultural differences

and disrespect, the history of sexual

violence and trafficking by European

colonizers is one of erasure as much

as the assimilation boarding schools

are, says Richard Monette, a professor

in the UW–Madison Law School. He

believes that both tactics work in tandem

with the goal of destroying Indigenous


One of the reasons the missing and

murdered Indigenous women crisis

has remained in the dark is the lack of

media attention. Journalist Gwen Ifill

coined the term “missing white woman

syndrome” to explain the media’s disproportionate

fascination with stories

of missing and murdered white women

compared with their Black and Indigenous


“Most Native women that you talk

to will eventually hint at the fact that

most other Native women they know

are survivors of sexual violence; it is a

very prevalent issue that doesn’t get a

lot of attention,” says Suarez, a White

Earth Ojibwe descendant and assistant

professor in UW–Madison’s history

department and American Indian

studies program.

Luebke, a postdoctoral fellow in the

UW–Madison School of Nursing who

studies gender-based violence in Indigenous

communities and the barriers to

seeking help after experiences of violence,

is the only person in the state to

ever publish data on its magnitude.

“We estimate, going by the one large

national study that was done by the National

Institute of Justice, that almost

85% [of Indigenous women] have experienced

lifetime violence,” she says.

One of the reasons that quantitative

data collection is difficult, Suarez

says, is in part because state institutions

struggle to classify Indigenous women

when reports are made. Resulting from

the decades-long boarding school and

adoption crises, as well as the Indian Relocation

Act and other federal policies,

about 70% of all Native Americans in

the country live off-reservation in urban

areas, according to Luebke.

The story of the missing and murdered

Indigenous women crisis is not one that

can be told by looking at data, but rather

through narratives of resilience from

survivors and their families.

This presents challenges because of

the combination of reservation-based

recordkeeping that cannot account for

urban relatives’ experiences and urban

police departments that can’t keep track

of the transitory Indigenous population,

Suarez says.

Indigenous communities have been

defending their land and fighting for

sovereignty since 1492, and in 2021

pipelines and mining ventures threaten

not only Indigenous people’s sacred

land, but also their women. Suarez

explains that these extractive missions

are sometimes referred to by the media

as “open hunting on Indigenous women”

because of the way that non-Native

men come to reservation land and kidnap

and traffic women.

A study from the National Institute of

Justice found that 97% of Native women

who have survived violence experienced

that violence from a non-Native perpetrator.

Kaul attributes this increase

in violence during extractive missions

to themes of all missing and murdered

persons cases. He explains that human

trafficking increases when there is an

influx of people from “out of town”

in a community, so with these camps

on Indigenous land he expects similar


Monette, a member of the Turtle

Mountain Band of the Chippewa

Nation, cautions against this narrative,

saying non-Native folks have tried to tell

the story of this crisis, but the focus on

jurisdictional disputes portrays “lawlessness”

at these extractive sites.

To deconstruct the barriers Americans

have in place that prevent progress,

Monette says citizens must reckon with

the fact that “raping and plundering

and pillaging was part of the charge of

the day. This is how you colonize people,

at least in some definitions of colonialism.

This is how you exploit them. This

is how you rend their societies asunder,

and that’s what [Europeans] did, and it

was rewarded. It wasn’t condemned.”

In the meantime, Indigenous advocates

and community leaders like Suarez,

Luebke and Thunder, a community

organizer and Menominee woman, feel

cautiously optimistic about the steps

being taken in Wisconsin. While some

may see the Department of Justice as

the colonizer, Luebke says the task force

is truly Indigenous-led and that the

department leaders have always emphasized

the importance of that.

Thunder attributes this centuries-long

resilience to the support networks

and trust within Native communities.

“Seeing all of the other tribes and Indigenous

peoples who have been standing

up and making these issues known

is part of that, too — part of our reservation

and the people there finding their

resilience,” Thunder says.



Workers who clock out — then clock back in

By Henry West

Tom and Ingrid Sommers drive to

the end of the long, gravel lane

heading away from their cozy

farmhouse. Three redbone coonhounds

ride patiently in the bed of the truck.

The Sommerses are electricians —

they own their own contracting business.

However, after a long day of manual

labor, they slip seamlessly into the second

gig they run: Hollow Oak Redbones.

For them, when the sun goes down,

another workday begins. The same goes

for the other 7.6% of working Wisconsinites

who hold two jobs. Whether chasing

a passion or a paycheck, thousands of

moonlighters throughout Wisconsin

aren’t stopping at 40 hours.

Emma Bullard is one of those chasing

a paycheck.

Bullard graduated from UW–Stout

in August 2021, studying vocational

rehabilitation with a focus on psychiatric

rehabilitation. It was an uphill battle for

her to find employment in a field that

requires several years of experience for

full-time roles. She landed on a part-time

position with the Boys and Girls Club

in Oshkosh, working with kids after the

school day.

“It’s pretty fun,” Bullard says. “I like

getting to know the kids’ different personalities...because

I really want to work

with teens [and] mental health.”

However, by the time her students

arrive at their after school program with

her at 2:30 p.m., Bullard has been awake

for 12 hours already. Her work day starts

at 2:30 a.m. picking packages in a FedEx

distribution center, where she works a

full shift before noon.

Christine Whelan, a clinical professor

of consumer science in the UW–Madison

School of Human Ecology and an

expert on the intersection of happiness

and the market economy, says the

tradeoff between extra income and extra

free time may not always be worth it.

“People who get paid by the hour

tend to work more hours, but they tend

to be less happy because the time that

they’re not working, they feel, is wasted,”

Whelan says. “If you are working out of

a passion for a particular cause or goal

that’s different because the work...is

being done for that higher purpose.”

Garth Beyer was an undergraduate

at UW–Madison writing a column

about beer for the Badger Herald when

he realized his passion for beer through

connecting with area brewery owners.

However, after graduation, he started

his career at Hiebing, a Madison-based

marketing agency.

He also continued to work with local

brewers while covering the beer beat for

The Capital Times. Their dedication

Garth Beyer first

discovered his

love for beer while

writing for one

of UW-Madison’s

student newspapers

and thought

it could become

a reality after a


in Hungary.



to the craft inspired him. Finally, after guided hunts is just a side perk.

a stop at a bar called Hops during a Starting with just two dogs, their

“beer-cation” to Hungary, a concept for pack has been as large as 20. Currently,

a new bar clicked, and he returned to they own seven.

Madison determined to make it more “This is our lifestyle. We choose to be

than a dream.

out and doing and going,” Ingrid says.

His vision came to fruition in December

2019 when he opened Garth’s Brew passion for beer and the bar, while being

Beyer is also a doer, balancing his

Bar on the west side of Madison. a full-time ideas man at Hiebing and

In Bullard’s case, she understands raising his 10-month-old baby with his

her current situation isn’t permanent. wife. He says staying regimented and

“I’m fine where I’m at now,” she keeping his mind mentally on the task

says. “I’m going to use this experience at hand is most important.

to advance in my field.”

“I try to be where I’m at,” Beyer says.

Her ultimate goal is working with “So if I’m working at Hiebing, I’m all in

at-risk teens in a mental health or substance

treatment center. In the mean-

stuff, it’s all bar stuff. Likewise, when

at Hiebing. When I’m working out bar

time, FedEx is strictly to help pay the bills it’s family, it’s just family.”

while she acquires the skills to progress. Despite their different reasons for

Finances aren’t always the main motivator

for seeking secondary employment. and the Sommerses have all been suc-

taking up a night-gig, Bullard, Beyer

According to Whelan, not all second jobs cessful in pursuing their passions — no

are going to be paid.

matter how thinly stretched they’ve

“Unfortunately, we tend to only value been at times. By moonlighting they’ve

work that is done for pay, but a better embraced the grind, enriched their lives

way to think about it would be to say with new experiences and found balance

that care work is work, whether it’s paid among it all. Beyer thinks everyone is

or not,” she says.

capable of doing the same.

