Cogwheel Archive

Rotary Cogwheel | 08.15.2013

August 17, 2013

Today: Erica Zweifel Classification (Rich)

Birthdays: Leo Lawlor (8/15) and Tim Madigan (8/16)

Next Week: Greg Zweber, Rice County Big Brothers and Big Sisters (Spethmann)

Last Week:
Matt Covey is a unique blend. He has a musician’s soul and a bureaucrat’s sensibility. These traits have allowed him to develop a thriving business called Tamizdat, a New York-based, non-profit that helps international performing artists secure U.S. visas for their concerts and tours.

Its genesis came from Matt’s own nomadic, musical life in Europe in the 1990s. It was an exciting, heady time to be playing punk music in Europe following the fall of the Berlin Wall. After bringing his own band to New York, other musician friends wanted to follow. Matt became the intermediary between the artists and the federal bureaucracy that issues visas. Matt was soon identified by record labels, agents, concert promoters and others as their go-to guy. “What started as a hobby mushroomed into a real business,” Matt said.

He has stumbled into a niche interpreting and navigating arcane immigration law. He worked exclusively with performance artists until recently when a law degree equipped him to extend his service to other types of artists.

Matt’s work has brought him in close contact with Homeland Security. Once they interrupted his family’s breakfast with an urgent concern. He has become a bridge, sensitizing the bureaucrats to the ways of musicians and sensitizing musicians to the needs of the bureaucrats. He sometimes finds himself in the role of the fixer, helping border patrol or Homeland Security sort out fact from fiction. Few of his visa applications are denied due to the diligence of his staff that assembles the dossiers and files the applications, and the pre-screening that Matt does. They’ve worked with a few “bad apples,” he said, but they are few and far between.

Mini Classification:
Next year, Keith Covey will mark his 40th year as a member of this Rotary club. He joined when he served as Director of Facilities at Carleton College and now, in retirement, values the community connections he has developed through Rotary. He notes that our club has an interesting blend of the old and the new and the benefit of many members with ties to education.

Keith is proud of our growing youth exchange program and our club’s willingness to create new and less traditional partnerships, i.e. our commitment to the KEY.

Paul Harris Fellow: Michelle Lasswell was recognized for her contributions to the Paul Harris Foundation.

 Last Week’s Guests: Lori Middeldorp (Fenton), Dale Gehring (Young) and Roberto Pedros-Bretos (O’Neill and Quinnell).

Scholarship Enhancement: David Wolf. It wasn’t $145 million, but it was something.

Jesse James Bike Tour: Only 23 days to go! We need some 140 volunteers to make this happen. Are you going to be one of them?

St. Olaf College Friendship Family program looks to match Northfield families with international students. Lori Middeldorp, program coordinator, said there are 64 new international students this year from 33 countries. Two-thirds have indicated interest in the local cross-cultural exchange program. The idea is to get together several times during the year with the student to share fun and interesting activities. If you are interested, contact Lori at or go to:

President Prichard reported that Roni Deschamp is recovering from a heart attack. Well wishes were captured on a club program that was shared with her.

President Prichard has learned of an opportunity to join an upcoming trip to Togo, West Africa in October 2013 to participate in a polio immunization exercise, attend the 9th Annual West Africa Project Fair, and engage in a hands-on work project.  If you are interested you will need to reply soon; the sponsors expect this trip to be filled in the next several days. The trip dates are October 15-24. The cost is $1,689 double occupancy. If you are interested, contact:
Bradford R. Howard, PDG, North American Coordinator, West Africa Project Fair Committee/ 516 Grand Avenue,Oakland, CA  94610/ (510) 834-2260, E-mail:

Coming Up:

Aug. 29 — Heart Safe, a project of Northfield Hospital & Clinics Emergency Medicine Services (Richardson)

Sept. 5 — Bike Tour Planning

Sept. 12 — Meet our new Youth Exchange Students (Vicki Dilley)