Club in Southern California, USA, focuses on the environment
A member of the Rotary Club of Morro Bay Eco in California, USA, sets up a bin used to create compost tea for three public golf courses in San Luis Obispo. The composted food waste, landscape byproducts, and grass clipping are used instead of chemical fertilizers. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Morro Bay Eco
Though it’s less than a year old, the Rotary Club of Morro Bay Eco, California, USA, is already making a big impact on its community through projects that are reducing waste and increasing recycling.
The club has partnered with an environmental nonprofit agency and the County of San Luis Obispo to compost grass clippings, landscape byproducts, and concession food waste at three public golf courses, turning them into organic fertilizer for the courses.
Club members have also taken the "zero-waste" strategy to community events, where they recycle and compost virtually all the trash generated while educating the public about waste reduction. On another project, club members volunteered to plant native species and improve erosion control around a major creek bed.
John Weiss, president of the club, said its focus on the environment has helped with recruitment, attracting members who would not have been interested in a more traditional format.
"We're appealing to people who are excited about what we are doing," Weiss says. "They are great eco-Rotarians, but they are not people who would join any club. They want to do things, work on projects."
The Morro Bay Eco club received its charter on 16 June.
Weiss, a Rotarian for eight years, was tapped last year by Deepa Willingham, 2010-11 governor of District 5240, to serve as the district's club extension chair, with the mission of chartering at least one new club focused on the environment.
In his research, Weiss read about two other eco-clubs on the RI website and called Kay Biga, cofounder of the Rotary Club of Duluth Superior Eco, Minnesota, for advice.
Biga's club, chartered in November 2008, has 45 members. It attracts many young professionals, including women, with a focus on environmental service projects, flexible late-afternoon meetings, popular social events, and an affordable dues structure.
"We schedule at least one, and sometimes two or three, service projects a month," says Biga. "We also have a monthly Fun Foods Night, where one of the club members hosts a dinner at home. This has been a terrific monthly fellowship opportunity."
Weiss's club adopted similar ideas, forgoing meals at meetings to keep costs down, emphasizing service projects, and holding only two official meetings a month, limited to one hour. But his club takes a slightly different approach because of its different demographic makeup.
"We have members in their 50s and 60s, and some who are retired. It's not just a youth thing," he says. "The common bond is a desire to get in there and actually do hands-on service."
Weiss's advice to other clubs includes being sensitive to the desires of prospective members.
"The underlying current for all Rotary clubs is Service Above Self," he says. "But how you define service is going to vary for different people. You have to listen and adapt."
Rotarians in other districts also have been expanding Rotary by chartering new clubs:
- The Rotary Club of Juba, South Sudan, chartered in March 2010, recently partnered with the Rotary Club of Bideford Bridge, Devon, England, on a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant project to donate US$15,000 in anesthesia equipment to a teaching hospital in Juba. The club also supports a local orphanage.
- The Rotary E-Club of District 3170, Goa, India, became one of the newest additions to the e-club fold in April, with 25 charter members. With members from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Norway, South Africa, and the United States, the club meets both online and in person. A recent tree-planting project encouraged members to plant a tree in their neighborhood during the first two weeks of July.
- The Rotary Club of Berlin International, chartered in 2009, is the first club in Germany to target the large international community in the nation’s capital. The club, with 31 members from 14 countries, conducts its meetings in English. Among its fundraisers, it organized a campaign in Germany encouraging people to donate in support of polio eradication by texting "POLIO."
- The Rotary Club of Ramallah, the first club chartered in territory under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, was admitted by the RI Board in May 2010. The 34 members have initiated projects including a winter clothing bank, and are working with the district to develop community parks. Read about the club's charter celebration.
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