ON Newsletter - Fall 2023

Hidden Treasures

From the Director

What do you treasure? People and places, ideals and artifacts, nature and culture…we each have things we cherish.

For much of last summer, I spent early mornings walking my dog across the hills of my farm while Robin Wall Kimmerer’s voice read me her luminous essay collection, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. My heart was breaking over our burning planet. Hearing her words while walking among beings I love, and for whom I fear, is an experience of healing I will always treasure.

Whether what you hold dearest is tangible or intangible, close at hand or far away, chances are that some of what you value most feels fragile. The best way to protect what I treasure, I believe, is to share it. (Come to our farm! Read Braiding Sweetgrass!)

In this issue of ON, we bring you stories from the work that Wisconsin Humanities is doing to share Wisconsin treasures. These are stories of lives transformed, histories revealed, favorite foods, and a family farm. Reading them will deepen your appreciation for the power of the public humanities to unearth and burnish these and other treasures. In Wisconsin and all the world, the trove is endless.

Thank you for joining me in the search, and above all for the gifts you share.

Dena Wortzel, Director


In this issue:

Fall 2023

Humanity Unlocked

On a societal level, the humanities help us grapple with the challenges we face and guide our collective quest for new and better solutions. We find our way there together, which, in a democracy, requires allowing all to have their say. What then about those people who have been devalued and made invisible by the justice system?

Read More ➞

Community Resilience

Communities in every corner of Wisconsin are facing a huge array of challenges, from the impacts of climate change on infrastructure, to the loss of talented youth who look for better lives elsewhere, to the need to increase cultural literacy as communities grow more diverse.


Latino History for a New Generation

On August 27, 1970, Latino activists demanding access to higher education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were set to meet with the chancellor. UWM’s mission centered on serving the urban population of the city, and the activists had been striving to hold them to their word. At that time, there were 12 Latino/a students enrolled, and they were from Puerto Rico or Mexico and other countries, not Milwaukee, where 30,000 Latinos lived.


A Reimagined Family Farm

Love Wisconsin, our digital storytelling platform, connects you to stories of inspiring people across the state. Whether a life story resonates with your own or introduces you to a vastly different experience, we’re hoping you’ll find that we Wisconsinites have more in common than not.

Here is an excerpt from Angie Treinen’s story about an unexpected twist in the life of their family’s century-old farm.