Monday, 19 September 2022

A Clean and Green River

What a weekend that was! After months of planning, scheming, arranging (and yes, as always a bit of infighting) the local version of World Cleanup Day turned out to be a triumph.

More than a thousand volunteers took part at various sections of the Braamfontein Spruit and tributaries to try to clean up the mess that littering and flooding inevitably brings down the rivers and streams.

    Husband-and-wife team Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn in front of a new club banner

All this as well as the impressive Environment Village at Delta Park in the suburb of Craighall Park was arranged and co-ordinated by our very own Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn, who had no time to rest on their laurels, but worked like slaves throughout the day.

One could say that success was more or less guaranteed from a couple who built a green maternity hospital in Kinshasa.

                        Before ... the mess on our small stretch of the spruit was unimaginable
     And after ... a small stretch of newly cleaned spruit

The Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn tackled a stretch of the Braamfontein Spruit along with the Green Team from the security firm Community Active Protection (CAP), pupils from Parktown Girls and a few Parkview residents.

There was much talk about adopting that little stretch of the river that doesn't flow through concrete storm water troughs, as an ongoing project and jumping in, so to speak, every few months. There's a retaining wall built from very rusty petrol drums that needs replacing as well.

                        Up to his waist in it. Paul Kasango was one of the hardest working cleaners
                         Carol Stier holding up a pair of unmentionables that she dug up from the river bed

The two hardest working of the New Dawn team were without a doubt Carol Stier and Paul Kasango, ably assisted by the Green Team, who could potentially help us again. They filled five huge bags of debris within a few short hours and would probably have managed many more if there were bags available.

                         Members of the cleanup team after a satisfying morning's toil

Another hard worker was club president Julian Nagy, whose speech was by all accounts one of the highlights of the Environment Village proceedings. Another highlight there was the National School of the Arts choir, especially with their rendition of the Carly Simon classic Let The River Run, very appropriate on the day.

                        The NSA Choir
                        President Julian Nagy
                                      DGN George Senosha

There were a number of guests, both Rotary and other, chief amongst them District Governor Nominee George Senosha of the Rotary Club of Waterkloof in Pretoria, who will be DG in the Rotary year 2024/2025.

New Dawn was fittingly prominent all day, especially with our new big branded banners and gazebo arranged by Joan Sainsbury, the kind of paraphernalia that we will be able to put to good use on other occasions.

Meeting: New club member Rayana Edwards will be the speaker on Wednesday. She'll be talking about her charity projects Sari for Change.

Don't forget to bring along a few bottles for the Barrow of Booze, the main prize in the raffle for the Golf Day on Friday, 21 October. If booze is not your thing, a few bottles of interesting cool drinks will also do.

A Thought for the Week: Grief is the price we pay for love. - Queen Elizabeth II (1926 - 2022)

Monday, 12 September 2022

Living Local, Thinking Global

The Auckland Park Residents Association (APRA) is prone to fighting, infighting, fiercely fighting, you name it. It's not surprising, given that a smallish suburb of about 4000 residents has suddenly swollen to more than double that size, mainly because of university residences.

Presiding over this rapid change and the challenges it raises specially in terms of the strain on ageing municipal resources is, amongst others, Neal Gooch, an America resident of the once flourishing suburb who is given to smoothing over simmering feuds and dissatisfaction while going all out to resolve issues.

                              Neal Gooch addressing the club

Neal has served in the APRA executive since 2014 and chairs the Auckland Park Security Collaboration and is currently helping to launch a pilot of the Johannesburg Safercity initiative. He addressed the club on Engaging In Your Community.

He is an ex-Rotarian and said who he is and loves and cares about overlaps very much with what Rotary does.

"Like Rotary, we live local and think global. We're the live, work, play and most of all serve kind of people."

       Neal, his wife, Jennifer and their family of five in a leafy Auckland Park street

Neal and his wife, Jennifer, have five young adult sons and have lived in Johannesburg for the past 20 years. He hails from Delaware in the USA and he did a business degree at the University of Georgia on a football scholarship.

Residents have to deal with not only the usual issues of electricity and water supply. "In South Africa we also have to deal with crime and have to deal with grime."

"I often feel overwhelmed (by what we're facing) but I work things through," he said.

"We're trying to make students a part of our community, a community where, to put it bluntly, a lot of old white people are facing the reality of a lot of young black people. We're getting on pretty well."

