Passion, Peace, and Power: Fifteen Days in Wisconsin.




Let me begin with a simple sentiment: This is not a political blog. At all. Indeed, it is usually a sparkly, woolly, squeaky clean, happy no-politics zone. It is a place to come to discuss homeschooling, cooking, sewing, knitting, kids, and all things magical. But not the democrats or the republicans. Please, not politics my friend. Because we might discover that we don't agree and that would make a mess of this beautiful little corner of the internet.

In truth, I am a little terrified to let even one or two of you down. (What can I say. I'm a pleaser-person.) And so politics are something that I have chosen to not discuss with 1) My dad, and 2) My readers. Because I love you all and I believe that we don't all need to vote the same or have the same politics to get along, so why bring it up here?

But these last two weeks.

Oh, goodness. I hardly know what to talk to you about that isn't politics. At risk of starting to make stuff up to talk about here I have been contemplating sharing some more with you of the goings on in my home-state-since-birth. (I touched on it a few days ago here.) I quickly consulted my geeky/handy Clean Mission Statement and realized that politics might just be on our plate today. My mission is to:

1. Inspire: Our world is brimming with hidden beauty and inspiration. I strive to inspire you through the moments and thoughts that I share through words and pictures.

2. Be Inspired: I will seek inspiration and beauty each day. There is so much around me that is magical. I will touch it, photograph it, and share it.

3. Uplift: Our words shape our world and I choose to work for good. May my message lift your heart and make your soul sing.

4. Challenge: I challenge myself to try new things, to post with regularity, to be present each day. I challenge you with ideas that may be new, unusual, non-conformist.

Yep, by my measuring stick current events in Wisconsin fit all four criteria, perhaps better than anything I might normally write about (I mean really – how challenged were you by the fairy house?). And in truth I think I would be remiss is not talking about it. You come here because I am authentic and passionate. And about this I am extremely passionate. It would be inauthentic for me to not speak my truth.

What is happening in my community is happening globally: people are waking up, shaking off their apathy and their feelings being small and powerless and they are rising up. Egypt. Yemen. Lybia. Greece. Tunisia. Wisconsin.

The parallels bring goosebumps to my arms because while the conflicts and the intensity of the politics vary, they are all the same at their heart. The people want to be heard. Perhaps this is what 2012 is all about. The Global Awakening. The end of one story and the beginning of another.





To stand hand-in-hand with my children among 100,000 passionate, peaceful, determined souls; to hear the diversity of this crowd call forward with a single voice; to see hope like this so alive in a society that has been long guilty of political apathy is something I will never forget.

Steelworkers standing with librarians standing with young activists standing with police standing with nurses standing with college students standing with firemen standing with professors standing with school children standing with electricians standing with… this is Wisconsin. This is America. I stand beside them in awe of it all.






And so thousands come to the Capital. They leave notes of adoration (above) or disgust on their Representatives office doors and plaster the hallways with signs and sentiments. And they just keep coming, day after day, asking to be heard and they peacefully refuse to leave and instead of arrest them the cops sing along to their protest songs and ask if they need some water and even peronally thank them for showing up and taking a stand.

Passion. Peace. And power. It is a revolutionary combination.






Today is day fifteen of the occupation. To say Wisconsin or our politics has been transformed remains to be seen. To say our Capital has been transformed is an understatement. To say we have been transformed is a profound truth. We are taking back our government. We are exercising our rights. We are rising up.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Postscript: Wether you are new to the Wisconsin Uprising or not here are three videos I urge you to watch.

This one is brought tears to my eyes and shows the bold and illegal tactics that were used by the Republicans in our Assembly to push through this controversial bill. Regardless of how you vote, this is a shamefull crack in our democracy.

A look inside the Capital protests over the past two weeks.

Some of the faces of Wisconsin.


edited 3.6.2011 : : Comments are now closed on this post. Thank you for your thoughtful comments and input.

33 thoughts on “Passion, Peace, and Power: Fifteen Days in Wisconsin.

  1. Casey Umhoefer says:

    Beautifully done. My little family has been there every day possible. THIS is something to be passionate about. It has brought people together and the impact is far larger than most realize. THE WORLD IS WATCHING WISCONSIN. Let that sink in for a moment. History is being made here. HERE, in Madison. Not in the Middle East, not in D.C. Here, in the land of Super Bowl Champions and cheeseheads. Here, in the city built between two lakes. And it is beautiful.

