Wauwatosa Catholic School is proud to introduce new faculty for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year to the community. Past and upcoming blogs, including today's, will showcase the talented staff that Principal Julia D'Amato has assembled. She refers to these fine teachers and support staff as her "dream team." What an exciting time to be a teacher or student in a brand new school!
On Tuesday, July 5, the Common Council will consider raising the salary for the Wauwatosa mayor’s position from $22,500 to $30,000.
Making business work takes a lot more than low taxes.
Two recent experiences, one good, one not so good, made me think about the business owner side of the equation. You'd think when times are hard, customer service would perk up. But that's not always the case. I'm beginning to wonder if it's even often the case.
Younger daughter and I went bike shopping in Tosa yesterday. We didn't pick the best time to do it. Not only was it fried-eggs-on-sidewalk hot, but at 4:30, the rush hour was beginning. Just crossing North Avenue is a perilous adventure at such times. Luckily, the store stayed open until 7 that day, so we stopped worrying about being rushed or about rushing the staff.
The bike store, which will remain nameless because one experience does not a whole story tell, is blessedly small. (Neither of us does well when presented with vast quantities of merchandise.) The cheaper bikes--read: the ones we could afford--were at the front, but we didn't know exactly what we were looking for.
Today I caved and did something I've only done a few times over the last four years: I turned on my air conditioner. It's not particularly stifling according to the thermometer, but after 24 hours with a heat index in the mid-to-upper nineties, it was steamy inside my house. The six of us (including one 90-pound, long-haired dog) were starting to wilt.
This moment of weakness seems an especially grave sustainability sin because it occurred, unwittingly, during Power Down Week
, when local sustainers are challenged to "make their carbon foot print as small as they can" from June 25 to July 3. The week concludes with Energy Independence Day
at Gordon Park in the Riverwest neighborhood of MKE. I've been away from my computer a lot these last few weeks, working on various gardening projects, so I missed the Power Down announcements on Facebook
and various e-mail lists.
Though using my A/C (especially during Power Down Week) may hurt my eco-cred, I don't feel too guilty about it. Why? Because to me, this is what transitioning to environmental sustainability is all about. I fear that for some, sustainability can become a "more radical than thou" sort of exercise, a kind of competition to see who can tough out a higher degree of energy independence. Don't get me wrong – the fewer fossil fuels a person uses, the better. And events like Power Down Week offer fun ways to raise awareness about the transition movement. But the extremism required to suffer through a heat wave without A/C doesn't come naturally to most Americans, who have been coddled by comfort and convenience for generations. Can those blessed with A/C realistically be expected to revert to nineteenth century discomfort overnight? Judging by the responses of many of my A/C-loving friends to the concept, I think not.
Enter the transition movement, a philosophy that emphasizes weaning oneself off of fossil fuels. This is the concept behind Transition U.S.
, which posits that "life with dramatically lower energy consumption is inevitable, and that it’s better to plan for it than to be taken by surprise." It seems clear that fossil fuels like oil and coal -- extremely potent sources of energy that have powered the pace of human progress over the last 150 years -- are unsustainable resources, especially at the rate we are using them. And yet, to a certain extent it is unrealistic to ask Americans to quit their fossil fuel addiction cold turkey. That might be possible for a radical minority, but not for the masses. With this in mind, should the more radical among us simply shake our heads sadly and wait out the end of the modern world in our wind-powered eco-villages? Or should we take the hands of our less willing friends and families and help them baby step toward sustainability?
Having many reluctant transitioners among my loved ones, I choose the latter option (though the former does have its appeal). That's one part of the reason I turned on the A/C today. Sure, part of it was because, after a sleepless night dousing my head in cold water every half hour, I reached such a point of overheating that I could not function normally. But instead of toughing it out until the cool air returned, as I've done in the past, I chose to use the perfectly good air conditioner I own, if just for a day or two. Doing so, I feel, helps keep me honest and human. It helps me to empathize with those who don't think they can lead more sustainable lives because they don't want to give up their creature comforts. It also helps me to strike a balance. I can enjoy the A/C when I really need it, while also turning it off as soon as the extreme heat passes.
