Series

A growing nuisance to gardeners, farmers, landscapers and homeowners across the Midwest, Japanese beetles devour ornamental plants like birches, crabapples and roses, and likewise feast on crop plants like apples, pears, beans, corn and many other fruit and vegetable species. Although this invasive species of insect was identified across many parts of in Wisconsin through the 1990s, it was first detected in the state in the 1960s. While certain methods of managing this troublesome beetle can yield some success, warmer winter conditions could mean larger populations in the future.More
ShotSpotter screen view
As the population and computing power grow, the complex systems that support everyday life have the capacity to generate detailed data that can provide crucial insights into health, education, the economy and much more. But those systems can still fall short in gathering useful or relevant information. In some cases, information is spread among disparate entities. In others, it simply has not been analyzed. When data is limited, these gaps can reveal blind spots among and challenges to policies and institutions.More
About one in nine Wisconsin households faces food insecurity — a lack of reliable access to safe, affordable and culturally relevant food that supports an active, healthy lifestyle. Those who have trouble keeping their refrigerators and pantries stocked include people who are unemployed and others who are working but aren’t able to find enough hours or wages, as well as many who are children and senior citizens. A variety of safety nets — from public-assistance programs to non-profit and religious food banks — struggle to keep up with demand. Fluctuations in the broader economy add uncertainties for the needy, as do changing state and federal aid policies. At the same time, innovative projects seek to improve food security, including efforts to directly connect hungry Wisconsinites with fresh food through growers and farmers' markets.More
It's an unsavory truth in American democracy that politicians, to some extent, do get to choose their voters. The party in power often tries to draw state legislative and U.S. House of Representatives district maps to its own advantage, and courts have been reluctant to stop it unless there's strong evidence of racial discrimination. The Republican wave of election victories in 2010, and the increasing sophistication of redistricting software set the stage for an aggressive new batch of legislative maps in Wisconsin and other states. Multiple federal lawsuits challenging this redistricting followed. One court challenge arising from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford, set out to prove that partisan gerrymandering could violate voters' rights even if it wasn't racially discriminatory. The case reached the U. S. Supreme Court, and the resulting decision could trigger a seismic change in how political parties consolidate electoral power.More
Growing vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants in containers can be fun and rewarding, and may help save money at the grocery store. From getting an early start on the growing season by germinating seeds indoors to brightening the holidays, container gardening can help people with limited outdoor space turn patios into patches of green space and provide a touch of summer indoors during Wisconsin’s long colder months. Whatever planters might look like, the correct combination of soil, light and water will help gardeners get the best results from their efforts.More