For the Sommerses, Hollow Oak “If there’s anybody thinking of quitting

a job to start something new and

Redbones is all about their love for

the dogs. The little revenue it brings in pursue their dreams, I’d say don’t,” he

through fruitful raccoon hunting and says. “Do both.”

Tom and Ingrid

Sommers have

been hunting with

their own redbone

coonhounds for


Is brought to you by:




Advocates work to improve sexual assault resources

By Elea Levin

Surviving a sexual assault is one of

the most difficult experiences a

person can go through.

The process of seeking support after

can be even harder.

Survivors of sexual assault in Wisconsin

face barriers to accessing the appropriate

resources and are kept in the

dark about where to find help, what

options are available and how healing

or justice can be achieved. Now, organizations

across Wisconsin are working

to secure more funding for resources

and streamline the process of finding


Transformative justice can be a particularly

important option for people

from marginalized communities who

historically had more negative experiences

with the legal system. One option

for informal resolution at UW–Madison

is for the survivor to request that

“I fought so hard. I’m

no longer the victim,

I’m a survivor.”

a staff member issue a reminder to the

individual who harmed them about

campus policies regarding sexual misconduct.

Other survivors, however, may want

to pursue a legal route. Social justice

movements that gained national attention

in recent years inspired some

survivors to report their assaults and

to determine how they want to move

forward on their own terms.

When Racine resident Christina

Trinidad, 32, was sexually assaulted at

age 13, she wasn’t aware that resources

and options for sexual assault survivors

were available. It wasn’t until she was

nearly 17 that she connected with Be-

LEAF Survivors (previously Sexual Assault

Services of Racine) and began to

receive counseling.

Trinidad said she might have come

forward about her assault earlier if she

knew what kinds of resources existed

for survivors. She believes that advertising

these resources broadly in places

like schools and grocery stores could

help spread awareness about services

and options.

“It’s a lot on your shoulders as a

victim,” Trinidad says. “That trauma

should never be on them to try to

go out and try to find help. The help

should be right there in front of their


Rachel Sattler, a victims’ rights attorney,

and co-founder Kim Curran were

inspired to establish the Dane County

Multi-Agency Center to address this

problem and take a more victim-centered

approach to sexual violence. The

purpose of a multi-agency model is that

it collects and provides all the options

for action and resources following a

sexual assault in one place, which can

help ease the burden on the survivor.

“I can tell you that when someone

opens their mouth, has the courage to

schedule that appointment and actually

walks through that door, there’s no

way I can get them to go anywhere else,”

Curran says.

To help combat the decentralization

of survivor services, Kate Walsh, a

professor in the gender and women’s

studies and psychology departments

at UW–Madison, partnered with

Dane County Multi-Agency Center

after receiving a grant from the Department

of Justice Office for Victims

of Crime in Wisconsin. They used the

grant to bring forensic nurse exams —

a physical assessment performed by a

healthcare professional following a

sexual assault — to University Health

Services at UW–Madison in July 2021.

Previously, Meriter Hospital was the

only location in all of Dane County

to offer forensic nurse exams. Having

these exams available at University

Health Services for students and staff

eliminates the extra step of traveling to

a hospital.

Though movements like #MeToo

have brought greater national attention

to the issue of sexual assault, the

biggest barrier that many organizations

continue to face is a lack of funding.

“I’ve been doing this work for 20

years,” says Kelly Moe Litke, associate

director for the Wisconsin Coalition

Against Sexual Assault in Madison. “I

feel like something’s different, but

funding’s not different.”

In 2020, Wisconsin saw a rate of

38eight years. CURB


76.15 sex offenses per 100,000 residents,

but the numbers are likely

higher in reality given that sex crimes

are underreported. These high rates,

along with low funding, make it difficult

for organizations to prioritize

prevention programs.

Lack of funding is also what has prevented

the Dane County Multi-Agency

Center from launching its newest

idea: an app that would put resources

for survivors in one place. The app

would limit the amount of times a

survivor needs to recount their trauma

while seeking help — the last thing that

someone who just experienced a sexual

assault wants to do is to relive their

trauma by spending hours retelling

their story.

The app would incorporate everything

from mental and physical health

care to resources on how to go about

reporting an assault to the police. It

would also guide survivors directly to

in-person services if needed.

While the healing process can vary

from person to person, for Trinidad,

attending support groups and hearing

from other survivors was powerful.

She was also inspired to get help

for her mental health after having her

first daughter, and she is now a mother

of four.

Trinidad is taking classes online and

hopes to become a crisis counselor to

help other survivors after finishing

her degree.

“It took me a long time to change my

whole persona about my life and what

happened to me,” Trinidad says. “I

fought so hard. I’m no longer the victim,

I’m a survivor.”

“I can tell you that when

someone opens their mouth,

has the courage to schedule

that appointment and actually

walks through that door,

there’s no way I can get them

to go anywhere else.”



Dark Arts Circus opens doors,

possibilities for all

By Lilly Freemyer



Editors’ note: All of the performers in

this piece are referred to as their stage

names out of respect and safety for the


Among the smaller cities that

make up the Fox Valley in

northeast Wisconsin is a unique

artistic collective of aerialists, belly

dancers and drag queens.

In 2016, Mandie Savage founded the

Dark Arts Circus and Cabaret in Appleton.

Her goal for the performance

art collective was to create an outlet

for alternative artists from a variety of

skill levels and backgrounds. With the

help of other artists and the local community,

the Dark Arts Circus opens a

door into the darkness for alternative

performers and connoisseurs of the

dark arts.

The collective’s artistic performances

include burlesque, belly dancing, drag

and many other forms of expression.

The Dark Arts Circus welcomes all

performers, showing that the dark has

room for everyone.

The term Dark Arts Circus is an umbrella

term to encompass all of the possible

artistic performances incorporated

into the shows. Within the collective,

there is a sense of freedom. Freedom to

learn. Freedom to express. Freedom to

explore the darkness. Under this veil,

the collective champions many ways

of performing so that what might have

become a lost art is no longer, because

these artists found an outlet to explore

their expression and creativity.

“We are just a happy little group

of artists and our mission is to bring

the weird, wild and interesting to our

area and provide that access for folks,”

Mandie Savage says.

Savage specializes in burlesque and

sideshows but mainly performs as the

primary announcer for the group.

Her sideshows include walking across

a bed of nails and jumping through

fire and aerial hoops. Her signature

move is with Dark Arts Circus member

Miss Mego, which includes Miss

Mego performing a yoga pose on top of

Mandie Savage as she lays on a bed of

sharp nails.

Miss Mego is a dark fusion dancer,

a mixture of belly dancing and other

art forms. They use veil fans to add

dimension and illusions to the performance

by moving the fabric to the

beat of the music. The long, colorful

fabric is attached to the end of a handheld

fan, and it flows around the performer

as they incorporate it into their

performance. Their costumes are multilayered

and include sequined, bikini-like

tops, metal-decorated skirts and

balloon pants.

Miss Mego performs

a belly dancing

routine at the Fox Valley

Lagerfest in October 2021.



A unique aspect of the Dark Arts

Circus is that it is artist-designed and

directed. All of the performers design

their costumes, choreograph their work

and create all aspects of the show.

“Nobody knows what to do with

us when they ask us to come in and

perform,” Miss Mego says. “We’re

doing it on our own. We don’t have

anybody who is saying, here’s your

sound guy. Here’s your venue. Here’s

this. We walk into a space and they’re

like, we thought about that area as the

stage, but we don’t know. And then

we’re like, what? It’s very like doing it

ourselves. We don’t have a production

crew or anything like that, a lot of the

stuff is just Mandie and I doing it.”