To me, this is the essence of transitioning. The Transition movement is about using the resources we have more sparingly, more judiciously. It is about slowly adjusting to a slightly less comfortable existence. For me, transitioning means keeping the thermostat set at 63 to 67 degrees in the winter, instead of 75. It means mowing half my lawn with a manual "reel mower" and the other half with a gas-powered machine. It means using both rain barrel and municipal water to hydrate my gardens. And it means only turning on the A/C when there is a heat index above 95. Transitioning makes our conversion to energy independence slow but sustainable. It is a luxury we now have while energy is still relatively cheap and readily available.
Part of transitioning involves "powering down," a little bit at a time. Another part involves shifting from using fossil fuels to using sustainable energy sources. This can be difficult for those of us who lack the funds to purchase wind turbines or solar panels. Thankfully, we can support renewable energy to fuel our A/Cs, furnaces, lighting and appliances by participating in WE's Energy for Tomorrow
program. For $10 a month, a household can help fund WE's use of renewable energy (biomass, hydroelectric, solar, and wind), reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 15,264 pounds annually (and reducing waste of limited fossil fuels). Our family just enrolled. We are thrilled to know that when we cave and power up instead of down, we're supporting renewable resources when we do so.
Want to learn more about the transition movement? Here are a few more resources you might find helpful:
Wauwatosa Energy Committee
WPR interview with Patricia Benson, Board Member, Transition U.S.
Do you remember the story about the Christmas tree that was on our porch that eventually became the Packer tree and after the Super Bowl became the St. Patrick's Day tree? And how we found a curious and large cocoon on one of the branches?
After four months on the porch the tree ended-up as mulch but we kept the silky capsule in the fridge finally bringing it out at the end of May.
What do we celebrate on the Fourth of July? Here's a clue: it's not freedom (that word never appears in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution), and it's not "bombs bursting in air." Those came later.
Today we celebrate the approval and signing of Declaration of Independence (not its real name), which didn't actually happen on the 4th of July, but who worries about details? It's a big deal, this explanation of American thinking that Thomas Jefferson later called a "signal of arousing men to burst their chains . . .to assume the blessings and security of self-government. . . (and to restore) the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion."
(Please note: "self-government" means government by an American government instead of British rule, not government each of us by our very own tiny prince-or-princessy self. And "freedom of opinion" is not unbound: it's chained to "exercise of reason.")
So we really are celebrating the ability of a small group of people to do something in 1776 that a larger group seems unable to do today: rise above differences to create work of greater truth and more lasting value than any one person or faction could have done alone.
The Second Continental Congress comprised 56 quirky, strong-willed lawyers, businessmen, and landowners. They were divided by class, state's rights issues, personality, and other biasing factors. They agreed on very little, including whether separation from England was such a great idea. Some of them even longed to be French, or so their enemies had it. Can you imagine? Mais non. Neither can I.
We will not discuss their personal lives, which would have gotten Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson at least expelled from office today. But it's fair to assume that we would recognize their imperfections.
Despite having feet of clay, ginormous egos, and a really scary and sobering job to do, one that was likely to get them killed in a literal, dead-as-a-doornail kind of way and not just a fall-from-grace-and-favor-with-corporate-big-money-contributors kind of way, they came together in the heat of summer and managed to git 'er done.
In the process they quarrelled, shouted, negotiated, sweated in their wooly-flaxy clothing, and drank great flagons of adult beverages that weren't even properly chilled. I'm sure there was plotting and scheming. Some might have nobly put their differences aside, but I suspect there was also plenty swapping of favors to get to agreement. That is how the business of diplomacy is accomplished: no one gets everything they want, but most everyone gets something they need out of the deal.
