Our speaker this week is President Janice interviewed by eRotarian John Isles for our weekly programme commencing 2nd January, 2014.
John asks President Janice, you are now half way through your year. What do you feel has been your greatest moments so far?
Janice replies: Considering we are not even 2 years old yet I have a wonderful general feeling of how much we are achieving as a new eClub. We are still finding our feet (more about this later), so our explorations into what works for eRotarians has been a fascinating journey so far. Having the flexibility to develop activities based on members’ passions has led to events such as our Mental Health Open Space and the subsequent online awareness raising, and we connected into the World Peace Day online activity, amongst many other things. Being in contact with members and sharing their interests, like Triodos Bank (an ethical bank!), involvement in the Worcester Literature Festival activities, building a volunteer group in Malmesbury, just using social media to find out more than I would otherwise know. It has been great to induct 11 new members to Rotary this year. And a personal joy has been sitting sewing in the evenings, yes, the Neck Tie project has certainly provided me with a much loved creative outlet!
John: How hard is it for you when you have a husband who is not only the Club Secretary but is serving on an R.I.B.I. Committee – heated discussions come to mind and guidance!
Janice: The Club Secretary in any club is a pivotal position, so I am exceedingly lucky and privileged to have the honour of living with mine! Through our many discussions, usually while walking the dogs, I benefit from Tim’s empowerment and guidance (don’t take that as we always agree, but we always come to agreement of ways forward and getting things moving). Tim’s involvement with RIBI has been about eRotary development, which I have supported, although we are both frustrated with the lack of recognition eRotary can play in developing membership, but we have to keep reminding ourselves we are still in the pioneering stage. What we have been excited about recently is the formation of the Rotary E-Club Fellowship (REF), which is enabling us to network internationally with other eClub members, which I am sure many of you know is something we are passionate about. We are learning a lot from this fellowship and are encouraged that our eClub is actually operating well. I encourage all our members to join REF to help develop the international eNetwork to widen Rotary’s horizons.
John:What present did you most want at Christmas that you didn’t get?
Janice: Bizarrely this worked the other way round, there wasn’t anything I wanted, we had agreed not to buy each other presents. Out shopping 2 days before Christmas Tim saw an evening cardigan he loved and bought it for me, along with another evening coat. Now I need people to invite me out so I can wear them! I also had another surprise I wasn’t expecting, an email on Christmas Eve from one of our provisional members who says he’s signing up to the eClub from January. Made my Christmas!
John:Do you feel the recent addition of a Coffee Lounge within Facebook is going to help us communicate better and if so how do we encourage people to use it?
Janice: Our new Members Forum as part of our website has provided us with a much better platform for our eClub activity. The Coffee Lounge I requested within this sort of works, but members have been frustrated that it doesn’t provide easy instantaneous chatting, something that those used to social media find really useful. Our current social media groups do provide this, but they have a variety of people in them as they are also used for other Rotarian input and to publicise our activity to the public. Having a private group where we could generally chat and get to know who our members are was really needed, it will help provisional members get to know other members quicker, it will provide an easy way to share with people known to be members of the eClub. Not all members are on Facebook so it appears to not include them, but the majority of members are so we believe at the moment, on balance, it will enable involvement of more members.
We can all encourage use by using it and telling members we are using it wherever we have contact with them. Ask questions, maybe like the ones you are asking me here. Suggest it as a place to hold a discussion so other members can join in or see what you are involved in. Feed your curiosity, open up discussion, don’t put up statements that close discussions down. Be interested in what others are posting and what they are doing.
John: Do you feel “more” is better or worse in terms of the numbers of different areas where we communicate?
Janice: Modern communication is all about being in contact in lots of different ways and fashions will change as to what is in or out of use. Rotary clubs have become weekly meetings that keep the same format and we learnt very quickly to replicate this in eRotary is not possible. However, one of our plan objectives is to get back to basics and the name of Rotary came from the originators rotating around their offices, meeting in different places; this is in effect what we are doing, being flexible, meeting members where they are and making Rotary accessible. If we continue our development as a ‘network’ rather than a stationary ‘club’ the many forms of communication becomes of value.
John: Have you made any New Years resolution and how good are you at keeping them?
Janice: I was inspired by an environmental conference I went to recently. My resolution is to reduce my waste down to as close to zero as possible, to effectively recycle whatever I can, to buy sensibly so as not to create waste. In buying goods I also want to support local traders a lot more, so they will be my first port of call whenever possible. Will I keep them? Ask me how I did in June!
John: If Rotary and our eClub could do one humanitarian act in the coming 6 months what would you like to see happen?
Janice: I would love to see the World finally eradicated of Polio. A standard Rotary reply I hear you cry, some Rotarians are saying its time to move on, the campaign has gone on too long, but I truly believe we need to make a huge effort to complete the journey. We are so close, we have achieved so much, if we don’t keep up the impetus it will all have been in vain. Those of us new to Rotary have not been wearied by the long fight, we need to bring in the energy to keep it going to completion.
There are things we can all simply do to help this happen! On the social media you will see posts about The World’s Greatest Meal and I would love for all our members to do this. Apart from the impact for the End Polio Campaign, it will raise the profile of the campaign in your local communities and give you a means to get together with your friends and neighbours. There is the Neck Tie Project which has captured so many people’s imagination, we are collecting some fantastic ties, just need to encourage more people to sew for us! There is also the Love to End Polio eBook, a collection of stories about how couples met. This project has started slow and I would love to see it take off.
John: Finally, during your last 6 months what legacy do you hope to leave and where do you see the eClub on June 30th 2014?
Janice: Looking back at what we have achieved so far and comparing it to the plan as posted in the Members Forum it is exciting to see that the majority of it is well underway, as described in our last newsletter, and some of these activities need moving forward to their next stage. It is now a good time of year for all members to take a fresh look at the plan to consider what they would like to be involved in or put forward ideas they would like to develop.
In this 2nd year of the eClub I would like to ensure that our structure is developed and changes in line with eRotary around the World, even helping to influence how the international organisation recognises the importance of eRotary. There will be many more discussions about this – keep in contact!