Friends Annual Meeting 2021
Preserve Director Gary Brown reported on essential maintenance work in the Preserve during COVID-19, presented a summary of the new Strategic Plan for the Preserve, and previewed the 2021 work season in the Preserve. Volunteers will again be able to help with restoration, garlic mustard pull and plantings, following COVID protocols and registering for events. The Friends Prairie Interns will again work in the Preserve. Gary also previewed the schedule for developing the new Preserve Masterplan, to be completed in Spring 2022.
Emily Arthur, of Eastern Cherokee descent, growing up in the ancestral mountainous lands of North Carolina and Georgia, has a particular interest in observations relating to displacements of species from their traditional places of living, be it birds, animals, or plant species, and the displacements of native people, as well. Her specific message is:
"Art and science share the responsibility of observation and witness. It is through observation that science gives us proof of our material make up. It is through observation that art gives us material proof of our spiritual make up. Encountering a great work of art or a great leap in science changes our perception; it asks us to see and then to see once again, more deeply.”
Arthur illustrated this insight with her case study of the push by developers in California to remove the California gnatcatcher from the list of endangered species, disregarding results of genetic studies in zoological research. Being able to view the laboratory collection of these birds, Arthur transformed her observations into prints (one of these prints is now mounted on the atrium ceiling of the Madison Hilton at Monona Terrace.) Prints, Arthur demonstrated with her slideshow, can lead to a lasting emotional response in the viewer. Printmaking, she maintained, is an extension of observations.
Next, Arthur showed how manipulation of data themselves can deny the truth, and is often used to establish a certain supremacy, usually motivated by the prospect of making a profit. The manipulated observations then can “justify” the elimination of natural habitats of birds as well as other animals and plants, and by extension, the suppression and displacements of human populations. In her art work, she illustrated this insight with California gnatcatchers cast in bronze and bound with ropes, birds without voice, and in parallel, by incorporating in her prints documents of native people expelled from their homelands. For both, birds and people, the ideas of home and place are wrapped up in who we are.
Steve Sentoff, age 70, President of the Friends from 2019-2021, passed away on Monday, April 5, 2021, a few days after he suffered a massive heart attack at Frautschi Point, doing what he loved—restoration work as Preserve Steward. Steve and his soulmate Monica had moved to Madison only a few years earlier, retiring to the place where they had met as graduate students in the Math department. Steve and Monica found ways to share activities and interests throughout their lives. They both joined Bell Laboratories in Chicago. Steve moved from programming to system engineering and Monica moved into software architecture. In their free time, since 1990, they took up dedicated volunteerism and after their retirement in 2005, they turned into professional volunteers, usually dividing their time among two worthwhile organizations.
It began with Earthwatch extended fieldtrips to other countries. Closer to home, they joined the West Chicago Prairie Stewardship Group of the DuPage County Forest Preserve. Steve devoted 25 years to the prairie’s restoration, becoming the leading volunteer site steward.
In parallel to their active restoration work both in Chicago and later at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Steve and Monica volunteered one day a week at the Chicago Field Museum, including data entry on Chinese rubbings, Tibetan thangkas and South American pottery, and later at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, where they transcribed 21,000 handwritten ledger entries and helped move the collection to the new State Archive Preservation Facility.
Steve joined the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve soon after their arrival in Madison and was elected to the Board in 2017. Steve was secretary and took on the presidency in his third year. During his two years as president, he ran exemplary meetings and treated everyone with kindness and respect. He had a way of making people feel welcome and comfortable and was a persistent problem solver.
Steve’s first love was restoration work. He worked countless hours with Preserve staff, be it clearing buckthorn or prescribed fires, and also independently. He helped organize the Friends wildflower plantings, coordinated volunteers, introduced the use of the iNaturalist application and helped initiate the Friends becoming a Clean Lakes Alliance Forecasting Steward at University Bay Boat Launch and pier. And, importantly, he found ways to strengthen communication between the Friends and the UW Preserve staff. We will all miss Steve.
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