Lake Effect

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Local economies across America struggled through 2020. The coronavirus pandemic brought many businesses to a grinding halt and has kept many people out of a job.

UW-Milwaukee professor and chair of the economics department Scott Adams says Milwaukee is struggling along with everyone else and is not doing much better or worse than comparable cities. 

Paul Haubrich / Forest Home Cemetery

Cemeteries are not just for dead bodies; they contain a wide range of art meant to symbolize both the feeling of mourning and grief but also to create a space for those who have died to be remembered for what they did in their lives.

This genre of art exploded in popularity in the United States during the Victorian Era from the 1870s to the 1910s. During this time many of the popular symbols in cemetery art were created. For example, the use of leaves like oak leaves to describe upstanding citizens or lilies for those who were pure of heart.

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Wisconsin has already begun distributing vaccines for COVID-19. The vaccines currently being administered, made by Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses spread a few weeks apart from each other.

The process to choose who becomes eligible for available doses of the vaccine has in many parts been left up to state and local health officials with guidance from the CDC and federal government. That means in each state it can look slightly different.  

In Wisconsin, frontline health care workers and long-term care facilities have been first in line.

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While many businesses have adapted to a new normal during the pandemic, arts and music venues have continued to struggle.

Many performing artists count on a packed audience to make ends meet. The pandemic halted all of that and artists have had to pivot to more virtual, and often less lucrative experiences. 

Patrick Rath is the President and CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF). He says despite the decrease in revenue, artists all over Wisconsin are still working and many are bringing art virtually to people that would have never had access before the pandemic.

Meg Jones / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Meg Jones, long time Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter and Milwaukee writer, died on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2020 at the age of 58.

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Marches and protests for the Black Lives Matter movement have sparked conversations about race in America from our personal lives to the workplace.

Here in Milwaukee, the Marcus Performing Arts Center is working to further advance racial equity in the performing arts on and off the stage. President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram is the first female and person of color to lead the organization. She says that work needs to center around a theme of accountability.

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The holiday season doesn’t just mean snow, decorations, and cookies. For many people, it’s also the highly anticipated time of year to watch a slate of new TV Christmas movies.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has been a community-wide traumatic event. On top of a health crisis, we’re also facing a mental health crisis as nearly every aspect of our lives is touched by the pandemic. Many of us are ready for the end of 2020, but the new year won’t necessarily bring clarity to help us move forward. And with the holidays coming up, there are additional stressors to face.

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The holiday season is here. And although this year looks different, there are still a lot of ways to celebrate the season in Milwaukee.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Adam Carr from the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service has joined Lake Effect to talk about community events in Milwaukee. The list includes a wide array of things to enjoy, both virtually and in-person.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened economic stability for many Milwaukeeans, but for renters there has been some protection due to a moratorium on evictions. That thin safety net halting some evictions is due to dissolve at the end of the year without congressional action. This means there's a looming eviction crisis hanging over the heads of a lot of Wisconsin households.

Lauren Sigfusson

When museums, galleries and theaters close that means painters, dancers and musicians don’t have a place to perform or a source of income.

Dozens of them talked about the challenges they face in a video conference Tuesday arranged by the Wisconsin Arts Board. The meeting included 15 arts organizations to help brainstorm ways for artists to survive the pandemic. Dozens of artists took turns speaking.

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The holiday season is in full swing and many of us are already trying to figure out what to buy our loved ones. Although extended family gatherings may not be safe this year, there are still ways to stay connected and gaming is one of them.

Every year gaming expert James Lowder gives us his picks for the games to gift.

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The internment of Americans with Japanese ancestry during World War II is part of this nation’s dark history of racial discrimination. These stories have often been hidden, both by the country that committed the injustices and the people who were forced to endure them.

Courtesy of Milwaukee County Historical Society

Parades are an essential part of the holiday season. Whether it’s the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a local parade full of friends and neighbors, parades allow communities to celebrate through music, costumes and over the top floats.

For many years in Milwaukee, Schuster's Holiday Parade was the pinnacle of the season. From 1927 through 1961, the parade drew hundreds of thousands of people in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and featured live reindeer at the head of Santa’s sleigh.

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Despite the distance this holiday season, books can be a great way to connect with loved ones.  If there are readers on your holiday shopping list — or you’re looking to add some titles to your own reading list — Boswell Book Company’s Daniel Goldin has suggestions for readers of all ages.

