- When it comes to Wisconsin politics, divisions begin at the local level. But one group looks to put the issues into a new light, by resurrecting an old idea.
The Wisconsin Idea has been reborn, and is taking on the hard hitting issues from around the state, with people from right here in the Northwoods.
The project is called the Wisconsin Idea Scholars Program, and is a rebirth of an older project called the Wisconsin Idea.
The group was launched by project director Bill Miller in February of this year. "Today is our first day, on the road so to speak. We had an orientation session on campus in April, with our chancellor. We spent an hour and a half or so with the cohort."
What a way to kick off the first of eight events than in the Northwoods, with the subject of mining. "I think it's an important issue facing the future here. It's an economic issue. It's an environmental issue. It brings people from a variety of perspectives together, who care a lot about what happens with their precious natural resources
The group then finds specialists in the subject area to hold a discussion in hopes of bringing out more perspective. "They identified three to five issues that they themselves see as sort of the big priorities or the big challenges facing our future."
The group consists of thirty-one individuals from all different walks of life, to discuss and hopefully find answers to Wisconsin's issues.
More notably, two of these individuals, Mick Fiochhi and Mary Taylor, are from the Northwoods.
"I find it on a personal level, purely, to be a very exciting opportunity." Says Fiocchi. "To get around the state and learn about different areas around the state. Try to help the University of Wisconsin to redefine the Wisconsin Idea."
"I grew up in Wisconsin," says Taylor, "And I went to the University of Wisconsin. It's really an honor to help celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Wisconsin Idea, and to reinvigorate it at this important time in our history of our state and country."
Today's topic sparked a lot of community involvement and discussion. While answers to some of these hard topics won't be immediate, our Northwoods' contributors are hopeful for positive outcomes, says Taylor. "Increase our understanding, it's really important, things have to change for us to move ahead. As we all know forward is our motto."
The group will make seven more stops throughout the rest of the year covering topics like agriculture and economics. Then reconvene with new ideas next February.
Written By: Ryan Michaels