Series

Most Wisconsinites live in urban and suburban communities, but the state’s landscape is dominated by rural areas where farmland and forest predominate. But what makes a given place rural? What about small towns or exurbs or "up north" tourist destinations? And when is a place even considered small in the first place? Defining the continuum between rural and urban areas is complex and can be a contentious matter. It is also continuously in flux as people grow older, have children and move between places in pursuit of different opportunities. The demographics of rural Wisconsin are changing rapidly, with populations aging and overall numbers decreasing in many areas. These shifts have profound implications for the state as a whole, and will shape its economy, politics and culture.More
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When a member of the Wisconsin Legislature vacates the office before their term ends, the governor has the power to call a special election to fill that seat. Data shows that governors over the past five decades have generally acted promptly to fill vacancies. That pattern continued well into Gov. Scott Walker's administration until the final days of 2017, when he declined to call special elections for two open seats and leave them open until the November 2018 election to let voters choose new officeholders. A WisContext investigation of state elections records showed that a vacancy of such length was unprecedented in modern Wisconsin history.More
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Many distinct and ongoing waves of immigration have indelibly shaped communities across Wisconsin. The 19th-century influxes of immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe are strongly associated with the state's cultural identity, but the immigrant experience in Wisconsin is far more varied. Canada has been a small but steady source of immigrants throughout the state's history. Several increasingly large phases of immigration from Mexico and other nations around Latin America have left imprints around the state, ranging from Milwaukee to dairy and vegetable farms in rural areas. In recent decades, immigrants from Asia have likewise increasingly made their home in the state, with Hmong communities standing out. As new groups of immigrants arrive in Wisconsin, their civic, religions and economic contributions adds to the state's diversity.More
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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
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Many Wisconsinites have experienced traumas in childhood, but their effects are not universal, nor are their burdens evenly distributed among the state's different communities. Depending on the individual, trauma can have a lifelong impact, affecting behavior, relationships and physical, emotional and mental health. The burden of childhood trauma and the toll it takes on individual lives and public health is attracting more attention by health professionals, educators and caregivers. As a result, public and private organizations around the state are incorporating trauma-informed approaches into their daily work with children and adults. These approaches are part of efforts to transform Wisconsin's human services and justice systems in the hope of providing better outcomes for traumatized individuals and communities.More
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