Wisconsin Life # 807: Seeds of Change

November 18, 2021


We head into the city and the forest as host Angela Fitzgerald visits the urban oasis of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. Once an industrial waterway, the riverfront park has transformed into a beautiful, thriving treescape. The park is maintained by the Urban Ecology Center, a local organization helping to improve the land and ecosystem. Angela meets with Kim Forbeck, Manager of Land Stewardship, to discover why the arboretum is described as a “living museum of trees.”

While Angela explores the arboretum, we find artist Fatima Laster’s work is full of layers. She uses paints and canvases to form abstract pieces of art. In 2018 she put that artist eye to work when she purchased a historically Black owned funeral home on the north side of Milwaukee and converted it into an art gallery.

Next, the sounds of the auction hall draw near as Jenny Markham-Gehl is warms up. She was named the 2019 Wisconsin Auctioneer of the Year, and has used her skill set with her brother Tim and her father Jim to form Bravo Benefit Auctions that provides fundraising auction services for nonprofit organizations throughout the Midwest.

Then, Carlos Frick shows us the martial art form known as Iaido. When Frick was young, one of his uncles introduced him to karate. It’s a passion he’s followed into adulthood. He regularly practices Aikido at a Kenosha dojo. Eventually his interest in the martial arts led him to Iaido, a form of Japanese swordsmanship.

After that, we delve into the world of archeology with Sissel Schroeder, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and Chair of the Anthropology Department. She is uncovering the history behind Aztalan, a place where nearly a thousand years ago the land laid witness to a native, sun worshipping culture long before European presence on this continent.

Finally, on a rural road in flat, fertile farmland not far from Sturgeon Bay, you may find a large sculpture of a rooster standing by a sign proclaiming the site of the Chicken Chapel. This is the retirement home of Door County native Father Tony Birdsall who served nearby Corpus Christi parish until age 74. His chapel is home to a wide flock of chickens.


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