    I don’t know how much you know about them, but the group Anonymous stands with Wisconsin and released a very powerful statement:

  2. angelina says:

    hi rachel,
    i have a new outlook, however be it temporary , on such things as i face new transition and stress in my life. i become upset with the world and all its disasters and so have stopped watching the news and reading about such things as this entirely. i LOVE your four sentiments and hope we can all hold on to things as powerful and self cleansing. my new approach is to let things as these which are less than positive flow thru and out of my being, like the wind.
    peace to you all in america. hope for a better tomorrow.x

  3. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Angelina,
    Before I had children I was a listened to public radio news constantly. Then one day when Sage was two I turned on public radio and heard a single gruesome sentence from the war report from Iraq. My finger never left the power button. I turned it on, then off again as fast as I could. But that one sentence hung in the air like smoke. I have not turned on the news even in the six years since.

    So yes, I love your approach. Because focusing on things that make us sad or afraid or angry only makes those things expand. But for me this story is one of hope and empowerment. Joy! Awakening. It is my first current events obsession in six-plus years. And I feel we will overcome what stands before us. Hope can do so much.

    Keep out of the way of the media. Dont let them cloud your joy.

    Peace and blessings,

  4. Abbie says:

    I haven’t blogged politics ever either, but lately it is all I want to talk about. I want to shot from the street and the rooftops about how unfair I think all of this is. But alas my fear of what to say, how to say it and who will I upset has kept me from doing just that. So my personal blog sits dormant for now.
    Your approach was great and I appreciate you writing it the way you did.
    Thanks for sharing the videos too, I don’t think people from other parts of the country are really getting a clear sense of what is going on. Videos of the very peaceful way we are protesting I think can help to clear some things up. I have heard rumors about vandalism, distruction and violence at the capitol which just isn’t true. So I commend you for being brave enough to help spread the word about what is really going on.

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    It is so hard, isnt it? To not talk about? I agonized for days on how to write this (and gave myself a migraine worrying about it yesterday) and yes, I lost a couple of fans on my LuSa Organics and Clean facebook pages but I think people come to me because they trust me to be honest. This was too big to silently swallow. Overall the response has been amazingly positive. (I just hope my dad doesnt read it.) 😉


  6. says:

    Thanks for sharing! As a fellow Wisconsinite I know all to well what you mean about having politics on the brain but not wanting to offend. This whole thing has me thinking about it more, and I feel a bit more confidant in actually participating in a conversation about what I believe. Every day the desire to go down and take my children to Madison grows intensely and I hope that soon I will have a day off where we can take the drive down and participate in this awakening of the people!

    (I also want to tell you I just love your blog! I’ve been reading it for a long time and I always look forward to new entries. You’re an inspiration! Thank You!)

  7. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you, FrogsPond. The scene in Madison was so peaceful and friendly – everyone making eye contact, bringing food to all in the capital – organic fruit, cheese, etc. It was an amazing scene. During our last visit we stumbled upon a Story Time with librarians from all over the state. So dont fret about bring the kids – everyone is being so kind.


  8. Sarah says:

    Thanks for posting Rachel. You have moved me with your words and photos. As an American living in Canada, i try to keep track of what is going on in US politics, but i mostly fail. I have heard some stuff on the radio about what is going on in Wisconsin, but haven’t seen any images. Yours are beautiful and moving. (the other day my fave radio show in Canada had a panel discussion about why we are hearing so much in the media about Africa/Middle East and not anything much about Wisconsin.)
    Am posting your post to FB- love it.
    xo Sarah

  9. Mama Jen says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. For this post, your honesty and vulnerability and your deep passion that makes this blog so life giving to me and in turn my family. Thank you. Peace to you and yours. My girlfriend and I are off to Madison with the kiddos tomorrow to add our voice to the fight for democracy.

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    Mama Jen,
    Bring your most ardent belief in things going well and in our power as people. And laughter helps too. It isnt like I posted about this week, so I hear. Locked out in the cold on so many levels.

    Peace and love and light! Carry your torch.


  11. I Wilkerson says:

    I want to add my support. It is hard to speak out–that’s why they call it courage. And it’s even harder to do it with thought and compassion. Here is one of my favoirte links–from a Door County writer who doesn’t usually do (non-local) politics either:

    And just think what a great lesson in civics this is for your kids (not to mention a shot at leaving them a better world)

  12. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thank you so much I. I forget that it is taking a great deal of courage for me to speak my truth, and respectfully so. I have upset a couple of customers in my soap business but those who remain (99% of who was there to begin with) understand me better and support us all the more passionately. Thank you for the link. I will have a read this afternoon!


  13. Hannah says:

    I think it’s great that you posted about this, not only because it’s a hugely important event, but because it hasn’t been getting nearly enough coverage in the news. I live on the west coast and last weekend we were looking online at the New York Times and other news sources for coverage of the rally there and supporting rallies around the U.S. – we hardly found any info.

