Bill Dean's Eco Minute during our December 7th, 2021 meeting. "Our mission is to live sustainably and promote stewardship of the Earth through Rotary."

In December 1977, Sally and I sat in Jay McNeese’s living room for my first Rotary fireside. The idea of “service above self” was introduced and it became a transformational change for me.

For the last 44 years, I have looked to the idea of “Service above self” as a guiding star in my journey through life.

My time in Rotary has fulfilled me in unexpected ways. And one of the reasons for that is change.

When I first joined Rotary, we had no women members. Change came in 1989 it was a watershed moment in Rotary’s history when women were admitted as members.
Another important change came in 2006 when Mike Bardin and Clare Harris were asked by District Governor-elect James O’Meara to focus on Peace in our District. The Pathways to Peace committee was formed which engaged clubs all through the district to dedicate February as World Understanding Month, and to honor individual club Rotarians by awarding an annual “Peacemaker Award.” Participating in this committee was immensely gratifying and fulfilling.

Then in our District, 5340, change really went off the rails with District Governor Dick Stevens. In 2011 he began the journey of forging an effort on environmental awareness and action. He tricked a young, impressionable Rotarian into starting an Eco Rotary club.

This important journey has achieved significant milestones. Recognition and action by Rotary International through the Environmental Sustainability Action Group. Here in our District our very own Amelie Catheline is the Chair of the District Environmental Sustainability Committee.

I could have never imagined in 1977, that on the cover of the annual fundraising mailing I received this week, it would feature a photo of Rotarians digging into a mulch pile.

And tonight, we will hear from our current District Governor Dan Gensler. We will hear his ideas for change and the focus he will inspire throughout our District.
But I would be remiss not to acknowledge the reality of all these important changes in Rotary.

I know members who grumbled about the break-up of Rotary’s “good ol’ boys” club. Some members scoffed at the idea of injecting “peace efforts” into Rotary. And I’m sure to this day our District has Rotary members that believe Climate change is just a hoax!

Rotary is a mirror of the political divide that challenges us locally, nationally, and internationally.

And yet…   And yet, over the years the very same people who grumbled about women, scoffed at peace, and ignore climate change, are the very same people I built houses within Mexico, installed playground equipment in disadvantaged neighborhoods, put up soccer nets for soccer tournaments, and spent hours planning and working at fundraising events for the community.

Shoulder to shoulder we sweated, we laughed, we talked about our families, and we talked about rotary and our commitment to service above self.
Together, we found common ground. Our differences were smothered by our mutual respect and enjoyment in working alongside each other to accomplish good for others.

As Eco Rotarians, let us always look for common ground to do good with others. We can lead the change, that helps to mend the world.