Prairie Fire

January 22, 2011

In this issue:
-RE news
-Society News
-New members
-Green Tidbits

The full-featured Prairie Fire is published on the 22nd of every month.The Prairie Fire Bulletin is a calendar-only newsletter that 
is published on the 
6th of every month. Both are published 
by Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society. View past issues at

Contact Us:
Barbara Park, 608-273-8775

Consulting Minister
Rev. Jane Esbensen

Director of Religious Education
Rebecca Malke-Eliganti

Editor/ Congregational Administrator
Kate Liu

Prairie Web Sites:

Society Home Page

News Group


Social Action

Humanist Union

Input Deadlines:

Calendar items and program descriptions are due on the 1st and 15th of each month. Feature articles for the full Prairie Fire are due on the 15th of each month. Please send to Kate Liu at
or call 271-8218.


Sunday, January 23, 2011
8:45 Choir rehearsal
10:00 Service - “Correctional Education,” presented by Margaret Carpenter.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
1:30 Prairie Elders meet at Oakwood; topic is lessons from the Great Depression of 1929-1941.

Thursday, January 27, 2011
7:00 H&P committee meets at Prairie.

Saturday, January 29, 2011
9:00 New Member Orientation.

Sunday, January 30, 2011
8:45 Choir rehearsal
10:00 Service - “Educating the Jailors,” presented by Marty Drapkin.
11:45 Soup Sunday!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Items due for the Prairie Fire Bulletin

Sunday, February 6, 2011
8:45 Choir rehearsal
10:00 Service - “How Hinduism Affirms and Promotes the 7
th Principle,” presented by Amit Mangar.
11:45 Humanist Union of Madison meets. Potluck at 11:45, discussion at 12:30.

Monday, February 7, 2011
7:00 RE Committee meets.

Sunday, February 13, 2011
8:45 Choir rehearsal
10:00 Service - “For the Love of God,” presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen.
11:45 Prairie Book Club meets to discuss
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Article deadline for Prairie Fire

Upcoming Programs

Sunday, January 23, 2011, 10:00 am: “Correctional Education" presented by Margaret Carpenter. Prairie member and Education Director for the Division of Adult Institutions, Margaret Carpenter, will give an overall look at correctional education programs for adults and youth. She will discuss literacy rates, education focus and challenges with addressing and meeting academic needs.

Sunday, January 30, 10:00 am: “Educating the Jailors,” presented by Marty Drapkin. This presentation will focus on key issues regarding training of county jail officers in Wisconsin, as well as on some issues regarding jails and jail inmates in general. Issues will include the difference between jail and prisons, background and history of jail officer training, goals of training, subjects and topics for training, and some of the challenges in training. There will also be a focus on emotional and mental health concerns in jail populations, and how training aims to address such concerns. Former Prairie member Marty Drapkin is the director of Wisconsin’s program, for training county jail officers, working for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. He has been involved in jail officer training for more than thirty years. He has also written several books and numerous articles on jail issues.

Sunday, February 6, 2011, 10:00 am: "Hinduism and How it Affirms and Promotes the 7th Principle," presented by Amit Mangar. This is the third installment in the lay series: How the world's religions use their beliefs and practices to care for our environment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011, 10:00 am: ”For the Love of God,” presented by Rev. Jane Esbensen.

Religious Education News

Warmest greetings! With each snow fall I reflect on its beauty and then remind myself that in just a few short months my crocuses will start to bloom. Before we know it spring will be here! To tide us over RE has planned some fun family activities to keep us warm.

Our annual Wild Wintering event is being planned. Weather permitting we will go sledding at Elver Park or we'll go bowling at one of the area bowling centers. Either way, it will be a fun time for kids to get together and play and parents to get to know one another. Please stay tuned for further details which will be sent out by email, posted online and the bulletin board upstairs.

