Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Events coming soon

Several events coming up in the next couple of weeks. Please participate if you can!

First, RSVP BY FEBRUARY 23! for the March 8 Empower Women Summit!

Join together for a day of inspiring keynote speakers, including Wisconsin Secretary of State, Sarah Godlewski, interactive workshops, and panel discussions with multiple ticket options to participate. Special rates are available for groups.

For more information and to register, please visit:


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Natural, Wild, and Free - Aldo Leopold Week

"Perhaps such a shift of values can be achieved by reappraising things unnatural, tame, and confined in terms of things natural, wild and free." 

Aldo Leopold ended the foreword to A Sand County Almanac with this quote in March of 1948. His collection of essays reveals what "natural, wild, and free" meant to him back then. But what does it mean to us today?

Join the Aldo Leopold Foundation March 1-8 for Leopold Week 2024 to explore this question and discover how you can more deeply connect to the land community. With one click of "Save my spot," you will be registered for all eight of these free, virtual speaker sessions.

Learn more and register for the virtual speaker series at the website

Replays of each event will be available to registrants after the live program.

In the La Crosse area, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The Refuge’s beginning came nine years before conservationist Aldo Leopold published his first textbook, Game Management, which transformed how conservation leaders thought about wildlife management and land stewardship. Growing alongside these evolving ideas, the Refuge has seen many seasons of change throughout these decades!

Celebrate this milestone anniversary and honor Leopold’s enduring legacy with a series of FREE events in the La Crosse area. Registration is not required.

The Visitor Center doors will open at 11:45 p.m.

12:00 p.m. presentation: “Fins, feathers and firebrands: 100 years of conservation on the Upper Mississippi River Refuge.” Come learn about the passionate and vocal visionaries who influenced the Refuge’s creation, major events which shaped its physical and social landscape, and how you can help shape the next 100 years to come!

1:00 p.m. presentation: “Prairie gardening 101: how to add beauty to your yard or public space” by Dr. Melinda Knutson. Join retired US Fish and Wildlife Service regional wildlife biologist and conservation planner, Dr. Melinda Knutson, to discover why we care about prairies, how you can get involved in local conservation efforts, and tips and tricks for adding native prairie and savanna plants to your garden at home!

2:00 p.m. Guided winter plant walk: Join a Refuge Ranger for a short walk on the prairie to learn about common native prairie plants in their winter condition! We’ll walk about a 1/2 mile along an unplowed paved trail. Please come dressed in warm layers for the weather!

12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Native plant giveaway and native seed planting: One of the best ways we can help wildlife of all kinds is to grow native plants! Stop by anytime between noon and 2:30 p.m. to pick up a wild bergamot or butterfly milkweed starter plant to take home. From 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., we’ll have soil, pots, and seeds available for visitors who’d like to drop in to plant their own seed to take home. These recently planted seeds can be transplanted into a backyard garden or larger plant pot later in the spring.

This programming is the result of a partnership with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and the Friends of the Refuge – Mississippi River Pools 7 & 8. PLANTS WILL BE AVAILABLE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST, please limit 2 plants per person.

Check out more free activities in the La Crosse area!

The Nature Place in La Crosse will host free family activities between 9:30 -11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 2. Activities will include games, crafts, scavenger hunts, and a visit with some of their live animals.

The D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics at Viterbo University will host a virtual presentation from environmental activist, Doug Tallamy, on Tuesday evening March 5 at 7 p.m. on their Facebook page - Doug Tallamy is a professor, author, and renowned speaker who will address challenges within our ecosystems with solutions such as reducing lawn, planting natives, and removing invasive species.

These La Crosse community events are planned each year by representatives of local environmental and conservation organizations.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Why I mask

Except in my comfy bubble on Twitter, most people I know have given up wearing masks to avoid COVID. I don't know if they're embarrassed to wear a mask, think we're over COVID, don't care if they get it, or what. 

