Tuesday, Jan. 10th, 2017

Library Hopes to Put Free Books on Eau Claire Buses

A new effort to put free books on Eau Claire Transit buses isn’t just a way to give riders something to do if the Wi-Fi goes out (although that’s not a bad idea, come to think of it). It’s also a serious effort to get more books into the hands of children and adults as they cruise around town on city buses.

As early as late spring, all 22 city buses could be outfitted with special racks filled with books that people can read on the ride or bring home if they want to – free of charge. Consider it a road-bound riff on the Little Free Library movement that began in Hudson a few years ago and spread throughout Wisconsin and the world, with literally thousands of book-filled boxes springing up at homes, businesses, and schools. In this case, the free books will be close at hand for people who rely on city buses for their transportation.

“The books will hopefully begin to flow through the buses like they do through the little libraries,” explains Bob Eierman, vice president of the Board of Trustees at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire. Eierman compared the Books on Buses effort to the Book Bike the library launched last year, although this project will be less expensive and complex than that pedal-powered mobile library. While items checked out from the Book Bike have to be returned to the library, books from the buses will be free to keep.

The suggestion for Books on Buses came from City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle, who observed a similar program in 2013 while on vacation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Emmanuelle thought the program was novel (no pun intended), and filed the idea away for a few years. When Emmanuelle met the library’s new director, Pamela Westby, last year, Westby asked if she had suggestions for the library. Emmanuelle mentioned the Books on Buses concept, and the idea soon caught hold in Eau Claire.

Tom Wagener, Eau Claire Transit manager, said both bus drivers and Transit Commission members have been supportive of the idea. Wagener sees it as a way to help improve literacy among people who might be on the bus, whether they’re children or adults. In fact, a bus ride may provide the perfect impromptu opportunity for a parent and child to share a book.

Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer, youth services manager at the library, says the library is pursuing a small grant to pay for book racks. Other than that, the program should have minimal startup costs, in part because she expects books to come from donations or from volumes discarded from the library’s collection. While the project is still in the planning stages, it’s already received support from the necessary parts of city government.

“I’m really excited about it,” Collins-Fuerbringer says. “I think it’s going to be a great program. With the Book Bike, I think our goal was to surprise people, and I think this will surprise people.”

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Thursday, Jan. 5th, 2017

Eau Claire Stone Company Gets Big Break on Tiny House TV Show

Stonework is by Silvermine Stone Co.
Stonework is by Silvermine Stone Co.

The tiny house trend is coming to a tiny Chippewa Valley community, and a local business is part of it. An episode of Lifetime’s reality TV series Tiny House Nation: Family Edition shot in Fairchild, southeast of Eau Claire, will be broadcast on the cable network at 9pm Thursday, Jan. 5. The episode, titled “Tiny Family Obstacle,” features a couple seeking to build a smaller house to help bring them closer together with their adolescent offspring before the kids fly the coop.

In addition to the local setting, the episode features a product made by a local company: Silvermine Stone Co. of Eau Claire. Stack-N-Tack is stone veneer siding that can be installed without mortar. (In other words, you don’t have to be a stonemason to build attractive pillars, sills, or hearths.)

Tiny House Nation: Family Edition is an offshoot of Tiny House Nation, which airs on FYI, one of Lifetime’s sister networks. According to a press release, “The series follows host John Weisbarth and renovation expert Zack Giffin as they travel across America showing off ingenious small spaces and the inventive people who live in them. Along the way, they help families design and construct their own mini dream homes, each no larger than 500 square feet.”

The description for the local episode says the home in question is 750 square feet, which in tiny home terms must make it a mansion. Learn more about the show.

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Wednesday, Jan. 4th, 2017

Bon Iver Cancels European Tour, Prairie Home Companion Appearance

Early Wednesday morning, Bon Iver announced the cancellation of their month-long European tour, which would’ve launched on Jan. 22 in Paris. In addition, the band has also cancelled Justin Vernon’s upcoming appearance on A Prairie Home Companion (Jan. 14). According to a note published to Bon Iver’s social media accounts (see below), the cancellations are due to “personal reasons.” All the tickets will be refunded.

The Eau Claire band’s next performance is slated for April at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Los Angeles.


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Thursday, Dec. 29th, 2016

5 Local 100-Year Anniversaries Coming in 2017

Eau Claire’s City Hall also opened a century ago, in 1917
Eau Claire’s City Hall also opened a century ago, in 1917


Despite what you might recall from the movie Titanic, Chippewa County’s Lake Wissota wasn’t around for Leonardo DiCaprio to fall into in the early 1900s. The lake wasn’t created until 1917 when a hydroelectric dam was completed on the Chippewa River, flooding 6,000 acres of forest, swamp, and farmland. Celebrate the centennial by going fishing – on the ice or otherwise!


Eau Claire’s City Hall also opened a century ago, in 1917. Built for $72,000, the two-story building was meant to complement the Carnegie Library next door (which, incidentally, is now part of City Hall). It was built to resemble the Petit Trianon, Marie Antionette’s chateau on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, in France, so to celebrate, “Let them eat cake!”