Next month we'll start Mystery Friends! This is a month long activity that links the adults upstairs to the children downstairs and is done in many UU congregations throughout the country. For all who are interested in participating please see me or RE Chair, Robin Proud. If you're new to Mystery Friends then here's an introduction:

After signing up, adults and children are secretly matched up. They start by writing letters to each other, which I distribute each Sunday. Through these letters you will ask questions about your mystery friend in hopes you will

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guess who they are. During this process you get to know that person, their likes, dislikes, interests and family structure. After the last letter there will be a party where everyone's mystery friend is revealed and you can then have lunch together to further your bond. This is a wonderful way for children to get to know adults who they might not normally have a chance to meet and vice versa.

And for anyone who hasn't registered their child(ren) for RE for the spring semester please get me the forms as soon as possible. This information is necessary not only to me and the RE department but also for our administrator and the UUA.

Thank you and see you on Sunday! Rebecca Malke Director of Religious Education Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society

Our Society

Book Club Presents New Selections

The Prairie Book Club meets once a month after Sunday service to share a potluck lunch and discuss a book. This is an open book club; and you do not need to have finished the book to attend. Below is a list of upcoming books the group will be reading. For more information, contact Mary Mullen, mmullen (at) or 298-0843.

Sunday, February 13 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is a “Go Big Read” UW common read book

Sunday, March 20 - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, mystery by Swedish author Stieg Larsson

Sunday, April 17 - Canoeing with the Cree by Eric Sevareid. About his teenage adventure from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay.

Sunday, May 15 – Cry the Beloved Country by South African author Alan Paton. Aparteid theme.

Sunday, June 19 - The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands by Margaret Regan. This is a UU common read book.

Sunday, July 17 - The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Wildly popular NYT best-seller.

Adult Education News: Class Descriptions for UU Parenting and Immigration

Please join us for a two-part parenting group, using the text Tending the Flame by Michelle Richards, which "invites parents not just to do Unitarian Universalist parenting, but to be Unitarian Universalist parents. More than a recipe book of activities, this is an invitation to a style of parenting that is values-based and values-sharing. In exploring ways in which parents can help Unitarian Universalism guide children in their development, we will also find ways in which Unitarian Universalism deepens for parents themselves, as well." We will be meeting two Saturdays in March: March 12th and March 26th, from 10am-noon. This class is being co-facilitated by our DRE Rebecca Malke, and Rev. Jane

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Esbensen. Please register no later than February 15th, using the form found on Prairie's website. We look forward to seeing you!

The Adult Education committee is pleased to offer a class around the topic of Immigration. Immigration has been selected as a “Current Study/Action Item” for all UU congregations from 2010-2014 resulting in a Statement of Conscience. This facilitated two-session class will start to look at Immigration using the materials provided by the UUA. The class will be offered Saturday April 30th and Saturday May 14th from 10AM to Noon at the Prairie Meeting House. During the first session, we will discuss the causes of immigration. In the second class, we will continue to discuss the causes of immigration and transition to possible solutions/outcomes we as a caring community may want to embrace. Registration for this class will be due by March 30.

For registration forms, please visit the Prairie website at Please note that some of the dates for the classes may have changed from what was listed in the brochure – the dates listed here in the Prairie Fire are the most accurate.

Aileen Nettleton,
Acting Chair of Adult Education

Prairie Elders meeting

Prairie Elders is a group of over-65 Prairie members who meet once a month (generally on the 4th Tuesday) at Oakwood, in the Nakoma room, Heritage Oaks building, Oakwood Village West, for conversation and mutual support. The next meeting will be Tuesday, January 25th. At 1:30 we begin with a “round robin” for all who wish to share personal news. Topic discussion from 2:00 to 3:20. Call contacts below for directions, parking or a ride. If convenient, bring your own beverage cup and a few snacks. Newcomers welcome.

This month's topic: Lessons from the Great Depression, 1929-1941. Come share your knowledge and experiences and ponder what lessons are relevant today, from individual coping mechanisms to successful governmental actions. In 1932 GHP “growth” was minus 13.4. Unemployment maxed at 24.9% in 1933.

