Becca Schimmel

Lake Effect Producer

Becca Schimmel joined Lake Effect as a producer in July 2020.

Before joining WUWM, she was a multimedia journalist covering economics and infrastructure for The Ohio Valley ReSource and WKU Public Radio. The ReSource is a collaborative of public radio stations in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

Becca also interned with The Paducah Sun in Paducah, Ky., as a general assignment reporter. From there she went on to become Morning Edition producer and general assignment reporter for WKMS in Murray, Ky. She earned her Bachelor of Science in journalism from Murray State University with a minor in psychology.

Ways to Connect

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As a violent mob tore through the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, questions about what could be done to those who were seen as inciting the crowd arose. While the constitution prohibits the government from taking action against those exercising their freedom of speech or freedom to peaceably assemble, there are laws against inciting violence.

Paul Nolette is a professor and chair of the department of political science at Marquette University and he says the question of where free speech ends and inciting violence begins is a question courts have dealt with for years.

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Cities like Milwaukee have been forced to change much of how space is used over the past year. Office cubicles sit empty, restaurants have had to close their doors and more people are working from home than ever.

These changes have forced people and companies to make the best of the situation, and some of these changes might be here to stay when the pandemic ends.

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Local economies across America struggled through 2020. The coronavirus pandemic brought many businesses to a grinding halt and has kept many people out of a job.

UW-Milwaukee professor and chair of the economics department Scott Adams says Milwaukee is struggling along with everyone else and is not doing much better or worse than comparable cities. 

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While many businesses have adapted to a new normal during the pandemic, arts and music venues have continued to struggle.

Many performing artists count on a packed audience to make ends meet. The pandemic halted all of that and artists have had to pivot to more virtual, and often less lucrative experiences. 

Patrick Rath is the President and CEO of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF). He says despite the decrease in revenue, artists all over Wisconsin are still working and many are bringing art virtually to people that would have never had access before the pandemic.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened economic stability for many Milwaukeeans, but for renters there has been some protection due to a moratorium on evictions. That thin safety net halting some evictions is due to dissolve at the end of the year without congressional action. This means there's a looming eviction crisis hanging over the heads of a lot of Wisconsin households.

Lauren Sigfusson

When museums, galleries and theaters close that means painters, dancers and musicians don’t have a place to perform or a source of income.

Dozens of them talked about the challenges they face in a video conference Tuesday arranged by the Wisconsin Arts Board. The meeting included 15 arts organizations to help brainstorm ways for artists to survive the pandemic. Dozens of artists took turns speaking.

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Despite the distance this holiday season, books can be a great way to connect with loved ones.  If there are readers on your holiday shopping list — or you’re looking to add some titles to your own reading list — Boswell Book Company’s Daniel Goldin has suggestions for readers of all ages.

Here are some of Goldin's favorite books of 2020:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

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Wisconsin continues to break nearly daily records of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The state has few restrictions to slow the spread of the virus in place. Gov. Tony Evers recently extended a statewide mask mandate but has faced backlash from the Republican-controlled Legislature about his executive orders.

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Even in a normal year, the holidays can be stressful. This year health officials are recommending people who were planning to gather or travel for Thanksgiving stay home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For many of us this has been a year of sacrifice and family time might be exactly what we’re craving right now. As important as it is to show our loved ones that we are thinking of them, it’s equally as crucial to take care of our own mental and physical health.

Brianna Seipel

Living with trauma and injustice is undoubtedly difficult. Those living with these experiences find different ways of overcoming them, and one way is through art and writing. That’s what the Milwaukee exhibit Rise and Thrive: A Lives in Landscape series is all about.

Becca Schimmel

A new book of poems from DeWitt Clinton takes inspiration from a translation of Chinese poems, placing them in a contemporary landscape of Milwaukee. In his new book called By A Lake Near A Moon, Fishing With The Chinese Masters he explores loss and his time as a soldier in Vietnam. 

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Starting college is a time when new connections and friendships are forged. For many freshmen, it’s also their first time living alone and navigating the world independently. But this fall semester looks a bit different for college freshmen in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

Teran Powell / WUWM

While official election results are still being tabulated, we do know a little more about voter turnout. Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites alike showed up at the polls in droves — by mail, through early voting and on Election Day.

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This year’s election was unprecedented in the way people voted and how long anxious voters have had to wait for election results. Wisconsin went blue for Vice President Joe Biden by a narrow margin. But, before the call was even made, President Donald Trump’s campaign requested a recount of the votes cast. 

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Wisconsin followed the nationwide trend this year with record mail-in and early voting. But will those voter trends continue into future election years or is this a fluke in the time of COVID-19?