  14. JC says:

    I can finally comment! Yay! And Yay! to you! I loved your article SO much, that I posted it to my FB page also! As a teacher in WI, it’s soooo scary to think what will happen. I am thankful for a hardworking husband who *finally* received the raise & promotion he has deserved for a LONG time…now the income I will lose, he has gained…we will be alright but many won’t. This all reminds me of when I was in college & G. Bush was elected president… our country hasn’t gotten any better since him…and now where the hell is my home state going to end up?!?! It’s totally like watching a train wreck…that only a few of us see happening :/ Perhaps I will see you in Madison this weekend… 🙂

  15. susan says:

    Wow – a politics-related post that actually left me feeling more energetic and motivated than before I read it. That is definitely an accomplishment. Thanks for posting. And thanks for keeping us TV-less, news-avoiding, other-side-of-the-country folks up to date on something so important.

  16. Svadhayaya says:

    Last Saturday: I was luring our toddler from the super-cool Family station, accepting a free granola bar from a volunteer, and trying to make our way back to our unattended jackets and bags when my husband came around the corner (back from visiting and thanking a few Senate staffers) and passed me a sample of your soap. He shrugged, “Someone just handed it to me. Apparently, I need a wash.”

    Me: “Sweet! I love her blog.”

    The soap smells delicious (not that our Capitol didn’t, for the record!). Thanks for making our experience in Madison even more awesome. =)

  17. Rachel Wolf says:

    Thanks, Hannah. I did not post after this day because the politics became even more stressful with the public being locked out of the Capital building (like in Ohio). But things seem to be turning positive, and Saturday is a potluck protest. Bring a breakfast dish to pass, and your outside voice. I love Madison.


  18. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Susan,
    We are the TV-less, news-avoiding Wisconsinites. So seeing this and standing up and talking about it takes more courage than most can imagine. Thanks for getting it. This is HUGE.

  19. Rachel Wolf says:

    Destiny! I love it. Yes, we donated a couple hundred soaps and lip balms for the protesters and to share. It was all that I could think to do – aside from showing up to add my voice. Enjoy!

  20. crafty says:

    I know you won’t post this but I thought about what you wrote for days and finally decided I had to respond.
    These horrific republicans whom you decry were elected for a reason. We need to balance the budget.
    You have your nice amish made hickory floors but who pays for your healthcare? If you do, you will surprise me. We can’t expect to live like this forever and not have consequences. I don’t blame the elected officials as much as I blame the selfish individuals who think they deserve to have government assistance when they really could afford to pay for themselves. Whose fault is it that we are bankrupt and have to make severe cuts?

  21. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Crafty,
    Thank you for taking the time to speak your mind. I know that not everyone who reads here agrees with my sentiments, be them on homeschooling, food, parenting, or politics. That reason in particular was why this was the most difficult post I have ever written. But also why it might be the most important.

    The people of Wisconsin were being shut out of the democratic process. That is not how our government is designed to work, regardless of who is in power. I do not disagree with efforts to balance our state budget. I am all for it. But we are a democracy and forcing through a bill this important without discussion is un-democratic. And that was the upshot of my post. The people want in to this conversation. Dont lock out the people, whatever side we are on.

    You mentioned the horrific republicans whom you decry and I take offense at this statement. I dont recall saying or alluding to any such thing in my post. I am talking about our right to participate in the democratic process. That seems to me to be something that would benefit republicans, democrats, greens, and independents alike. I was very clear to not point fingers, cast blame, or attack. It isnt my style.

    Finally, you refer to the selfish individuals who think they deserve to have government assistance. That is a powerful and loaded statement. It was my understanding that our state and our country were having financial difficulties because of corporate greed and poor decision making. I am recalling a market crash and a massive bail out. There were much larger forces at play than health care for the lower and middle class when our budget was turned on its head.

    This issue has become passionate and heated. This is my little corner of the net where I share my opinions. And I love Wisconsin. Ive lived her all of my life. Ill do everything I can to see that it keeps moving Forward.


  22. Emma says:

    I couldn’t help really feel for the divide that is going on right now. I am guessing that you are needing to see people balance their own needs with the financial state of Wisconsin. To ensure that we can afford programs without going into debt.

    I am wondering if you would be willing to explore a couple perspectives about this whole issue.

    Here is what you should know about me.
    My family runs a small business which employs 5 people. We will be providing health insurance this year now that the business is stable enough to do so. We chose the last couple years not to purchase private health insurance (consientious objection). Our daughter does have health insurance that we pay a premium for. That is the extent of our public funds use. That said, I pay LOT of taxes.

    Speaking of paying taxes, I am happy to do so as long as our tax dollars are spent in the interest of all persons. I understand that economic stability is part of our picture.

    Without even touching on the issue of collective bargaining, I would like it if you could contemplate some other issues in the bill.

    For instance, the bill will increase the income limit for the voucher system in Milwaukee. “Over a half billion dollars of tax-payers’ money have gone to private vouchers schools in Milwaukee since the program started. Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction estimates that the program will cost $110,517,000 for the 2006-2007 school year.”