Prairie Elders aims to provide good times and mutual support for Prairie UU Members and Friends over 65 and UUs living at the facility where we meet. Our “round robin” format makes it easier to hear and gives all the option of speaking. Topics alternate between general issues and personal interests. Contacts: Donna Murdoch 238-3802, Gordon Cunningham 230-3367, Rosemary Dorney 238-4382 or Rose Smith 233-3363. Call Donna to add your name to the mailing list.

Doleta Chapru Prairie Elders Coordinator WOW News

WOW – Prairie's wild, outstanding women, meet once a month for breakfast potluck and conversation. Our usual meeting time is 9am on the first Saturday of the month, sometimes at Prairie and sometimes at a member's home. Our next meeting is Saturday, February 4th, at 9am at Prairie. This is an open group, all women are welcome – you do not need to be a member of Prairie to attend.

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Any questions or emails to add to the email group call 276 8397 or email marysomers44 (at) or Kathy Converse at conversekrtm (at)

Kathy Converse, Winter WOW coordinator

Prairie Fund Raising Trips 2011 Schedule We will be scheduling the following trips in the coming year. You will receive an individual notice of each trip, but mark your calendars now! **26 February 2011: Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century at the Milwaukee Art Museum. **This trip is actively accepting participants – contact Pat right away if you are interested in attending! **18 June 2011: The Rotary Gardens in Janesville and a luncheon boat trip on Lake Geneva. **13 August 2011: The Emperors’ Private Paradise: Treasures From the Forbidden City at the Milwaukee Art Museum. **8 October 2011: A scenic overnight trip to Decorah, Iowa. Possible side trips to Grant Woods art collection at the Cedar Rapids Art Museum, the Laura Ingalls Wilder home and museum in Burr Oak, or the Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien. **3 December 2011: Impressionism on Paper: Drawings from Manet to Van Gogh at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Contact Pat Watkins with any questions about the trips or to get on her mailing list. Pat Watkins pwatkins (at), 233-5795 Spanish Speaker's Potluck Prairie has a very long-running Spanish Speaker's group that meets once a month to converse in Spanish and have potluck dinner. The group will be meeting next on Monday, February 21st at 6:30pm at the home of Amy Schulz, 2304 S. Syene Rd. Please call Amy at 273-2639 for directions, or Rosemary Dorney at 238-4382 for more information about the group or to coordinate a ride.

Humanist Union to Discuss Hitchens - Blair Debate

The Humanist Union's monthly meeting for February will be on Sunday Feb. 6th. We will discuss the recent Christopher Hitchens v Tony Blair debate in Toronto on the topic "Be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world". The discussion, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm, will be led by Ken Haydock, Frank Power and Doleta Chapru. A transcript of all but the concluding remarks in the debate is available online at and videos of the debate can be seen on YouTube at Everyone interested in the debate topic is encouraged to attend.

As usual we will start with a potluck lunch at 11:45 am.

Bob Park
Humanist Union
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Ponderings from atop a Prairie...

Winter’s white chill blankets the fields and has caught the river unawares this year, because of its sudden arrival. For this, skaters and skiers are grateful. The ground is flat and hard and the ice, smooth and unruffled. How effortless to push one’s self forward, the shushing of the skis, the hard clean-edged scrape of the skaters blades, the cold wind, the bright blue sky. Freedom. Fresh air. Empty mind except for the distant horizon marking the end of the world, where time doesn’t exist, where we can just be. To that horizon we are focused. To the end of the world and back again.

Here in the midwest, we live in a climate of distinct and ever-changing seasons, and although there are more differences of opinion regarding winter (liking it or disliking it) than with the other three seasons, once here, there is something renewing and refreshing about winter and its bright white and cold blue. It’s a quieter season than the others. It gives us more time to just be, instead of doing. Time to think, to read, to enjoy one another’s company over hot soup and hot bread and hot toddies. Time to experience the great joy of difference between outside and inside, to notice the physical feeling of shedding clothing once inside, or bundling up in order to go outside. It’s a season that in its sparseness makes everything stand out more, makes us notice not only what is there, but what isn’t. And this noticing is the reason so many of us can experience a sort of melancholy this time of year. The January blues, they are called, when the rush of the holidays is over (both a blessing and an emptiness). But it is also a time when we can experience solace. A time of year where we are compelled to ”resolve” to ”begin anew” -- in a new year, a new beginning, a new promise of better things to come.

