Mid-Year Report
DG Steve Weitzen delivers his mid-year report not only in writing but for the first time, his musings is presented in video format as well.  
With the year end, most media - newspapers, magazines, journal, television networks and cable shows - have year in review articles and predictions for the upcoming year.
We in Rotary begin our year the first day of July and end the last day of June.  As such, we have reached the halfway point of our year.  
Accordingly, I want to review the year highlighting the good and the different.
To paraphrase Charles Dickens: These are the best of times and the worst of times.  Do we say such things every year - or just this year?  I do know this: out of crises comes opportunities.  And this year, Rotary opens opportunities for us to serve.  Especially serving those who most need our help.  
At the end, I will offer some observations on where we will go from here as a District, as clubs, as Rotarians.  So, stay with me. 

There are three things that have happened this year that I am so proud of.  First, we established the Anti Human Trafficking Committee chaired by Club 33 past president David Oates.  This committee has worked diligently all year.  They have created three training videos that are posted on the District web site.  These videos are well worth watching as it shows how we can do something to help survivors and end this scourge.  There are more training sessions to come.  I encourage clubs to embrace this cause. 
The committee has also submitted a Global Grant that is now being reviewed by The Rotary Foundation.  This Grant will, among other things, fund teacher training and billboard ads warning of human trafficking.  This will be a game changer as students return to school.
The second item, is the creation of the District’s Environmental Sustainability Committee chaired by Solana Beach Eco club’s past president, Amelie Catheline.  This committee was established in the middle of June - three weeks before Rotary International created the environment as a Seventh Avenue of Focus.  This is significant because starting July 1st, global grants can be awarded to clubs addressing the needs of the environment.  We have over 25 people serving on this committee.
The third item is the partnership we have created with District 4100 of Baja California.  This partnership includes our Governor line along with the Governor lines of Districts 4100, 5320 (Orange County), 5330 (Riverside County) and 5495 (most of Arizona).  This partnership will pay huge dividends in the years to come.  We will be able to work on international projects in Mexico giving our membership the Rotary international experience without the time and expense often associated with an international project.  
Moreover, we will meet Rotarians from other clubs in Southern California and Arizona that will lead to working on projects with those clubs and Districts.  All of this will enhance being a part of Rotary.  Our world view will be greatly expanded.  All the while doing good.
During this year, I have found clubs and Rotarians as engaged in service as ever before.  We understand the suffering of those in need and less fortunate.  Clubs have been involved in the community and in schools.  Giving money and gift cards to buy food, clothing and school supplies.  We haven’t stopped doing.  We allocated over 90 DDF grant projects and Global Grants within the first month of being eligible.  That is astounding!  We are more committed than ever to serve.
The fellowship that I witness at the club meetings (by Zoom) is a beautiful thing.  The kidding around and poking fun is still very much a part of our essence.  It is the 5th item of the Four-Way Test: “Is it fun?!” 
There is more good to talk about, but I want to set aside this time to talk about where we go from here.
So much has changed in the past nine months.  It is hard to imagine that things will go back to how they were once the pandemic has receded from view.  The way business is done has changed.  Travel will and public gatherings have changed.  Movie viewing has changed.  The arts have changed.  Grocery shopping, restaurant dining, meal delivery, shopping at the mall and seeing the doctor by Zoom instead of in person will impact our lives for years to come.

Where does that leave us in Rotary?  I have no inside information, but I don’t see a Rotary Convention in Taipei this June.  I believe we will have another virtual convention.  And, it will be even better than last year’s virtual convention.  I would not be surprised to see hybrid conventions in the future as more people will be able to attend and participate.
President Elect Training Seminar (PETS) will be virtual in March.  The following year will be in person, but it will have a totally different look and feel than in years past.  PETS will be shorter in time and less focused on education and more focused on leadership development.  The educational component will be presented during the course of six-months leading up to PETS. 
Our District trainings and seminars will continue to be on Zoom.  Why?  Because, attendance has shown that as many, if not more, people attend on Zoom than in person.  There is no cost for venues on Zoom saving Rotarians and clubs money.  The time spent at a training or seminar is less than in person thereby not intruding into peoples weekends or evenings.  In addition, people can learn on their own time rather than a specific, designated time.

Now we get to the bigger question: what do our clubs look like after all this?
There were a handful of clubs that did not embrace or adapt to Zoom.  They stopped having meetings.  I doubt they will come back in time.  Hopefully, these Rotarians will join other clubs near their home or work. The rest of the clubs have survived and many have thrived under Zoom.  We all got a taste of what an E-club is like.  Clubs continued to meet online.  Clubs continued to do projects and community service.  Many clubs brought in speakers from around the world to educate, inform  and entertain us.
RI President Holger Knaack spoke to us in June.  Past RI President Ian Riseley spoke to us from Australia and Past RI president Barry Rassin will speak to us from the Bahamas.  All this, and more, is possible because of Zoom.

Zoom should be a part of every club going forward.  I would like to see at least one club meeting per month on Zoom.  This is important because Zoom allows members who cannot otherwise attend regularly to stay connected to the club.  As we have learned, we don’t have to travel to breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings and then return to work.  There is a time savings factor involved.  There is also an economic factor involved as well.  Being a part of a Rotary club should not be a financial consideration.  For some, it is.
As our presidents elect begin to plan their budgets for the upcoming year, I would like them, in collaboration with the current president and board, to set aside a line item for the purchase of equipment to Zoom in-person meetings to those who are unable to attend.  This will allow meetings to be hybrids.  We are looking at an expense of $1,000 to $2,000.
I would like our clubs to look at ways and means to be more flexible and adaptable to the changing ways.  For instance, breakfast and lunch clubs: have an evening meeting once a month on a different day than the regular meeting day.  For the evening clubs, have a lunch meeting once a month on a different day than the regular meeting day.  This will make the club attractive to more people who don’t have the kind of time to make the meetings on a regular basis.
One more thing, if I could.  What Rotarian doesn’t like a social?  Once a month, have a cocktail social with another club in your area.  This is a great way to meet and become friends with other Rotarians in the area.  It could lead to working on projects together such as blood drives, food drives, clothing drives, school supplies, etc.  Now, that’s a beautiful thing.
Finally, I would like each club to have a club assembly in the next three months to explore what their club will look like in the next year or two.  What new strategies and ideas will emerge as we come out of the pandemic and meet in person again.  For sure, our clubs will not look the same or be the same.  Let’s get together and plan for a brighter future.  
After all, Rotary opens opportunities.