Happy November, readers! I completely failed to post this on Wednesday. As the weather turns from falling leaves to whirling snow (please, not yet…) – I’ve got some local and statewide things to share with you!
Wisconsin Downtown Action Council – Downtown Summit (La Crosse, WI)
I celebrated my first year co-chairing the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council annual summit last week. The conference was a smashing success featuring national and state speakers on a variety of topics. Some of the highlights included:
- National branding expert Ben Muldrow delivered a keynote and breakout session on branding and the future of downtowns
- Policy advisor for the AARP Livable Communities initiative Bill Armbruster shared the Livability Index and resources
- La Crosse Public Library offered a historic look at the dark past of La Crosse – featuring gangsters, brothels and gruesome murders on a nighttime walking tour (how appropriate, just a few days before Halloween!)
- Two panel discussions featured Wisconsin experts on the subjects of Creating an Impactful Digital Presence, and on Building Bike and Pedestrian-Friendly Downtowns. Speakers included AARP’s Bill Armbruster, Jim Longhurst (author of Bike Battles), Jen Walker of healthTIDE, Marina Dvorak of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Kristen Fish of Redevelopment Resources, Mariah Haberman of Discover Wisconsin, Laura Tyunaitis of Visit Kenosha, and local De Pere agency and creative guru David Richards of BRING
- Approximately 100 attendees representing 45 different Wisconsin communities were in attendance
Young Professional (YP) Summit (Fond du Lac, WI)
I attended Newaukee’s YP Summit in Fond du Lac earlier this week. It was an intensive two day deep dive into determining effective organizational strategies for young professional groups, examining a statewide brand, talking YP Week 2017 and a bit of soul searching as we examined our own communities, mapped our assets and planned for the future. Attendees represented a wide range of areas of the state – I personally was glad to connect with individuals from Wisconsin Rapids, Ashland County and nearby Door County. I have worked closely personally and professionally with these regions in the past – it was great seeing some familiar faces and connecting with new friends through this event. It was also a waking realization that I am the least stereotypical YP ever. I’m more like a young, but curmudgeonly baby boomer. I mean I am a YP, but I’m defying demographic logic left and right here!
Looking North to Phelps, Wisconsin
As a part of UW-Extension and as a board member of the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council, I participate annually in our Small Town Forums. These forums are hosted in some of our most far reaching rural communities in Wisconsin and bring together community members, business owners and local municipal leaders to discuss real challenges that rural communities face in our state. I attended one of the four Small Town Forums, this one hosted in Vilas County in the small community of Phelps. Phelps, while attracting seasonal tourism, struggles to recruit businesses to service their community because of their location. For example, years have been invested into bringing a grocery store to the community. I saw real passion in the people of Phelps and had to share my Vilas County colleague Chris Stark’s work featured in WisContext this month on Phelp’s journey.
Free Swag to Incentivize Sustainable Living in the Dairy State
I’m relatively hooked on subscription boxes – you know, the ones that send you everything from sunglasses to makeup to scotch once a month? I found out this month, from our utility company, that we qualified for a Focus on Energy box! This free box was shipped to us with tools and instructions on how to more resourcefully use electricity and water. The box included energy efficient lightbulbs, a low flow shower head and an aerator for our kitchen faucet. I love that this was sent to us at no charge by our utility company! You can learn more about the box here (and about Focus on Energy’s mission!). By the way… if you want to try a Wisconsin themed subscription box, I just found out about Badger Box!
Okay, I honestly feel bad about this one. Governor Walker Tweeted on National Sandwich Day (yesterday) a picture of his lunch – a ham and cheese sandwich on wheat bread with a cranberry juice. He was JUST trying to be a part of the National Day because you know we have one every single day for some random thing or another. Today is National Jersey Day, for example. I’m personally stunned how much vitriol was fueled by a simple ham and cheese sandwich – and a plug for cranberries! It’s our state fruit, for goodness sakes! I personally say – thanks to Governor Walker for reminding folks around the world of Wisconsin’s proud cranberry heritage. A reminder to everyone else is that if a ham and cheese sandwich isn’t your thing – you can find spectacular deli sandwiches in our state, too. My PERSONAL seasonal favorite with cranberries included? The Great Harvest Bread Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich – available at the De Pere location exclusively in November. It combines stuffing bread, turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potato. It’s divine. In case you don’t believe me – here’s a photo.