*Peaches Lacey hosts the last Wednesday of every month.
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On Friday November 2, our host Jonathan Zarov spoke with Stephen Kantrowitz, who will be presenting on the panel, Freedom Stories: African Americans and the Civil War in the upcoming Wisconsin Book Festival. Stephen is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889. The book is about African Americans in the North, he explains, “there were about a quarter of a million free black northerners, about the same amount of free black northerners as there were free black southerners, and although their population is small compared to almost four million southern slaves, their importance is outsized much larger than their numbers would suggest…partly because some of them were fugitives and represented threats to the slave system, and partly because the place where free black people sit is in this intrinsically uneasy relationship to the American Republic. They’re free, but not white, and the Republic is white, and more and more from the 1830s on towards the Civil War. The amazing thing about these people is how they leverage that position of uncertainty into political power.” Stephen explains that the free black northerners had a huge impact on the North’s position of abolishing slavery in the South. He also explains how black northerners built huge networks, via newspapers, travelers, and free masons to “link together the forces of freedom.” Stephen will be presenting on a panel along with David Cecelski, whose book speaks about the life of a young slave rebel. David’s book, The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War, “represents the other social movement of the era, the social movement of the slaves themselves.” Stephen explains that it was the combined movement led by both the black southerners and the black northerners, together, that turned the Civil War into a war of emancipation. Thursday Nov 8 at 7:30 PM Wisconsin Studio at the Overture Center Visit wisconsinbookfestival.org for more information. Listen to the entire interview here:read article »
On Friday November 2, our host Jonathan Zarov speaks with Jennifer Lapham, owner and founder of the Midwest Clay Project. Their adult Fall classes will begin this November 5. Jennifer explains the project, “We are a community that offers opportunities to work in clay, and classes for people of all ages and levels of experiences. One of the things that I really like about Midwest Clay Project is this incredible inter-generational community that has really built itself.” She explains that Madison is a strong community when it comes to offering classes in clay, among them including the UW-Madison, MSCR, MATC, Higher Fire, and Fine Earth. The Midwest Clay Project offers classes that teach both basic and advanced level potter’s wheel, hand-building opportunities, and animal/human figure classes. It is a community-based activity, since the nature of the material itself requires a potter’s wheel, Jennifer says. “One of the special things about Midwest Clay Project is that we’re really able to serve that east-side community. A lot of the folks in our studio come right from that east side neighborhood.” For information about classes and the Midwest Clay Project visit midwestclayproject.com 918 Williamson Street, Madison WI 53703 (608) 255-9240 Listen to the clip here:read article »
On Thursday November 1, our host Tony Castaneda spoke with Assistant Professor at the School for Workers at UW-Madison, Armando Ibarra. Armando speaks about Harvest of Loneliness: The Bracero Program, a documentary film that will be screened at the Labor Temple on Saturday, November 3 at 6:30. Armando will hold a discussion that will take place after the screening of the film, focusing on working conditions and immigration issues that are present in our society today. He assisted with the making of the film as a graduate student with film makers Gilbert Gonzalez and Vivian Price. Armando explains the Bracero Program, “This was a state managed labor importation program that took place between the US and Mexico from 1942 – 1964. The program has had massive impacts on Latino communities that most of us don’t understand, including those that study these communities. Many people’s grandparents and parents today were braceros.” He explains that the program was a system of labor recruitment, put into place by control of the growers. People from all regions of Mexico applied for permits, after which, if they were selected, would be placed through a processing station in the US, where they would be hand picked to be sent to farms across the US. By the end of the process, they were screened by both the Mexican and American governments, as well as the corporate growers. “There was absolutely no agency on the part of the workers in this whole process,” Armando says. The migrant workers were predominantly from rural lands who considered this offer as a good opportunity for themselves and their families. However, they soon began to see the harsh reality of the situation, “this was an abundant source of cheap, exploitable, replaceable, and deportable labor. That was the beauty of this program for corporate growers.” Armando reports that the plight of migrant workers has, for the most part, remained unchanged. He estimates that 25% of all the food consumed in the United States is grown in the central valley of California; And, on a yearly basis, 1.2 million farm workers, mainly Mexicans, apply their efforts towards producing that food, “The food you consume is being produced by Mexican hands, and…primarily ‘unauthorized people’, as we label here.” He speaks about the connection between food production and the current immigration laws and issues that are present in the United States today. Visit the website for the film here. Visit the UW School for Workers, Department ….read article »
