It’s not easy being green, but a number of local businesses, individuals, and organizations have done it anyway, and now they’ve got awards to prove it. The City of Eau Claire’s Sustainability Advisory Committee recently bestowed its annual Sustainable Eau Claire awards, which carried the theme “Towards a Renewable Energy City.” Winners in the energy category included Xcel Energy, which currently provides a 58 percent carbon-free energy mix in the Upper Midwest; David Donovan, a longtime Xcel executive who was heavily involved in the creation of the company’s solar garden in Eau Claire; and Focus on Energy, a statewide energy conservation program.
In addition, Royal Credit Union, Patty Scott, and Mark Ruddy were honored as Exceptional Natural Resources Stewards; Huebsch Services was cited in the Green Products or Practices category; Jeff Pippenger, the city’s community services director, received the award for Sustainable City Staff; and Volume One (that's us!) was honored for Environmental Education. And, in keeping with the spirit of these honors, even the award plaques themselves are earth-friendly: They’re made of wood from “upcycled” city street trees by Eco Urban Timber.
Take a look at this crazy storybook which includes Justin Vernon amongst its many credits. Apparently, when he's not making music, producing albums, organizing festivals, or forming weird international music collectives, Vernon sometimes scratches up enough time to write a story to benefit children's literacy programs.
The new project, called Stories for Ways & Means, includes original work from songwriters like Tom Waits and Nick Cave (almost thirty in all). Artists were matched up to the stories, and the result is a 350-page book project. But that's not all. Some of the stories get an audio treatment with narrators like Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, Nick Offerman, and Lauren Lapkus. The readings are available on vinyl (duh) and you can hear some of them in a collection of trippy videos.
A softcover edition of the book (which is not intended for children) runs $35 while an "exclusive signed version" would set you back $490 (those better be some sweet signatures). The vinyl LP is 20 bucks.
Watch a trailer for the book below and below that you'll find an FAQ from sfwam.org ...
WHAT IS STORIES FOR WAYS & MEANS?
Ten years ago the founder of Waxploitation, Jeff Antebi, had an idea to ask his favorite music artists and favorite contemporary painters to come together and collaborate on original children’s stories for a benefit project.
Today, 29 of those pairings make up the 350 page book project called Stories for Ways & Means.
The book includes stories from Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Frank Black, Justin Vernon, Laura Marling, Devendra Banhart, Alison Mosshart and Kathleen Hanna as well as painters/illustrators like Anthony Lister, Dan Baldwin, Swoon, Will Barras, James Jean, Ronzo, Kai & Sunny, and more.
Guest narrators came along for fun as featured voices in short promo films: Danny Devito, Zach Galifianakis, Nick Offerman, Phil LaMarr, King Krule, and Lauren Lapkus.
IS THIS A BOOK FOR KIDS?
Probably not, unless said kid is over 17 years old. It features outre art, weird images, graphic displays of nasty stuff and cuss words.
WHERE CAN I PURCHASE THIS ONCE IN A LIFETIME DELUXE ART BOOK?
The first edition will be scarce. It’s a limited edition, hardcover ONLY available first come, first served basis soon at SFWAM.org
WHERE IS THE MONEY RAISED FOR ALL THESE CHILDREN’S LITERACY PROGRAMS GOING TO GO?
Proceeds from sales of the book primarily benefit Room to Read, Pencils of Promise, and 826 National among a number of non-profits working to build schools and educate children around the world.
Crime is climbing? The number of crimes reported in the city of Eau Claire was higher last year than it had been in more than a decade, according to an annual report released by the Eau Claire Police Department. Here are some of the key statistics and trends in the report ...
Increase in the number of crimes reported in the city of Eau Claire between 2016 and 2017, according to Uniform Crime Report statistics.
Total number of crimes reported as part of the UCR statistics, including those defined as Part 1 Index crimes* and simple assaults.
The last year the total number of crimes reported in Eau Claire was higher than last year. In 2004, 2,910 crimes were reported.
Total drug-related arrests in 2017, a 17.1 percent increase from 2016. These include arrests for possession, delivery, and paraphernalia.
Number of 911 calls received last year by the Eau Claire Communication Center, which handles all police, fire, and EMS calls in the county.