              PDG and RRFC Jankees Sligcher with Rotary President Jennifer Jones

In response Judy Sligcher quoted Rotary President Jennifer Jones: In order to live in the kind of society we want, we have to help build it.

Jankees Sligcher met the Canadian at the Zone Institution in Abidjan, Ivory Coast a week ago.

               Mpho Mogotse with Joan Sainsbury and Helene Bramwell

There was lots to celebrate when Mpho Mogotse attended the meeting after being crowned as Mrs Universe Africa. She was congratulated by Joan Sainsbury and Helene Bramwell, who chaired the meeting, which was followed by a board meeting.

Mpho will be travelling to South Korea in December to represent the continent at the annual pageant.

The week also brought a touch of sadness with the passing of Olivia Schoombie following complications after an operation. She will be sadly missed.

Dates to Diarise: The cleanup of the Braamfontein Spruit is on Saturday and will be the main topic of discussion at the meeting this week. Be there to hear what you can do to help with this very laudable project, spearheaded by Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn.

The annual Golf Day is on 21 October at the Parkview Golf Club. The end-of-year function has been booked at Marks Park for Friday, 3 December and will take place in the Bowling Club Hall as we did pre-Covid. The newly formed Social Committee promises a fun-filled evening.

A Thought for the Week: If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are. - T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

Friday, 26 August 2022

Getting Down to Business

The National School of the Arts, Fundraising and Membership Engagement were the focus of discussions at the meeting this week and judging by the brief feedback by the team leaders (Julian Nagy and Brenda Sakellarides for the NSA, Linda Vink for fundraising and Joan Sainsbury for membership engagement) after some lively discussion, a lot of ground was covered.

The NSA has the potential to become a flagship project for New Dawn and a group of members, including Judy Symons, Adele Dabbs and others have done a lot of work in renovating music rooms.

         The team discussing the NSA take a break for a photograph

New Dawn donated the money for some more paint to paint the passage in the section where they are working, which could become a focus point for a meeting the NSA is planning with the Oppenheimer Trust towards the end of September. This could also be a showcase for what Rotary can do. We're all holding thumbs.

This group agreed to put a task list together of what still needs to be done at the NSA from the New Dawn side.

         Members engaging on membership and that's what Rotary is all about

During the discussion on membership a lot of emphasis was placed on the importance of members being at meetings to more fully engage in club activities, directions and efforts. A pity then that only about 20 out of our present 56 members were either present or on Zoom (all three of them) on Wednesday.

It was discussed that it may be worth making it compulsory, except in extreme cases, for  members to  attend at least one meeting a month at Parkview and to put incentives in place for attendance. 

Formal apologies to the secretary for non-attendance at a meeting, whether in person or on Zoom, should be reinstated as well as explaining how make-up meetings work, it was felt.

          The fundraising discussion group

The fundraising team gave a report back on the Power of Pennies (about 30 people contribute regularly, not all of them New Dawn members) and urged those that do take part, to try to recruit at least one new participant to push that up to 60 or more people.

Until now the winner has netted more than R5000 and with more people participating, that figure could be substantially more.

There are only about 25 people actively connected to the MySchool Card, which is a very easy and passive way to raise funds for New Dawn. Enrolment forms for both these efforts will be available at meetings. 

         Nyami Khanyile, Mbali Zulu and Adele Dabbs enjoying the fellowship

The main New Dawn fundraiser remains the annual Golf Day, which this year is on Friday, 21 October. Each member should be finding ways to contribute either by arranging four balls of players, by arranging hole sponsorships, by sponsoring things like the halfway house meal, by contributing some quality products to the barrow of booze, by volunteering to help out on the day, or all of the above.

Looking ahead: There is no meeting on Wednesday, 31 August but there is a Power of Pennies function that evening. It's at 6.30 pm at the Parkview Golf Club and a few snacks will be served. There is a cash bar and members can stay on for a meal at their own expense if they so wish.

The next club breakfast meeting is on 7 September and it will be followed at 8.15 am by a board meeting.

We've already booked the bowling club hall at Marks Park for the annual festive function on Saturday, 3 December which will take the form of a dinner we cater for ourselves (turkey and all the trimmings and lots more) and lots of fun such as a turkey carving competition, Secret Santa gifts under the tree and an auction to raise funds for the club. We'll decorate the hall ourselves as we did in the pre-Covid years and have live music. Start saving!

