Friday, August 21, 2009

Sharyl Kato on Rainbow Project's "Rhumba4Rainbow"; Renee Crawford on Thursday's "Restore The Vote Coalition" Capitol Hearing

Above: Forward Forum host John Quinlan with Associate Director Renee Crawford, at the ACLU of Wisconsin's February Bill of Rights Dinner in Milwaukee

On the August 23, 2009 show:

Two remarkable women doing important work for the benefit of the greater community: Sharyl Kato, and Renee Crawford



Note: Due to some important pressing family concerns, our planned special guest co-host Hedi Rudd is unable to be with us today. Look for her on a future show sometime soon. If you're a friend who was looking to connect with her this week, she'll be at this Friday's Dane Dances event. You can also reach her via email at .

Rainbow Project Exec. Director Sharyl Kato:
Previewing the 5th Annual Rhumba for Rainbow Event on Friday, Sept. 11th
Her Observations about the Rocky Times Facing Nonprofits Just When They're Needed Most

Sharyl Kato, executive director of the Rainbow Project previews the upcoming "Rhumba4Rainbow" event on September 11th--a benefit for the work of Rainbow Project in assisting children and families affected by abuse and trauma. It's a wonderfully entertaining event--one also made especially colorful and glorious by the multi-cultural diversity of both those who rhumba and those who watch.

The event takes place on Friday, September 11, 2009, 7:00 pm to midnight at the Marriott West Ballroom, 1313 John Q Hammons Drive in Middleton. This is the fifth year for this exciting event. A bit of history and context, excerpted from the event's website:

5th Annual Rhumba 4 Rainbow on September 11, 2009

What is So Special About the Rhumba for Rainbow, in 2009?
On September 11, 2001, our country experienced a national trauma, which affected millions of people. On a similar scale, young children and families right here in Dane County, are often experiencing similar effects of more private traumatic experiences, on a daily basis.

The Rainbow Project helps promote coping and recovery from such traumatic experiences. With this in mind, please do your part to help turn trauma into healing and TAKE BACK THE DATE on September 11, 2009, by joining us for the 5th Annual Rhumba for Rainbow Charity Event.

The date is now set for Friday, September 11, 2009, for the 5th ANNUAL RHUMBA 4 RAINBOW. We will “take back the date” and promise a spectacular evening. The dance floorshow is set to include a special, traditional, Mariachi dance performed by a 3 year old children, as well as Urban Vibes Dance Troup, Brandon and Serena, Micah and Katherine and many others world class dancers! This is a rare opportunity to expose the Madison/Dane County community to such incredible talent!

The number and quality of dance contestants has grown and is so exciting to watch. Several teams of celebrity dance contest judges pair with professional dance instructors are already gearing for fun and judging for the best!

We are also very excited to have the opportunity to present and recognize special EXTRA MILE Award recipients this year. These are individuals who are making an exceptional positive difference for young children and families in our community.

We are so proud and fortunate to have Grupo Candela, an amazing, energetic 11 piece Latin band performing for us.

An exciting feature of Rhumba 4 Rainbow is the EVENT SPONSORSHIP, a component that offers two levels of event support, at $2500 and $1500. For more information on the table sponsors, ticket sales, silent auction donations, raffle tickets and other information, please see our awesome new website and visit the Sponsor section.

Oh, and there are silent auctions and there are silent auctions….then there is the Rainbow Project Silent Auction. By far the most amazing silent auction ever!! Our event host and hostess will be Jason Salus and Maria Guerrero, WISC-TV.

And one more thing! This year we began the Mayor Dave’s Dance Challenge Fund. If the community is able to contribute $10,000. towards a fund at Park Bank. Mayor Dave promises to take dance lessons and salsa dance at the event! Some celebrities will walk across the state or shave their head for a great cause. Our Mayor sacrifices even more by offering to do something he truly does not want to do. Let’s help the Mayor be a success at his premier public dance performance!


Part two of our discussion with Sharyl: The NonProfit Funding Crisis

Sharyl Kato also joins us for a wide-ranging discussion about the challenges facing non-profit organizations in these challenging economic times. Besides her untiring service for the past 29 years role at the Rainbow Project, Sharyl has also been active in countless community organizations, including a leadership role in the Wisconsin Women of Color Network. Sharyl will reflect on the frustrations inherent in this time when agencies like her own are needed as never before because of the very economic realities that threaten their ability to perform their important work.

