LOCAL VOICES NETWORK: FOSTERING CONSTRUCTIVE COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS

Katherine Cramer, PhD, UW-Madison Professor of Political Science, gained national acclaim with her book, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness and the Rise of Scott Walker, published in March 2016. After the overwhelming response to her book, Kathy Cramer wanted her work to move beyond simply unearthing resentments. A speaking engagement at Harvard in March 2017 gave her that opportunity. Following her participation in a Conference analyzing the 2016 election, an MIT professor who had been Chief Media Scientist at Twitter, walked up to her and asked, “Who are you?”

From that encounter, the Local Voices Network was born. LVN is a project of Cortico, a nonprofit organization that fosters constructive public conversation in communities and the media to improve our understanding of one another, and the MIT Media Lab.

The Local Voices Network hosts in-person small-group community conversations and, through a digital network, connects these conversations across political, cultural and geographical boundaries. These conversations open a new listening channel for journalists, leaders, and the community-at-large to hear new voices and local perspectives.

Sound complicated? On this program, Professor Cramer describes how it works.

HOW GOODS CAN UNITE US

In their Citizens United decision, the U. S. Supreme Court determined that corporations are people too, and they have a constitutional right to political speech. Now, a new and free app, Goods Unite Us, allows consumers to hear what corporations are saying in the form of their political donations and, in turn, lets consumers respond by choosing which goods they purchase and from whom.  Corporations earn profits from everyday consumer purchases. Some of these profits are donated to politicians and/or causes you may or may not agree with.

On this program, Abigail Wuest, CEO and founder, and Amy Jo Miller, COO and founder, of Goods Unite Us, describe how this app brings more accountability and transparency to our political process. Each company gets an overall Goods Score calculated on a scale of -100 to +100. When you look up a brand or a company, Goods Unite Us will tell you about donations made by the organization and its senior employees, including the aggregate political leaning of the company, parent company, and senior employees. The scores are based on data and have no partisan preference.

If enough citizens shop using Goods Unite Us, more corporations may be incentivized to end corporate political contributions, and consumers will be empowered to make their voices heard through the purchases they make.

THE ART OF HEALING IN PATIENT CARE

Science and technology cannot replace the power of a physician learning about his or her patients, connecting with them, listening, touching, reading their eyes, showing compassion—treating the whole person and not just the disease. This is the premise of Healing the Soul by Bhupendra O. Khatri, MD. In this book, Dr. Khatri shares personal stories of patients exhibiting remarkable courage and maintaining hope and purpose in the face of terrible illness, disability and suffering. How are they able to do this? According to Dr. Khatri, through the power of the mind/body relationship—positive thinking—recognized and inspired by physician care.

As a neurologist, Dr. Khatri’s career has been devoted to treating patients with multiple sclerosis, and he has applied the latest scientific technology in his practice. On this program, Dr. Khatri shares what he feels is also critically necessary but is at risk in advances in healthcare today: the fact that the patient’s state of mind has a great deal to do with healing. Physicians need to be taught how important attitude, the physician’s and the patient’s, is to the healing process. 

Listen to a fascinating discussion on the dynamics of health care today and bringing it back to the basics: the physician/patient relationship. 

GOODWILL OF SOUTH CENTRAL WISCONSIN PREPARES FOR THE 2020 TAX SEASON

Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin is a local, non-profit organization whose mission is to help people achieve their highest level of independence through the power of work. Goodwill SCWI employs more than 300 people in a 14-county region and provides a broad range of services. One of them is their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). This year they are preparing for the largest number of taxpayers ever wanting to take advantage of this popular free service.

On this program, Kate Buenger, Director of Mission Program Development, and Joe Byrnes, VITA Program Coordinator, describe how VITA volunteers are trained to handle the many changes in the tax law and the tax preparation options available to eligible taxpayers. Clients can schedule an appointment in advance instead of being served on a first-come, first-served basis. A new service introduced last year, Valet VITA, allows taxpayers to schedule a time to drop off tax documents and a time to pick them up after completion.

Additional volunteers are needed for the 2020 tax season. Goodwill provides the valuable tax preparation training, and volunteers can determine their own schedules based on their availability. No prior experience is necessary. Those with an interest in volunteering for the 2020 tax season or want additional information may call 608-246-3140, ext. 155, or email [email protected].

JOURNALISM IN JEOPARDY: WHY THIS THREATENS OUR DEMOCRACY, AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT

Over the past 15 years in Wisconsin, 77 newspapers have closed, and circulation is down by one million. Yet, we are increasingly inundated with group e-mails, Facebook posts, tweets, and other forms of social media containing comments and accusations that are meant to sway opinions but have not undergone the rigorous fact-checking process which is at the core of investigative journalism. Ideologically focused news and commentary create further confusion and polarization.

On this program, Andy Hall and Dee J. Hall, co-founders of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, describe the ways in which journalism is in jeopardy today and why this puts our democracy at risk. When newspapers die, they say, there is less voting, fewer candidates for office, reduced voter knowledge of congressional candidates, more wasteful government spending and corruption, more pollution, and increased political polarization.

What can we do to strengthen democracy and journalism? According to the Halls, it is imperative to assess the quality of news we receive by checking sources, seeking independent confirmation and supporting documents or data, transparent funding, unnamed sources and corrections, and partisanship. They encourage people to avoid living in a news bubble, and get involved in issues they care about.

To subscribe to the free online newsletters of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, go to WisconsinWatch.org.