A Thought for the Week: Hope is such a bait, it covers any hook. - Oliver Goldsmith (1728 - 1774)


Thursday, 18 August 2022

A Picture in Pink

Two women from very different backgrounds (Ventersdorp in Northwest Province and Angola) but with the same aim, to help heal the world through Rotary, joined the Rotary Club of Johannesburg New Dawn at the Women's Month meeting this week.

They are Mpho Mogotsi and Weza Solange, both of them media personalities in their own right. We look forward to them telling New Dawn members a bit more about themselves.

                                    Jeni Lobel, a picture in pink

The Parkview Golf Club was a sea of pink and spirits were high for this special meeting attended by 30 members and guests.

The newly formed events committee under the guidance of Ivone Vosloo and with the help of Joan Sainsbury, Linda Vink, Karlien Kruger, Helene Bramwell  and others organised a special meeting, made even more special by the induction of our two newest members.

(There were nine guys at the meeting to get tips so look forward to a special Men's Month meeting in the near future with beer and reruns of the Rugby World Cup Final 2019 and the Mbombela victory over the All Blacks 2022).

         Michelle Jefferies, Karlien Kruger, Ivone Vosloo and Sarah de La Pasture, one of the prizewinners

The meeting started with our speaker, Michele Jefferies, talking about mothers and their role in society. A mother, she said, wears many hats within the family and is the glue that keeps the family together.

It is essential that when you talk to your children or grandchildren, you make sure you're focused. They need to know you're talking to them and not anybody else. Get off your phone! she warned. 

"Even when they want to ask you something at a busy time, just stop." If you don't, they turn elsewhere, to friends and others.

"If you don't give them the attention they deserve, they feel they're not valued," she said. And if you don't give positive reinforcement, they won't go the extra mile.

           President Julian Nagy and Joan Sainsbury look on while Mbali Zulu reads the charge to Weza Solange
           Mbali congratulating Mpho Mogotsi after she was inducted

Weza came to South Africa almost 20 years ago with her family after her father had been assassinated during the Angolan civil war.

"The least I can do is to give back to the community (in South Africa) that has given me so much. I'm happy to join such an extraordinary group in a very selfish world," she said.

She made her name as a presenter on Channel O, Africa's biggest music channel. She was a Big Bother Africa participant on TV and has since become a star on stage and screen all over Africa, taking roles in Generations: The Legacy, Isidingo: The Need amongst many other productions.

Mpho describes herself as a life coach, energy healer, entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, model, brand ambassador and Mrs Universe Africa finalist 2022. Mpho has just started with pageant week for the competition.

She started her professional life in corporate banking after matriculating at Potchefstroom Girls High and graduating with a certificate and associate diploma from the Institute of Bankers South Africa.

"I look forward to getting to know all of you and joining you to help heal the world. I want to make a difference in this world."

            Velani Buthelezi showing his Paul Harris Fellow certificate to President Julian Nagy and Karlien Kruger

The meeting was also an opportunity for President Julian Nagy to present Captain Velani Buthelezi with his Paul Harris Fellow certificate and badge for a lifetime of service to the community through the Salvation Army and now Rotary.

             Jacinta Akbara with her RLI certificate with President Julian, Rita Millan and Joan Sainsbury

Rita Millan of the Rotary Club of Northcliff, also one of the Rotary Leadership Institute trainers, joined the meeting to hand over certificates to a number of members who have completed all the courses. They are Jacinta Akbara, Amina Frense, Matt Pitjeng, Tshepo Ramutumba, Wendy Challis, Babette Gallard, Joan Sainsbury and Olivia and Shaun Khoza, who have since left the club but are planning to return.

Thanks again to Joan Sainsbury for arranging the prizes for a lucky draw at the close of the meeting and for providing a platter of toasted sandwiches on each table. It is probably an opportune moment here to point out that whereas Rotary International has a female representation of just on 25%, New Dawn stands at about 60%.

A Thought for the Week: A poem cannot stop a bullet. A novel can't defuse a bomb ... But we are not helpless ... We can sing the truth and name the liars ... we must work to overturn the false narrative of tyrants. - Salman Rushdie (1947 -)

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Let the Sunshine In

Before installing solar panels at home, you have to have your electricity usage monitored professionally for at least two weeks as it is essential to know when your peak demand is and when it happens. This exercise will cost about R7500, but it is a very important step in the process.

