City Life

Michel: The M List celebrates visionaries

November is a month to recognize M Listers,...

November is a month to celebrate visionaries who put creative energy toward making our community a better place to live and thrive.

Inside this edition are profiles of thirty-five businesses, organizations and projects that top Madison Magazine’s third annual M List, which this year recognizes social innovators. The M List award recipients represent an interesting cross section of groups that are trying new ways to address some of our area’s growing concerns. I hope their uplifting stories will compel others to consider how they can make a difference.

In the same month that we honor our M Listers, another noteworthy group of forward thinkers takes center stage at the Badger Bioneers 2015 conference. The seventh annual gathering, sponsored by Sustain Dane on November 10 at Union South, concentrates on connections between social, environmental and economic sustainability in our region and beyond. Sustain Dane selected three individuals as this year’s Badger Bioneers for their leadership and courage in making our region more sustainable. They are Shannon Bunsen, who created her position as the sustainability program coordinator at UW Health and is responsible for shaping the organization’s overall vision and strategy for sustainability; Eric Udelhofen, who combines his passions for both renewable energy and organic agriculture in efforts such as “Solar Harvest,” which makes solar energy more affordable for FairShare CSA Coalition farmers and consumers through group purchasing; and Jason Vargo, who helps direct the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s activities toward healthy cities and sustainability across Wisconsin and abroad through his work with the university’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Global Health Institute. Their work is inspiring. I am excited to have the opportunity to lead them in a conversation about their endeavors during this year’s conference.

In the spirit of recognizing socially minded people and champions of sustainability, let’s remember that November is national Native American Heritage Month. My Ho-Chunk teachings and values of protecting the earth are quite similar to those of many tribes across Indian Country. A common thread is that all humans are connected, to each other and to all living things. When we believe in these concepts and demonstrate them through our actions, each of us has the ability to become a social innovator. 

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