OUT OF THE DARK
while you sleep
Theaters innovate to
attract new audiences
ALL NIGHT LONG
Drink and dine
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.
Stars Under the Stars
Out Like A Light
Essentials in the Dark
Books to Keep You Up At Night
It’s Freakin’ Bats
Check Out Wisconsin’s Northern
Curb 20th Edition
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Explore the stories after sunset
Thinking Outside the Black Box
Let’s Go Out!
Embrace the moonlight hours
A Deep Dive
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
A Way Forward
“Even in darkness it is possible
to create light.”
Rise and Grind
Her New Medium
Our Own Little Chapel
Seize the Day
OUT LIKE A LIGHT
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.
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
Editorial support from Jenny Price
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
ILLUSTRATIONS BY LILI SARAJIAN
14 Drive-In in
STARS UNDER THE STARS
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
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
“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
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
Limit napping during the
day. Daytime siestas can be
tempting, but if you struggle
with insomnia, avoid naps
longer than 30 minutes after
Create your own bedtime
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
ESSENTIALS IN THE DARK
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
ILLUSTRATION BY GRACE LANDSBERG
BOOKS TO KEEP
YOU UP AT NIGHT
By Claire Henneman
“THE GUEST LIST”
BY LUCY FOLEY
A destination wedding results
in a murder. Complicated
relationships and pasts are
revealed, keeping you guessing
whodunit all the way
BY ASHLEY AUDRAIN
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
“THE SEVEN HUSBANDS
OF EVELYN HUGO”
BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
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?
BY COLLEEN HOOVER
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.
“THE PAPER PALACE”
BY MIRANDA COWLEY HELLER
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
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
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.
This adhesive cable holder set will
be sure to keep all of your messy
For the Midnight Snacker
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
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
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
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
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
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
This small book promises wisdom
on how to calm your mind and
lighten your spirit. Read it in the
morning to help declutter your
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
PHOTOS COURTESY OF WISCONSIN DNR BAT PROGRAM
IT’S FREAKIN’ BATS!
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-
WHERE TO FIND THEM
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.
HELP WITH A BAT HOUSE
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
YOUR GUIDE TO
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
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
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.
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.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON & JESSICA GREGORY
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
2017 2018 2019 2020
while you sleep
OUT OF THE DARK
Theaters innovate to
attract new audiences
ALL NIGHT LONG
Drink and dine
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
PHOTOGRAPHY BY WILLIAM 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
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
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
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
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
“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.
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,”
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
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
“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,”
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,”
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
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
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
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
PHOTO COURTESY OF KYLE LEHMAN
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
Professor Megan Reilly uses
her body to demonstrate her
favorite lighting styles in the
UW–Madison lighting lab.
brings truth to light.
Read our fact-checked, nonpartisan
investigative reports at wisconsinwatch.org
Theater reinvents itself to bring
By Lili Sarajian
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
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
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
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
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,
the variety of colors
Reilly uses the
lighting board to
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
television, film, video games — theater
simply can’t offer the same level of convenience
“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,”
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,
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SKYLAR GDANIEC
tonight’s watch is a guaranteed display
of their V- and J-formations moving
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
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
“We’ve had some nights where this
whole area up here is just white with gulls,
just hundreds and hundreds of them,”
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
“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
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
“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.
WHAT’S IN YOUR BIRDING BAG?
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
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
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
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.
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
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY KALLI ANDERSON
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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,”
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,”
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.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
LESSONS ON LIFE AND LEADERSHIP FROM
HAPPY HOUR TO LAST CALL
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
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK MURPHY
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
“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
(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
(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
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
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
2 a.m. Sun-Thurs
2:30 a.m. Fri-Sat
Looking for somewhere
to watch a game in
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.
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
ILLUSTRATIONS BY GRACE LANDSBERG
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
night goers in Milwaukee.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WISCONSIN HISTORICAL SOCIETY
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
PHOTO COURTSEY OF C. PATRICK LABADIE COLLECTION
ILLUSTRATION BY GRACE LANDSBERG
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
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
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
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
Aries the cat
relaxes at his
forever home with
relation of cats to humans. The shape
of cats worried people as they were so
similar to humans, yet not actually
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
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
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,”
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
“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
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
“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.
ILLUSTRATION BY GRACE LANDSBERG
LIGHT THE WAY
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
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
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,
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.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
THE NIGHT SHIFT
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
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
“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
He also continued to work with local
brewers while covering the beer beat for
The Capital Times. Their dedication
Garth Beyer first
love for beer while
writing for one
it could become
a reality after a
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
been hunting with
their own redbone
OUT OF THE DARK
Is brought to you by:
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HENRY WEST
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
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
“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,”
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
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
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
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
Trinidad is taking classes online and
hopes to become a crisis counselor to
help other survivors after finishing
“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.”
LIKE NO OTHER
Dark Arts Circus opens doors,
possibilities for all
By Lilly Freemyer
ILLUSTRATION BY SHANNON MCMANUS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK MURPHY
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
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
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
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
“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.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK MURPHY
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
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?”
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
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
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,”
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
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,”
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
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
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
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.
“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.
OF PETER AND ELLEN
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,”
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!”
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
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
Organizing. EXPO works
with both policymakers and
formerly incarcerated people
to fix a broken justice system
and reconnect people with
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
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
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
“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
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
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
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
“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.
“EVEN IN DARKNESS
IT IS POSSIBLE TO
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,”
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.”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
Shad Fanta shows his
importance of being
an informed citizen by
providing examples of
In 2018, a picture of high school
students from Baraboo, Wisconsin,
went viral on Twitter — and not in a
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
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
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
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,”
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
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
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
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
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,”
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
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
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
“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.”
women’s rowing team
runs warm-up drills
at Porter Boathouse
at 6:15 a.m.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
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
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
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
“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
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
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
Abraxas Moon has been
reading tarot cards for about
a decade and is currently
The journey to rebuild a community’s
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
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
the hands and
body are a crucial
aspect of ASL. The
is being signed
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MAYA FIDZIUKIEWICZ
SEIZE THE DAY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KALLI ANDERSON
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.
CAN’T STOP A BADGER
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