Menomonie's Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts (Image)
For those of us in the Chippewa Valley, this spelling is the “right” one – or at least the one we’re most familiar with. As with all the other spellings, the name of this Dunn County city comes from the name given by the Ojibwe people to their neighbors, who lived in a large territory in what is now Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, early European settles spelled “our” Menomonie with an “ie” to avoid confusion with other Wisconsin locales.
If there’s an “official” spelling of the word, this is probably it. It’s the name of a Native American tribe; the name of that tribe’s reservation; the name of the Wisconsin county that is contiguous with the reservation; as well as the name of a city in Michigan and a river that divides the two states. Fun fact: The Menominee were among the people French explorer Jean Nicolet encountered when he came ashore at Green Bay in 1634. (Of course, he thought they were Chinese.)
If you’re from the Milwaukee area, chances are this is how you spell the word. This is the spelling that applies to the river that flows into the state’s largest city (and ultimately Lake Michigan via the Milwaukee River); to the Menomonee Valley, an industrial neighborhood in Milwaukee; and to the nearby suburb of Menomonee Falls.
This is the original Ojibwe word for the tribe, which in the Ojibwe’s language means “wild rice people,” a reference to the other tribe’s staple food. However, as is often the case when it comes to tribal names, this is not what the Menominee call themselves: In their own language, they are “Mamaceqtaw,” or simply “The People.”
The difficult-to-spell (and to pronounce) name lends itself pretty easily to a pun, and a few years back the folks at Me-No-Monie Street Pawn & Loan grabbed it. (Get it: “Me No Money?” Of course you do!) The pawn shop is located, naturally, on Menomonie Street in Eau Claire.
Newly installed seats inside the RCU Theater, the Pablo Center at the Confluence's large theater. (Image: Pablo Center)
After 6-plus years of gathering ideas, planning, building, shaping, rethinking, finessing, and dreaming big, the inaugural season of shows at the Pablo Center at the Confluence is finally upon us. On September 22, Eau Claire’s new arts center officially opens its doors, and the program of artists and performers slated to bring their talents to our city ranges wide and deep.
The project has lived for so long as an abstract idea. Soon it will truly be the tangible, artistic force it was meant to be. This feels like a special moment – one we’ve been leading up to for a long time. That time and community effort is not lost on the Pablo’s Director of Artistic Programming Brenna St. George Jones, who told us she feels the pressure to deliver something really special this inaugural season.
"The stakes are really, really high,” St. George Jones said. "Even in a city the size of New York, this place would be a splash. But here, with all of the time and energy and emotion and everything the community has put into this thing, the stakes are higher. It matters more. It carries more weight. It was incredibly important to me to build a season that is worthy of that energy and that effort.”
St. George Jones and her team have put together a truly stellar first season that will be bring exceptional artists, dancers, musicians, comedians, puppeteers, and even dinosaurs to Eau Claire – most of which, it seems, would never have been able to happen in this city without a place like this. Between the multiple stages, art galleries, and other artistic and educational spaces that fill the building, world class music and art is gonna be pouring out of this thing on a regular basis from here on out.
St. George Jones said her goal with this first season was to honor the rich traditions of the Chippewa Valley’s performing arts scene, while pushing boundaries to bring audiences out of their comfort zone to experience some shows that are unabashedly unique.
"You can have tradition and still have innovation,” St. George Jones said. "Those two things can happily exist side by side. And sometimes that’s when the most exciting things happen."
So without further ado...
Pablo Center exterior copper work. (Image: Lee Butterworth)
The Pablo Center’s programming, from dance to drums, from ballet to country, from jazz to puppets, and everything in between. (Note: Rental shows and some touring productions are not included in this list and will be announced at a later date.)
Cloud Cult • September 28, 2018 • RCU Theatre • The common thread through what Cloud Cult does as a creative collective is their uplifting message; a continual celebration of life and love and catharsis through music.
Whose Live Anyway? • October 3, 2018 • RCU Theatre • 90 minutes of hilarious improvised comedy and song all based on audience suggestions featuring cast members Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray.
Phantom Tollbooth • October 13, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Enchantment Theatre Company is bringing this fantastical, captivating story to the stage. Using puppets, masks, magic, inventive scenic effects and original music, the wonder and adventure of the story comes alive.
