The Flywheel

Program for April 4th

A more peaceful world continued

Egypt Consul General

The Honorable Abderahman Salaheldin, Consul General of Egypt, offers his perspective on peace in the Middle East.

 

MEETING OF March 28th, 2008

Welcome, Invocation, Thought for the Day

Prez Pam rang the bell and launched a beautiful spring edition pf Richmond Rotary. New Red Badge Rookie Kerrie Andow led the Pledge of Allegiance. Stoney Stonework led the club in a moment of silence for Freedom, Justice and Peace around the world. Henry Kelman was asked to contribute a thought for the day and thought that this past week was the first week in the political season that he would give the Republicans a 50.50 chance of keeping the White House. As is his custom, Hank did not attribute this thought.

Visiting Rotarians

  • Chance Troughton from Hercules Rotary was visiting today. It also seems that Chance was accompanied by one Cory “The Kid” Lawrence who was trying to be unobtrusive, given his long absence from the club.

Rotarians with Guests

  • Jim Young introduced his neighbor and graphic artist, specializing in packaging design, Laura Kuhn. When Prez Pam asked Jim who his other guest was, after overcoming his sense of impending DOOM, Jim replied that his other guest wasn’t really a guest but his companion of 38+ years, his truly lovely wife Linda who is on Spring break from Vallejo USD.

Sunshine Report

There was no Sunshine Report today but a beaming Elof Granberg asked if anyone had read this month’s edition of “The Rotarian”. There were several affirmative replies and they all focused on the same area of interest that attracted Elof’s attention. Given our program subject for today, one might have expected a lot of that attention focused on the Rotary World Peace Fellowships advertising on the back cover. However, Elof and several others (including your editor) attention was drawn to page 59, under the subjective phraseology “Connections”. We note that this advertising had nothing to do with the magazine’s feature article on the technology revolution, “Plugged Into Rotary”.

Announcements

  • Raphael Madrigal encouraged members to participate in this year’s Cinco de Mayo parade from Richmond to San Pablo knowing they will be able to defy San Pablo Rotary’s harsh ban on the carrying of the Richmond Rotary banner into San Pablo. Raphael said that those who participate in this Act of First Amendment Expression will be richly rewarded afterwards via his hospitality at Plaza Garibaldi with libations in the Mexican tradition. (Plaza Garibaldi has been previously known as the Old Greyhound Bus Stop at 23rd St. & Exchange. Richmond Cinco de Mayo celebration will be held on tres de Mayo, Sabido.)
  • EJ Shalaby reminded the club of the bowl-a-thon for Rotovision on April 12th at the Albany Bowl, 5:00 -7:30 PM. This has turned into a duel between EJ’s team and Josh Genser’s challengers for the designations “Strikers” &/or ”Gutter Ballers”. The teams are looking for $50 member sponsorships for the Rotovision program.

Special Events

Who Am I?

Red Badge Rookie Joshua Surowitz overcame another hurdle between himself and his Blue Badge with a recounting of his story. Born in Detroit in 1974, he characterized his upbringing in a “typical Jewish family”, except for a short move to Santa Barbara, centered on the family clothing store in Detroit. Josh graduated from high school in Detroit and attended Central Michigan University. His liberal arts education at CMU did not lead to the job of his dreams and the combination of some California Dreaming, marriage to his wife Emily and law school at Golden Gate U. in the City has resulted in a career in Immigration Law at Epstein Surowitz & Bell with offices at El Cerrito Plaza.

Josh is delighted to live in Albany close to his office and Emily’s job with the Albany School District. Josh concluded his Who Am I noting he is pleased to be part of Richmond Rotary and that, “I like most of you”. Still recovering from that impending sense of DOOM, your Editor missed several of Josh’s one-liners and suggests you all get to know him better for the fun of it.

Recognitions

  • Prez Pam recognized Kerri Andow for leaving her cookie plate at Pam’s home after the successful New Member Reception Wednesday. Prez Pam informed Kerri of the old Rotary tradition of having to recover things lost then found with a contribution to the club kitty. Kerri found herself caught short but was vigorously defended by several members who considered her bourbon cookies well worth the acceptance of an IOU.
  • Lovely Leslie Levy continued recognitions with a two-for-one special as birthday boys and architects Don Hardison and Tom Butt celebrated their B-Days on the 23rd. Don was delighted to celebrate his 92nd birthday on Easter. Besides being a beautiful day Don noted he will have to wait another 80+ years to do it again. Tom for his part asked the Beatles rhetorical question, “Will you still love when I’m 64?”.
  • Leslie then recognized Josh Surowitz birthday on the 24th.
  • Leslie moved right along to EJ Shalaby’s 6th wedding anniversary to Jeanine. EJ said Jeanine does not like wet and cold so they went skiing and given EJs athletic prowess, maybe for the last time. All worked out though. All the recognized Rotarians contributed to the RI Foundation.

Happy and Sad Dollars

    Leslie asked if there were any Happy or Sad Dollars in the House?

