SPOTTING WISCONSIN: Meet Your Neighbors™
THIS SERIES IS IN THE WORKS! Featuring people found in everyday encounters around Wisconsin. Meet at the core of the country. Take a deep breath. It’s the Midwest. Wisconsin! STORIES ABOUT THE REST OF US, THE REST OF THE TIME, FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES TO TELL.™
Spotting Wisconsin’s Nancy Camden meanders the streets and back roads of Wisconsin in her old art-fair van or she walks, hikes and bicycles, spotting people by being friendly with strangers and learning who they are and what they know by putting them on the spot for an audio interview. You never know what you might learn when you are neighborly to those you meet.
Episodes in the works include a day in a bookmobile as it stops in small towns and rural areas in Ozaukee and Sheboygan County; a beloved 1400 lb. horse and his rider spotted crossing the road near Eagle; two guys, spotted working on a pickup, talk about friendship, farming and the satisfaction of fixing things; and the story of Lakeland College spotted in the middle of farm fields near Howards Grove — founded by German farmers — story told by two ninety-year-old alumni who live in Whitewater.
Nancy Camden’s radio features have been on Wisconsin Public Radio, Milwaukee Public Radio, Kalamazoo Public Radio and Michigan Radio. While Spotting Wisconsin™ will have it’s own style, the following stories produced by Nancy Camden have aired on public radio in Wisconsin.
Come back a two-track road into the northwoods of Vilas County where Janice Zindel Weaves in a rustic log home. Bears and porcupines are her neighbors. When life dealt her a blow, Janice made a decision to throw herself into weaving on her thirteen looms. It turns out that weaving can be a metaphor for life. There are two things that make Janice want to get up in the morning. Click this for the story.
In 1903, an iconic cap is created by Ida Kromer for her cantankerous husband George “Stormy” Kromer, a railroad engineer who lost a lot of caps when sticking his head out the window of the steam engine. The Stormy Kromer Cap is still being made and spotted around Wisconsin. Music by Hank Dedrick from Spring Green. Click this for the story.
“We broke it. So, we should fix it,” says Mark Naniot, founder of Wild Instincts wildlife rehabilitation center in Rhinelander. From eagles with lead poisoning to orphaned bears and a skunk with a peanut butter jar stuck on his head, Naniot works 7 days a week, 365 days a year for no pay to save wildlife who have collided with the human world. Music by Madison’s Catch Kid Click this for the story.
Thank you, Brother Bob! Every Saturday, a grateful homeless population in Milwaukee waits for Bob Burmeister’s truck with donated clothing, toiletries and bedding. Travel down with him from Advent Lutheran Church in Cedarburg to meet the homeless. Click this for the story. Music by Brian Fuller of Middleton
Heard on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.” Every spring, Wisconsin beekeepers swarm to Watertown to buy bees for their hives. Producer Nancy Camden captured the Big Bee Buy after the exceptionally long, cold winter. Music by Green Bay’s Fairland Bluegrass
A Walk Through Time Heard on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life” Driving through the Driftless Area near Rockbridge, Nancy Camden spotted a geological formation that juts up between two valleys. Beside it, cheerful Angie Kauffman (left) was raking leaves. The next year, Camden came back to record Marilyn Rinehart (left) whose great grandfather built a house here after coming home from the civil war. Native Americans had worshiped the Great Spirit at the natural bridge that rises over the Pine River where millions of years ago, there was an ancient sea. Pier Natural Bridge Park is in Richland County. Music by local musician Kathy Fry.
Photographs by Larry Sanders 3 min.
Ernie’s Free Tree heard on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.” (Originally produced for Third Coast International Audio Festival Short Doc Competition.) When Ernie Winger of Mequon died, his legacy became what happens under a tree across from his garage. His family and neighbors gather there to share the long and continuing swapping tradition of Ernie’s Free Tree. Nancy Camden bikes past this tree regularly, poking around each time. 3 min.
Beasties heard on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Wisconsin Life.” For over forty years, in yards around Wisconsin, artist Dennis Pearson’s brightly-colored, fiberglass Beasties, make-believe animals have been spreading real cheer. Camden’s neck craned the first time she passed these outside of Cedarburg. 3 min. Music by Kara Barnard
Hanging Out heard on Milwaukee Public Radio. One windy day, Jo Ann Westphall was spotted at her farm near Fort Atkinson, hanging laundry on her clothesline. It became a story about the vanishing clothesline and those who still “hang out.” 7min. Music by Milwaukee’s Pike Creek
Master Potter heard on Milwaukee Public Radio. In his eighties, Abe Cohn is one of Wisconsin’s honored master craftsmen. He is determined to keep making clay pots despite the kiln explosion that showered him with bricks in his Fish Creek studio. His wife, Ginka says that she now supports him as they walk arm in arm. “We walk together, which we’ve been doing all our lives, anyhow.” LISTEN 6min Music by Kara Barnard
Kites and Life heard on Milwaukee Public Radio. Robert Liberski was spotted flying a kite in Veteran’s Park/ Milwaukee. As he shares his life story, the kite becomes a metaphor for unemployment, caring for elderly parents, losing weight from worry. The kite keeps crashing. But with hope, Robert sends it up again and again. LISTEN BELOW 7min. Music by Kara Barnard
Troy Reeves, the Head of the Oral History Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison Archives will archive the Spotting Wisconsin™ collection: “With traditional methods of communication (letter writing) on decline and with modern methods (tweets, texts, emails) short on depth, collecting and curating stories becomes vital to preserving Wisconsin history for future generations. It seems clear that while we think this digital based communication will be preserved somewhere, there is so much of it that even if it is preserved how accessible will it be? Plus these types of communications do not give the texture and color (even with emoticons) that hearing someone talk about an aspect of his/her life or tell a poignant, rich story do.” _____________________________________________________________________________
- Copyright 2007-2013 All content on this page is copyrighted and may be used by written permission only. Nancy Camden, Independent Audio Producer