Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Day at the Capitol

The last time I was in the capitol building up in Madison I had about a hundred thousand colleagues with me, expressing our general displeasure with the right-wing extremism being forced into law by our Fearless Liter (just a little more than a quart!).  This time was much less stressful.

If you’ve followed along in this space for any length of time you know that we here have been sucked into the vortex that is 4H.  It’s a great program, don’t get me wrong – it teaches the kids all sorts of things, gives them great opportunities to make friends and learn valuable life skills, and generally keeps them off the streets, in large part because as far as 4H is concerned the spaces between projects are there to provide you with more opportunities for further projects.

We’ve got three different 4H events just this week, in fact.  Tuesday was a Cat Project meeting.  Today is a Drama Project meeting.  And Wednesday?

Well, on Wednesday nearly a thousand 4H kids descended on Madison to mark the 100th anniversary of 4H.

It was quite an event.

I missed most of it, though.  It may be spring break down at Home Campus, but the students in my compressed video class are not actually on Home Campus or any of its sister institutions and it’s not their spring break for another month.  So there I was this morning, going through the wonders of the Second New Deal, even as events were unfolding not too far away.

I took the girls and one of their friends over to the bus across town far too early in the day, and by 9:30 they were comfortably ensconced at the hotel lobby on Capitol Square, where Kim met them.  She had been in Madison overnight after a conference.

According to reports the morning was filled with talks, lunch, and a rally in the Capitol Rotunda wherein the 4H kids sang 4H songs.  Governor Teabagger (a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries) has a bad track record of arresting folks who sing in the Capitol but this time he let it slide, which was very nice of him I suppose.

I made it up there in the early afternoon and found everyone milling around the Rotunda area, visiting the various 4H club booths that had been set up and generally watching everyone else doing the same.

Not long after I got there we were sent off to one of the legislator visits.  Throughout the afternoon small subsets of the 4H mob were divvied up among the various legislators, who met with us in side rooms of astonishing vulgarity.  But they were very pleasant about it and seemed to enjoy hearing from the kids.  Given that today is the last day of the legislative session and – according to the Representative we met – something like 70 bills are going to be shoved through all at once, it was nice of them to give us the time.

Afterward Kim and I kept our girls and a couple of their friends and we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering up and down State Street, which is the long commercial strip with the Capitol at one end and the UW Madison campus at the other.  It used to be much funkier and far more coffee-shop- and used-book-store-intensive than it is now.  Like most such places in America it is in the process of being taken over by chains, but we had fun anyway.  At one point we actually found a used book store and Tabitha and one friend spent some time trying to translate a Finnish book with the aid of a Finnish/English dictionary from one shelf over.  One of the nice things about State Street is that you can still do things like that if you look carefully.

We had a very nice dinner up there, and then headed off back to Our Little Town.

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