Several members of the Dark Arts

Circus were very clear that it is not a

troop or organized performance group,

but rather a collective. Dark Arts Circus

is not exclusive. No one is to be

left out of the group or held back from

performing because of their identity or

performance level.

“We have performers from all over

that come in,” Miss Mego says. “I like

the fact that nobody has to be attached

to us and feel like that they can’t go do

a different show or they can’t attend

somewhere else or stuff like that. We

just want to facilitate the shows and

bring that to these artists so they can

get more exposure.”

Together the group’s participants

provide each other with the proper

tools to expand their creativity within

their performance art. For example,

Mandie Savage will host workshops

for artists in a variety of specialties like

aerial and belly dance. The group welcomes

an eagerness to learn new styles

and art forms. Followers and audiences

of the Dark Arts Circus have responded

positively to this ethos.

“The crowd that we draw definitely

draws a lot of energy and inspiration

from the mystical witchcraft,” says

Tarl Knight, the co-owner and booking

agent of the Tarlton Theater in Green

Bay, where the Dark Arts Circus has

had a residency since 2019. “People

come in, who aren’t a part of the show,

dressed very appropriately as what you

would imagine for a dark arts crowd.”

John Wankerford III is a drag king

and a regular member of the Dark Arts

Circus. He does a lot of his performing

digitally due to his disabilities. The

Tarlton Theater also functions as a

movie theater where performances like

John Wankerford’s III can be projected

during live performances.

Occasionally, John Wankerford III is

unable to attend performances, but because

he prerecords his art, he can still

perform with the rest of the circus. The

digital aspect also allows performers to

be in two places at once. They can digitally

perform for the Dark Arts Circus,

while simultaneously performing live

elsewhere in Wisconsin.

“I went into doing my own truth

and into dark arts with the intent that

everybody deserves to be beautiful, everybody

deserves to have that creativity

and express themselves,” says Ivy Scarlette,

a belly dancer for the Dark Arts

Circus. “I think a lot of our fans really

appreciate and are drawn to us because

we are so inclusive, with all different

kinds of people, all different kinds of

visual aesthetics, and again, you know

performance art itself.”

Two belly dancers from the

Dark Arts Circus swirl veil fans

through the streets as part of

a parade in Fox Valley.




One farm strives to protect

Wisconsin’s natural resources

Story and photography by Kate Morton

Jersey and Angus steers

move to a new area of

pasture on Cates Family




Meandering through the hills of

the Driftless Area in Spring

Green, Wisconsin, is Lowery

Creek, a spring-fed stream teeming with

life. Lowery Creek lies on an 8,600-acre

watershed, flowing through a valley,

continuing through Frank Lloyd Wright’s

Taliesin estate, down into the Lower

Wisconsin River and on to the Mississippi.

A heritage breed of brook trout glides

through its cold waters.

On a fork in the stream just south of

Taliesin lies Cates Family Farm.

Dick Cates Jr., who passed management

of the farm on to his son, Eric, was one

of a group of local landowners involved

in forming an organization in 2014 to

protect the stream. It’s now known as

the Lowery Creek Watershed Initiative.

Since then, the Cateses have worked

alongside other landowners to preserve

the stream that runs along their organic,

grass-fed beef farm.

Landowners like Dick and Eric Cates

ensure the water remains clear of soil

erosion, which darkens watersheds with

sedimentation that keeps aquatic life

from thriving. Maintaining the water

quality allows the brook trout in Lowery

Creek to flourish and provide eggs to

other local streams to boost the native

trout population.

Dick always wanted to farm. He

started doing farm work in 1967 at the

age of 15, when his father purchased

Cates Family Farm. However, he didn’t

always have the intention of taking over

his father’s land.

“I thought, who would want to farm

on a side slope like this, where there’s

a crick that runs down the middle?”

Dick says.

After earning his doctorate in soil

science from UW–Madison, Dick, now

69, and his wife, Kim, moved to Saudi

Arabia, where he worked on a massive

dairy farm with 10,000 cows. When they

came back to Wisconsin in 1986 after

three years in the Arabian Desert, his

father’s farm felt perfect. Dick started to

take over management of what was just a

small family farm with a couple of cows

and transformed it into a grass-fed beef

operation. He and other landowners

along the stream have taken measures to

protect the water through their involvement

in the Lowery Creek Watershed


“Some of us got together and said,

‘We’ve got a pretty special location here,

and we’re all doing things to try to

protect it and improve it. Perhaps

we ought to band together and give

ourselves a name and have membership

and have events,’” Dick says.

What started as kitchen table conservation

turned into an organization

in which each landowner protects the

land in different ways. Driftless Area

Land Conservancy projects coordinator

Barb Barzen helped the group organize

a formal structure and goals. To start,

“I want to see my agricultural colleagues

step up and do the best job they can in

terms of saving soil and protecting our


Barzen enlisted the help of students

with the Nelson Institute for Environmental

Studies’ professional program at

UW–Madison to conduct a report of

the stream’s conditions. The quality of

Lowery Creek’s water was already very

good, so the group decided to focus on

outreach to local landowners while still

monitoring the water.

In 2019, the Lowery Creek Watershed

Initiative hosted a workshop at

Cates Family Farm to share streambank

management methods the Cateses had

implemented on their property. The

farm has won several awards for its

commitment to conservation, and

Eric has continued his father’s work to

protect the stream on his land.

When Eric, 36, started to take over

in 2016, he, his parents, his sister and

brother-in-law purchased another property

to expand the existing farm. The

newer farm is part of a conservation

easement, where the previous owner

worked with the Department of Natural

Resources to create artificial trout

habitat, slope streambanks and build

stream crossings. Eric has kept the portion

of the stream on the easement fenced

off behind a buffer of trees and native

plants, except for designated stream

crossing areas.

Eric manages the original portion of

Cates Family Farm differently, creating

a “symbiotic relationship” between the

cattle and the land. The farm has a herd

of up to 100 Jersey and Angus steers at

a time on its 110 acres of grazing pasture.

The Cateses consciously understock

their cattle and have more than 30

designated paddocks. The cattle are

moved on a near-daily basis.

There are 25 designated stream

crossings on Cates Family Farm, and

Eric makes an effort to protect areas

where the cattle gravitate. The Cateses

have put breaker rock in along cattle

crossings, which provides better footing

and prevents cattle from stepping

in mud and eroding the area. Eric says

many people assume cattle will want to

stay in the stream all day when it’s hot

out, but that’s not necessarily true.

“If you can create a happy, healthy

environment with lots of grass and lots

of clovers, the grass actually holds moisture,

and they’d rather lie down in the

grass,” Eric says.

He uses spot and cross fencing

around the stream to prevent cattle

from staying in one area too long and

destroying the land, a technique called

managed grazing. The polywire fences

can be cut and moved as needed.

He also targets places to protect

where cattle like to rub their heads along

the bank and disturb the streambed. The

fences are strategically placed to direct

cattle to crossings at more gently sloped

spots along the stream.

Keeping the cattle away from vulnerable

areas keeps streambanks protected

from wear and tear. Steep banks worsen

the effects of erosion, and measures like

these help prevent sedimentation in the

stream. The Driftless Area is characterized

by high rainfall events, and Department

of Natural Resources fisheries

biologist Justin Haglund says managed

grazing can help to mitigate the erosive

effects of rain.

“By rotating those cattle around, it

allows the vegetation to come back up,

Eric Cates and his

daughter, Sloane,

overlook Cates

Family Farm.

whereas if you kept the cattle in one spot

the entire time, you probably would see

a lot more bare soil, and then that bare

soil also has the potential to be transported

to the stream in those high rainfall

events,” Haglund says.