The sharp, white light of winter, the crisp blue cold of the air, all of this refreshes and cleanses us. Breathe in, breathe out, and be reminded of who you are, what you are capable of, and what the world needs you for.

January is a month of hope and of promise, of preparation for a better life, for ourselves and for others – friends and strangers alike; a month to take a deep look into ourselves, to find the light within that accompanies us wherever we go, and to hold it aloft, for ourselves and for others, as a reminder of what is possible - for everything is possible. We just need to push ourselves toward that horizon…..

Most affectionately,

Membership News

New members!

Please extend a warm welcome to Penny Eiler and Bill Parmenter, who signed the book earlier this month. Their contact information is already listed in the directory.


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Green Tidbits

Eco-driving Tips
Drive the posted speed limit--or figure out what speed will get you all green lights. A Madison taxi driver told us on the way to the airport on Johnson Street to go either 27 or 32 miles per hour--I've tried it and it works! Almost all green lights all the way to the airport from the west side. Keep your tires properly inflated--check them each time you gas up. Accelerate slowly (no jack-rabbit starts) and decelerate slowly (try to be still rolling when the light changes to green--less energy expended overcoming inertia).

Judy Skog
Green Reporter

Denominational News

Current Study/Action Issues for Social Justice at the UUA

The UUA has two active study/action areas for congregations to consider as a focus for their programming and social justice actions in the community. The “Current Study/Action Issues” are typically abbreviated as “CSAI.” There is a wealth of information at the UUA website for both of these topics. For 2008 – 2012 the topic is Ethical Eating, and for 2010 – 2014 the topic is Immigration.

You may recall several Prairie programs last year around Ethical Eating, including a study of Michael Pollan’s ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’. This year, the Adult Education Committee is planning to offer a two-class series on the topic of Immigration. The classes will be in late April/early May and be based on the information the UUA has provided. The information in its entirety can be found at:

The process of CSAI is multi-year. To give you a feel for what will happen on the topic of Immigration, here are the key dates planned for this CSAI. Ethical Eating is following the same process, but is two years more advanced down this timeline.

  • General Assembly 2010: Immigration selected as a CSAI for 2010 – 2014

  • Nov 15, 2010: Initial study material on Immigration made available on UUA website

  • March 1, 2011: Based on the study materials, congregations have an opportunity to submit comments that can help build the program/workshop agenda at GA 2011

  • GA 2011: Workshops and programs will be held on the topic of Immigration.

  • Through the spring of 2012: Congregations continue study and/or social action in their community around Immigration issues. The resource guide at the UUA website will continue to be updated.

  • March 1, 2012: Deadline for submitting comments to the Committee on Social Witness as preparation for programs/workshops at GA 2012.

  • GA 2012: Programs/Workshops around Immigration. Page 7

  • November 1 2012: Based on the outcome of congregational feedback, workshops, and programs, the Committee on Social Witness posts the Statement of Conscience on Immigration, along with a ballot for congregational voting for this topic to be on the GA agenda in 2013 as a Statement of Conscience.

  • February 1, 2013: Deadline for ballots to be returned. A quorum of 25% of UU Congregations is needed.

  • March 1, 2013: Deadline for submission of comments on the wording of the Statement of Conscience. The Committee on Social Witness then prepares the final wording.

  • GA 2013: General Assembly considers the Statement of Conscience on Immigration. Approval requires at 2/3 vote.

I hope this information helps you understand the CSAI process.

Christina Klock

Denominational Affairs Chair

Prairie UU Society
2010 Whenona Dr.
Madison, WI 53711