By KC Williams, president, Rotary Club of Maryville, Tennessee, USA
I absolutely love being a member of Rotary. My Rotary membership experiences both in the United States and in the Caribbean over the past 15 years have created a lasting impact on my life choices and experiences. So, it is not lightly that I admit that I have successfully avoided serving as president of a Rotary club until now and, as usual, my timing is impeccable.
As the incoming president of a small, dynamic club in Maryville, Tennessee, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to establish a clear direction to focus my club’s energy and resources during this time of social distancing, national political division, and the resulting economic hardship being experienced by so many of my fellow community members.
I had the opportunity to hear District Global Grants Chair Jim Roxlo speak about the Rotary Positive Peace Academy and our partnership with the Institute for Economics and Peace. I knew immediately that I could use the eight Pillars of Positive Peace to guide my club through a purposeful discovery of how these pillars exist in Blount County, Tennessee.
So, I quickly went to work on a plan that would take advantage of the limitations imposed by the pandemic but still accomplish a review of the pillars and their application to Blount County. I identified the following as barriers that needed to be overcome:
- The limited contact between members due to social distancing.
- The online meeting format’s impact on club members working together to accomplish measurable outcomes.
- The impact of the existing club program structure of hosting a different presenter each week on club members’ abilities to hold meaningful discussions.
This year, I have been guided by how limited choices impacts the development of a sustainable community in Blount County. I assigned each of the eight Pillars of Positive Peace to a calendar month, building programming around the assigned topic (pillar) across the entire month. The remaining four months have been assigned the following topics: The Power of Choice, The Rotary Foundation, The Community Health Update, and The Year in Review.
Our new program structure for each month follows a set pattern:
- Week one features a program speaker on monthly topic
- Week two features guided table talks on the monthly topic
- Week three features a tech tool program that ties into the monthly topic
- Week four is club member celebration
- Week five is for club assembly
At the beginning of each month I send a club email introducing our monthly topic (pillar). At the end of each month I send out a summary of the issues identified by the club as limiting the power of choice on a local level. The most important part of my summaries are the members’ ideas for how our club can support this Pillar of Positive Peace in Blount County.
At the end of the year, I will take my members’ ideas and compile them into a guide that can be used for future planning. My hope is that this year-long discovery process will produce an engaged membership that is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about Positive Peace and is able to make informed decisions about using club resources, both financially and through volunteer efforts, to build Positive Peace in our community.