Erosion can put the trout population

at risk. It is especially important to

protect the brook trout in Lowery Creek

because they are one of two native brook

trout populations in the Southern Driftless

Area that the Department of Natural

Resources uses for its feral brook trout

stocking program to spread the species

to other local streams.

“Brook trout do need cold water,

and that water needs to be clean,”

Haglund says.

If the gravel trout spawn on is covered

in sediment, any eggs laid during

the winter will suffocate.

The Cateses allow cattle to graze

along the stream for set periods to fight

invasive species and unwanted trees,

strengthening the streambanks.

“What cattle can help do is that they

help manage those weeds so that the

grass can grow and the grassroots can

kind of take hold and help stabilize that

bank. But it only works if you limit their

exposure,” Eric says.

Cates Family Farm has made efforts

to protect wetland areas along the stream

that birds and other wildlife call home.

Many Wisconsin farms plow their fields,

causing soil loss, but healthy grassland

filters soil and serves as a buffer in the

event of rainfall and protects the water.

“Any one of those farms could

improve the circumstance by doing

no-till and using cover crops, but many

do not because they continue to do it the

old way, and that’s what I’m concerned

about,” Dick says. “It’s not really the

size of the operation, it’s how people

do things.”

Pete Nowak, retired professor

emeritus of the Nelson Institute for

Environmental Studies at UW–Madison,

says if enough landowners along

feeder streams take actions like the Cates

family, there could be positive effects

downstream in greater bodies of water.

“If you get a number of farmers that

begin to bring a stream back to its original

condition, where it serves as a filter

to dramatic events, then you’re going

to lessen that surge of water that goes

into the larger water body,” Nowak says.

The natural, curved shape of streams

lessens the erosive impact of significant

rainfall, which carries sediments into

larger bodies of water downstream.

“That’s ultimately the way we’re

going to protect those larger bodies

of water is to go up into the watershed

and protect those smaller streams,”

Nowak says.

Cates Family Farm’s dedication to

conservation is just one example of a

growing movement of farmer-led conservation

in Wisconsin. Watershed groups

like the Lowery Creek Watershed Initiative

use community outreach to demonstrate

successful restoration projects and

encourage other landowners to take similar

steps on their land.

When landowners hear about the

successes of their peers, they can be

motivated to follow in those footsteps.

The Lowery Creek Watershed Initiative

does this by holding monthly “evenings

afield” events for participants to learn

from experts and see what other landowners

are doing. Events like these create

an opportunity for community exchange.

“If [landowners] get good information

and have a good relationship with

a neighbor that’s had really great success

working with the [state Department of

Natural Resources] or other organizations,

such as the Driftless Area Land

Conservancy, it really helps to build

those relationships, especially in small

watersheds,” Haglund says.

As watershed initiatives grow across

the state and farmers work together to

protect their land, Wisconsin’s water —

and future — is brighter than ever.

“I want to see my agricultural colleagues

step up and do the best job they

can in terms of saving soil and protecting

our waters,” Dick says.




After two decades, college sweethearts reconnect

By Isabella Byrne


first love is powerful and nearly for help with directions. As she walked

impossible to forget. And if it’s out of the car, Peter looked up and for a

meant to be, it can be strong brief moment, they simply just looked at

enough to cross the span of time and each other. Peter realized it was her and

space — no matter what happens in Ellen realized it was him, and they went

between. There’s something truly on to engage in small talk conversation

romantic about a love that never quite — as former flames do — and before he

ran its course.

knew it, she was back in her car and on

In 1956, Ellen Kayser and Peter Johnson

came to UW–Madison from two “When she drove away, I said, ‘You

her way.

different worlds.

know, I think someday I’m gonna marry

While Peter had his eyes on Ellen that girl,’ and I really did say that to

during their freshman year, it wasn’t myself as I continued to mow the lawn,”

until the fall semester of their sophomore Peter says.

year when they began dating.

Peter was recently separated, and he

It was a love story that began on promised himself he would wait one year

Langdon Street; Ellen was the president following his divorce before he would

of her sorority, Delta Gamma, and Peter pick up the phone to call Ellen. Peter

was a part of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity. felt he needed to acclimate himself back

At the time, though, they simply into being single, getting the hurt out

didn’t sync up.

of his system and the failure of his first

Peter was too wild. Ellen was more marriage to allow himself to open his


heart again.

Ellen and Peter graduated from It was August 1985 when Peter

UW–Madison in 1960, and diverged finally decided it was time.

onto their own paths into the world, One day at work, the phone rang.

to become the people they were meant Ellen remembers hearing someone in

to be.

the department saying that there was

Lights out. Curtains closed. Radio someone on the phone with a loud voice


asking for her.

Each of them went on to marry other “Do you know who this is?” Peter

people, follow their career dreams and asked her.

have children.

“With a voice like that. ... A voice I can

Back then, it wasn’t hard to be completely

in the dark about what an old Lights on. Curtains open. A familiar

never forget,” Ellen told him. “Hi, Peter.”

flame was up to.


While they both lived in Wisconsin, It wasn’t until November 1985 that

they didn’t cross paths. Until one day Ellen and Peter finally found a date to

when Peter bumped into Ellen for the meet. There was a snowstorm that day,

first time in 20 years.

so the roads were icy and Ellen called

Peter was out mowing his lawn in Peter to reschedule.

Applewood, a subdivision on Madison’s The two of them decided to meet at

west side. One of Ellen’s good friends Smoky’s Club in Madison.

happened to live right up the road from In the restaurant’s dark ambience,

Peter at the time. Without knowing it the two found themselves reminiscing

was him, Ellen pulled over the car to ask about old memories, old friends and the

Peter and Ellen

Johnson keep photos

of special moments

they shared together

after rekindling their

love in 1985, 20 years

after they met.




nearly 25 years that had passed since they

last saw one another.

“At the time, [we were] roughly 45,

46 years old, and you’re a lot more of

a mature person, and you’ve experienced

a lot of things in life by then. You

approach a relationship a whole lot differently

than you do when you’re 20

years old,” Peter says.

Ellen’s son, Grant Frautschi, remembers

her first official date with Peter.

When Peter pulled up in a red Corvette

convertible, Frautschi had his doubts.

“I remember thinking to myself that

this guy doesn’t have a snowball’s chance

in hell taking my mom out in a convertible

on a cold night to a hockey game,”

Frautschi says.

He remembers his mom coming

home after the date and asking her how

it was, he knew the hockey game wasn’t

going to be the highlight of it.

“He drives too fast, but the sound

system in his car was excellent!”

Ellen says.

Despite the fact that Ellen wasn’t a

fan of hockey, fancy cars or cold winter

nights, it wasn’t about that. It was about

the person sitting in the driver’s seat.

“I always thought they were kinda

meant for each other,” says Tim Dean,

a friend who first met Peter when they

were in high school and was his roommate

at UW–Madison.

During their freshman year, following

a Badger win, Peter ran out on the

football field to yank one of the little red

flags out of the end zone. It was an old

school tradition for the band to parade

down Langdon Street when Wisconsin

won. Peter marched behind the band

into Ann Emery Hall, where Ellen was

living at the time, to leave the flag at the

front desk for her.

Years later, after Peter and Ellen were

married, the red flag was sitting in their


With the emotions of a first love and

depths of lived experience, Ellen and

Peter Johnson remain as in love as they

were at 50 today at 83 years old.

“As she said after we got married, ‘All

that wildness at 20 I didn’t like, but that

wildness at 50 I did like,’” Peter says.





A UW education program offers a

new direction for those incarcerated

By Kalli Anderson

Ramiah Whiteside now works

for EXPO, which stands for

Ex-Incarcerated People

Organizing. EXPO works

with both policymakers and

formerly incarcerated people

to fix a broken justice system

and reconnect people with

their communities.