Ganavya Doraiswamy •October 18, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Vocalist, scholar, and composer Ganavya Doraiswamy has carved a niche for herself at the nexus of South Indian vocal styles and contemporary music. With an anchor in jazz standards that she has translated to Tamil from English, she showcases a linguistic command over her two mother-tongues.
Tony Jackson • October 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Tony Jackson is one of the most gifted singers ever to grace country music. On the first-time and lesser known songs Jackson mints his own classics, and with such memorable excursions as “Drink By Drink,” “Old Porch Swing” he shines as a keen-eyed songwriter in his own right.
Ailey II • October 27, 2018 • RCU Theatre • A company of 12 on-their-way-to-the-top dancers and a repertory of works by emerging talents fresh out of the rehearsal room. The Ailey II dancers travel year-round to share their “off-the-charts energy” (The New Yorker) with audiences around the world – with a tour schedule unlike any other second company.
Kate Lindsey / Baptiste Trotignon • November 1, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Inspired by their 2017 album of the same name, Thousands of Miles is born out of an encounter between mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and jazz pianist Baptiste Trotignon. Closing the distance between classical music and Broadway, between the old and new worlds, between opera and jazz.
Cassel / Block • November 9, 2018 • Jamf Theatre • Together, these dynamic performers – Hanneke Cassel and Mike Block – present a diverse and exciting show featuring traditional and original music drawing from their Celtic, Americana, and Classical backgrounds.
The Oak Ridge Boys • November 26, 2018 • RCU Theatre • Every time they step before an audience, the Oaks bring four decades of charted singles, and 50 years of tradition, to a stage show widely acknowledged as among the most exciting anywhere. And each remains as enthusiastic about the process as they have ever been.
Blind Boys Of Alabama • January 25, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Hailed as “gospel titans” by Rolling Stone, the Blind Boys first rose to fame in the segregated south with their thrilling vocal harmonies and roof-raising live show, launching a 70-year recording career that would see them rack up five Grammy Awards (plus one for Lifetime Achievement), enter the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, collaborate with everyone from Mavis Staples and Stevie Wonder to Prince and Lou Reed, and perform on the world’s most prestigious stages.
Edgar Meyer • February 9, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Edgar Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. Meyer’s unparalleled technique and musicianship in combination with his gift for composition have brought him to the fore, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience.
Kodo Taiko • February 23, 2019 • RCU Theatre • The taiko: a traditional Japanese drum with limitless rhythmic possibilities. Kodo’s mission is to explore these possibilities, and in the process forge new directions for a vibrant living art-form. Thunderous, primal, and powerful.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar• February 24, 2019 RCU Theatre • This critically acclaimed production of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show created by Jonathan Rockefeller features a menagerie of 75 lovable puppets. The production faithfully adapts four stories by author/ illustrator Eric Carle: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, 10 Little Rubber Ducks, The Very Lonely Firefly and of course, the star of the show – The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure • March 8, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Take your family on an all new adventure – this time to the bottom of the ocean. Erth shows are at the forefront of family entertainment, using actors, technology, puppets, science and imagination to create an amazing visual experience that connects young audiences to the real science of paleontology.
La Caverne (The Torch Sisters) • March 22, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • Late night, playful and sexy; Eau Claire’s own Torch Sisters invite you to their first evening-length work, La Caverne, a breathtaking blend of aerial artistry, flow arts, and burlesque paying homage to Maud Phillips – a.k.a. Violet Leigh – Eau Claire’s “Mad Poetess of the Cave.” Inspired by the outspoken turn-of-the-century poetesses’ love affairs, writings, and rebel spirit the Torch Sisters present a variety show like no other.
Air Play •March 27, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Ride the wind and dream with Air Play, a modern spectacle that brings to life the very air we breathe. Flying umbrellas, larger-than-life balloons, giant kites floating over the audience, and the biggest snow globe you’ve ever seen will make you gasp in wonder and laugh until it hurts.
Brooklyn Rider • April 10, 2019 • Jamf Theatre • String quartet Brooklyn Rider offers eclectic repertoire in gripping performances that continue to attract legions of fans and draw rave reviews from classical, world, and rock critics alike.