See this August 2007 Asian Wisconzine article by Laura Salinger for an interview with Sharyl that explores more about the tradition and meaning behind this event. See also the Rainbow Project website.

Renee Crawford on the "Restore the Vote" Coalition, and this Thursday's Capitol Hearing

Also joining us by phone from Milwaukee is frequent guest Renee Crawford, associate director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. Our focus will be on the Restore the Vote Coalition, which seeks new legislation guaranteeing the restoration of voting rights of those who have been disenfranchised while serving time in prison. The Restore the Vote Wisconsin Now Coalition is a group of activists, citizens, organizations, faith leaders, legislators and other cool people who are working to restore the right to vote to over 42,000 ex-offenders immediately upon release from incarceration in Wisconsin. Current law in Wisconsin restricts the right to vote to individuals until after their sentence. This means US citizens can be living, raising families, going to school, working, and paying taxes in our communities and not have the right to vote.

Renee will be previewing an event many months in the making:
Wisconsin State Assembly
Committee on Corrections and the Courts
Public Hearing on AB 353
WI Democracy Restoration Act
Thursday, August 27, 2009, 10:00 AM
225 Northwest, State Capitol

Here are some of the reasons that this issue is important...

Who is disfranchised in Wisconsin? An estimated 62,342 people with felony convictions are barred from voting in Wisconsin . Only 39% of the disfranchised are in prison while 40% of disfranchised people are on probation and 21% are on parole. Like many of us, probationers and parolees live in their community, work, pay taxes and raise their families.

Racial Impact. Again, one in nine African-American voters is disfranchised in Wisconsin , compared to one in fifty of all Wisconsin voters. As a result, Wisconsin has the 11th highest rate of African-American disfranchisement in the United States. African Americans comprise 39% of the disfranchised population, even though they comprise only 5% of the voting age population.

Impact on Women Nationwide.
Almost 700,000 women are unable to vote due to felony convictions. African-American women are disfranchised at a disproportionately higher rate: nationally, 1.92% - one in 50 - African-American women is disfranchised, compared to 0.63% of voting age women. Wisconsin 's female prison population grew by 863% between 1977 and 2004, ranking 31st in 2004 for female incarceration rates. The growing female prison population in Wisconsin leads to a growing percentage of disfranchised women in Wisconsin , as more women are incarcerated and placed on probation, parole and extended supervision.

Impact on Children. Additionally, children who see their parents vote are more likely to replicate that behavior themselves. With the higher rate of African-American disfranchisement and close to two-thirds of African-American children being raised in single parent homes, it affects not only the current generation but also the coming generation as well. For example, parents who cannot vote cannot determine the school board member who decides important issues about their children’s education and by proxy the children’s welfare is directly impacted by those decisions made with their parents silenced about who best represents their children. In hyper-segregated communities like Milwaukee , this can be devastating to the entire community.

Voting and Public Safety. Felony disfranchisement runs counter to the goal of public safety. Restricting voting rights does not prevent crime, nor does it provide compensation to victims. In fact, disfranchising persons after release from prison is antithetical to the reentry process and harmful to long-term prospects for sustainable reintegration of ex-offenders into society. Recent research finds a link between voting participation and re-offense; people who voted after release from supervision were half as likely to be re-arrested as those who did not vote. Similar effects were found among people with a prior arrest; 2 7% of non-voters were re-arrested, compared to 12% of people who had voted.

That's right: non-voters are more than 50% more likely to re-offend than voters! Far from making streets safer, felony disfranchisement may be detrimental to fostering public safety. Voting demonstrates an individual’s commitment to the institutions of American democracy. The cruel irony of felony disfranchisement is that the very behavior that society strives to encourage – the commitment to the larger social and political collective – is undermined by a policy that requires people who desire to engage in that behavior to relinquish the right to vote.Please join us on Sunday to engage in this important issue, and on Thursday at the State Capitol. For more information, contact Renee Crawford at .

"Wearing Another Hat": Please Check Out Renee's Fantastic Blog, Crawford's Take

P.S. Like Hedi and Sharyl, Renee Crawford is also someone who sees the interconnected Big Picture with between all struggles for social justice. Taking off her ACLU hat, and wearing her hat as private citizen and activist, Renee is also the author of an outstanding and highly-quoted political blog, "Crawford's Take." Be sure to scroll back to January to read her fascinating and moving account of her family's trip to Washington, DC for the Obama Inaugural, as well as hundreds of other cogent, humorous, and insight-filled blog entries.

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