    What that means is that wealthier people in Milwaukee will be awarded up to 6,500 a year/child to send their children to private schools. While I will pay out of pocket to send my child to private school, which I do, in addition to the property taxes and income taxes I already pay that go to support elite programs written in the bill.

    You said “I don’t blame the elected officials as much as I blame the selfish individuals who think they deserve to have government assistance when they really could afford to pay for themselves. ”

    It seems that the bill in question that you are defending in fact does just that, …tax dollars for programs that they could otherwise afford.

    I think it is tricky business to fall along idealogical lines and well crafted rhetoric without looking at the details of the bill. I for one, feel mistrustful of the rhetoric, and the finger pointing from both sides.

    I personally believe that there is always a solution to any problem if we inquire with an open heart.

    Some reasons I object to the bill: I for one like to able to recycle, that my neighbor’s child went to compete at state because of sports programs, that we have bike trails in our area, and that class sizes ensure that children receive the care they need to learn effectively in broad range of subjects, including art and languages. (all of these programs will lose funding.)

    I invite you to consider the ramifications of not even having an open, unhurried, and broad debate about these issues. That is what concerns me the most right now. I truly want this to work for everyone, without resentment, or anger. Its clear that there are issues that have been unaddressed for you, and you are hoping the current gov’t will resolve them. But will it be sustainable, if it leaves a large group of people unheard and dismissed?

    I am not a “selfish” person, I pay my share, I can assure you. But I for one would rather have a healthy diverse community that has access to quality education and health services than just beefing up the jail system, and literally paving the roads for large corporate interest.

    I am hoping that this reply to your post conveys both my empathy and understanding for your perspective, but also to make possible a greater capacity to include diverse perspectives, beyond our party leanings.

  23. crafty says:

    I don’t have the inclination or the expertise to argue point by point of this bill. However, the idea that people need time to weigh in on this bill is ridiculous. Our elected officials get to weigh in as they see fit, to follow their consciences or their constituents as they see fit. We have a republican dominated government right now and they do not see any reasons to debate these issues. Right or wrong, that is their call. They were voted into their positions in fair democratic elections. We will probably vote many of them out and those people who take their place will be faced with the same responsibilities. While I disagree with many aspects of this bill, I’m confident that I don’t know what should be done and nobody has given me the authority to do anything.If I want that authority, I will run for office. It does seem very easy to take apart others’ work when the responsibility is not yours. Very few critics are proposing things that effect them and SHOULD be cut to balance the budget. It bothers me when I see people who are taking advantage of the system complaining about it being bankrupt. If everyone truly did their fair share (not just individuals but corporations as well) then they would have some room to complain when others do not do their share. It is very easy to say “What I get is small and it really should be a right, anyway. It’s not what I get that is causing the problem, it’s what THEY are getting.” A small business owner who games the system so they can be on badgercare is no better and no worse than the corporation who pays less taxes than they should due to “friendly” loopholes. Both are to be shamed and both hold some responsibility for our current mess.

  24. Pamela R says:

    I have really tried to stay out of this, especially on a blog where the intention, it seems, is to inspire craftiness rather than argument, but I’m one of those irritating folks who does have the notion that we should read bills and argue their merits before they become law. (As does the Wisconsin Legislature, therefore there are committee hearings where the public can weigh in and floor debates before a bill gets voted on. You may find it interesting to read the pamphlet “How a Bill Becomes a Law” from the Wisconsin Legislative Website.)
    Our democracy is set up to hold elected officials accountable for their actions once we elect them. The fact that people don’t get involved or hold their elected representatives accountable (Democrats and Republicans) might be why we are in this situation to begin with.
    I could write for pages on the merits or lack of merit and give counter arguments or support point by point for both the Budget Repair Bill and the proposed budget, but it doesn’t seem that you are looking for that. It seems like you want your voice to be heard in a crowd of folks chanting in opposition.
    And that is the point. We don’t hear each other. We don’t even hear ourselves sometimes. The attitude of no compromise is simply not what it means to govern. And pitting us against our neighbors is not good leadership, no matter what side you are on. Myles Dannhausen, in his article “Locked in the Wrong Debate,” points out that we are being played and we have fallen for it. And while we are busy wanting everyone to pay their fair share, there is legislation being passed that exempts those with the most from doing just that.
    There is a great deal to read, to think about, to do.
    As Edmund Burke said in his Second Speech on Conciliation with America (1775), ” All government — indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act — is founded on compromise and barter.”
    I hear your voice, your frustration, your I’ve-had-it-up-to-here. I agree with your call for personal responsibility. But those “gamers” of the system, those who you feel aren’t doing their “fair share.” I wonder if your anger should be directed at them or at legislators who have made it so easy to do.
    Responsible citizenship in a Democracy is about respectful, mature debate. Here’s to peaceful disagreement and a blogger who chooses to participate in an uncomfortable but open conversation.

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