On Thursday November 1st, our host Tony Castaneda speaks with the Chair of the Democratic Party of Dane County, Michael Basford. They speak about the upcoming elections next week, and the issues and anxieties that surround it. “All elections are about choices, and I believe we’ve got great candidates running,” Mike says. He describes himself as cautiously confident, saying there is much to be done in the last remaining days before Election day. There are offices open across Dane County – and people will be out to reach out to people in these last few days. Tony asks about the areas that voted against the recall against Walker; Mike responds “there is very big difference between that election and this election. That election was filled with tons of negative energy…[now] is nowhere what we saw then…and of all the people that voted, exit polls showed that people thought that this recall vote didn’t meet the standards.” He speaks about the two parties and their respective candidates, explaining his support of the Democratic Party. Tony asks him how Wisconsin became a swing state, and Mike explains “it’s always been a swing state, it’s always been mighty close. Even when Democrats win in WI, it’s not by huge margins. 2008 was a real anomaly. We didn’t know 2004 until well late into the night.” He believes that the results in Wisconsin of the election will be known earlier this year than usual, “we’ll know by 11 p.m. who the President is.” He explains that one can not reach a decision based on data from one poll: one must gather information from a number of them, “it’s why all these pollsters are in the business,” he explains. Tony raises the issue of voting machines, and their possibility for manipulation and hacking; Mike responds, “we make sure that there are paper ballot alternatives. If you want to cast a paper ballot, you can. Without a paper trail, everything is possible. The way we run it here in Dane County, we have Scantrons, which work great. The integrity of the election is dependent on people having the choice of paper ballots, and knowing that their vote will count. We are sending people all over Dane County to make sure things will go alright.” Mike Basford can be reached at (608) 513 1387. Union Cab will be providing free rides to people to and from the polling stations. Listen to the entire ….read article »
On Wednesday October 31, our host Peaches Lacey speaks with musician and recording artist, Sonny Mack. He grew up surrounded by music, first introduced to music through his parents, and began his career professionally playing with Bobby Rush. He grew up in Chicago, but has moved back and forth between the city and Memphis, where he currently resides. He has recently released a CD under the Ecko Records label. He describes the famous Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, where he plays with his band, “The United States is a melting pot of people from all different cultures and countries…on Beale Street, you can see people from everywhere…every city in the US, and other countries…people come from Scandinavia, Japan, England, everywhere. My band plays on Beale Street five days a week and we see people from everywhere. It’s a really great experience. My band doesn’t get paid for playing, they play for tips and then get a percentage off the bar…but that goes to show you how much my guys enjoy doing what they’re doing, playing R&B, soul, and the blues…” He speaks about the process of creating music, “the first thing, when I write, I write about life situations…things that happen to me, that I’ve seen, or that I know have happened to other people. Ideas first, and when I get the idea, I can hear all of the music and everything in my head. You get a good hook, that’s where the idea is, and you develop your song from the hook. You get your idea, then your hook, and then you tell the story.” After he develops the verses and the song, he takes it to his record company and collaborates with them until he has developed a full song. It is a process that needs to be continually worked on and added upon until the work is complete. Sonny speak about some of his songs, including “Clean Up Man” and “Body Drain,” as well as Ecko Records and his strong relationship with the label. Says Sonny, “there’s a magazine in Scandinavia, and I’m on the cover of the magazine. And this came from my relationship with Ecko Records. They came to Memphis, visited me, they came to Church with me, and they did a photo spread and everything. They remembered me when I was in Germany playing…a long time ago. So they did a follow up…they found out I was with Ecko Records and ….read article »