First Congress appointed a Committee of Five to do the tedious work of drafting the document to explain the reasons for declaring independence from British rule. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin were all for breaking the ties. Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston were hoping for looser bows instead.
Jefferson was picked to write the document because he was smart, educated, and knew literature and science. This was before lack of factual knowledge gave you status instead of making you a buffoon. But it wasn't merit alone that got Jefferson the job: political reasons steered the appointment. As John Adams said, “. . .you are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second—I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third—You can write ten times better than I can.”
They wouldn't let Franklin draft it because they didn't like his jokes, and they knew he'd try to sneak a few in. I just made that up, by the way: the rest of this is true.
Even with Jefferson's "peculiar felicity of expression," the Congress jettisoned about a quarter of what he'd written with help from Adams and Franklin after they'd squeezed out the other two. All the snarky things he'd said about the people of England (as he sniffed, "the pusillanimous idea that we had friends (there)," were wisely excised. Even the smartest boy on the block needs a good editor.
If I had more time and talent, I'd cast today's Congress in the earlier roles. But I think you get the idea, so I leave the rest to your imagination.
Meanwhile, I'll ponder why the 112th United States Congress can't get its act together over budget and other issues when their progenitors managed an entire philosophic construct in a month or two. Do you think it's air conditioning that lets them linger so? If so, someone turn off the power!
Exciting times continue at St. Bernard Parish in its centennial year! July began this weekend with Masses celebrated by Fr. Michael Barrett. Father Barrett previously served the Blessed Trinity Parish Community in Milwaukee.
On Monday, June 27, 2011, doctors told Sarah Pease she only had a short time to live. The next morning a close friend of the Pease family gave me the sad news.
Tosa’s Night Out 2011 Lighting the Way to a Better Community
The Wauwatosa Police Department and the Wauwatosa Neighborhood Watch Committee are pleased to announce that Tosa’s Night Out has been scheduled for Tuesday, August 2, 2011. Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin will be our major sponsor. All TNO 2011 activities will take place at Hart Park, 7300 Chestnut Street. 2011 will mark our 17th annual “Night Out” celebration. Our many dedicated sponsors, participating groups, and fantastic Neighborhood Watch participants continue to make our event one of the best around! Event highlights include:
This song has been covered by any number of artists - including Roberta Flack in the early 1970s.
Make-out music we called it.
What could be more fun than FREE theatre in the park? How about FREE theatre in the park in Brookfield featuring many Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Milwaukee area performers?!
My daughter, a fairy princessy-looking person by anyone’s standards (unless you happen to find tallness off-putting in fairy princesses) has flown into town on her gossamer wings, lighted for a moment, and is gathering sustenance to fly back to her beloved mountains and the one true love who awaits her there.
One of our favorite perks of life in the Milwaukee area is easy access to the shores of Lake Michigan. We moved here in 2006 from land-locked Champaign-Urbana and soon formed a habit of visiting the lake, sometimes daily, to dip our feet in the water at Bradford Beach or walk along the shore at Klode Park in Whitefish Bay in search of sea glass and cool rocks.
Despite our love of the gorgeous expanse of Lake Michigan shoreline, we rarely wade further than our knees into the great lake's waters. Very few locals swim in the ice cold lake – partly because, well, it's freezing, and partly because of the unimaginable things one might find in the water. Like blobs of algae, garbage, maybe human and pet waste (really). Never mind the unseen poisons in the water thanks to industrial dumping by BP in Indiana and others.
At a recent trip to a Milwaukee beach, we confronted all of the above pollutants – including pet waste (someone's unleashed dog trotted by and peed in the sand right in front of us). But the most memorable pollutants were dozens of shiny little fish baking on the shoreline.
