Heinen: Stretching a little for long-term changes

Dave Baskerville advocates for 'Stretch Targets'
Heinen: Stretching a little for long-term changes
Dave Baskerville

One of the realities of 21st century life is that we have become a society of short-term thinkers.

The impact of new technology, the deterioration of our political system and the distorting influence of money all contribute to a “want-it-now” mentality that often precludes our getting it at all. The lottery is an easy example, but the best is an election process that forces already vision-challenged elected officials to forgo responsible, sustainable policies for the common good for two-year, quick-fix, pay-for-it-later re-election schemes. Thinking 20, 10, even five years out is now simply too much of a stretch.

Dave Baskerville thinks we’d all be a lot better off, happier, healthier and more successful if we would stretch a little. He’s got some ideas on how to do that, and he’s inviting you to sign on to them. Baskerville is an advocate of “Stretch Targets,” which are strategies he developed over a 40-year business career and almost another 25 years as a consultant utilizing, to a large degree, the experience, knowledge and deep ties he developed from working and living in Japan. “I’m not an activist, I’m not a Democrat or a Republican, not an economist or an educator,” Baskerville says. What he is, though, is passionate about Wisconsin, its citizens–especially its kids–and about making this a better place for all.

The 80-year-old Madison native is also a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan, and it pains him to see Wisconsin fall so far behind Minnesota by various economic measures. And, having visited more than 110 countries as a result of work, volunteer and church activities, he is dismayed that the U.S. is outperformed so badly in educating our kids. He wants to do something about both.

He wants Wisconsin citizens to adopt two bipartisan, aggressive long-term goals–Stretch Targets­–to address this situation, and to “grassroots pressure” leaders to act accordingly.

The Stretch Targets are straight-forward: Wisconsin’s per capita income will be 10 percent greater than Minnesota’s by 2037, and Wisconsin math, science and reading scores for 15-year-olds be in the top 10 globally by the same year.

“What I want to do is have enough signed up [on the website in support] to put pressure on the governor, gubernatorial candidates and school board members, and just say ‘hey, we don’t understand everything, we don’t understand the how, but 20 years out, we’d like to be this kind of a state,’ ” he says.

Baskerville is hoping to have 10,000 signees. “What they’re saying are two things,” says Baskerville, “one … from all political perspectives, we agree on these two stretch targets. And we want you, governor, gubernatorial candidates, school superintendents, to make these goals.”

Baskerville has a scorecard, something he considers crucial, which will be updated every two years. He’s hoping for citizens from every part of the state and every walk of life and, most importantly, from every political persuasion to sign on. But that’s not necessary. “The point is not to unify, it’s to get results,” he says. The results will be radical change in three areas that profoundly motivate Baskerville: “business, jobs and quality of life is one. Real social justice is two and national security is three.”

Baskerville is humble and self-deprecating. He frequently refers to his idea as a shot in the dark. It is a stretch. But short-term thinking, stubborn partisanship, a lost sense of common good and shared values have resulted in, among others things, Wisconsin falling behind economically to neighbors to the north, and educationally around the world, and thus competitively. In doing so, we are selling ourselves, our children, our state and our country short. If you agree with Baskerville, go to stretchtargets.org to join others willing to stretch a little for long-term change.

Gio’s Garden is five years old. For those of us who know and love our colleague, WISC-TV anchor and Gio’s Garden founder Charlotte Deleste, that feels like a big deal. You can imagine what it feels like for the families who have found respite, resources and support as they care for their children with special needs. Gio’s Garden filled a big void when it started in 2012. That it fills it still is a testament to its vision and its supporters. Those supporters are gathering again for the annual Gio’s Garden Gala on Friday, Sept. 22 at The Edgewater. You’re invited. Find details at giosgarden.org.

Matt Younkle and Jim Remsik are two of Madison’s entrepreneurial stars, and both have a reputation for generosity in their support of the city’s startup sector. With the creation of their new company Cardigan, however, Younkle and Remsik are taking that generosity to a new level. The two have pledged 1 percent of the equity of the digital business card company to United Way of Dane County to support United Way’s work in making Dane County a healthy, safe, welcoming community for all. Younkle calls it investing in each other’s success. Nice.

Neil Heinen is editorial director. Reach him at nheinen@madisonmagazine.com or on Twitter @neilheinen.