Segment Synopsis: Question: Brief biography of life prior to UW-Madison? Answer: Hilary Virtanen (HV) talked being born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and moving around a lot, including an extended stay in Wyoming. She discussed her education, including earning degrees from Michigan State, Indiana University, and UW-Madison. She married in 2006 and gave birth to 3 children. When asked why she moved so much, she noted her parents changed jobs or went back to school.
Segment Synopsis: Question: Why folklore? Answer: HV noted that growing up in a lot of different places and seeing a lot of different cultures played a large part in her interest in it. When asked why seek graduate studies at IU, she found out while getting her degree at Michigan State that folklore departments existed on campuses. She applied to IU, and they accepted her. She then talked about her fieldwork at IU, which involved her returning to the UP in Michigan and getting stories from people about a specific Finnish tradition. She worked many jobs to make ends meet, including tending bar, which ended up serving her well, because she could do fieldwork and work simultaneously.
Keywords: Finnish; field work; folklore; research interest
Segment Synopsis: Question: Why UW-Madison? Answer: HV talked about specific problems she had with IU and about a paper she gave in Marquette, MI. At that conference she met two people from UW-Madison (Jim Leary and Tim Frandy) who both suggested she applied at UW-Madison for more advance degree seeking. When she found out more about UW-Madison, she thought it would fit her well, specifically the unionization of the Teaching Assistants.
Keywords: Indiana University; TAA; graduate unions; public folklore; student unions
Segment Synopsis: Question: Personal politics? Answer: HV spoke here about the great communist in her family tree, the Cold War, and Reaganomics. All of these things led her to see that many different views on the political spectrum and to move her politics to the left. She returned to her discussion about unions at UW and the options they provided her.
Keywords: poverty level; unionization; working class politics
Segment Synopsis: Question: What did want to accomplish at UW-Madison? Answer: She wanted to work with great people on great opportunities. The UW-Madison faculty helped her to find jobs that gave her a wide range of choices, including transcribing recordings and editing manuscripts. They gave her room to do individual work as well as chances to work with others. HV wanted to be active in the TAA from the beginning but some personal issues kept her away from leadership initially.
Keywords: cost of living; student employment; union involvement
Segment Synopsis: Question: Were you active in politics before February 2011? Answer: She did not actively participate in her first presidential election (1996), because President Clinton seemed destine for re-election. She did note that the Bush-Gore election of 2000 really opened her eyes to taking the time to vote for every election, not just national or statewide ones.
Keywords: voting history
Segment Synopsis: Question: Describe your involvement in the Capitol Protest of 2011? Answer: HV recalled working the Wisconsin Historical Society (one of her jobs) on Friday, February 11. She opened up an email from Governor Walker, describing the initial aspects of the Budget Repair Bill, specifically voiding union contracts. She recalled seeing that email posted on a bulletin board inside the WHS soon after that and writing “I’ll see you in the Rotunda” on it. HV continued to detail the Friday and weekend before the first march, including getting more material from Tim Frandy and the TAA and setting up a Facebook event (and later page) regarding the Budget Repair Bill and the protests.
Keywords: "Don't Break My Heart Rally"; "I Heart UW"; TAA; employment contracts
Segment Synopsis: [No question.] HV then discussed her memories of the first march, February 14, and the first week. She made a sign that said, “Scott Walker, Boo, Hiss” and carried it with her everywhere. She met the others in Memorial Library Mall and started marching up to the Capitol then inside the rotunda. She had checked out a video camera and recorded what she could, although she noted that her loud voice comprised most of the sound track.
Keywords: Budget Repair Bill; I Heart UW rally; TAA
Segment Synopsis: [No question.] When she left for the second day of protests, she gave her husband instructions on how to bail her out of jail, because she felt unsure about whether Governor Walker’s threats of calling National Guard might come true. She came home that night and took her kids with her to the protests the rest of the week. She recalled one of her daughters picking up whatever spare sign she could find and marched with it. HV worked as much as she could with the TAA, primarily helping folks discern between good information and rumors. Then, HV would return home and watched the news to see how the media portrayed each day’s events.
Keywords: TAA; media portrayal; news
Segment Synopsis: [No question] HV talked about testifying to the Joint Finance Committee on February 15th. She gave a five minute testimony, overrunning the allotted 2 minutes. The next day, HV marched with her kids at the protests and spoke with state senator Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac at the Capitol. HV talked about acquiring a room in the Capitol for children to play and participate in fun activities so as to avoid the noise and crowds of the capitol rallies. She placed a sign that read, “This office is a union shop” outside of her office door right after Scott Walker came into office. HV mentioned that she could tell what Scott Walker would do when he got into office, despite not explicitly campaigning on anti-union issues.