Aaron Diehl • April 11, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Pianist Aaron Diehl is one of the country’s most sought after jazz virtuosos. Diehl’s meticulously thought-out performances, collaborations, and compositions are a leading force in today’s generation of jazz contemporaries, spearheading a distinct union of traditional and fresh artistry.
Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo • April 17, 2019 • RCU Theatre • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo have established themselves as an international dance phenomenon. Playful, brilliant, entertaining, high art and high camp; this company of professional male dancers performing the full range of the ballet and modern dance repertoire is unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Farewell Angelina •April 19, 2019 • RCU Theatre • An all-female country group featuring four powerhouse vocalists, dynamic songwriters and badass multi instrumentalists. Together Farewell Angelina’s magic blend of a multitude of stringed instruments, two blazing violins, and unique harmonies have taken Nashville by storm, and that enthusiasm is now spreading – thanks in part to live shows that bring down the house.
The Pablo Center’s live music program is called Set List, where they plan to bring some nationally-renowned musicians to Eau Claire for one-of-a-kind performances. More show announcements are on the way, but here are three already-announced Set List shows.
Phil Cook• October 20, 2018 • Jamf Theatre Ray LaMontagne • October 29, 2018 • RCU Theatre The Tallest Man On Earth • November 19, 2018 • RCU Theatre
CONSTITUENT GROUPS & SHOWS
Shows produced for the Pablo stage by the Chippewa Valley’s arts community.
Eau Claire Children’s Theatre Cinderella • Nov. 16-18, 2018 The Giver • Jan. 4, 2019 Dragons Love Tacos • Feb. 8-9, 2019 Disney's Beauty and the Beast • March 15-17, 2019 Peter Pan • July 24-28, 2019
Volume One True North • Nov. 16-17, 2018 Hullabaloo • June 1, 2019
Master Singers America, My Home 2018 • Oct. 14, 2018
UW-Eau Claire A Grand Night for Singing • Nov. 8-9, 2018 Holiday Concert • December 9, 2018 She Kills Monsters • December 11-16, 2018 The House of Blue Leaves • March 7-9, 13-17, 2019 Confluence Dance Project • Apr. 4-5, 2019 Don Giovanni • May 9-12, 2019
Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra October Concert • Oct. 6, 2018 December Concert with Special Guest Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra • Dec. 8, 2018 February Concert • Feb. 2, 2019 March Concert • March 2, 2019 May Concert • May 18, 2019
Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra A New Era • Sept. 29, 2018 Baroque Treasures • Nov. 10, 2018 Family and Friends • Jan. 26, 2019 Norwegian Conference with special guest The Master Singers • March 23, 2019 American Dreams • May 4, 2019
Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild Fun Home • Oct. 4-7, 2018 Mamma Mia! • Apr. 25-28, 2019 Footloose the Musical • June 27-30, 2019
Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra Wayne Bergeron • Oct. 19, 2018 WISCO In The House with guest artists Andrew Neesley & Mel Flannery • Feb. 23, 2019 Trombone-orama with special guest Andy Martin • May 3, 2019
Exhibitions running at the Pablo Center’s two free, open-to-the-public art galleries highlighting the best of regional and national artists across a variety of media.
James W. Hansen Gallery Homecoming: The Confluence of Art Annual Exhibition • September 22 - October 19, 2018 We Went To The Woods: Artwork inspired by the wild outdoors • October 26 - December 7, 2018 Luminis Artis: The Art of Light • December 14, 2018 - January 25, 2019 Give The Best That You Have In You: UW-Eau Claire Alumni Art Exhibit • February 1 - March 15, 2019 Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 Then: Founding Artists of the Chippewa Valley • March 29 - May 17, 2019 Now: Emerging Artists of the Chippewa Valley • May 24 - July 12, 2019 Footprints/Memories: Eco art and the global canvas • July 19 - September 6, 2019
Graham Avenue Walking Gallery An Artist Forever: Highlights of the Laurie Bieze Permanent Art Collection • September 22 - November 9, 2018 A Seat At The Table: Women Artists of the Chippewa Valley • November 16, 2018 - January 18, 2019 Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra: Student Art Exhibit • January 25 - March 15, 2019 Fabulous Florals & Fine Art • March 20-24, 2019 Everything You Can Imagine Is Real: An exhibit of high school student art • March 29 - May 31, 2019 Reflected Light: GO Paint and the Art of Plein Air Painting in the Chippewa Valley • June 7 - August, 2019
BOX OFFICE & TICKETING
Tickets for the 2018-19 season will be available for purchase via the Pablo Center website on Thursday, August 23 at 10am. Visit PabloCenter.org for more information, a full listing of events, and to order tickets when they go on sale. Tickets will only be available for purchase online for the time being. The box office will officially open on Saturday, September 22. For questions, please email email@example.com.