That was one of the useful tips that Hendrik Engelbrecht, an electrical engineer from the company Get off Grid in Johannesburg, gave the club. Hendrik was the speaker at the meeting this week. His company installed solar at the home of Paul Chinn and Babette Gallard.

                       A house with solar panels

Paul introduced Hendrik, who spoke on Zoom, by telling how he and Babette had used solar panels to power the maternity hospital they project managed in Tanzania, where the power was sometimes off for seven days at a time. Their system has already lasted 4 years and is going strong.

Hendrik said solar power is not a short-term investment and you must make sure that the system you invest in will last for at least 15 years and more. That means carefully vetting suppliers and checking warranties on panels and batteries alike. A system that uses batteries will only pay itself back in savings in 6 - 8 years, he warned.

He also said South Africa is still 5 - 7 years behind in feeding solar and wind power back into the grid in a significant way and he feels the announcement of the government's latest energy plan came a bit prematurely.

         Members of the social committee meet to discuss the Power of Pennies function

There's an interesting few weeks ahead, starting next week when the club will hold a special meeting to mark Women's Month in August. Be prepared for a floral meeting, although the organisers are not letting too many cats out of the bag yet, apart from promising "lots of little surprises".

Expect two more inductions; and President Julian Nagy has announced that Karlien Kruger will be running the meeting. It's clearly a case of men having to take a step back!  Michelle Jefferies, who is a counsellor and also a former colleague Karlien's, will be the speaker in keeping with the theme of the meeting.

On Wednesday 24 August club committees will have an opportunity to meet and hold discussions during the meeting hour.

There will be no meeting on Wednesday, 31 August, which will be replaced by a special Power of Pennies evening the following Saturday, 3 September. The organisers have not revealed too many details about that yet either, but promise to do so soon. Ivone Vosloo is the organiser so expect a Portuguese theme.

                                        Make sure you have your gloves at the ready

Dates to Diarise: 17 September is World Cleanup Day and arrangements are going well according to Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn, who've done a great job in project managing this effort as well.

World Cleanup Day will be celebrated in 190 countries and the cleanup of the Braamfontein Spruit has been chosen as the flagship project for the whole of South Africa, in itself a huge achievement. Emphasis will be given to the educational aspects of the cleanup of the spruit in keeping with the club theme of helping children in need.

Babette put out an appeal on WhatsApp this week for contributions for gloves and has already gained a lot of support from club members. The best contribution is of course to be there on the day with all the right equipment and the right frame of mind.

                                        The Barrow of Booze from last year

The other important date to remember is our annual Golf Day at the Parkview Golf Club on 21 October.

Start collecting wine and other drinks for the Barrow of Booze; prizes for the four balls; and get ready to start selling raffle tickets and hole sponsors. It's the main New Dawn fundraiser of the year and therefore a very important day for all of us.

A Thought for the Week: A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way. - Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Friday, 5 August 2022

Left Out in the Cold

We were left out in the cold on Wednesday morning, but still managed to leave the meeting with warm hearts, as we usually do.

The person responsible for unlocking the Parkview Golf Club got delayed, so in true can-do Rotary New Dawn style, the meeting was called on the veranda on one of the coldest mornings of the past few weeks.

Halfway through good humour, blood circulation and warm bodies were restored when the key made its way to Parkhurst and the club building was unlocked.

         Out in the Parkview cold
          ... and back in the heat of things

It was a business meeting following the August board meeting and there was lots to report on.

President Julian Nagy started off by congratulating Donate a Loo with their golf day and said he'd visited the Wanderers Golf Club while it was on and it looked to be a great success. New Dawn will now start concentrating on our own Golf Day on 21 October, the major fundraising event of the year, to be held at Parkview Golf Club as in the past.

Fundraising was the first order of business with the prospect of the third draw for Power of Pennies coming up, to be held in August and to be organised by the newly established Fellowship portfolio in the capable hands of Ivone Vosloo.

President Julian also spoke about the My School Card effort and said although funds have been trickling in, the club needs a member to champion it and go on a proper recruitment drive. This shouldn't be such a difficult task as it is passive income. All you have to do is to get people to sign up once with New Dawn as their beneficiary, or one of their beneficiaries.

