Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 12.06.2012

December 6, 2012

Today’s Program | Inbound Exchange Student Diatou Gueye (O’Neill)

Next Week: District Governor Joe Kovarik (Esse). Rotary lapel pins are mandatory

Birthdays: Cindy Wang (12/1), Caroline Riofrio (12/2), John Ehresmann (12/4)

Last Week:

We got it straight from St. Nick, himself. Keep on giving. Our work is changing the world.

Mike Leming, retired St. Olaf College sociology professor, author and longtime champion of sustainable development in the remote hills of Thailand, channeled Santa Claus for a full-throttle update on his work over there.

Mike has been involved in the Lahu village in Thailand for 24 years. For a decade, he led St. Olaf student groups to the area and has spent the last 14 years, independently arranging for some 300 college students, alumni groups and others to make the trip. His mission is to improve the lives of the hill people by reviving the sustainable farming practices that have been threatened by western farming practices. His goal is to help 100 local families establish sustainable farms.

Forests in the hill country were cleared to accommodate western farming practices, practices that are heavily dependent on chemical fertilizers and leave the top soil vulnerable to erosion. Rather than raise corn, Mike is encouraging local farmers to plant more environmentally friendly crops, such as coffee, mangoes, and bananas.

Mike reminded us that our Rotary club has already made several investments in this community. We have helped equip and expand a school he founded there, and we have contributed to the digging of wells.

He uses his Santa Claus persona to raise funds for his Lahu projects. During the holiday season, he makes appearances as arbiter of all things naughty and nice. Any money he receives, he matches and redirects to Lahu.

Mike says it is important to give back. The author of many books on death and dying, he said no one leaves this world with any money. The resources we have already committed to Lahu have been meaningful and have made a difference. “You are world changers,” he said.

Paul Harris Fellowships: Fellowships were awarded to Craig Ellingboe and Virginia Kaczmarek. Greg Carlson was recognized for his eighth fellowship.

Ethical Moment: Last week we learned we are not obligated to loan money to family and friends, especially if it puts our own finances in a precarious state. However, if we have the means, go ahead and do it, but don’t expect to be repaid.

Next question: If someone tells an offensive joke in your presence, is it your responsibility to say something about it.

Guests: Mary Ellingboe (Ellingboe), Barbara Caldwell (Kallestad) Jim Frie (Barnes), Gaby Munoz and Kyla Smith (Amerman), Mac Gimse (Bill Carlson)

Scholarship Enhancement: James Schlichting


The Turkey Trot was a roaring success. Robert Bierman, committee chair, said we netted an impressive $14,700. Greg Carlson retained his club title as the first male member to cross the finish line; Queen Jane trotted the talk and was the club’s first female to finish.

Thank you to Teresa Tilson, Tate Running, Jane Fenton and Jacob Conway for representing us in the Northfield Library’s Trivia Bee. Our team finished second. The winners were Justin London, Betsy Buckheit and Steve and Jane Poskanzer of Carleton College, but hey, who’s going to remember that bit of trivia 12 months from now.

Missy Ahrens is inviting club members to bring a food item or cash donations to Rotary each week during the holidays to help stock the Northfield Food Shelf. “We want to ensure the community is fed and can enjoy the holidays,” she said.

Mark your calendars. The next Rotary social will be Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Northfield High School. Details to follow.

The Rice County Chapter of the Salvation Army is recruiting bell ringers during the holiday season. If you are interested, contact Fred Rogers.

Coming up:

Dec. 20 Gary Carlson, MD, Alternative Medicine (B. Carlson)
Dec. 27 — No meeting
Dec. 29 — Rotary Social