As Ramiah Whiteside logs onto

Zoom, a grainy photo of his

granddaughter born on Sept. 9

pops up as his profile picture. His laugh

fills the cyberspace as he describes that

although her family showers her with

tons of attention, right now, she only

cares about sleeping and feeding times.

But Whiteside hasn’t always been

able to be with his family during these

important moments. He learned about

the birth of his first granddaughter in

2014 through a paid phone call from

the inside of Fox Lake Correctional


In 1995, Whiteside was in a highspeed

chase with the police that ended in

a collision that killed four people — one

of them was his younger family member.

Imprisoned at 19 years old, Whiteside,

now 46, spent 24 years on the inside for

four counts of second degree reckless

homicide, one count of reckless injury

and one count of operating an automobile

without the owner’s consent.

During that time between 1995 and

2019, Whiteside says he felt emotionally,

mentally and spiritually like he was in

“the bowels of a slave ship.”

Then, 21 years into his imprisonment,

Whiteside found retired talk

show host Jean Feraca at the Wisconsin

Resource Center. At that time in 2016,

Feraca was teaching her first class at the

resource center through the Prison Ministry

Project. The project, run by the

First Congregational United Church

of Christ in Madison, directs restorative

justice programs that work to

mend the relationships between those

who have committed crimes, those

who are impacted by them and the

greater community.

Being allowed to take part in restorative

justice programs was the ray of light

Whiteside needed to come back from

the brink of hopelessness and despair

while still being held accountable for

his actions.

“It wasn’t until the restorative justice

process [that] it really started to resonate

that I can be a better person,” Whiteside

says. “I can be more than who I was

yesterday today.”

Education in prisons decreases the

likelihood of recidivism — or the

likelihood that a formerly incarcerated

person, once released, will offend

again. In one study from the Journal

of Experimental Criminology, authors

found that people who participated in

education programs while incarcerated

were 28% less likely to commit another

crime upon release versus those who did

not participate.

Realizing that people who are

incarcerated need to have their personhood

and inner intelligence recognized

inspired Feraca to start teaching noncredit

classes in prisons. She adapted the

curriculum used at the UW Odyssey

Project — a program she cofounded that

she says works to “break the cycle of generational

poverty” in Wisconsin — into

her classes in prison.

The UW Odyssey Project offers

four core programs for low-income

children, adults and those incarcerated

facing economic and other barriers

to education by offering a six-credit,

two-semester humanities course that

analyzes literature, philosophy, history

and art. The program aims to strengthen

students’ writing abilities and critical

thinking skills.

Odyssey Beyond Bars grew out of

Feraca’s efforts to introduce humanities-based

noncredit classes to students

in prison. The program — which

recently received the Wisconsin State

Public Defender’s Eisenberg Award for

its work — seeks to enlighten minds

that may otherwise become stagnant

in the confines of a roughly 54 squarefoot

prison cell by providing for-credit

college courses in humanities subjects

like English and Afro-American studies.

Odyssey Beyond Bars founder and

director Peter Moreno started the program

in 2018 to provide a chance to

those who are imprisoned at Oakhill

Correctional Institution, a minimumsecurity

prison in Oregon, Wisconsin, a

suburb of Madison.

“Our students are so often labeled as

inmates, offenders or worse, and when

they are able to finally see themselves

as students with long-term goals, their

lives are transformed,” Moreno wrote

in an email.

In the classroom, students are

required to complete assignments, work

on their public speaking skills and be

vulnerable with their classmates.

“I could tell that there was this hunger,

this huge desire to have intellectually

engaging conversations around

deep ideas, talk about texts and write

together,” says Kevin Mullen, co-director

of the UW Odyssey Project.

In Oakhill’s library on Tuesday afternoons,

Mullen brings this program to life

for 15 men. When he asks his students

to share their writings with each other,

they get straight to work.

“I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and

I have yet to find students who are more

enthusiastic, driven and focused than

these guys,” Mullen says.

“It wasn’t until the restorative

justice process [that] it really

started to resonate that I can be

a better person. ... I can be more

than who I was yesterday today.”

Mullen started teaching for the

program in fall 2019, in what he says

was the first for-credit, in-person class

UW–Madison has offered in prison in

more than 100 years. In his English 100

class, he teaches students how to write

confidently and comfortably while also

connecting to other men.

While educational opportunities

for those imprisoned are on the

rise — such as Odyssey Beyond Bars

opening up three programs at Racine

Correctional Institution, Columbia

Correctional Institution and Green Bay

Correctional Institution in spring 2022

— Feraca advocates wholeheartedly for

introducing more programs and classes

into prison.

“When you have the opportunity

as I’ve had to find out who’s in prison,

you realize how much we’re missing as

[a] society. There is so much potential

there. We’ve just ignored, overlooked and

discounted so much of it,” Feraca says.






New state law requires Holocaust education

for middle and high schoolers

By Mallory Pelon

— Elie Wiesel

feel OK with saying, hey, I’m part of the

LGBT community. Can you put up an

LGBT safe space in your room?”

Lambrecht says he sees these kids,

who typically are in the minority group

at West De Pere High School, feel proud

of who they are. He says this wasn’t the

case years ago. In fact, he actually attributes

this shift in attitudes in part to

teaching of topics such as the Holocaust.

“And I think part of that is the

Holocaust does some of that same thing.

It helps people want to advocate for

themselves, so bad things like this don’t

continue to happen,” Lambrecht says.

Implications in the classroom

Because the bill just became la aw,

teachers are still figuring out how to

integrate it into their classrooms.

To some degree, how to teach about

the Holocaust will still be at the discretion

of the school district. The

Holocaust Education Resource Center

in Milwaukee is there for schools

to use, but it’s hard to say how each

school will tackle such a tough,

intense topic. Schweber notes that teachers

will need to prepare themselves, not

just the material, when getting ready to

talk about a topic as deep and disturbing

as the Holocaust.

“When you’re teaching about largescale

violence and mass trauma and genocidal

atrocity, there are all these skills

that go into it and all these other dispositions

that go into making it powerful,”

Schweber says.

For many teachers, it’s up in the

air how the curriculum will change to

incorporate Holocaust education. Shad

Fanta, an eighth grade social studies

teacher at Waunakee Middle School

in a Madison suburb, says since the

bill is so recent, it will not affect him

or his classroom for some time. In

Waunakee, students already learn about

the Holocaust in sixth grade.

Ultimately, the goal of the new law is

more for people to understand the stories

from the Holocaust so that an event

of its magnitude will never happen again.

Education can be an effective weapon

against further injustice, and the passage

of this bill is helping to shed light on

the importance of Holocaust education.

However, there is still work to do.

And Schweber is not done yet.

“We have to take what we can get,” she

says. “Absolutely. But we have to fight

for the things that we don’t get and we

have to keep fighting for the things that

people need and deserve.”


Shad Fanta shows his

students the

importance of being

an informed citizen by

providing examples of

oppressive leaders

throughout history.

In 2018, a picture of high school

students from Baraboo, Wisconsin,

went viral on Twitter — and not in a

good way.

The photo showed a large group of

boys standing on the steps of the Sauk

County Courthouse grinning and giving

what looked like the Nazi salute to the

camera. Within the group of about 50,

almost everyone appeared to be caught in

mid-laugh, their arms raised high above

their heads.

The Nazi salute, one of the most

recognizable symbols of the Nazi movement

of the 1930s and 1940s, remains a

jarring act of antisemitism. This incident

gave Baraboo national news attention,

but now, more and more such acts make

global headlines.

