February 1, 2019

NEXT MEETING: February 1, 2019

The 1951 Coffee Company, and Refugees

Melanie Miksis is joining us today to speak on behalf of the Berkeley-based, refugee-empowering non-profit organization, 1951 Coffee Company, a non-profit specialty coffee organization that promotes the well-being of the refugee community in the US, providing job training and employment to refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders while educating the surrounding community about refugee life and issues.


  • Josh Genser reminded all that our Club will be assisting with placing wood barriers around some oak trees in conjunction with Pogo Park on 8th Street on 4/6. Come out and work or just come to provide moral support…eats and drinks will be provided.
  • Jan Brown informed us that there will also be a Spring Assembly on 3/23 in Chico
  • Connie Tritt announced that the Annual Conference will be held at the Pepper Mill in Reno from 5/17-19. She wondered if there was interest in members doing a train trip? Ah… John Nicol those were the days!!!
  • Oscar Garcia offered another service opportunity with tree planting on 23rd Street on 3/30. We are getting down and dirty this year.
  • Pam Jones indicated that the District is now recognizing “Triple Crown” mega contributors to Rotary and our own Jon Lawlis is a member of that exclusive club. Congrats Jon!!
  • Erle Brown was happy to report that the Crab Feed is sold out! By the time you read this hopefully the smell of crab will have left your fingertips…and you would have spent some money on Auction items that was organized by Alan Baer.
  • Jan Brown wondered if anyone in the Club might be interested in being a chaperone for an exchange student with the Shimada Friendship Commission? A trip to Japan! Contact Jan if you are interested

MEETING OF January 25, 2019


Prez Jerry welcomed all to the friendly Richmond Rotary Club and Grandpa Jon Lawlis led the Pledge. Bob Dabney offered a prayer for peace and also to keep our members who may not be doing well in our thoughts. Sergeant-at-Arms Sid offered: “I was brought up to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.”

Visiting Rotarians and Guests

Josh Surowitz’ guest was Chad Workswright and Liliane Kozial had as her guest Mariya Katsman.

Recognitions and Happy and Sad Dollars

Oscar Garcia did the honors:

  • David Brown celebrated a birthday and is only 2 years away from Medicare!       Just a kid!
  • Josh Surowitz celebrated 11 years in the Club
  • Liliane celebrated a wedding anniversary.
  • Josh Genser was sad he lost his plus-one at Richmond CC…anyone want to be his plus one?? See Josh
  • Jon Lawlis was happy to get a Rotary business card from Jan Brown and since she did not want to charge him he made a nice donation to the Club
  • Tamara Shiloh was happy to announce that the Multi-Cultural Book Store is now open 7 days a week.
  • Nick Despota was happy he expanded the functionality of the website’s Recogntion page so Jon Lawlis may not need to extract the members’ anniversaries and birthdays manually for Ric and Oscar, who conduct the Recognitions at meetings. We’ll see if it works as advertised.
  • Sid was more than happy to report that Herb Cole would be having surgery soon on his “manly parts” … you really had to be there. Hope all goes well Herb!!!
  • Poor Jan Brown had to follow Sid and wanted to express her thanks to Nick for his excellent work on putting the Club Calendar up on our website…Atta boy, Nick!!
  • Ric Ambrose was happy to announce that his drawing would be on display at Triton Museum in Santa Clara. Congrats Ric that is awesome!!!
  • David Brown also had high praise for Webmaster Nick indicating that our website is the talk of the Rotary world. Another Atta boy, Nick!
  • Prez Jerry was happy that he has consolidated his offices, but unhappy about his encounter with his personal trainer. Ouch!
  • Jim Findley was happy that in 1973 there was legislation passed that protects his PG&E pension. Power up, Jim!


Artificial Intelligence Harnessed for Human Support

Liliane introduced our speaker Pablo Ferrari who has started an organization to address the homeless crisis by using artificial intelligence (AI). Pablo started Nomad Artificial Intelligence to provide support to homeless people: information about shelter locations, restrooms, social services, weather forecasts, and more. After conducting hundreds of on-street interviews with homeless people, Pablo and his team formed several hypotheses about conditions most likely to lead to positive outcomes:

  1. Help people access the right information at the right time
  2. Surround them with others with whom they are compatible.
  3. More safety in homeless encampments enables homeless people to sleep better and so make better decisions.
  4. Provide free smart phones when necessary (“Obamaphones”), charging stations, and connectivity. All that makes it more likely that people will achieve the first condition, above.

Pablo provided us with a few examples of what they have developed including FELIX which can serve as a mobile case manager and can provide information like weather forecasts found on a smart phone. He has also developed a plastic mobile Urban Nomadic Camp trailer, which can be attached to a bicycle. His prototypes of Nomadic Camp facilities can be constructed without screws or nails, and, as the name tells us, are quite mobile. For more information: www.nomads.ai


The Menehune, Rotating Editor