Lake Michigan and the people who live along its shores shaped the contours of our learning during the 2022 Wisconsin Idea Seminar’s “Bay Tour.”
For five days along 600 miles, our cohort of 29 faculty and academic staff became students of Wisconsin life and together contemplated how our work at the university can be animated by respect, reciprocity and responsibility to people, land, and water.
The Wisconsin Idea Seminar is a five-day study tour of Wisconsin that offers faculty and staff the opportunity to learn firsthand about the social and cultural contexts that shape the lives of many of our Wisconsin students, and to see what the Wisconsin Idea looks like in practice. Of particular interest are partnerships that are rooted in local communities and shaped by local priorities.
Throughout our journey we heard directly from Wisconsinites who fundamentally understand that communities thrive when people come together with respect, creativity, and a desire to work for the collective good.
We began our journey at Lake Mendota where Bill Quackenbush, the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, reminded us of the longitude of human activity along the lake’s shores. We met Becky Webster, an enrolled citizen of the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin, and UW-Madison alumna, who recently founded a farmstead on the Oneida Reservation where she and many others are asserting their sovereignty through the cultivation of heirloom seeds and Indigenous agricultural practices. We met with educators and students at Algoma School District to learn how they flex civic muscle through intentional intergenerational collaborations. Later in the week we visited Milwaukee’s 19th century Turner Hall for a roundtable with formerly incarcerated people who work to uplift the stories and correct the narrative of system-impacted people who are contributing to stronger communities. Our last stop was at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts on Milwaukee’s south side where we participated in collective art-making to deepen our understanding of the power of art to unify and empower communities.
We are so grateful to the tireless and generous collaborators across the state who spent months planning, consulting, and offering expert guidance and ideas that strengthened and enriched our collective learning.
And at nearly every stop, we met with UW-Madison alumni — dairy farmers, an ornithologist, a restaurant owner, a development manager, a school superintendent, an artist, just to name a few – who are proud of their alma mater and who bring a Badger spirit to the work they do in their home communities.
The Wisconsin Idea Seminar is a program of the Provost’s Office and is made possible with the support of many UW–Madison schools and colleges and the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of the Capital Times and long-time underwriter of the seminar since 1985.
A special thanks to Phoua Holt, executive assistant in the Office of the Provost, whose assistance contributed to the success of the 2022 Wisconsin Idea Seminar.
Some of the highlights of the BAY TOUR:
A Ho-Chunk cultural landscape tour of UW-Madison’s Lakeshore Nature Preserve
Ukwakhwa: Tsinu Niyukwayayʌthoslu (Our foods: Where we plant things), a farmstead on the Oneida Reservation
A visit to Brey Cycle Farm, a fourth-generation dairy farm outside of Sturgeon Bay
Algoma School District to learn how educators and community activate inter-generational problem-solving
A traditional fish boil at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek
A panel conversation about the role of storytelling for formerly incarcerated people in Milwaukee’s historic Turner Hall
Participatory art at Walker’s Point Center for the Arts in Milwaukee’s South side.
We are already sketching out our itinerary for 2023, so if you missed out on the application process for THE BAY tour, we encourage eligible members of the UW-Madison community to consider applying in the future.