The Braamfontein Spruit river system running through Joburg is desperately in need of a thorough clean-up
          Hopefully the spruit will look a lot more like this after World Cleanup Day on 17 September

Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn did a presentation to the board on their efforts in arranging a cleanup of the Braamfontein Spruit on World Cleanup Day on 17 September and the proposal has now been formally accepted.

Members are reminded that New Dawn will be tackling the section running through the Parkview Golf Club and it'll be a case of all hands on deck.

Karlien Kruger has volunteered to co-ordinate the club's efforts for the Mother and Child area of focus, as have Babette and Paul for the environment. Graham Donet oversees the Youth portfolio and will be involving Minenhle Majola, who in this case will be wearing his Rotaract hat.

PDG Jankees Sligcher has taken on the responsibility of arranging a mentorship programme for incoming members, something that has been lacking during the Covid years. Joan Sainsbury once again emphasised the value of the Rotary Leadership Institution courses in teaching newcomers more about Rotary as an international organisation.

Next week: There'll be a speaker next week. Hendrik Engelbrecht will be speaking on the benefits of solar power.

A Thought for the Week: By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere. - Billy Crystal (1948 -)

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Getting Down To Business

It's been a busy time for the Rotarians of New Dawn with the first club assembly of the new Rotary year followed by the first board meeting, which means the meeting tomorrow will be a business meeting, with some exciting new initiatives in the pipeline.

In between we also managed the first social gathering of the new year in the form of a pizza evening at the Parkview Golf Club.

                 Paul Kasango, Paul Chinn and Paul Channon at the pizza evening

                   Paul Kasango with Linda Vink, Amalie Webb, a friend from America, and Debbie Nagy

The pizza evening was by all accounts a very popular success and enjoyed by members and visitors alike. Ivone Vosloo has taken on the role of Fellowship Committee Chair and the committee will arrange future social events. The plan is to have a similar evening every month with other social gatherings when there is a fifth Wednesday in a month.

                Ronnie Kasrils and Jankees Sligcher raise an elbow to the club

Back to the club activities: there have been some amazing undertakings, not least of all at the National School of the Arts where Judy Symons, Judy Sligcher, Adele Dabbs, Wendy Challis and others have already redone and refurbished a third of the 35 music rooms, the staffroom, the foyer and kitchen.

Much work remains to be done and this is definitely an area where new members can look to roll up their sleeves and jump right in. Contact Judy Symons if you are prepared and able to give up some of your time and elbow grease.

Karlien Kruger with visitor and prospective member Mpho Mogotsi

Another project that seems to be gaining a life of its own is Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn's All Spruits Cleanup Day  2022 which aims to clean up about 30 km of Johannesburg 's Braamfontein Spruit network stretching from Parktown and Albert's Farm to Lonehill. This will be on World Cleanup Day on 17 September.

Some 1000 participants from residents' associations, a few (but not yet enough) Rotary clubs, recycling and other organisations have already pledged support and claimed stretches of river where they will do the clean-up.

                  President Julian Nagy, Judy Sligcher, Brenda Sakellarides, Amina Frense and Carol Stier

Babette and Paul have done an amazing amount of work and organising in a very short time. For those who don't know, Babette has been writing an environmental blog on the workspace for a while now and her passion for the subject is inspiring.

They announced at the board meeting on Monday that Delta Park had come on board with the project and that the City of Johannesburg has provided a truck to help with transporting rubbish that has been collected, both big breakthroughs.

                 Joan Sainsbury, Karlien Kruger and Ivone Vosloo
                 Immediate Past President Ian and Robyn Widdop with Jacinta Opany-Agbara
A note about the blog: I've been for a session with Gavin Atkins to learn how to add the blog to our new Google workspace rather than on a separate platform as we have been doing over the past years. I've been doing the blog here since 2015 and the blog itself has been going since the club was established in 2009, first by our second president, Peter-James Smith and then by Steve du Plessis.

The blog will migrate once I've built up the necessary confidence - it's technically a bit more difficult, but offers more creative flexibility once we've got the hang of it - and once we've worked out a way to notify members and other regular readers that it has been published seeing that not everyone is registered on the workspace yet. 

Once that has been achieved members will be able to find the blog on the workspace along with all the other amazing content that is slowly becoming available. Other readers will have to be notified in some way or another.

A Thought for the Week: All men should strive to learn before they die what they're running from, and to, and why. - James Thurber (1894 - 1961)