NEXT MEETING: April 17, 2015
Cooking up American Dreams out of Kitchen@812
The Business Development Center (BDC) is a nonprofit agency providing free business assistance to aspiring low-income, minority and women entrepreneurs. One of its core programs includes Kitchen@812 – a food business incubator program cultivating East Bay food start-ups from the ground up, providing food business training, resources and access to an affordable shared commercial kitchen space. As the Communications and Program Manager, Raquel Toledo is responsible for events and programs that promote BDC services and encourage community support for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business development in Contra Costa County. Raquel will share plans for upcoming events that support Kitchen@812.
- Alan Baer announced that Rotary District 5160 will be holding the annual District Assembly on Saturday, April 25, at Solano Community College in Vallejo starting at 8:00am (free coffee and donuts to start the day). Register for the meeting (including free lunch and meeting over by 2pm) at the District’s website.
- Stoney reminded everyone about the 24th annual Salesian High School Golf Tournament being held on Monday, May 4, at the Richmond Country Club. For more info, visit the event web page to sign up. Proceeds from the event are used to support the Salesian College Preparatory Scholarships and Tuition Grants Program for students in need.
MEETING OF April 10, 2015
President Stoney Stonework called the meeting to order at the Richmond Country Club and Tom Waller led the pledge of allegiance. Stoney asked for a moment of silence for freedom, peace, and justice on earth. Sid Chauvin provided this thought for the day: “If God had wanted us to touch our toes, He would have put them on our knees.”
Visiting Rotarians and Guests
- Jon Lawlis introduced his daughter, Alyssa, who is visiting from SoCal.
- Liliane Koziol introduced her husband Ken along with good friends Josiane Siegfried and Willie Bennett. Liliane also asked each of her 15 other guests (UC Berkeley students and visiting scholars from around the world) to introduce themselves. What a terrific group and a real pleasure for all of us to welcome them! (With a couple of visiting scholars being from South Korea, Herb Cole pointed out that Rotary International’s annual convention will be in Seoul, South Korea, in 2016, after being in Sao Paulo, Brazil this year.)
- Mac Lingo joined us from Berkeley Rotary.
Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars
- David Brown (21 years) and Dan Sanders (40 years) were recognized for their March anniversaries of joining the Richmond Rotary Club.
- Herb Cole was recognized for his 76th birthday on April 2.
- Alan Baer had some happy dollars about the Richmond Rotary Club’s 95th anniversary celebrated during the first week of April and the related fun barbeque gathering at his house on Saturday, April 4.
- Alan Blavins was happy to be home from his latest fishing expedition, this time to Argentina. They caught over 100 fish (“some of the most beautiful fish in the world”), the biggest one being 38 pounds. Alan was also happy to support the annual Soroptimist dinner event on May 11. Ask Alan for more info.
- Jon Lawlis had happy dollars for his daughter’s visit (as did Herb Cole). Jon was looking forward to going to an A’s baseball game with Alyssa.
- Jim Young was happy about having just attended a San Francisco Symphony concert featuring violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell, and his $4.5 million Stradivarius.
- Sid Chauvin was happy to admit that he was wrong for bad-mouthing preparations for the recent Plumbers Union 100th anniversary celebration held at the Craneway Pavilion. It turned out to be a wonderful event.
- Willie Bennett offered happy dollars for having lost 50 pounds for medical reasons and for being Liliane’s guest today.
- David Brown was happy to be going out on police patrol in the afternoon, something he hasn’t done for a long time.
Apropos of Charlie Hebdo: The French Satirical Spirit
Liliane Koziol introduced the program speaker, Francois Miglio, an affable artist from southern France who lives in the Bay Area and exhibits his paintings widely. Besides doing his artistic work, he spends a lot of time observing social and cultural happenings. He occasionally expresses his understanding of what he has witnessed through satirical drawings that include decorative, politically incorrect wine labels.
At today’s meeting, Francois undertook to share his thoughts on the January 2015 murders at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly newspaper. While his spoken English was not always crystal clear, for sure it was much better than what most of us could do with French.
There are always beginnings and the one Francois started with was the late 2004 murder by a Muslim radical of a Danish film maker who had released a short film criticizing the treatment of women in Islam. That event unleashed a string of incidents, demonstrations, and protests around the world over the following years that Francois thoroughly chronicled with supportive slides.
For Francois, the Charlie Hebdo murders on French soil in January of this year deeply shocked and destabilized the French psyche in ways not fully understood even here in America where we sometimes think we’re alone in treasuring freedom of expression.
In fact, there are very deep roots to freedom of speech in France going back to the mid-1700’s when official restrictions on “blasphemy” (including irreverence and sacrilege) were abolished. To speak out, to be able to contest and challenge – to fight against – every source of power with different ideas is seen as a most fundamental French value. To be offended by an idea (like a caricature of the prophet Mohammed) is one thing but then to kill because of that offense is unspeakably inhuman and inexcusable. That’s the point.
Many thanks to Francois for coming to share his views with Richmond Rotary. For those of us who were at the meeting, Francois passed around one of the almost 8 million special-edition Charlie Hebdo newspapers that were published in the days after the January killings (prior typical print run was about 60,000 papers). Francois’ daughter in Paris waited in line overnight to get a copy which she sent to her dad and which we got to hold. Je suis Charlie (“I am Charlie”).
Tom Waller, Rotating Scribe