The month of February is very special in the Rotary calendar because it includes the anniversary of the first meeting of Rotary held on February 23, 1905, now designated as the World Understanding and Peace Day.  Rotary has also designated the entire month of February as World Understanding Month and asked all Rotary clubs to plan a special program to promote "understanding and goodwill as essential for world peace."
In that spirit, I am looking forward to Jim Palmquist’s presentation this week entitled: “Could War End in This Century?”   A timely topic indeed!  For those of you who don’t know, Jim is an active member of the Rotary Action Group for Peace and is working with others in the District to promote projects in this important Area of Focus.  Jim has also facilitated our club’s involvement in a Global Grant partnering with Mediators Without Borders to train women as peacebuilders throughout South America. 
At an international level, Rotary International President Ian H.S. Riseley is using his presidential conferences in 2018 to explore the connection between peace and Rotary’s five other areas of focus plus environmental sustainability. By focusing on the areas where Rotary does its most significant work, the series seeks to:
  • Elevate Rotary’s status as a global leader in each area of focus
  • Demonstrate The Rotary Foundation’s impact on our causes
  • Educate and inspire participants to increase their Rotary service
  • Provide an opportunity for members and nonmembers to explore project partnerships
The first of these conferences on Environmental Sustainability and Peace will take place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada this weekend.  Over 1,000 Rotarians and guests are expected to attend.  Through connections I made at the RI Convention in Atlanta last June, I facilitated an invitation for Maria Rodale to speak at this conference.  With her family’s heritage as pioneering the organic movement in this country and its linkage of healthy foods with healthy soil through the work of the Rodale Institute, Maria’s participation seemed a natural fit.
The other RI presidential conferences  are as follows:
  • 17 February – Water and Sanitation and Peace, Beirut, Lebanon
  • 24 February – Disease Prevention and Treatment and Peace, Coventry, England, United Kingdom
  • 17 March – Economic and Community Development and Peace, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 28 April – Maternal and Child Health and Peace, Taranto, Italy
  • 2 June – Basic Education and Literacy and Peace, Chicago, Illinois, USA
We can all be proud of our contributions to Rotary’s work around the world in promoting understanding and goodwill as essential elements for world peace.  It is humbling to recognize that we are all peacemakers when we touch the lives of others.
Yours in Rotary,