I've written, lots!, but somewhere along the line I'm sure I've mentioned how Rotary appears to be a very good infrastructure for 'Doing Good Things'. Above each club is the Rotary District. Each District reports to RIBI, Rotary International in Britain and Ireland. RIBI reports to Rotary International. The system is a classic heirachy, rules come down from above and should be implemented. Feedback and ideas come from the ground up and will re-shape the rules from time to time.
Our club's District is 1120, and the structure is open that even a new Rotarian like me can turn up to the quarterly district meeting to find out whats going on and give an opinion. As you've probably guessed I have plenty of opinions! I went to the district evening meeting last month where most clubs were represented, giving a room full of somewhere near 100 people. The structure to handle that number of people was such that most things had already been discussed in separate sub committees and the meeting was essentially a forum for these to report their status and seek approval to do new things or make significant changes to procedures, as well as answer questions from anyone present.
I learn't two things:
1) That there's a fine line between; giving a large group of people information as a basis to vote upon, and them all understanding information in order to vote the way they mean. This is especially true when there were more than a couple of Rotarians with a hearing aid or two...
2) This (Rotary at District level) is an organisation that actively looks to improve things and it not, in principle, frightened of change.
The biggest example of this was a brief discussion on the organisation of the District Conference. It has been organised 2 years in advance (it happens each year but takes 2 years to plan) but the suggestion was made it's organised further in advance by a new sub committee. The reason being there are so few conference venues that can take over a 1,000 people in a single weekend event. Next week I go to this years District Conference being held in Eastbourne, a town not in our district! I booked 'late' by Rotary standards, which meant I haven't got a place at the formal dinner - 1,150 people booked before me and I've since found out that some clubs choose to go to local restaurants so there will be a lot of people there. Next year, or maybe the year after - I forget now, the conference will be in Brighton at a large hotel with more space. You don't have to stay in the hotel but if you can. It's 350 or so for the weekend with accommodation. Some people in the room took this as you HAD to stay at that hotel in order to go to the conference - out of the budget of many, therefore voted against brighton for the following year and said they'd rather go back to Eastbourne. The idea of planning 5 years in advance seemed to get pushed aside in the end.
For me this meeting also highlighted the pleasure of fellowship. I was on a table with a retired paper salesman. While talking the conversation came around to youth clubs and my involvement with the Air Training Corps (I'm a Civilian Instructor at 1242 Faversham Squadron). It turns out this retired paper salesman was a Cadet in the Air Training Corps in the first few months of it's formation in 1941. He left to join the air force and flew Mosquito's over northern france amongst other things. I am constantly amazed by the people I'm meeting through Rotary. I don't think I should be amazed, after all there were a lot of pilots, and a lot of people have done a lot of different things. I think the difference is I'm taking the time to speak to more people and therefore finding things I'd never have known about before.
Anyway, back onto the topic of district, outside of the meetings I've seen lots of email on different subjects continuously developing things. There seems a growing emphasis on recruitment and 'the missing generation', Rotarians between the age of 25 - 50. No doubt this was the impetus to our club being formed. At 32 I'm clearly in the missing generation referred to. I'm curious to find out more about what this means (I've started asking for the membership statistics) and the history that's led to this. At the moment I've no idea if Rotary is growing or shrinking in size. It's reassuring to see that at a District and higher level these details are being worked on, so I can concentrate on my roll within the club. It's also nice that, so far at least, everyone I've emailed a question to has been very helpful. I get the feeling that if I emailed the R.I. President for this year, D.K.Lee, I'd get a personal response.