PABLO CENTER GRAND OPENING
Grand Opening Celebration • September 22, 2018 • 12pm - 5:30pm • Free and Open to the Public A day and night of community, art, and gala celebration. The Pablo Center opens its doors with a day of free public performances, where you can explore the building, grab a bite to eat from local food trucks, visit the art galleries, and enjoy music and dance by some of the Chippewa Valley’s best.
Rare Treasures • September 22, 2018 • 7:30pm • Tickets Available Online August 23 The RCU stage is the setting for Cabinet of Curiosities, a theatrical and musical celebration of the nature of wonder. Terrene is a Pablo Center commissioned world premiere work pairing images by designer/sculptor/puppeteer Chris M. Green with the music of UW-Eau Claire resident composer Chiayu Hsu. The second half of the program is called Firebird, a lush puppet and dance masterpiece telling an epic tale of good and evil, integrating light, puppetry, and Stravinsky’s thrilling music played by the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra directed by Nobuyoshi Yasuda.
The brown recluse – a one-third-inch-long spider with a violin-shaped marking near its head – recently made headlines for apparently biting some Chippewa Valley residents. While this bite can lead to swelling, pain, and even necrosis (tissue death), fortunately the species is rare in Wisconsin. It is one of only two venomous spiders in Wisconsin, the other being the northern black widow.
Two species of rattlesnakes – the timber rattler and the eastern massasauga – are native to Wisconsin. Fortunately for you ophidiophobes, both critters are usually found only in southwestern Wisconsin and both are fairly rare: Massasaugas are actually an endangered species and Timber Rattlers are most frequently found playing minor league baseball in Appleton. And while they are venomous, they are rarely deadly: There’s been only one rattlesnake-related death in the state since 1900.
When it comes to bites, you’re far more likely to be targeted by ticks than snakes. The worst is the tiny black-legged tick – a.k.a. the deer or bear tick – which often carries Lyme disease. About 40,000 cases of Lyme have been identified in Wisconsin since 1990. Ticks can carry other nasty infections, too, including babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and spotted fever rickettsiosis. If you’re headed into the underbrush, spray down with DEET, wear long pants and sleeves, and check your bodily nooks and crannies for the critters.
Fun fact: More than 50 mosquito species call Wisconsin home! Unfun fact: Their females are looking for their next "blood meal," and it could be you! Besides their annoying bites, mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and La Crosse encephalitis. In rare cases, both ailments can be deadly, which is all the more reason to generally avoid these bloodsuckers.
The white-tailed deer is actually one of Wisconsin’s deadliest animals. According to the Department of Transportation, there are at least 20,000 vehicle/deer crashes annually, 15 to 20 percent of which cause injury. In 2017 alone, nine people died as a result of these crashes.
One of the most unique tributes to the State Theatre was created with technology unimaginable during the days of vaudeville and silent film when the theater was built. Braedon Laundrie, a 19-year-old Eau Claire native and UW-Eau Claire sophomore, recently posted to Facebook a 2-minute, 30-second virtual walk-though of the theater built with the video game “Minecraft.”
Inspired “mostly just out of boredom,” Braedon decided three or four months ago to create a detailed model of a real-world location. He selected the State because he’s spent so much time there onstage, backstage, and in the orchestra pit. Braedon’s first State Theatre memory is from 2004, when he saw his father, Tony, perform in the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors.” Braedon was soon acting himself – a personal highlight was flying over the stage in the ECCT’s “Peter Pan” in 2006 – and for the past few years has played drums in the orchestra for numerous ECCT and Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild productions.
