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Share Your Voice: Wautoma | Wisconsin Historical Society

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Share Your Voice: Wautoma

Residents share important stories about Latinx history while discussing ideas for a new Wisconsin history museum

Share Your Voice: Wautoma | Wisconsin Historical Society
 
Attendees gather at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wautoma to discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum.

Attendees gather at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wautoma to discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum.

Story by Tanika Apaloo, Wisconsin Historical Society
Photos by Edmond Apaloo & Zina Soltis

Following the Sunday Spanish-language mass on July 14, 2019, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, community members in Wautoma gathered for lunch and fellowship as they brought their families to participate in the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session.

The event was one of eight planned multicultural sessions the Society held across Wisconsin to ensure communities had an opportunity to share their personal stories, offer ideas, and provide feedback on early plans for a new Wisconsin history museum.

The session occurred just after the order of nationwide ICE deportation raids that disproportionately affected the Latinx community; however, a small group of Latinx families and community leaders bravely gathered on a Sunday afternoon to answer a call to share their voice with the Wisconsin Historical Society.

EnlargeLeon Carlos Miranda waits with headsets for attendees to listen to the bilingual "Share Your Voice" session.

Leon Carlos Miranda, project manager for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Language Access, Office of Access, Inclusion and Compliance Division, waits with headsets for attendees to listen to the bilingual "Share Your Voice" session.

The Wautoma listening session stood apart by being the only bilingual session planned as part of the "Share Your Voice" tour. Print and visual mediums were offered in both Spanish and English. Led by a desire to reach Spanish speaking communities, Society team members partnered with Leon Carlos Miranda, project manager for the University of Wisconsin-Extension Language Access, Office of Access, Inclusion and Compliance Division.

The atmosphere in the church hall was casual and family oriented. Children could be heard playing in the hallways with an antique game that Society Education Specialist Kurt Griesemer brought to engage young attendees.

Participants were greeted with a buffet-style lunch prepared by El Popo Restaurant, bilingual program packets, and wireless headsets to follow along with the translated program.

Matt Blessing, State Archivist and Collections Division Administrator, was on hand to share a display of images, documents, and video footage that highlighted the migrant worker marches that took place in the late 1960s between Wautoma and Madison, along with other documents related to migrant worker activist Jesús Salas.

The Wisconsin Historical Society Press made available complimentary copies of the Chris Plata Badger Biographies book to all session participants.

Tanika Apaloo, the Society's Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, began the program by welcoming guests, followed by a second welcome given by local host and Hispanic Ministry Coordinator for St. Joseph Church Lupe Cervantes.

Ms. Apaloo then began showing a Wisconsin Historical Foundation video in Spanish, with English captions, that provided an overview of the new museum project and its central storytelling theme, "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?"

EnlargeState Archivist Matt Blessing shares a display of images, documents, and video footage related to the Latinx community.

State Archivist Matt Blessing shared a display of images, documents, and video footage highlighting the migrant worker marches that took place in the late 1960s between Wautoma and Madison, along with other documents related to migrant worker activist Jesús Salas.

Following the welcome, Wisconsin Historical Society Director of Special Projects & Interim Director of Outreach Alicia Goehring provided an explanation about the new museum project and the purpose of the statewide listening sessions.

She detailed how other multicultural listening sessions were being held with Latinx communities in Madison and Wautoma; African Americans in Madison, Milwaukee, and Beloit; and Asian Americans in Milwaukee.

The multicultural sessions are among more than 40 "Share Your Voice" community events the Society is conducting around the state, including at all 12 American Indian nations of Wisconsin. In addition, the Society is gathering feedback from PK12 and teen students to incorporate their ideas into museum planning, too.

The $120 million, state-of-the-art museum would replace the current aging and undersized Wisconsin Historical Museum, housed since the 1980s in a former hardware store across the street from the Capitol, and open in 2024 or 2025.

Goehring led the next portion of the session with an activity that engaged the guests and encouraged families to work together at their tables to share their own Wisconsin experience stories. It was at this time that Latinx community members of all ages shared emigration and migration stories, reflected on Native Nation and Latinx genealogies, debated on rural versus urban populations' use of the words "Latino" and "Latinx," discussed the popularity of multigenerational households and the importance of family, and shared a listing of items that they felt were important to their families and the Latino community as a whole.

Miranda and his staff of translators continued to keep all community members engaged by mirroring the session's transitions and remarks by providing English-to-Spanish translation.

Kurt Griesemer transitioned the program to its second activity by sharing examples of objects from different cultures and asking participants to discuss amongst themselves and share which objects were most important to them, their family, and their culture.

The city for this session was chosen to gather feedback from both a rural Wisconsin community and one that had strong history and connections with the Latino community. Wautoma, with its Latino population exceeding 23 percent, proved to have both, with Latinx activist history dating back to the late 1960s and the only contemporary migrant and seasonal farmworker-designated clinic in Wisconsin.

In addition to the individuals listed above, a special thanks is extended to Zina Soltis, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for Family Health La Clinica; Patrick Nehring, Community Development Agent and professor for UW-Madison Extension-Waushara County; and Pastor Rafael Cubilette of Grace United Methodist Church.

Wautoma "Share Your Voice" Word Cloud

Wautoma "Share Your Voice" Word Cloud

Suggestions made during the July 14, 2019, "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Wautoma were turned into this word cloud, with the most suggested words in the biggest type.