When we first arrived, we found a decent spot in the sand and watched our three girls run to the icy water to wade. Almost immediately, one of them was able to catch a fish with her bare hands. She brought her prize to us and I suggested that she temporarily place the small silver fish in a plastic cup lying in the sand so she could study it (the cup was one of many pieces of trash laying on the beach). She placed the fish in the cup and watched it float, belly-up. "It looks dead," I said, wondering if the process of being captured was too much for the creature to handle. She dumped the fish into the water. Then, a few moments later, she caught another fish. And then another. "Why are these fish so easy to catch, and why do they all look half-dead?" my husband and I wondered. We speculated that the "living" fish our girls caught were sick and about to join their dead brethren on the shore.
Of course, given the local lore about Lake Michigan pollution, our first thought was that the fish were dying because of something in the water. We grew increasingly squeamish watching our girls play in what we assumed to be a polluted lake. The longer we sat, the more the odor of the dead fish, along with sea gull feces, overwhelmed us. To make matters worse, biting flies surrounded us. Then that dog trotted along and peed. The dog pee was the last straw. We packed up and moved our party to Alterra on the Lake.
We were perplexed for days about the dead fish, wondering what caused this phenomenon. Any time creatures die en masse, humans speculate. Were the fish deaths caused by industrial waste dumped into the water? By global climate change? Is it an omen? My overactive imagination gravitated toward the worst.
Then came an answer to why this seemingly mysterious phenomenon is occurring. We learned from a WISN report that the fish are called alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus
), a smallish, invasive herring. According to the report, alewife deaths are common this time of year. The die-offs are probably caused by temperature fluctuations in the water. Still curious, I did some googling and found a few articles on the subject of the alewife die-off, including a recent piece by the Associated Press
and WISN's web coverage
. Both reports claim that the deaths are a normal phenomenon that occurs with this invasive species every so often.
But isn't Lake Michigan so polluted as to be deadly to some of its fish? This is a popular assumption on the part of many beach-goers, myself included. I asked the DNR's Southern Lake Michigan Fisheries
Supervisor Bradley Eggold about pollution and whether it harmed the alewives. His answer? It is "very, very remote" that water pollution is a factor in the alewife deaths. "Alewives are very sensitive to changes in water temperature, especially at this time of year," he said. "These water temperature changes occur every year. Other major reasons why these alewives die-off every year include 1) they are native to the Atlantic Ocean and therefore live in saltwater. They can have trouble regulating their salt/water in their bodies, 2) spawning stress and 3) low food availability."
Harvey Bootsma, Associate Professor of the School of Freshwater Sciences
at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, agrees that pollution is "highly unlikely" to be a cause in alewife deaths. "This is a common occurrence on the great lakes, and it's almost always due to changing physical conditions in the early summer."
Temperature fluctuations, says Bootsma, are normal, and not necessarily caused by global climate change. "Alwives have been doing this ever since they entered the great lakes."
Regardless of what is causing the alewives to die, the fact remains that our beaches can sometimes feel as dirty as the nearby public restrooms (if you've been at the public restrooms by the lake shore on a busy summer day, you know what I mean). That goes for both the shoreline and the water itself. Although pollution may not be the cause of alewife deaths, it certainly contributed to an unpleasant beach experience. The amount of litter on the beach alone bordered on disgusting. All that filth on the shore made me wonder how clean the water is.
I asked Dr. Bootsma whether pollution in Lake Michigan is a problem. "The water itself is quite clean," Bootsma said. "There are some areas where there are localized problems, called 'areas of concern'. You can read more about them at http://www.great-lakes.net/envt/pollution/aoc.html
." An Area of Concern (AOC), according to Environment Canada
, "is a location that has experienced environmental degradation." This map
indicates that in MKE the Milwaukee Estuary
is an AOC, due to "significant contributions of toxic substances to the Milwaukee Estuary AOC from upstream sources" (e.g. the Menomonee River).
The bottom line is that it's fairly safe to swim in Lake Michigan water if you're not in an AOC – that is, if you can stand the cold. And it's probably not a big deal for kids to be catching half dead alewives in the water, as long as they're not handling the ones that have been dead for a while. But many of our beaches are filthy -- there's no doubt about it. The sand is littered with waste, as well as bacteria from the feces of abundant sea gulls who gorge themselves on our garbage.