Here are some of Goldin's favorite books of 2020:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

BOOK COVER DESIGNED BY WENDY VARDAMAN

In U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s book “Crazy Brave” she wrote, “When beloved Sun rises, it is an entrance, a door to fresh knowledge.”

This quote served as an inspiration and call to action for Wisconsin Poet Laureate Margaret Rozga. She, along with Madison Poet Laureate Angie Trudell Vasquez, co-edited the new poetry anthology “Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems.”

Adoptahighway, Hot Science, Bobby Tylenol, Victor DeLorenzo

Although there haven’t been many live shows since the pandemic hit the United States in March, Milwaukee bands have somehow found a way to release new music. That’s been great for Matt Wild, who every month releases a nearly exhaustive list of new music from local musicians.

Wild is one of the co-founders of Milwaukee Record, which describes itself as an online source for music, culture, and gentle sarcasm. He joins Lake Effect each month to share a sample of what he’s been listening to.

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Wisconsin continues to break nearly daily records of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The state has few restrictions to slow the spread of the virus in place. Gov. Tony Evers recently extended a statewide mask mandate but has faced backlash from the Republican-controlled Legislature about his executive orders.

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At this point in the year most of us have put away our gardening tools and packed up our lawn mowers for the winter. But that doesn’t mean that gardening has ended, it’s just moved locations.

With the impending winter, many gardeners have brought their plants inside where growing conditions can be much more difficult.

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Holidays like Thanksgiving are an opportunity to bring out special recipes and foods unique to the season. Although cheese is celebrated year-round here in Wisconsin, there are some seasonal cheeses that make this time of year special.

Lake Effect cheese and spirit contributor Jeanette Hurt shares some of her favorite cheeses and a drink to include on your Thanksgiving table:

Rush Creek Reserve

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Even though Thanksgiving will be different for many us because of the pandemic, we can still appreciate the history behind the meal — so long as it’s accurate. Culinary historian Kyle Cherek talks about some of the historical misconceptions we have about Thanksgiving, and why it’s important to set the record straight.

“[Thanksgiving] has become part of our national mythology but the early beginnings of it are not what children sing,” he says.

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Thanksgiving is this week. The holiday celebrates a gathering early American settlers with a group of Native people in Plymouth. It’s also a time to reflect on the country’s difficult history with Native people, including forced removals and land seizures.

Essayist Barbara Miner recounts one such event that took place in Milwaukee in her essay “Milwaukee’s Trail of Tears.”

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This month four astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) thanks to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

It was a milestone for both NASA and SpaceX as the Crew Dragon’s first fully operational mission, and marks its second crewed flight. The U.S. government and private agencies have been working together for about a decade to get more people into space.

Courtesy of Elizabeth McGowan

Elizabeth McGowan was only 15 years old when her father died of melanoma at the age of 44. When she was just out of college, McGowan was diagnosed with the same cancer that took her father.

At first, she thought it was a death sentence, but at 39, McGowan reached the major milestone of being five years cancer-free after over a decade of treatments.

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The Wisconsin election recount is continuing in Milwaukee and Dane counties, but officials say uninformed observers are obstructing the process. It’s also slow moving because President Donald Trump’s attorneys have been making unsubstantiated claims of fraud. In part, these issues may stem from a bigger issue facing the recount process — rampant misinformation.

Courtesy of Glen Tullman

Glen Tullman has an undergraduate degree in economics and psychology, spent a year in Oxford, England studying social anthropology, lived for a year with the Amish, and is a highly successful software entrepreneur. He's founded, grown or invested in more than 20 businesses.

"Studying how cultures change is now about studying how we use different digital tools and electronic tools, and hopefully use them for good means as opposed to bad means," Tullman explains.

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COVID-19 infections continue to rise around the country and many cities and states are implementing new restrictions. Public health experts see this as a necessary step in slowing the spread of this disease. But it’s undeniable that these restrictions will also have an impact on local governments, which are already struggling to survive.

At the federal level, a stimulus package intended to ease the pain of local economies has stalled in the U.S. Senate with no clear path forward.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Even before the pandemic, malls were struggling. Although malls have been an iconic part of American life for decades, their popularity has waned in recent years and many are home to vacant store fronts.

As the pandemic makes it dangerous to gather in large groups, malls are experiencing yet another setback and some are struggling to hang on.

Apple TV+

Sophia Coppola has earned her place among Hollywood’s best directors with over two decades of filmmaking. Her unique style was most recently applied to writing and directing the comedy, On The Rocks.

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