Keywords: Tea Party; Wisconsin legislature
Segment Synopsis: Question: Why did you feel that Walker’s actions were inevitable when he came into office? Answer: HV spoke about her temper and her natural reaction was to protest but expressed her surprise at the turnout on the second day of the protest, the day of the Joint Finance Committee hearings. She attributed this to Madison’s progressive/union traditions.
Keywords: National Guard; union members; union protests
Segment Synopsis: Question: How did the TAA try to keep communication clear between what was actually happening and hearsay? Answer: To make sure to go someplace other than the Capitol to clear your head. She read state and out-of-state newspapers, Facebook headlines, and examined a variety of ideas about how to approach the protests. Described her attitude towards police officers at the protests—the police were not the ones they were fighting.
Keywords: news evaluation; police involvement; police unions; source evaluation
Segment Synopsis: Question: Examples of posts/activities on Facebook page to keep people informed. Answer: Focused on media coverage of protest by news sources such as the New York Times, editorials, and posting information about events/rallies. Secondly, HV’s Facebook page highlighted similar events going on across the country in places such as Ohio, Florida, and Iowa.
Keywords: facebook; news; social media
Segment Synopsis: Question: How important was social media to the protest? Answer: HV described trading Facebook information with a Monona teacher to spread information via social media. HV and the teacher agreed that Facebook and social media was an important and effective tool to influence events at the protests. Described the Defend Wisconsin website and efforts by the Walker administration to limit wireless access at the capitol.
Keywords: Facebook; social media
Segment Synopsis: Question: Was there a strong memory that stands out in your mind? Answer: The day after the bill was signed “illegally” on March 10th, HV was standing outside and encountered Rev. Jesse Jackson who gave her a hug, a T-shirt, and invited her to appear on Fox News alongside him. HV gave the T-shirt to her husband. HV expressed her gratitude to see what happened both in Wisconsin, and in Marquette, Michigan, where recall petitions went out. She was pleased to see such nationwide activism and especially proud of the people of Wisconsin for standing up for their state.
Keywords: Fox News; Jesse Jackson; Michigan Recall Movement; TV coverage
Segment Synopsis: Question: How did you end up in Hancock, Michigan? Answer: Hilary Virtanen (HV) had kept her eye on a job at Findlandia University for years. She called them every so often to inquire about a job, and this last summer they called her and offered her one. When asked she furnished an overview of her work with the Finnish-American Heritage Center, including outreach to the community. She will start working on a 2013 conference, entitled FinnFest, and will work with undergraduates to help them with their research then accompanying them to Finland each spring.
Keywords: Finnish studies; outreach; undergraduate education
Segment Synopsis: Question: The recent TAA vote? Answer: HV offered her opinion about the vote, where the union decertified, including the idea that this vote could benefit the TAA. The interviewer then asked HV about her future, personally, professionally, and politically. HV wondered what anyone future will hold, if the United States collapsed. She hoped she would continue working in the Upper Peninsula, doing outreach and working with undergraduates. Poltically, HV said she would not “sit down and shut up.” She talked about how she will be involved in Michigan politics, after she received her state identification card. She has continued the Facebook page that she discussed in her first interview. She also will work with people one or one or through letters to the editors. She also stated her hope to get involved on campus with voter identification issues, meaning informing students of their rights.
Keywords: heritage education; outreach; political activism; student voter registration
Segment Synopsis: Question: Any more strong memories about the 2011 Capitol Protests? Answer: HV offered her story about the day the 14 Democratic Senators left to stop the Budget Repair Bill vote. HV started talking to a woman who had a son (HV was there with her eldest daughter), when they heard that the Senate could not vote because of no quorum. Once HV figured out what that meant, she and the woman hugged each other. HV still felt emotion about the event, because it served as an example of an elected official working for their constituents. HV felt it akin to the “good outlaw” in folklore.
Keywords: "Wisconsin 14"; Budget Repair Bill; quorum
Segment Synopsis: Question: Opinions on August 2011 recall elections? Answer: HV focused most of her thoughts on the 3 Democratic recall elections, particularly Senator Dave Hansen, who had worked in the past to put labor history into the state’s education curriculum. She felt a bit disappointment that the State Senate did not flip into Democratic control, but she thought it was the start of more involvement in politics.
Keywords: Hansen, Dave