I know - we have vaccines and COVID is less dramatically deadly (though it IS still killing people - per the NYT, more than 2,200 Americans during the first week of January). But the vaccines are only about 54% effective against symptomatic infections, you can still get and spread it if you are vaccinated, the virus continues to change, and there are many other health consequences no one seems to be considering.

After waking up from at least two car-caused bike crashes (and one actual car crash) with no memory of what happened to this day, I now wear a helmet when riding my bike. I wear a seat belt to avoid expensive, debilitating car crash injuries or death. I quit smoking to avoid health and financial disasters in my later life. I wash my hands, take bone-supporting vitamins, and try to avoid dangerous chemicals and contaminants in food. And, I wear a mask when in public to avoid getting and spreading COVID.

Here's why.

1. Every time someone gets COVID, the virus has an opportunity to mutate into something more contagious, more dangerous, more resistant to medical interventions. We need fewer walking incubators, so I wear a mask.

2. The list of damages even a mild case of COVID can cause continues to grow, with even worse outcomes for those who get it more than once. Here are a few, in no particular order:

3. The health and financial effects on families and especially on children and their future adult selves can be terrible (as if trying to figure out how to survive on a burning planet won't be challenging enough).  

4. Long COVID. While vaccinations reduce one's risk of getting long COVID, who, really, wants to roll those dice, especially with medical costs (and bankruptcies) rising and health systems in many communities breaking down? Do I want to spend the last years of my life wracked with pain or in a brain-fog or unable to function? I do not. 

5. Fellow humans. If we can make life safer and healthier for ourselves and others, why wouldn't we? Our actions are truly our only possessions.

I follow the experts. Dr. Eric Topol has free regular updates. Dr. Eric Ding on Twitter shares updates and studies. Dr. Rae Duncan is a doc & researcher with first-hand experience in what's happening. 

Good masks (not those silly blue things) are not expensive and can be used several times. Check out the Mask Nerd for advice if you are re-thinking your mask-free life. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Viterbo programs

Ho-Chunk: From a Tribe to a Nation. Monday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Viterbo Nursing Center, Room 196.


Black Music History is American Music History. February 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Viterbo Nursing Center, Room 196.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Online learning - Black History Month

If you missed the Feb. 4 screening of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks hosted by AARP Wisconsin for Transit Equity Day, you can stream the award-winning film on Peacock (free trial period if you don't have a subscription). Her vital role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott is really the tip of the iceberg. This incredible woman is a role model for us all.

Speaking of Transit Equity Day, watch the national livestream today from 11 to 1 from the Labor Network for Sustainability.

Stream this Academy Award-nominated documentary, directed by Raoul Peck, free using the public library's Hoopla Digital app. "I Am Not Your Negro envisions the book James Baldwin never finished, a radical narration about race in America, using the writer’s original words, as read by actor Samuel L. Jackson. Alongside a flood of rich archival material, the film draws upon Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore and bring a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America."

Learn more about and take a diy walking tour of Black history in our own area with the Enduring Families Project. This fantastic local group provides an inter-woven two-part venture exploring the local history of African-Americans and other non-white settlers. 

PBS has a full line up of documentaries, interviews, and events, including 

Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. explore the history of the African American fight for freedom during the Civil War and Reconstruction periods with historians Edda Fields-Black and James Oakes. Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, moderates. Register here for Zoom access.

If you haven't seen Summer of Soul, the 2021 Questlove  documentary about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, watch it right now. You can stream it on Hulu (also, free trial if needed). And then, watch The Making of Summer of Soul on the public documentary app Canopy.

Another Constitution Center webinar on February 20 at 11 a.m. will examine the Center's exhibit, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Register here.

On February 28 at noon, a panel of historians and archivists will discuss Freedman’s Village, a community of formerly enslaved African Americans established in 1863 on the Arlington, VA, estate previously owned by the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. This is a free National Archives Foundation webinar. Register here.

Look forward to UWL's annual Reflections of Ebony event, too. More details when posted.