What might we do about our filthy beaches and our AOCs? While some of these issues are perhaps too deeply rooted for us to change on an individual level, Bootsma suggests a few things average citizens might do to help clean up Lake Michigan: "1. Mercury comes from coal burning power plants and other industrial (and natural) sources…reducing energy consumption helps, and people should also be careful how they dispose of hazardous waste; 2. Some near-shore problems are caused by excessive phosphorus loading to the lake. Some of this comes from urban runoff, so if people apply fertilizer (or any herbicides or pesticides) to their lawns, they should do it sparingly. A video that highlights some of the work we have done in this area can be viewed at http://www.mefeedia.com/watch/29499314
; 3. Water quality is sometimes affected by overflows of storm sewers or sanitary sewers, so water conservation methods (using rain barrels; disconnecting sump pump drains from the ditch) can be helpful; 4. Be careful about what we flush down the drain. Unused pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and paint should be disposed of properly; 5. One of our websites has more useful information on beach water quality: http://www.glwi.uwm.edu/documents/non-pointdweb.pdf
Seems to me that the simplest thing any beach-goer can do is to pick up trash off the shore. That and avoid feeding the gulls.
Beyond these measures, the DNR's Bradley Eggolt says it can be helpful to get involved through education and activism. Educate yourself by seeking out a range of sources on these issues. Then look for opportunities to become active. "The best advice I can give is to get involved," Eggolt explained in a recent e-mail. "Whether it is because you are a beach goer and want clean beaches or you are a fisherman and you want to catch salmon and trout, read and learn about the issues and attend meetings where these things get discussed… It could be a local fishing club, environmental group, nature center, etc. With that said, you would not have to join a group or go to those meetings, just read and get involved in whatever way that person feels comfortable doing."
Imagine this: you manage a large commercial complex. Times are hard and there’s plenty competition for renters.
Some of the tenants are making improvements, and you’re hoping to lure more like them. You’ve done some work on the plumbing. But the exterior isn’t good. People drive by and are not impressed.
Three greats to start your weekend with.
Grede Foundry comes to Wauwatosa's rescue again. After being shut off for many months Grede Iron Foundry is once again combating Wauwatosa's embarassing " Bad Smell". For a century Wauwatosa has suffered with the embarrassing bad odor near its Village which centers in the 6400 block of State Street. The Iron Foundry owned by the Wayzata Coropration has again turned on the jets a top one of its pollution exhaust stacks and is spraying a chemical product high into our air in the attempt to " Mask or Cover Up " Tosa's bad smell. Thank you Grede Liberty Foundry for stepping up to the "Smell". Unlike our officals your at least trying to cover up the problem of Wauwatosa's "Bad Smell". It must be costing the Iron Foundry a great deal of money to spray the mixture of Chemicals and water 24 hours a day 6 and a half days a week. I'm sure Grede Liberty Foundry wishes Government Officals would just take responsibilty for resolving Tosa's "Bad Smell" or BS for short.
Tosa's "BS' seems to be immune to conventional remedies such as common sense, or the elected officals, the WDNR, EPA, Senator Herb Kohl, and Congressman James Senssenbrenner JR. Wisconsin has a Statute against emitting a objectional odors such as Tosa's bad smell but a last the WDNR won't enforce it. After decades of record keeping the WDNR has many citizen complaints pointing at the cause of Wawautosa's bad smell, but the WDNR reports they are still investigating the cause of Wauwatosa's "BS". One WDNR environmental engineers investigation pointed to the possiblity that a resturants dumspter near the complainats home could be the source of the complaint. That investigation continued and was left to the engineers replacement, and so on. Grede Foundry leads to many dead ends.
Wauwatosa Catholic School, an International Baccalaureate K3-8 school partnership between St. Pius X Parish and St. Bernard Parish, is proud to let the public know about the exciting faculty that Principal Julia D'Amato has brought together for the upcoming school year.