Relying most on memory, Braedon used the world-building video game to create the walk-though, meticulously creating a three-dimensional rendering of the theater’s marquee, lobby, balcony, stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, and more. The hardest parts of the project, he says, were getting the scale correct and making the virtual lights work. (Within the walk-though, a player can raise and lower the house and stage lights.)
Braedon figured his creation would only interest a few theater friends, so he was surprised when it started gaining thousands of views on Facebook and grabbed the attention of local media outlets.
“It is sad that the State is closing, but with the Confluence opening it provides a lot of opportunities that might be more fun than the State,” he said.
The very first Altoona farmers market opened for business Monday, July 23 at River Prairie Park. In an attempt to balance existing markets rather than compete with them, the new weekly event will take place in the evenings from 4-7pm. This will allow shoppers to grab locally grown groceries on the way home from work, just in time for supper. The market is scheduled to run every week through the end of October, with the exception of Labor Day.
Roy Atkinson, management analyst for the City of Altoona, is one of the market’s organizers, along with Debra Goldbach, recreation manager. The market idea has been thrown around for some time, according to Atkinson, but the supportive response to the vendor market of the June P10 festival indicated that people were excited about the idea. “It really put a hop in our step to get it going,” he said.
“I think it’s the perfect space to have a farmer’s market,” Atkinson said. Organizers expect 8-10 vendors at each market, featuring flowers, vegetables, meat, and baked goods. Local musician Jeff Fagen will be busking on-site, and the city aims to have food trucks offering good eats.
“We think it’s a really good compliment to the work day,” Atkinson said. “It promotes healthy living in a lot of ways.” Atkinson is “brimming with optimism” about the new Altoona market, and looking forward to its pilot run.
The American Barnstormers Tour is a breath of fresh air for those unenamored with aviation. A troupe of pilots and their aircraft landed in Eau Claire this week as part of their Midwestern travels. This year’s tour celebrates Travel Air biplanes, which are open-cockpit propeller planes with two sets of wings. Twelve of these planes total will be on-site, with five on display and five used to provide biplane rides. The three-day event opened to the public today (July 19), and runs through Saturday (July 21) from roughly 10am-6pm each day at the EAA Chapter 509 clubhouse at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport, weather permitting.
Image: Lauren Fisher
Volume One Goes for a Ride
Volume One had a chance to get up in the air early Thursday morning – I took a ride in the sky with V1 staffer Neil Hodorowski and our pilot, who most refer to as “The Candy Man.” This nickname originated with jokes that David Mars, who has been flying for half a century, might be an heir to the Mars candy fortune. He and the other pilots were dressed to impress in 1920s costume. Mars explained that the first barnstormers wore ties to suggest respectability and reliability, reassuring their riders.
We stepped up onto the lower wing and boarded Checkerboard, a 220 horsepower 1929 Curtiss Travel Air 4000. It wasn’t until after the ride that I took proper stock of the craft, which sported a red-and-blue checkered pattern and a gorgeous wooden propeller. Mars bought the plane in the ‘90s in Michigan – he jokes that he has been “destoring” it ever since. Compared to some of the other biplanes, which shine with carefully maintained paint, Checkerboard is a little rough around the edges. From the front seat, we could watch a second and third plane prepare to lift off. Behind us, the Candy Man listened for instructions.
Image: Lauren Fisher
The trio filed down the airfield, propellers buzzing, and we watched our companions launch. The volume leapt from lawnmower level to an industrial roar and we lifted off. The noise was all but forgotten when we were high enough to look over the side of the plain at the verdant patchwork of the Chippewa Valley countryside.
Neil and I exercised our cell phone photography skills, grasping the devices tight so as not to lose them to the wind. We waved at the other planes’ passengers and watched them rise and then spiral dive through the air. Our stomachs dropped with Checkerboard when our pilot brought the nose down, then righted the biplane for a gentle cruise back to Earth.
Image: Lauren Fisher
Mars pilots dozens of biplane rides every day, helping others experience flying freely through the air for what might be a once-in-a-lifetime chance. “It’s about them, and I want to make the experience good for them,” he said. “I immerse myself in their enjoyment.”