If there is a shift in voter trends, is now the time for lawmakers and election officials to look at policies and laws in place around early and mail-in voting?

Flickr/Adam Theo

Election Day is here, but many Wisconsinites have already cast their votes. Because nearly two million people in Wisconsin voted early and because this is not a state where election officials can begin the count before Election Day, it’s not clear when the results will be in. 

In this unprecedented election, some may look to the U.S. Constitution for guidance in a time of political uncertainty. But the long-serving document, like many of us, wasn’t necessarily prepared for 2020 and leaves some room for interpretation.

Screenshot / WUWM / Facebook

Lake Effect On-Site normally is about getting out into the community and taking a deep dive into a specific area of Milwaukee. But at a time when gathering together can be dangerous, there are still ways to celebrate the many things that our community has to offer.

So, the On-Site series moved off-site to celebrate one of our favorite holidays: Halloween.

Watch the full Lake Effect Off-Site: Halloween Edition below.

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

The holiday season is fast approaching, beginning with Halloween this weekend. The city of Milwaukee is not officially recognizing trick-or-treat hours in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But there are still ways to safely reimagine the costumed event.

“Some of the things we can do are ... to have a candy hunt in your own yard,” Amanda Simanek says. “So if you have some old Easter eggs lying around, we can merge these two celebrations. Put candy inside and hide them in the yard.”

Wes Tank

There are a lot of things vying for the attention of Milwaukee youth and most will experience at least one adverse childhood experience that can make their adult lives more difficult. 

And having at least one adult provide a positive environment can help steer kids in the right direction. For the last four decades, Running Rebels has been doing just that for hundreds of Milwaukee youth. The organization works to prevent involvement in gangs, drugs, violence and the juvenile justice system. 

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Milwaukeeans are already lining up outside early voting locations to cast their ballot in this year’s election. Many have already voted by mail or absentee. No matter how Wisconsinites choose to make their voice heard this year, they’ll all have to show proof of who they are. 

READ: Wisconsin 2020 Election: Key Deadlines For Voter Registration, Voting Absentee And In Person

Rosen-Jones Photography

It’s been a summer full of protests calling for racial justice and advocates fighting for diversity and a seat at the table. The Milwaukee Art Museum is welcoming a new position aimed at making art relevant to more members of the community and engaging with Milwaukeeans.   

Lauren Sigfusson

A conservative law firm is asking a judge to strike down Gov. Tony Evers' extension of the statewide mask mandate.

Kristine Hinrichs

At a time when the country is politically divided, Milwaukeeans are coming together to celebrate and memorialize one of the city’s iconic structures. The Daniel Hoan bridge is dedicated to the longest-serving socialist administration in U.S. history. Later this month, the long-awaited “Light The Hoan” project will become a reality.

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The way district maps are drawn in Wisconsin could be impacting the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Cases of coronavirus are currently surging across the state, breaking records for Wisconsin. The White House Coronavirus Task Force now considers Wisconsin a “red zone.”

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Most people will have a traumatic experience at some point in their lives, and some of them will develop post-traumatic stress disorder. So how do you figure out who is at risk for developing PTSD? That's what Chris Larson's new study, called "Acute Predictors Of Long-Term Post-Trauma Outcomes In Youth Victims Of Violence," hopes to help figure out.

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As we inch closer to the election, the importance of Milwaukee voters is becoming more and more clear. It’s the largest city in Wisconsin and home to a large portion of the state’s minority populations. In 2016, when Hilary Clinton was running against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, she was criticized for not stepping foot in Wisconsin. 

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An affordable housing project is breathing new life into a 130-year-old school building in Milwaukee. The city's Department of City Development plans to turn the dilapidated building that used to be the McKinley School into apartments for low-income individuals.

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COVID-19 has changed political campaigning. Large rallies meant to drum up support aren’t happening, and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions were mostly virtual events. This means the already cavernous echo chamber of social media has the potential to become even more influential.

Kevin J. Miyazaki for Sculpture Milwaukee

At least one Milwaukee attraction never had to close during the coronavirus pandemic. Sculpture Milwaukee is a non-profit organization responsible for filling downtown Milwaukee with outdoor exhibitions. The current works will be on display through winter, spring, summer and fall.

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Getting wrapped up in a spoken word performance and feeling a part of an artistic experience looks and sounds different since the coronavirus pandemic closed venues. Artists rely on gifting a connection to people in exchange for making a living. Performers have had to adapt to moving their creative endeavors into a digital space. 

Lake Effect recently launched the series Pandemic Performers — where we’re highlighting some of the work coming from Milwaukee artists, performers and venues at a time when many of us are still isolated. 

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