The Anti-Defamation League found

that antisemitic incidents have increased

by 115% since last year. Although it’s

impossible to name one reason for the

rise in antisemitism across the globe,

experts do have some theories. Many

attribute this increase in aggression

towards Jews because of the increased

violence between Israel and Hamas

in Gaza.

But political issues aside, current

generations know less and less about the

Holocaust compared with their parents.

A recent study by the Conference

on Jewish Material Claims Against

Germany surveyed knowledge of the

Holocaust among Millennials and

Generation Z across the U.S. The

study found that 63% of respondents

did not know that 6 million Jews were

murdered during the Holocaust, and

nearly 20% of respondents thought Jews

themselves caused the Holocaust.

It’s hard to imagine that the gravity of

the Holocaust — often called the darkest

time in human history — could be forgotten

by younger generations. Yet many

are concerned about a rise in antisemitic

activity, which prompted the passage

of a new state law requiring that the

Holocaust, and other genocides, must

be taught in middle and high school.

Wisconsin is only the 18th state to pass

such a law.

This bipartisan bill was signed by

Gov. Tony Evers in April 2021. State

Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), author

of the bill, says it presents an opportunity

to learn from our past to do better, and

to take those lessons and put them to

use in our daily lives.

“It’s particularly timely as fewer

and fewer Holocaust survivors are able

to share their stories, that we make

a concentrated effort to ensure that

history is not only taught but therefore

is never repeated,” Subeck says.

Impact on students

The significance of this bill isn’t lost

on Simone Schweber, an education and

Jewish studies professor at UW–Madison.

She said when she first started in

this field, people were already worried

about the end of the generation of Holocaust

survivors — and now that time has

come. This bill is a first step in helping to

memorialize survivors and their stories.

Additionally, Holocaust education

can provide valuable lessons to students.

Brandon Bloch, assistant professor of

history at UW–Madison, believes that

Holocaust education is highly relevant

to students and gives them the tools to

look critically at their own government.

“What leads large numbers of people

to believe in fanatical political movements

or to see radical movements, like

national socialism, as the answer to their

problems? Those questions are not only

historical, they have a bearing on the

contemporary world and I think it provides

a warning for us in the present day,”

Bloch says.

Holocaust education can also affect

students on a personal level. Social studies

teacher Matt Lambrecht from West

De Pere High School, a public school

located 10 minutes outside of Green

Bay, says, “I would say in the last five

years, we’ve had so many more kids who





Athletes put in their hardest work

before the sun rises

By Madison Mooney

Champions are made when no

one is watching. And there truly

is no one watching when the

sun isn’t up.

The sports teams at UW–Madison

pride themselves on being among the

best in the NCAA. The success of

major revenue-making sports is often

widely publicized. At the same time, athletes

in smaller sports, such as rowing,

cross-country, wrestling and softball,

dedicate much of their energy and time

to their respective sports, yet compete

outside the glow of the bright stadium


Four of those athletes shared with

Curb their experiences with morning

workouts and explained why the early

grind is worth the effort.

Grace Belson, 20

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Junior, women’s rowing

The rowers are one of the first teams

to start practice on the UW–Madison

campus, working out Monday through

Saturday and moving their boats into the

water by 6:15 a.m. every weekday.

There are lights at the bow and stern

of the boats for safety.

Belson joined the rowing team her

freshman year of college, after originally

being a runner in high school.

The team will practice this early yearround,

and the rowers try to stay out

on the water as long as possible. This is

usually until mid November, when the

lake starts to freeze. The winter months

can often be the hardest for them to get

up and stay motivated for practice.

“It’s freezing cold outside, pitch black,

the whole practice,” Belson says. “People

start to get really tired of it. The morale is

definitely really low in the winter.”

The long, winter mornings are hard,

but the women’s rowing team is determined

to do well at the NCAA Championships

at the end of the school year.

The rowers hope to qualify for the AB

race, making them one of the top eight

teams in the nation.

“A lot of people ask me, how do you

do it?” Belson says. “How do you stay

up so early? But after a while, you just

realize that it makes sense to do it then.”

Rowen Ellenberg, 21

Appleton, Wisconsin

Junior, men’s cross-country

Morning practice looks different for

the men’s cross-country team. Ellenberg

finds himself getting up in the mornings,

often alone, for runs.

Official practice takes place in the

afternoon, but the men need to run several

times a day to get in all of the miles

they need. For Ellenberg, that’s a total

ranging from 80 to 95 miles across nine

runs every week.

As the school year goes on, morning

runs get colder and colder.

“If it’s below zero, I have to throw on

a running jacket and have three or four

layers on,” Ellenberg says.

The darkness also means Ellenberg

has to choose wisely where he runs. He

avoids trails in forested areas with lots

of roots and instead runs on the concrete

bike path that goes through the

UW–Madison campus toward Verona.

The path is lit up by street lights and

completely flat, perfect for running with

limited lighting.

Ellenberg says the team’s goal is to

win the Big Ten title and perform well

at the national championships.

“We have had trouble really saying

specifically what that means, but definitely

top 10 and the high goal is top

five,” he says.

Ethan Rotondo, 22

Vancouver, Washington

Senior, men’s wrestling

Rotondo has trekked to wrestling

practice in the dark for four years at

UW–Madison. He gets up with his teammates

and runs, then follows it with a

morning lift.

Waking up early requires dedication

from the athletes to get to bed earlier, so

they can still function well throughout

the school day. Some wrestlers use naps

to compensate for loss of sleep.

“After morning practice, if I don’t

have class, I’m taking a nap. I nap and

then I do homework and I have practice

... There’s not a lot of time to be

social when you’re getting up so early

and trying to go to bed at a good time,”

Rotondo says.

The social life of the typical college

student is often nonexistent for athletes.

Going out on the weekends and staying

up late is not practical for the wrestlers

when they have to wake up so early to

get their workouts in.

The altered sleep schedule and

less-active social life is all worth it when

going after their dreams.

“I want to be an All-American,” he

says. “So just keeping that in mind and

just knowing that getting up early, doing

what I need to do to be ready for practice

is just important to me.”

Ally Miklesh, 20

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Senior, women’s softball

The women’s softball team’s practices

start at 6:15 a.m. and go until 10:30 a.m.

During this time, players complete a lift

session, then practice and have individual

meetings with coaches.

Miklesh loves the grind. She treats

mornings in the darkness with a positive


“It’s a really good start to my day,”

Miklesh says. “Practices are hard and

obviously your coaches are gonna get

on you, but they have [the] best intentions.

So being around those people right

away in the morning just kind of sparks

your day.”

Miklesh relies on making sure she has

good nutrition to keep herself awake and

energized throughout the rest of the day.

Coffee is also an essential part of her daily

productivity after practice. Naps help to

catch up on the missed sleep.

“I try to fill in some naps here and

there, especially when I feel bogged

down,” she says. “Having later classes

in the day can be a struggle sometimes

being awake.”

The softball team hopes to be top

16 in the NCAA this year, which would

allow them to host a regional tournament.

The work they do in the early

mornings of the fall and winter will

help them achieve this goal come the

spring season.

“I think that the reason why we’re

really ready to go in the morning is just

due to respect of our team, respect to our

alums, just the culture that our coaches

and our alums have built here,” Miklesh

says. “So the fact that we’re energized,

ready to go in the morning is just a

tribute to them.”

The UW–Madison

women’s rowing team

runs warm-up drills

at Porter Boathouse

before starting

morning practice

at 6:15 a.m.




Raven Moon and her family

love the location of their shop,

especially the proximity to

other artistic spaces such as

the Orpheum Theater and the



Family tattoo shop offers training

ground for young artist

By Cailyn Schiltz

Raven Moon is an artist, fascinated

and inspired by darkness.

She’s been creating art since about

second grade, wearing all black since middle

school and dabbling in a variety of

media over the years.