Mars’ son, Charlie Mars, was ready with a step stool to help us out of the plane. Despite his full-time work as a prolific singer-songwriter, he has spent the month of the tour with his father, helping fuel the planes, guide people on and off the rides, and manage finances. In a soothing Mississippi drone, he poeticised the relationship between music and flying through the air:
“Barnstormers and troubadours are about a hiccup away from each other.”
The Haymarket Landing Building downtown Eau Claire. Foxconn Technology Group will use space on the building’s ground floor for an innovation center to be part of a talent network. (Image: HayMarketLanding.com)
Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday morning that Foxconn Technology Group will obtain two properties in downtown Eau Claire. Foxconn has reached an agreement to purchase The Grand, a six-story office building located at 204 E. Grand Ave. The company will also buy or lease 15,000 square feet of the first floor of Haymarket Landing, 220 Eau Claire St. This represents just under half of the roughly 34,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the building.
The Grand, 204 E. Grand Ave., downtown Eau Claire, will be used by Foxconn to house a laboratory for technological solutions.
The Grand, formerly a Wells Fargo Bank, will be used to house a laboratory for technological solutions, while the Haymarket Landing space – which will overlook Eau Claire Street and Haymarket Plaza – will serve as an innovation center that will be part of a talent network, according to a Foxconn press release. The company expects to create 150 jobs to support these efforts.
Foxconn and Commonweal Development began discussion of the technology corporation's temporary occupation of Haymarket Landing last month, according to Commonweal President Stuart Schaefer. Further discussions will determine whether Foxconn will purchase or lease the space.
Finding tenants for the bottom floor of Haymarket Landing has been a challenge for Commonweal due to continuous construction in the area. “We always thought we’d be able to get sort of a large restaurant usage or many restaurants into that space, but that hasn’t happened yet,” Schaefer said. “Given a year or two, with the bridge and the plaza and the Confluence finished, we think that people and businesses will have the confidence to go into that space. ... As of yet, we haven’t found that, so we’re happy to make use of that space in the short term.”
JCap Real Estate, the company that owns The Grand, has been working with Foxconn for several months to arrange this purchase and prepare the building for its future tenants, JCap President Brian Johnson said.“I think it’s great!” he said of Foxconn’s move into downtown Eau Claire and the jobs it is expected to bring. “It’s going to add to this energy in downtown Eau Claire.”
“Eau Claire is a great place for Foxconn’s newest Innovation Center – and Haymarket Landing, one of many UW-Eau Claire innovative partnerships and student residences, provides a vibrant hub for students, faculty, and Foxconn employees to connect and create together,” UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James C. Schmidt said. “UW-Eau Claire has long been an economic driver for Western Wisconsin, providing talented graduates in everything from healthcare to high-tech. We are excited to be a partner with Foxconn in exploring together a ‘smart future’ for the Chippewa Valley and for Wisconsin.”
The Haymarket Landing building's commercial floor plan. Info: Commonweal Development
“Foxconn’s investment in the Chippewa Valley is great news for the region and the entire state as the company continues to demonstrate how its presence in Wisconsin will truly be transformational,” said Mark Hogan, Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. “From the day Foxconn announced it had chosen Wisconsin as the site for its campus, we have talked about the ripple effect that decision would have throughout the state. Today we are again experiencing that ripple effect here in west-central Wisconsin.”
The move to invest in locations in Eau Claire is part of a multibillion-dollar project to establish a Foxconn production facility in the Racine County village of Mount Pleasant in southeastern Wisconsin. Walker promised the company up to $4.5 billion in tax incentives to build the $10 billion factory and create a predicted 13,000 jobs in the state.
Many public officials and citizens disapprove of the plan, saying that the payoff to Wisconsin and its residents will be too little for such a large benefit to Foxconn. Protesters waved signs that read “No Foxconn, No Walker,” at the announcement location in Phoenix Park.
Others, including Andrew Werthmann, acting president of the Eau Claire City Council, have reservations about Foxconn itself.
“Our community has a set of values, and we need to hold them accountable to it,” he said.“It can’t be lost in this discussion that (Foxconn has) a horrible human rights record, they have a horrible environmental record, they have a horrible labor record. And so, knowing all that, I think it’s on us both as community leaders and as a community to make sure that they are held accountable to the kinds of values that we hold dear.”
Foxconn plans to close on these properties later this year and open the spaces for operation in 2019.