Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Importance of Place

The Wisconsin Historical Society’s statewide tour traveled to Eau Claire this past week.  I was privileged to be part of a “Wisconsin Writer’s Forum” along with Michael Perry and John  Hildebrand.   Wisconsin Public Radio’s Alan Ross, host of Spectrum West, served as moderator. 

 About 150 people came from all around, including crossing the border from Minnesota to hear what my fellow writers and I had to say, and perhaps pick up a tip or two on how to write. We gathered at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center, and then later signed books at the Eau Claire’s, L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

Our topic was “Sense of Place,” or in other words, why do our roots matter, and how does “place” make a difference in our lives?  What I tell my writing students includes these words: “We are our histories,” meaning where and when we grew up has a tremendous influence on who we are today.

I also say, “If we don’t know where we’ve been, we have trouble figuring out where we are going.”  The “place” where we grew up, for some of us several places, is a foundation for the lives we lead today.  It grounds us, it informs us, it provides solace when the road ahead is rocky and filled with pot holes.

THE OLD TIMER ASKS: How has “place” influenced who you are today?


 My one-day writing course on “Writing From Your Life,” is scheduled for Saturday, October 17 at the Clearing in Door County.  Go to  for detailed information.


May 20, 6:30 p.m., Barnes and Noble Madison. Whispers and Shadows Launch

May 21, 11:30 a.m. Beloit Retired Teachers, Stories from the Land

May 27, 7:00 p.m., Middleton Public Library, Whispers and Shadows

June 11, 5:30 p.m. Fund Raising Event, Stoughton Area Resource Team (START), Stoughton Hospital, Limping Through Life.

June 16, 6:30 p.m. Dinner and Lecture, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, Whispers and Shadows. Call 608-264-6555 for reservations.

June 18, 6:30, Riveredge Nature Center, Saukville, Whispers and Shadows

June 23, Midwest Secretaries of Agriculture and their staffs, Dinner Meeting. Madison, Time and place to be announced. Keynote.

July 16, 6:30. Heritage Village at Big Creek, Sturgeon Bay, Remembering Farm Life from an Earlier Day

September 3, Noon.  Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History (New book)

September 3, 7 p.m. Books and Company bookstore,  Oconomowoc,  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

September 12, West Madison Agriculture Research Station, Wisconsin 
Agriculture: A History.  Time to be announced.

September 19 , Stonefield Village, Cassville.  Whispers and Shadows.

September 26, 10:30 -2:00, Dregni’s, Westby, Book signing.

October 7, 6:30 p.m. Reedsburg Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 9-10, Heartland Forum, Chicago.

October 15, Prairie du Sac Library, Whispers and Shadows

October 17, 9-4 Teaching writing workshop at The Clearing, Ellison Bay, WI

October 17, 4:30-6:00 p.m. The Clearing.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows, Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

October 29, Brown County Library.  Premier of TV Documentary, The Land With Jerry Apps.  Book signing, Whispers and Shadows.

November 5, 7:00 p.m. Baraboo Library, Whispers and Shadows.

November 7, Edgerton Book Festival, The Land and Whispers and Shadows

November 15, 9:15 Midvale Lutheran Church, The Land  plus discussion of Whispers and Shadows.

November 14, 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Sheboygan County Historical Research Center.  Wisconsin Agriculture: A History.

November 18, Preview of TV Documentary, “The Land With Jerry Apps” Wild Rose High School Auditorium.  Whispers and Shadows book signing. (Time to be announced)

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