  • Herb Cole had sad $$ because he is not going to be at Rotary for his 70th birthday next week April 2nd, but Herb had $100 for the Community Fund anyway. Herb will be celebrating with his Mama and family in Beaumont TX.
  • Elof Granberg had Happy $$ for the Connections ad in “The Rotarian”.
  • Dandy Don Lau had Happy $$ for 25th anniversary with West County YMCA, noting that if he hadn’t gotten that job, he would not have joined Rotary.
  • Jan Brown had $92 Happy Dollars for her dad Don Hardison’s 92nd birthday.
  • John Wilson had Happy $$ for the City of Richmond finally fixing Barrett Ave. in from of Josh Genser’s house. Your Editor notes that City Manager Bill Lindsey and City Treasure Jim Goins will be at Rotary June 20th for a “State of the City” presentation so members can thank them in person and maybe encourage them to do the same thing on Carlston St. from Barrett to MacDonald.
  • Past District Governor (PDG) Warner Schwarz, who has been surprisingly silent about the Connections ad, had sad $$ for Leslie’s memory problems, but Happy $$ for the 88th birthday of Richmond Rotary this week.
  • Joe Bagley has Sad $$ for the memory of his elder sister who passed away. Our condolences Joe.
  • Hank Covell had Happy $$ for the presence of Joe Nusbaum whom we all have missed at meetings.
  • Joe Nusbaum had “Happy To Be Here” Dollars.
  • Jim Young had Happy $$ for his youngest son Zion who is not only graduating from San Jose State in May in Aerospace Engineering, but has been designated a Dean’s Scholar. This was a pleasant unexpected surprise given Zion’s required grade related departure from SJS in his second year. $$ went to Zion’s Paul Harris.

Raffle Results

Leigh Johnson had the luck of the draw and with a 50/50 chance got the orange ball! Don’t spend all that money on one place Leigh!

THE PROGRAM

Conflict Resolution for the Niger River


earth from space

President Pam Jones began the program with the introduction of Emmy Irobi who is a Nigerian by birth and currently a resident of Poland and active Rotarian. Emmy is currently a Rotary Peace Fellow at Cal and because he is a Rotarian he is paying his own way. His interest in peace studies is the result of being impressed into the Biafran Civil War at the age of eight in 1968.

Emmy launched into a scholarly presentation of the nature of the conflict and possible strategies for its resolution in the Niger River delta which is the oil producing region of the country of Nigeria. He made the point that the region is a paradox with simulations great mineral wealth from oil and great poverty resulting from oil exploitation. The Delta is the home of 20 million Nigerian representing 800 language and ethnic groups. Emmy said the people of the delta are historically farmers and fisherman and do not want war. But oil extraction is destroying their way of life because of large scale environmental pollution from spillage and habitat destruction caused by drilling and the ground level flaring of natural gas which is currently unrecoverable. The delta oil wealth at full production accrues at $1billion a day, but reaches neither the people of the delta where it is produced, nor the rest of Nigerians as it is concentrated in the hands of the Nigerian governmental and military elite. Emmy the point that this diversion of national wealth is a direct violation of the Nigerian constitution, and that title to mineral wealth and the resulting revenue is to be held in trust for all the people of Nigeria. The destruction of a way of life and ecosystem and the complete diversion of wealth produced is the source of the conflict in the Niger Delta. Emmy then gave a listing of the many forms the conflict takes (see the 6:00 news for specifics) all supported economically on “bunkering”, the process of stealing oil from transport pipelines which Emmy said is used both by rebels, criminals and government factions. Emmy reminded us that Nigeria is the sixth largest international exporter of oil through concessions granted primarily to Shell and Exxon with 50 % of exports going to the United States.

Emmy then described a recommended conflict resolution strategy whereby the Nigeria government opens dialogues and gives amnesty to militant groups to allow them participate in a negotiation process. “As far as conflict resolution is concerned Nigeria needs a ‘deliberative democracy’ supporting robust deliberative decision making by enabling citizens to allocate their time and knowledge to the issues most pertinent to them.’ Local citizens (not the remote central government) should retain power and judgment over public matters like local resource distribution. Then governmental institutions will work better by increasing the extent to which they also pursue joint interactive problem solving, rather than their historic pursuit of one out come from competing interests and power.

The Nigeria government should consider Joint Interactive Mediation (JIM) strategy for resolving not only Niger Delta conflict but other ethnic skirmishes elsewhere in the country (like the Christian/Moslem conflict in northern Nigeria). JIM as a model of problem-solving is not flawless, but is a contribution which could stimulates further discourse on conflict resolution in Nigeria. JIM is a change-oriented and diagnostic sequential process of problem-solving and conflict resolution, facilitated by multiculturally competent neutral third party mediators and social science experts. It is implemented by conflict managers in order to assist disputants and stakeholders identify salient issues in conflict. It emphasizes the restoration of civil relationships and rebuilding impaired communication among parties, the lack of which are major impediments to any joint negotiation process".

JIM is an extended model of problem solving pioneered by eminent scholars like John Burton, Fisher and Kelman. However, it differs from the early approaches to conflict resolution because it emphasizes:

  1. Combination of multicultural competency of professionals
  2. Using the sequential process as a template to coach participants and disputants the important skills of conflict resolution. Lack of these skills may hinder interpersonal relations as well conflict resolution
The Program ended with an exchange of banners between Emmy’s club in Poland and Richmond Rotary. Thank you Emmy Irobi for your hopeful presentation that successful conflict resolution can be learned and the idea that complex, dangerous conflicts can be managed.

- Your Rotating Editor, Jim Young