Ray Gillette began to manufacture tires in Eau Claire 1917. The company he founded became the U.S. Rubber Co. in 1940, Uniroyal in 1967, and finally Uniroyal-Goodrich before closing for good in 1992. Now the nearly 2 million-square-foot facility is a multiuse complex that’s home to dozens of businesses, offices, and artisans. Celebrate by attending the Banbury Art Crawl on Feb. 10-11 – and by checking your tire pressure.


In the early 1900s, traveling cross-country by car was challenging. Roads were primitive and poorly marked, and designated “trails” might not be the most efficient way from Point A to Point B. That began to change in 1917, when Wisconsin became the first state to replace trail signs with numbered highway signs. Celebrate by ditching your GPS for an old fashioned road map.


Wisconsin’s state Capitol building in Madison also turns 100 this year. The present building is actually the fourth Capitol in state history and the third building on the current site. It was built between 1906 and 1917 and remains an iconic part of the Madison skyline (by state law, no building within a mile can be taller than the base of the columns around the dome). Celebrate by taking a tour – the Capitol is classical gem.

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Wednesday, Dec. 28th, 2016
Thursday, Dec. 22nd, 2016

City Reviews 3-D Concepts of Cannery District

Uncanny Cannery concept (A conceptual drawing of the proposed Cannery Park).
Uncanny Cannery concept (a conceptual drawing of the proposed Cannery Park).

Plans are beginning to coalesce for the Cannery District, the former industrial area on the west bank of the Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire. This week, the city’s Redevelopment Authority – which owns much of the property in the neighborhood, which lies roughly north of Madison Street – reviewed conceptual models of the proposed development. According to Downtown Eau Claire Inc., Ayres Associates of Eau Claire worked with the RDA to create three-dimensional animations of the area. Included in these concepts, one of which is shown here, are potential road layouts; a vision for future commercial and residential buildings; a large, multiuse neighborhood park just south of the High Bridge; and a neighborhood park and bike trail along the Chippewa River. A final report – including more conceptual details and images – is expected from Ayres in January. “We’re excited to have this conceptual design and animations of the Cannery District for showing the possibilities of development,” said Mike Schatz, the city’s economic development director. City of Eau Claire staff members are currently working to implement plans for infrastructure and parks improvements in the Cannery District. These improvements are expected to take several years to complete as funding is available.

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Watch Bon Iver's Pioneer Works Concert on NPR

Earlier this month, Bon Iver performed a breathtaking set at Pioneer Works, a 25,000 square foot ironworks warehouse turned art space in Brooklyn, New York, and NPR was right there to capture the whole thing. Pioneer Works is made up of artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a science lab, a recording studio, and more – and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon is active as an advisory board member.

The hourlong performance swung between choppy electronic new cuts on the band’s Grammy-nominated new album 22, A Million, peppered with hushed oldies, all washed under an epic light show and astral iconographic visuals. Or as NPR put it, it was "a transcendent night of voices masked, faces hidden in darkness and a performance aimed at soul-searching and purpose over pop and stardom."

Today, NPR finally released a video of the complete performance which you can watch right here:

Pioneer Works Concert Set List

• "10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄"
• "33 'GOD'"
• "Heavenly Father"
• "29 #Strafford APTS"
• "Beach Baby"
• "666 ʇ"
• "715 - CRΣΣKS"
• "Calgary"
• "22 (OVER S∞∞N)"
• "8 (circle)"
• "Minnesota, WI"
• "____45_____"
• "Creature Fear"
• "00000 Million”

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Monday, Dec. 19th, 2016

Ink & Paper 2016: Just a Few More Weeks

There are so many more artists in the Chippewa Valley than the ones whose work is displayed at our local galleries. Volume One’s Ink & Paper print sale is designed to showcase local art and allow artists to sell their work to tons of people at an affordable rate (usually $15-$60). For this year’s sale, with our co-sponsor Powertex, we’ve got an army of artists offering over 340 different pieces of 2D work. The Volume One Gallery is chock full of prints of all sizes for you to sift through and grab for yourself or as a gift for one of your loved ones. The sale includes screen prints, woodcuts, mono-prints and other traditional print forms, as well as quality digital prints of illustrations, photos, and more.

For full details visit VolumeOne.org/printsale. The sale runs through Jan. 7, 2017.

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Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 2016

Eau Claire Releases Tour Videos

A still from the city's new
A still from the city's new "Connected Neighborhoods" video.

Following several months of planning and filming, you can now view a series of community 'tour videos' focusing on Eau Claire. According to the city, these videos aim to display Eau Claire's unique attributes, highlighting things like quality of life, educational opportunities, our neighborhoods, recreational opportunities, the arts, the downtown area, healthcare facilities, and the city's music scene.

The brief videos (11 in all) are available on the City of Eau Claire’s website right here. You'll notice plenty of familiar visuals, and even a number of familiar individuals like Michael Perry.  

The City of Eau Claire Economic Development staff worked with CGI Communications of Rochester, New York to produce the videos.

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Now Hiring: Graphic Designer

Volume One, the Chippewa Valley’s growing media, retail, and event company (and 2016 Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award winner) is seeking dynamic graphic design talent for a full-time position. Collaborate with editors, programmers, photographers, and other professionals to create interesting and important local projects at a creative-friendly organization that places a high priority on visual aesthetic. Learn more ➜


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