On Tuesday October 30, our host Aaron Perry spoke with Professor of Transborder Studies and History at Arizona State University Matt Garcia, author of From the Jaws of History: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement. He speaks about Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. With his family’s background in farming, he grew up very interested in farming and the history of farm workers specifically. He explains that the conditions of farm workers today could be described as “close to slavery”. Matt affirmed that Cesar Chavez’s efforts were indeed the most successful farm worker movement in the history of the United States, ending the Bracero program, achieving the first farm worker contracts, and bringing about a law that recognized collective bargaining rights for farm workers. However, the book continues into an account of the decline of the farm worker efforts, exploring both the rise and fall of Chavez. Matt provides the disclaimer that this book is not meant to erode the efforts of collective bargaining and union efforts. Instead, he hopes that his book addresses the issue of learning from mistakes in history. He questions, “how do we learn from the mistakes of a single individual in an autocratic leadership so we can build stronger unions and build stronger leadership when arguing for collective bargaining rights.” Matt explains, “…Chavez tried to get access to the farms where he could campaign for elections…and the voters rejected it. Instead of learning from that, he began to question the law, and question the people who had been loyal to him, and started looking for conspirators. That’s why he went towards an intentional community and started to purge people from the union for what he had alleged is their disunity and disloyalty.” Matt explains the response to his book so far, “Cesar Chavez is an icon to Mexican Americans…the reality is that this story has not been told because people have not dared to look at the historical records. Yes there have been some people upset with me challenging Chavez’s legend and his legacy, but there are others who have known this history for a long time and been afraid to talk about it and share their perspectives. This book is opening up an important conversation that will allow us to move forward towards that elusive goal of farm worker justice.” His message to readers is this, “This is a good study in leadership. ….read article »
On Friday October 26, our host Jonathan Zarov speaks about the upcoming Driftless Film Festival with Nicholas Langholff and Darren Burrows, co-founders of the film festival, and actor Mark Metcalf. The Driftless Film Festival takes place in the “driftless area,” of Mineral Point, referring to the south west part of Wisconsin, emphasizes the regional nature of the film festival. Apart from Mineral Point, in which a large focus of the festival will be situated in, other towns that are included in the festival include Richland Center, Spring Green, and Platteville. Nicholas speaks particularly about the experience of film watching, in which the theater itself plays an important role, “there’s a special charm to the area, and that’s why I think for people to come out and see a movie at the Mineral Point Opera house, or at the Guard Theater in Spring green, and to visit the restaurants, the brewery…you have these things that are beyond the film festival, and that’s the charm of the community. That’s what drives us, and we like being part of it.” Says Darren, “a lot of the films we do are… lower-budget films, films that are done for the love rather than paying the rent… Its more about providing the opportunity for artists to show their films the way they were meant to be seen.” Among the movies that will be played at the festival include Beasts of the Southern Wild (the opening film for the festival), environmental films such as Chasing Ice and Bidder 70, political films such as Janeane from Des Moines and As Goes Janesville, and several local Wisconsin films. Click here for a full list of the films. Actor Mark Metcalf, who has acted in films and shows such as Seinfeld and Animal House, will be at the festival and will be doing Q and A sessions after the showing of the two films he acted in, The Wheel as well as Little Red, in which he plays the Big Bad Wolf. He speaks of the festival, “I think small festivals like Driftwood are really great. It gives people a chance to see films that they wouldn’t ordinarily get the chance to see, so that they know there’s more to filmmaking than [mainstream Hollywood films]… they’re only one part of what cinema can do. You get to see how flexible, powerful, and interesting an art form cinema can be. Besides, it’s a beautiful part of the ….read article »
