Notes from January 20, 2021 Ann Arbor Rotary Meeting


Our Zoom meeting began at noon with a half hour of social time. The group was smaller than usual because of the Presidential Inauguration At 12:27; Lori Walters reminded everyone of Zoom meeting etiquette.

President Joanne rang the bell at 12:30, opening the business meeting. 61 members were in attendance. Tom Strode lead us in the National Anthem.

Past President Rosemarie Rowney

Past-President Rosemarie Rowney gave the inspiration. In light of the inauguration, she chose a poem, Walking Toward Hope, written by Rev. Steven Charleston, Native American author; retired Episcopal Bishop
Walking Toward Hope
At this point in our journey I don’t know if it is stamina or stubbornness, but I am not stopping. I am not going back.
I am walking toward hope.

I am not sure what others may see in our future, the world still seems full of shadows, but as for me, I am seeing a better chance than we have had in a long time, the beginning of something we can all build together.
I am walking toward hope.

This has been a year I never want to live through again. So I am determined to see it through to its end, and beyond that, to be part of the community creating a healthy and peaceful alternative to take its place.
I am walking toward hope.

And if I can join others who are doing the same, then I am honored to do so. Together we will share the stamina, the faith, to keep moving toward tomorrow, and if the shadows try to block our way, then we will have the spiritual stubbornness to keep going.

We are not stopping and we are not going back.
We are walking toward hope.

We were treated to a live musical performance by Marlena Studer. She sang “This Land is Your Land”, accompanied by Steven Ragsdale.

President Joanne thanked everyone who assisted in today’s meeting. She also listed the birthdays for the upcoming week.

Norma Sarkar

Norma Sarkar was introduced to talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the international level in Rotary. She told us that there are:
• 35,000+ Rotary Clubs worldwide
• In 210 countries and territories
• 1.2 M members
• Asia is number 1 in membership; USA, Canada and the Caribbean Islands are #2.
• Many countries and cultures
Rotary International’s (RI) statement on DEI:
“As a global network that strives to build a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change, Rotary values diversity an celebrates the contributions of people of all backgrounds, regardless of their age, ethnicity, race, color, abilities, religion, socioeconomic status, culture, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

RI Secretariat Goals:
1) Increase membership of women to 30% and promote women in leadership positions by June 2023
2) Support Rotary Fellowship and Action Groups that bring together members from around the world
3) Develop a Strategic Plan for DEI

What Clubs can do:
• Create DEI initiatives – Rotary Club of Ann Arbor (RCAA) has established the Anti-Racism Committee (ARC)
• Invite DEI experts to speak – we have had a number of them speak at our Wednesday meetings
• Connect with local organizations that support DEI – our Club has worked with the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice

ARC has also considered the following:
• Encourage underrepresented groups to join
• Encourage members to take “Building a Diverse Club” in the RI Learning Center
• Create a community advisory board

District 6380 has begun to develop DEI initiatives. The first meeting was on December 20, 2020. There were 30 people in attendance; 5 from RCAA.

Marcia Lane told us about ARC resources that will be available on the RCAA website soon:
• Articles
• Books
• Films
• Videos
• Photos and Images
• A “What Can I do” section with volunteer opportunities with community organizations and an information chart with options for outreach with organizations that work toward greater DEI in our community.
• Archive of speakers you may have missed

Marcia invited RCAA members to attend the meetings of the committee whether they wish to join or just learn. Currently there is a business meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 1:30 PM and a discussion meeting (including articles and videos) on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 1:30 PM. If you are interested, please contact Marcia Lane.

President Joanne Pierson

President Joanne announced that there are still 40 members that have not paid their Community Service Assessment (CSA). This is the money that we use to do our good work in the community.

There are many volunteer opportunities within our Club. We need meeting reporters – Contact Agnes Reading; and we need photographers – Contact Loren Heinonen.

We were reminded that the 19th Wine Women and Song is on January 28 at 7:30 PM. It’s virtual this year. Please let Shelley MacMillan know that you are coming.

A report on the January 20, 2021 Board meeting. The new “Elects” were in attendance at that meeting:
• Kathy Waugh – Secretary
• Linda Carter (Director of Youth Development)
• Dawn Johnson (Director of Club Service)
• Roy More (Director of Club Outreach)
• John Sepp (Director of Youth Development) – 1 year

There are currently 259 members in our Club – one away from our goal of 260. The Program Committee Policy has been revised. A name change for the Harpoon was discussed. Two new members were approved.

Rochelle Riley

Our speaker: Rochelle Riley (watch the recording here)
Authur Williams introduced our speaker. Rochelle Riley spent much her life as a newspaper columnist in Detroit with a long list of awards and honors. She is currently the Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Detroit.

Rochelle’s topic was “What we did wrong”. She emphasized that she is not talking about people but rather actions. She began her talk with saying that we need to start education properly. Historically, school textbooks did not include the history of enslavement. People didn’t know that was a problem or that it was a big problem. This began to change with Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954. But even that did not mean there would be equal opportunity in education.

Over the years, there were new programs each year to try to address the inequality in education. But the programs were only focused on K – 3rd grade. The programs do not continue in other grades. To achieve change, the programs for reading, math and teaching need to continue throughout grade school and high school.

It is important to teach history. There is little teaching past the 60’s and the Civil Right Movement. Students are not prepared.

The power of one is amazing. Ms. Riley quoted Nancy Pelosi who recently said “People who aspire to public service and leadership must know they are doing it for the children”.

Rochelle stated that we need art, music and joy on the other side of the pandemic. And that she is more hopeful than ever before.

At this point, Rochelle said that it is so important for us to have conversation. She asked for questions. She talked about school of choice – will fix the problem by giving public schools the budget they deserve.

When asked about what we can do, she said that we can achieve by doing little things like looking at others directly; be more courageous about race.

Next week
Russ Collins, Executive Director, Michigan Theatre Foundation: Ann Arbor’s Need for a Comprehensive Governmental Support Strategy for the Arts”

President Joanne ended the meeting with a quote from Martin Luther King (MLK) in honor of MLK and the inauguration:
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

The meeting was adjourned.

Carol Senneff, Reporter
Fred Beutler, Photographer