She discovered India ink in the illustrations

of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series

of Unfortunate Events” and now uses it

to add a dark, crisp element to drawings

and paintings. She adores gouache, the

art of using opaque watercolors to paint,

and took about a year to master drawing

on an iPad.

But nothing compares to how Raven

feels about her newest medium: tattoo

ink, with the human body as her latest


Raven, 25, is an apprentice at Ritual

Moon Tattoo on State Street in downtown

Madison. Her husband, Abraxas

Moon, 26, reads tarot cards at a sturdy

wooden table in the corner of the store as

the shop’s resident psychic. Her mother,

Jaded Moon, is a renowned tattooist

who travels to clients across the globe

and specializes in inking where the sun

doesn’t shine.

Jaded founded Ritual Moon as

a space for her family to hone their

crafts and support each other in a safe

environment. As they explore and create

a niche in their home, the Moon family

aspires to bring a unique artistic and spiritual

experience to downtown Madison.

Jaded always brought her children

with her when she traveled — but training

an apprentice on the road would have

been impossible. She wants stability

and success for her children and never

suspected they would be interested in

following in her footsteps.

“When the kids asked me about tattooing,

I obviously had nothing negative

to say, because I’ve always loved tattooing,

and it’s been so good to me,” Jaded

says. “But I’m like, ‘You should do real


Raven began her first apprenticeship

in her hometown of Las Vegas under a

family friend. She describes it as a very

masculine space — a huge shift from

the matriarchal household where she

grew up.

Jaded began tattooing at age 16 as a

“street kid” and faced sexual harassment

when she apprenticed under bikers. In

order to protect her daughter and ensure

Raven could flourish in her apprenticeship,

Jaded settled down and set up shop.

Raven is not the only Moon training

in the art of body modification in

the family shop. Middle child Micah

Moon, 21, is also a tattoo apprentice,

and youngest brother Sequoia Moon, 19,

is an aspiring piercer. Abraxas, Raven’s

husband, intended to begin his tattoo

apprenticeship this summer but it was

delayed by two separate hand injuries.

While he waits for his hands to fully

heal, Abraxas is mastering the scheduling

and communications while developing

his divination abilities as Ritual

Moon’s resident psychic. He has been

reading tarot since age 14 and is studying

other forms of spiritual readings to perform

at Ritual Moon, such as astrology

and palmistry.

“We would really like to live up to

our name, the ‘ritual’ part,” Abraxas says.

In Las Vegas, Raven trained in a variety of

spiritual practices, but now she strives to

incorporate attunement into her tattooing

via stick-and-poke tattoos.

Attunement is a method of spiritual

and emotional healing that uses strategies

such as chakra work and body-tapping.

Raven describes it as rummaging

through someone’s aura to feel for a

“prick,” which indicates a spiritual block,

then pulling it out.

This fall Raven stepped into tattooing

customers, and to complete her

apprenticeship, she gave away 100 free

tattoos. Megan Brown found herself as

Raven’s first human canvas.

Brown, a 21-year-old from Sun

Prairie, a Madison suburb, stumbled

upon Ritual Moon thanks to a friend.

She noticed that the shop had something

extra to offer, an occult twist.

“Tattoo and tarot? Two of my favorite

things,” Brown says.

She chose a line drawing of a flower

and made an appointment, keeping her

expectations low.

Before any ink is used, Raven ensures

that the tattoo is within her skill level,

as well as being designed, stenciled and

placed 100% correctly.

As Raven tattooed Brown’s ankle,

Jaded stood behind her daughter to

give helpful feedback and stepped in

at the end to touch up the artwork.

Brown was thrilled with how her tattoo

turned out, especially considering

the price point.

Raven learns more with each tattoo,

exuding nothing but confidence

and optimism. While she is sure of her

own artistic and technical abilities, Raven

attributes some of her comfort in this

new medium to her support system.

“I will say that my mother is teaching

me, and so I’m fairly comfortable. I

think if anybody else was teaching me, I

wouldn’t be nearly as good,” Raven says.

“Sometimes maybe I’d be more comfortable

if somebody else was teaching me

because maybe I wouldn’t care what they

thought, but my mother is my best friend

— and I care about what she thinks more

than anybody else.”

Historically, cultures across the

world have tattooed for artistic, spiritual

and healing purposes, according

to Raven and Abraxas. Ritual Moon

plans to continue this tradition in its

new home. Between Abraxas’s psychic

studies, Jaded’s boundary-pushing art

and Raven’s spiritual services, the Moon

family is bringing a new element to

the city.



Overture Center.


Abraxas Moon has been

reading tarot cards for about

a decade and is currently

studying astrology.





The journey to rebuild a community’s

spiritual center

By Maya Fidziukiewicz

Deaf and hard of hearing

advocates seek inclusion and equity

By Claire Henneman

What did you say, could you be treated the same way as someone

repeat that?”

wearing eyeglasses to see better.

It’s a common question, but To foster a more inclusive society,

for people who are Deaf, culturally Deaf hearing people could consider taking

or hard of hearing, it can be a question an American Sign Language or Deaf culture

class, according to Ryne Thorne, a

essential to understanding a situation.

That’s why the frequent response is lecturer in the American Sign Language


studies department at UW–Milwaukee.

“Oh never mind, it’s not important.” Thorne, who is Deaf, attended UW–Milwaukee

as an undergraduate.

That’s how many hearing individuals

deal with the situation. Instead, they Though American Sign Language

should have patience and be considerate

when communicating with people English, it is a separate language with

has similar linguistic features to spoken

who are Deaf, culturally Deaf or hard grammar distinct from English. ASL is

of hearing, says Kristin Johnson, a staff “expressed by movements of the hands

member of HEAR Wisconsin, a nonprofit

organization that serves the Deaf Institute on Deafness and Other Com-

and face,” according to the National

and hard of hearing communities. munication Disorders.

Comments like those make her feel UW–Milwaukee has a robust ASL

left out of a conversation, Johnson says. program. ASL courses 1 through 6 are

About 500,000 people in Wisconsin offered as foreign language courses. It

are affected by hearing loss, according to also offers courses in ASL semantics,

the state Department of Health Services. Deaf culture and Deaf history.

But the barriers they face in educational, The university’s Sandburg Hall

community and professional settings hosts an ASL living learning community,

often get lost in conversations about which gives Deaf and hard of hearing

diversity, equity and inclusion.

individuals the opportunity to live on

Being Deaf or hard of hearing can campus together. The community is

be an invisible disability to those uneducated

about Deaf culture. One day, hearing students included, who are cur-

open to any UW–Milwaukee students,

Johnson hopes, hearing devices will rently learning or want to learn ASL.

UW–Madison offers academic

services such as live captioning, known

as Communication Access Realtime

Translation — or CART — to create

transcripts of spoken language in real

time for in-person and remote classes.

Media captioning is another resource the

McBurney Disability Resource Center

offers to Deaf and hard of hearing students.

Students must work with both the

McBurney Center and their professors

to ensure that learning resources like

these are available for all of their classes.

UW–Madison recently posted a job

listing for an assistant professor position

for ASL and other sign languages. This

individual is expected to have extensive

knowledge of both ASL and deaf culture.

Thorne mentioned that going

beyond UW–Milwaukee and UW–Madison,

it is important for the community

at large to know the basics of American

Sign Language and Deaf culture.

“Law enforcement, hospitals, [the]

legal system — I think they should all

take classes for sign language and Deaf

culture,” Thorne says. “Because I think

that would help open their minds a little

bit and understand what Deaf culture

looks like and how they can be more of

an advocate.”

Movements of

the hands and

body are a crucial

aspect of ASL. The

word "community"

is being signed



Andrew, come quick. You have a It’s where kids see trees instead of skyscrapers

and paved concrete. It’s where

fire at your camp.”

