Meeting Notes for May 30, 2018

Luncheon conversation was interrupted pleasantly by President John who, performing double duty, played a beautiful “Rhapsody in Blue” at the piano. When finished, and amidst great applause, he ‘did a Rubio,’ and lunged for the gavel, whacking the bell a good one.

Steve Pierce came up for the Inspiration: “That good, close relationships are good for our health and well-being, this is wisdom as old as the hills. Why is this so hard to get and so easy to ignore?…Relationships are messy and they’re complicated and the hard work of tending to family and friends is not sexy or glamorous.” Steve then summed up his fine message by pointing out “that the people who [from a 75-year study] fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships — with family, friends, and with the community.”

Song: Rick Ingram and John (rushing back to the piano) next led us in singing “Vive Le Rotary!” The words said it all: “Truth is our right/Love is our might/Vive le Ro-ta-ry!” Great job, Rick and John.

Returning to the podium, John informed us that “we achieved the EREY goal this week — and we did it with individual donations, not from the treasury.” EREY stands for Every Rotarian Every Year, and provides funding for mainly local charitable projects and organizations. Members had been urged to contribute the last couple of weeks, which they clearly did, with gusto.

Distinguished Service Award

Past President Al Storey lent his mellifluous voice to the proceedings when he warmly commended Bob Holmes for his innumerable humanitarian acts and dedication to Rotary ideals. “If I’d known you were going to speak,” Bob quipped while looking at Al, “I would have been a better friend over the years.” This generated a burst of laughter through the room. “I am of a forgiving nature,” was Al’s perfectly timed riposte. Bob’s wife Sara was there to witness the convivial back-and-forth, which reminded your reporter of Sinatra and Martin on stage at the Sands. President John then added, “It is my pleasure to also present Bob with a Paul Harris Fellowship Award.”

From left to right, Bob Holmes, Sara Holmes, Al Storey.

Like the Ronny and the Daytonas song, “G.T.O.,” John Simpkins came up to sing the praises of this year’s GTO. “As you know, the Golf and Tennis Outing is our biggest fundraiser of the year. Please consider donating an auction item, becoming a sponsor, or participating as a volunteer,” John urged. One innovation this year: “The auction will open a month early online. So please take a brochure, and, rather than throwing it out, give it to a person with lots of $$$$$!”

Tiny Houses Site Clean-Up: Rob Shiff informed us that a volunteer sign-up sheet is available for those planning to help with the lot clean-up in Detroit on Saturday, June 2, beginning at 8:00 a.m. “Eighteen houses are complete, with 40 planned,” Rob explained. “These homes are not hand-outs. If the tenants pay the rent…the house becomes theirs.”

“Another plea for help –” remarked President John. “We need volunteers to place Harpoon content online. Perhaps once a month, as a backup volunteer.” All those who would like to contribute to this worthy enterprise, and help ameliorate the carpel tunnel of regular Harpoon ‘staff,’ please contact Dan Romanchik, Michael Field, or Ed Hoffman when he’s sober.

Special Note

Dues are due Wednesday, June 20. Also, contrary to a particularly insidious rumor making the rounds at the buffet table, Dave Keosaian has NOT contracted with eager beaver Russian ‘collectors.’ That said, malefactors will not be overlooked.

“On June 27 we will have a Volunteer Recognition Day,” John announced. This is a welcome sentiment, no doubt, among our Club’s volunteers. [Note: Word at the buffet table has it that it’s a ruse to corral dues-skippers.]

Michigan mines serve vital economic role, but present challenges

Burt Voss gave a wonderful introduction to our speaker, Steve Kesler. “Steve is Professor Emeritus, Department of Geological Science, at the University of Michigan,” Burt began, proving that some of our most fascinating speakers emanate from our own ranks. “He is an expert on geologic processes that form iron ore,” Burt continued, “and he has written extensively in books and articles on the environmental impact of mining our mineral resources. Steve is a Penrose Gold Medal recipient — his profession’s highest award. [For ‘unusually original work in the earth sciences.’] Welcome, Steve.”

“Thank you, Burt, for that overly-generous introduction,” Steve began. “We are a very special state — [with the] Upper and Lower Peninsulas, really two states. This has produced tremendous legacy pollution.” Anyone thinking at this point that Steve’s presentation would be a homily to mining retrenchment had another thing coming. Indeed, a subtitle to his speech could have been ‘Smarter Exploration-Mining, Smarter Environmental Stewardship.’ He continued: “Each year each of us is responsible for 20,000 lbs. of mined minerals. Forty-seven percent of cell phones are made of minerals.” He then showed a slide of copper demand over several decades. “Copper consumption has increased 30 times over the last century,” Steve declared. “Mining is crucial to our standard of living.” The next slide showcased many of the minerals mined in Michigan alone: limestone, sand, coal, copper, iron (“which was mined 6,000 years ago by aboriginals who traded all over the northern Midwest”), salt, boron, water, [etc.].” Of the Keweenaw Peninsula Steve noted, “The copper deposits there represent the largest accumulation of native copper anywhere in the world. A billion years ago North America tried to rip apart. Deposits in the water filled holes in the rocks. That’s copper. Lots of it remains deep down.” He cited the work of the Highland Copper Company as one firm dedicated to exploiting these deposits.

Steve went on to describe the famed Mesabi and Marquette Ranges, with their prodigious caches of iron ore. Together they produce six billion dollars a year. “Without iron ore shipping on the Great Lakes would be much diminished.” Then his audience was introduced to a truly benign prehistoric organism: “Taconite comes from iron-rich deposits that were deposited by the strangest ocean the world has ever known. The [fossils of these] organisms, that look like worms, were responsible for depositing that iron ore.” Steve then gave some examples of responsible mining, among them the Eagle Mine (and sister mine, Eagle East), which “produces limited surface disturbance in the mining of nickel and copper. This is as good as it gets in regard to surface damage,” Steve asserted. “This is [also] very high quality ore.” The illustrations were breathtaking — vast, hopelessly deep tunnels and “DNA-shaped” mining areas. Some mining sections lie 3,000 feet down.

In conclusion, Steve acknowledged the central problem associated with mining: pollution. In particular he cited the challenge posed by the Back Forty Deposit, situated near the Menominee River. “They’re mining zinc, copper, and gold. It will probably be an ‘open pit’ mine,” which looks as if a tornado has been fossilized. “It’s right next to the river. Do we accept this risk? What if the [protective] wall fails? Do we leave it alone and not mine there?” His answer was both bold and quintessentially American: “Let’s show ’em [the world] what a really good mine is! The UP is going to need those jobs.” Two cartoons appeared on the screen. One showed an obviously exhausted miner, pickaxe slung over rounded shoulder, turning from the mine wall. Unfortunately for him, just a few feet away in the rock are the diamonds he had staked everything on, and failed to reach by giving up. “See the other one,” Steve exclaimed. “He’s the newcomer, going full-tilt. He’s going to find them!”

John thanked Steve amid loud applause. Then, turning to the assembly, he reminded everyone of JET: “Join leaders, Exchange ideas, Take action! Meeting is adjourned.”