Contaminated brownfields: how did it come to this in America?

Photograph of brown field with run down brown building
The business is long gone, the buildings removed but the aftermath is not.  Left behind is a “brownfield,” a nice word for a site contaminated with deadly poisons, and no one left to pay for clean-up if that’s even possible. And what to do with it once it is cleaned up? Another industrial site, another fence line community in the poorer part of town where the people of color live. There are thousands of brownfields all over America. How did it come to this? No one intended to damage the Earth and make humans sick. We blundered into it.

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Proven “pot-ential” for rural communities

Photograph of a cannabis leave with more plants in the background.
Governor Evers’ 2021-23 budget will enable Wisconsinites to bounce back from the pandemic stronger than ever. His budget includes initiatives, like marijuana legalization, that will get our economy back on track and create new opportunities for our rural communities.

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Learning to play as an adult

Cluttered pin board with many notes pinned on it. One distinctive sign reads, "It's all PLAY"
It’s two in the morning and I’m still awake.

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A call for equity and sustainable systems

Man's hand standing holding growing cayenne plant.
Photo from Ron Chapple stock.Equity, the fairness with with which we treat one another, has finally become a hot topic. Sustainability, the pursuit of an environment healthy enough to ensure a livable planet for ourselves and for our children has, thankfully, become another. Together they pack a pretty explosive punch! Ignore them and we may find ourselves flat on our backs; the soul of our humanity bruised and battered by tooth and claw competition on a shriveling planet.Around the world, including here in Wisconsin, small family farmers are being forced off their ...

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Grief, worry, hope, and kindness

Photograph of snowy winter scene
At the end of January, Will and I suffered the loss of a beloved pet. After talking with friends, we found out that three of them also recently had pets reach the end of their lives. Some lost people in their family as well. Some, like me, are worried about family who are sick.

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The return of the dumb terminal

Photograph of DEC VT100 terminal from the 1970's.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia.Starting in the late 1960’s a little understood corner of the United States government began developing a means of connecting geographically separated research labs and universities. These remote computers allowed researchers to more quickly share data between projects and allowed research to work on projects without being required to be in the same room, or even the same state. The more complex this network became, the more obvious it became that system administrators needed to connect to and control computers without being on the ...

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Capella: four stars that appear to be one

Illustration of the capella constellation.
As I mentioned in the February 1st issue article about the constellation Auriga the Charioteer, the name Capella means “female goat” or “little female goat” in Latin. Like many objects visible to us in the night sky, Capella is not just a single star. It consists of two binary pairs. A binary pair is two stars revolving around a common center, somewhat like two ice skaters holding hands while they spin.

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Wisconsin Senate Bills beg the question: What’s in a name?

Some meat on barbecue or grilling tools like they were plants.
On February 5th, three bills were read into the record for the first time this year. These three bills are all related to food labeling. While this is a topic which may not gain as much press as many other subjects, it is a topic which we should keep a very close watch on.

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Joint Finance Committee designates funds to in-person schools

Image from iStock of child in school holding a pencil.
Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) announced that they will use $68.6 million (10%) of federal funds designated for K-12 schools to reward schools offering in-person instruction. This money will be awarded to school districts based on the number of hours of in-person instruction provided during the 2020-2021 school year. This does not affect the $617.5 million of federal funding earmarked for schools based on the Title I formula.

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Remediate contamination to meet housing need in Wausau

This plot is supposed to be zoned as residential. Due to an honest mistake it is labelled industrial and the City wants to go with that instead of pursuing opportunities for housing. But it’s no mistake that working Wausonians are hurting for safe and reasonably priced housing. We’ll need over 400 new residences by 2025.

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