Andrew and Anna Fidziukiewicz people have a spiritual encounter with

are stirred awake, first by a knock on their God. Many couples met, marriages

door from a Fond du Lac County sheriff, started and relationships were saved

then by calls from the police and fire here. It’s a place that fostered hope in


many young people, and that has a lot

Their minds race. Maybe it’s the garden

shed? Or what if it’s a cabin? There the camp.

of significance to anyone who stays at

was no one at the camp. Did someone It’s special to me, too. I’m Andrew

forget to extinguish their campfire? The and Anna’s oldest child, and my siblings

idea that it was the chapel didn’t occur and I grew up helping our parents run

to them.

the programs and maintain the grounds.

Andrew, president of Camp Vista, I don’t know where to begin explaining

and his wife, Anna, are trying to collect my involvement with this space — it’s

themselves as they look out their front been my life since my family started running

summer camps there when I wasn’t

door. They see what looks like an enormous

forest fire lighting up the 5 a.m. even a year old, and then we got more

dark October sky. On the other side of involved as we took over the grounds

the trees is a place they’ve called a backyard

for the past 13 years of their lives: It goes without saying that this

when I was 8 years old.

Camp Vista.

chapel taught me not just about hope,

Camp Vista is a recreational Christian

campground located in the heart Now, when I reflect on my con-

but about life in general.

of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Forest cerns I expressed in the past, I realize

near Fond du Lac. It's a retreat center they all played out differently than

for many local groups, Boy Scouts, summer

camps and family retreats — a place — somehow. Such is the story of the

I expected, but they still turned out

where everyone is welcome, regardless chapel, too.

of race or creed. Located at its center is


a beautiful chapel where every family The night of the fire, Andrew and

or group begins and ends their retreat Anna’s thoughts continue to race in

time. In its early days, founder Father disbelief. “Do we wake the kids up?”

Joseph A. Fischer received a lot of help Andrew asks himself, and without thinking

twice, he commands my brother, the

from his good friend, legendary Green

Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, to oldest child there at the time, to wake

help fund the construction of the camp up the others. Meanwhile, my parents

and the chapel.

run to their truck and speed over to the

Camp Vista’s chapel is a special place. camp. Adrenaline works well for a quick

It’s where families spend time together. wake up.

It’s hard to get anywhere past the

entrance of the camp, as dozens of firefighters

are already at the scene. They’re

all asking for water. As my family rounds

the corner, they come face to face with

the tragedy before them. What used to

be the camp’s beautiful wooden spiritual

home was now engulfed in flames.

The flashing fire against the dark sky

lights up the tear-filled faces of my family

looming helplessly on the sidelines.

Firefighters would not let them come

near the structure, but the view was clear

enough from where they stood. Limp

and anguished, they watch the building

that cultivated their childhood memories

and their faith be devoured in flames and

slowly die before their eyes.

Camp Vista founder

Father Joseph A.

Fischer meets with

legendary Green Bay

Packers coach Vince

Lombardi; the chapel

before the fire;

firefighters on the

scene the night of the

fire. Photos courtesy

of the Fidziukiewicz




“I never cry. But at that moment, I

cried,” Andrew says.

The next few weeks were filled with

grief and consoling the many campers

and retreatants who felt the loss as well.

A metaphorical darkness came about

the camp — every time someone drove

past the caution tape section, it felt like

a healing wound kept being reopened.

Oct. 24, 2018, is a day that the community

remembers like it was yesterday.

So many families came up to visit the

hole that once held the place they called

their second home. Tears were shed and

hands were held. All we could do was

silently embrace each other because there

were no words that could describe our

feelings. My family barely had time to

process the loss, but we still tried to console

others in their grief. Loyal retreatants

and musically gifted campers came to

sing and to create videos to post as fundraisers,

some as soon as the day of the fire.

To this day, we don't know what

caused it.

Coming to camp

The camp itself is a humble place.

Built in the early ’60s by founder Fischer,

the camp’s purpose is to be a peaceful

setting filled with 250 acres of natural

beauty that inspires the mind, rejuvenates

the soul, and connects people with

God and each other.

Andrew, in addition to his presidential

role, is also the constructor, carpenter,

maintenance man, program developer

and project manager — just to name

a few — of the camp grounds. Along

with my mom, Anna, and my brothers

and sisters, we have taken care of Camp

Vista since 2008.

My parents both immigrated to

the United States from Poland in the

’80s. When you hear them, their accents

give away their Polish identity. Tragedy

and loss are not new to an immigrant’s

life story. Leaving behind a piece of

themselves and everything they’d come

to know in their physical homes in

Poland was incredibly difficult. America

could never supply the roots that

their home country established for

them, but they came here in search of a

better life.

But this time it was different.

This chapel was a symbol of everything

they’ve worked toward — you

can say it was like their American dream.

Losing a place so filled with spirit, memories

and hope for the future was a heartbreak

they never thought they would


Helping hands

Immediately after the fire — within

hours of the chapel burning down —

Camp Vista already experienced tremendous

support from the local community.

A friend started a GoFundMe. A group

of local 7th graders hosted a bake sale.

Local neighbors rolled up their sleeves

— and their equipment — to help with

the clean up.

This showed Camp Vista, a nonprofit

organization, that we had support

from those we serve. A morale boost was

very much needed because, in addition

to planning the construction of a new

building suitable for cultivating the faith

and values of the next generation, we

had to come up with $3.8 million to

fund the project.

The groundbreaking ceremony for

the building of the chapel happened

on March 13, 2020 — the same day

the White House declared the coronavirus

a national emergency. While

the rest of the world slowed down,

construction moved forward on a new

chapel. The supplies were preordered

and supply chain shortages were avoided.

However, with businesses closing down,

finding momentum to raise funds proved

to be the most difficult task of all.

As a unique aspect to its fundraising,

Camp Vista sent out brass vials

that served as personal prayer time

capsules. Friends of Camp Vista could

fill out these time capsules with their

family, writing down the deepest hopes

and desires for their present and future

families. When the foundation was laid,

these capsules were placed in the drying

concrete and filled in, sealing these

intentions in the chapel for generations

to come.

Hope in the process

Throughout the building process, my

dad was very involved in the construction

of the chapel. He and my brothers

would sometimes wake up at 3 a.m. to

get a project done before the rest of the

team got there.

My dad also went out of his way to

make sure the community was involved

in this project. He prioritized getting

smaller tradesmen on the job to support

local Wisconsin craftsmen.

“Trades on the job were near and dear

to the Camp Vista community,” says

Jeff Redman, project manager at C.D.

Smith, the company that built the main

structure of the chapel. “Some craftsmen

were too small for us [as contractors] to

recommend, but Andrew wanted the

community involved.”

Slowly but surely, the construction

started looking more and more complete,

and we’re growing to love it as much as

the old one.

My dad says he wouldn’t want to

go back to what the chapel looked like

before — the new one is better in every

way he could have imagined.

“Everyone has their own little chapel

in their life,” my dad says, reflecting on

the fire and the effort to rebuild. “To

them, it’s perfect and they’re very

attached to it. But one day they wake

up and their chapel is ripped from their

life, burned to the ground. That’s where

faith and hope come in — proving in a

time that great things can come from

our darkest moments.”

The new Camp Vista chapel

houses brass time capsules

within the concrete, working

in the history and the hopes

of the community.









At the break of dawn, a fresh day presents itself as a blank slate — an opportunity

to start anew. Our eyes open, and we are called to simply take the next step. But in

the end, the darkness is what teaches us to appreciate the day. The gloom makes

the sun shine brighter. We now know that the dark is not something to fear — it is

a necessary part of our life cycle that we embrace.






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