Meeting Notes from July 31 Meeting

President Rosemarie rang the opening bell for our last meeting in July. After the patriotic song, Mary Steffek-Blaske read a very appropriate and inspirational passage from Rachel Carlson about the beauty of nature and the necessity to take care of the environment so each day will be as beautiful for our children as those given to us.

The irrepressible Joanne Pierson and sidekick Downs Herold led us in a musical catalog of the wonderful things in store at the Golf and Tennis Outing Auction on September 9.  This opening act was followed by Kati Bauer telling us about the exciting auction items that will be on display at the Outing.  Something new this year – a Buy Now option.  Two big prizes – a condo for a week in the Canary Islands or Spain, and three days, two nights at the Grand Hotel – and Ingrid Sheldon’s Mile High Apple Pies can be bought ahead of the Outing.  A new entrant, sure to become a staple, is debuting – Haitian Rum Cakes by President Rosemarie.  Check the Events/Golf and Tennis Outing link on our website for more information.  GTO Chairman Ashish Sarkar reminded us to sign up for dinner and encouraged single golfers to sign up so foursomes can be assembled.  He reminded up that this is our only fundraiser and asked that outright donations be made to the event, especially if people cannot be at the event.

Marcia Lane gave us an update on the busy Peace Committee.  The committee has been very active organizing and participating in events with other groups promoting Peace.   The group is being recognized internationally and is cohosting Peace in the Streets in October.  Their next meeting is August 26 at 1:30 pm and all are invited to join this exciting new initiative for our Club.  Immediately the Peach Committee is working with Meghan Gupta, the Yale student at our meeting this week, to offer an introduction to US indigenous peoples to the high school students who will be in the area this year with AFS (American Field Service). This will culminate in a trip to the Native American Powwow held at Skyline in the spring.

President Rosemarie announced birthdays.  And she announced that the Rotary International Convention will be in Honolulu next year.  Save June 6 – 10 for Honolulu and visit the other islands while you are there.

Five checks for matching grants were presented by President Rosemarie.  International Humanitarian Projects Chairman Mary Avrakotos accepted checks for solar panels in Niger, tricycles in Congo, HIV program in the Dominican Republic, and laptops for the Haiti Nursing School.  The Community Allocations Committee successfully applied for a matching grant from the District to the Michigan Foster Care Closet for a back-to-school event in which foster children are provided with clothing and school supplies.  Michael Field accepted this check.

Editors are needed for Harpoon.  This is a short cut-and-paste project that can easily be shared by three or four people, meaning doing it just one time a month.  Contact Club Administrator Lori Walters,  to learn how easy the task is … and you get Attendance Credit:  Along this same line, President Rosemarie announced that anyone who wants something in Harpoon next week must have it in by 6:00 pm Friday, August 9.  Friday at 6:00 pm will be the Harpoon submission deadline from now on.

Norma Sarkar was bubbling with excitement to report that July 30’s Satellite meeting attracted three guests and seven Rotarians.  The Satellite is an every-other-Tuesday gathering at a watering hole to introduce new people to our Club and give current members who have trouble attending the noon meetings a way to stay involved with the Club.  Upcoming locations will be announced so watch this space and invite friends and colleagues to come take a look at us.

Notes from the Program

Mary Avrakotos introduced our Speaker, Mozhgan Savabiesfahani.  She is a public advocate and an independent environmental toxicologist based in Ann Arbor.  She is a dedicated scientist who has published extensively in scientific journals within the field of environmental toxicology.  Among many citations, Dr. Savabieasfahani was awarded the Rachel Carlson prize in 2015 for her work to improve public awareness of the devastating effects that war has on the environment and public health.

Dr. Savabiesfahani is a passionate advocate for a clean environment.  Today she was talking mostly about PFA’s in Ann Arbor’s water.  She explained that PFA’s are a very large family of chemicals that are ubiquitous in our lives.  They are very long-lived’ and almost impossible to clean up. They are endocrine disrupters that can cross the fetal placenta.  Europe banned the chemical in 2008.  The ‘allowable levels’ in the United States are unacceptable.  Dr. Savabiesfahani hammers home the point that we can ban these chemicals if we muster the will to confront the powers that allow them to poison us.

There are 130 companies that use PFA’s in Michigan but the closest is TriBar in Howell, whose PFA’s were so concentrated that pillows of suds floated throughout our city.  Dr. Savabiesfahani feels we have done nothing to stop this, not the city,  state or federal governments, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the damage done.  She used the Gelman dioxane plume saga to show that even when sites are recognized as superfund sites, negotiation between the polluters and regulators can result in inadequate remedial requirements.

Dr. Savabiesfahani encourages us to show up at City Council meetings to advocate for cleanup.  She urged us to have our water tested, invest in reverse osmosis systems or at least use the filtered water jugs so easily found in stores.