On Friday October 26, Adam “Vampire Slayer’ Weisse, from Project Home, spoke with our host Jonathan Zarov about energy conservation. He provided several suggestions and tips on how to make our homes more energy efficient. Says Adam,“Some of the biggest energy vampires in your home would be home entertainment systems…such as flat screen TVs. They are continually using a trickle charge of electricity to keep them warmed up. You can install power strips on these devices, hook multiple devices to one power strip and turn that off – that kills the power to a couple of devices at once. If you are lucky enough to have switch outlets, you can plug those devices into a switch outlet and switch it off when you walk out of the room.” There are also ‘smart power strips’, which automatically shuts outlets off if the device is not being actively used. Items that are plugged in, even though they are not in use, do continue to use energy, although the amount does vary depending on the device itself. “Phone chargers are pretty low energy devices, but they’re still going to be using 3-4 watts of energy as it just sits there, ready for you to plug your phone into. Something like a television, or computer monitor, would be using closer to 30-40 watts, just sitting there. Translating that into cost…you are paying about 12.5 cents per kilowatt in Madison, and if that’s something used 365 days a year, it’s going to add up over the year.” Adam explains Project Home, a grantee of the Wisconsin low income Weatherization Assistance Program, “this year we are going to be in about 620 households in Madison areas and down in Green County. We make a lot of visits to people’s homes. Project Homes in particular addresses a lot of things that most homeowners would not address…[such as]air sealing and insulation in homes, mechanical system upgrades and efficiency, and ventilation issues for air safety.” For more information about Project Homes, visit their website at www.projecthomewi.org You can also learn more about Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy at focusonenergy.com Listen to the entire interview here:read article »
On Friday October 26, our host Jonathan Zarov talked about The Earth Wood and Fire Artist Tour with local arts and crafts style furniture maker, Bill Bale. The tour will be taking place this weekend, October 27 and 28, from 10 -5 p.m. in Cambridge, Wisconsin. Says Bill, “All the artwork represents the elements of the earth. The jewelers, which take fire, furniture, which takes wood, and the painters are doing things with nature and of the world… We highlight 13 studios and a gallery in Jefferson, and we have other guests in the area that come in that are just a little bit outside our map region.” Bill will also be hosting a jeweler, painter and potter at his studio. Other artists include “the fiberholics”, a group of women who weave baskets and other items using elements from nature, as well as another fiber artist who raises her own sheep, from which she makes the felt that she uses for her work. For a list of all of the artists featured in the tour, click here. Visit earthwoodandfiretour.com for a full map of the tour and further details. Listen to the clip here:read article »
On Thursday Oct 25, Tony Castaneda interviewed Israeli-American author and peace activist, Miko Peled. He is the author of The General’s Son: The Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. Miko was born in Jerusalem into a well known Zionist family; his grandfather was a Zionist leader and signer of the Israeli declaration of independence, and his father was a war hero in the Israeli army. He is currently on tour to talk about his book. Divided into two sections, the book is about both the author’s background, growing up as the son of a general in a patriotic family, and about the author’s journey through Palestine, and what he discovered from it, “the first part, the General’s Son part, is what seems to give credibility to the second part when I talk about my journey and what I’ve seen of the Palestinian communities.” Miko explains that, growing up in Jerusalem, because it is a very segregated city, he never actually got to know Palestinians until he came to the United States, when he was forty years old. Nevertheless, growing up, the attitudes and values imparted to Miko by his family made him sensitive to and aware of Palestinians and their situation. Miko’s father, after serving in the Israeli military, dedicated his efforts towards peace-keeping and fighting for Palestinian rights. In 1948, when Israel offered Miko’s family a house to move into, Miko’s mother refused, knowing that Palestinians would need to be removed from the house in order for them to move in. Explains Miko, “this was during the war of 1948, my father was a young officer fighting for the Zionist cause… its interesting because there are neighborhoods in Western Jerusalem that were Palestinian. In 1948, Israeli forces came and kicked everyone out, and these are beautiful homes, well to-do families…and these neighborhoods were ‘cleansed’ by kicking [the Palestinians] out, and these beautiful homes were offered to Israeli families.” His mother refused to displace Palestinian families on principle. Miko talks about the single-state plan, which calls for a democratic state which would treat both Israelis and Palestinians equally under one state, “As soon as the war was over, [Israel] began ethnically cleansing the West Bank, displacing hundreds of thousands of people…building homes, towns, roads for Israelis, only on Palestinian land. By that, the purpose of this was to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible, so it becomes a part of Israel. So Israel in fact created one state: ….read article »