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November 2020 Volume 5 Issue 5

Trustees approve draft policy for

Environment Area of Focus

The Rotary Foundation Trustees approved the policy outlining the kinds of projects that may be eligible for Global Grants under the environmental area of focus approved June 26.  The policy is still a work in progress: you can access it below.

Also in this issue:   exciting work worldwide!
• Restoring ravaged farmland in Uganda      
• Vital networks and online resources
• Al Jubitz wins Legacy of Peace Award
• Upcoming Biodiversity seminars
• Your Garden - Our Future Webinar Nov. 26
• Global warming mitigation prizes

In the picture: Rotarians Barry Cogbill and Susan Kituyi Rose won a community economic development Global Grant to provide fruit tree seedlings, entrepreneurship training, and solar-assisted ovens in rural Ugandan communities ravaged by rising temperatures and deforestation.  Projects like this, which reduce burning of biomass and use renewable energy, as part of a holistic approach may be fundable under the new Area of Focus. Photo by Barry Cogbill, RC Santa Rosa East, US

Rotary Foundation Trustees advance guidelines for environmental grants

The minutes of the Rotary Foundation Trustees September meeting include a draft of the Environment Area of Focus Policy Statement.  Keep in mind: there may be some changes between now and the release of the final policy statement in January.  

Here is how the minutes record the action of the Trustees: 

 "26. Environment Area of Focus Policy Statement and Implementation Plan Statement: In decision 131, June 2020, the Trustees agreed to add the Environment as a seventh area of focus and requested the Environmental Issues Task Force to draft a policy statements for this area of focus and the general secretary to develop the implementation plan. The general secretary presented proposed implementation plans across the organization in programs and grants, philanthropy, communications, and learning and development. 

"The Environmental Issues Task Force presented a policy statement detailing the purpose, goals, parameters, and project eligibility for participation in this new area of focus.   

"DECISION: The Trustees 1. approve the new area of focus policy statement (Appendix B), implementation plan (Appendix C, filed only with the official copy of these minutes), and the addition of one staff member—an area of focus manager for the environment—to support the new area of focus, including its launch and implementation; 2. request the General Secretary to present a detailed financial impact statement on the new area of focus at the October 2020 Trustees meeting."

The minutes and draft policy statement (Appendix B) are available to all Rotarians with a MyRotary login for download on    Here is the link to the minutes, once you’ve logged in.  

Restoring ravaged farmland 

in Uganda

Ugandan physics teacher Susan Kituyi Rose is on an epic quest to save Ugandan students and their communities from crop failure and starvation. To do that, they must break a vicious cycle of rising temperatures and deforestation accelerated by rapid population growth.  Rose is drawing on science and Rotary networks to test a solution she hopes to scale up while there is still time to prevent calamity.    

A member of the Soroti Central Rotary Club in Eastern Uganda, Rose's goal is to equip schools across the region with fruit tree orchards, the knowledge to keep them alive and healthy, and Ugandan-made solar battery-powered cookers that use a fraction of the charcoal of traditional stoves.  “If you could eliminate all the other stoves, these cookers could save a school seven truckloads of fuel a month, or $5000 a year,” Rose explains, freeing up money that could be put into improving education.  The cost of an institutional-sized double cooker averages $3,600, so “the payback time is pretty quick,” she adds.   

Planting orchards will stabilize and revive the sandy soil, improve nutrition, and raise school and family income by producing mangos and oranges. If enough people get access to the innovative stoves, the country has a chance to return to a sustainable rate of harvesting lumber.    

Rose’s fierce determination captivated Rotarian Barry Cogbill, a solar expert from the Rotary Club of Santa Rosa East in California and leader of the Club’s Pathways4Thriving initiative.  Meeting at a Rotary Project Fair, they bonded and collaborated on a Rotary global grant. “We wanted to do solar cooking, Susan wanted to do 30 schools. I said, okay, let’s do three. We can scale this up, but now,” Cogbill adds, laughing, “I need to raise $100,000.”  If your Club would like to sponsor one or more schools, email Barry Cogbill or Susan Kituyi Ros. Above: household solar cooker, photo by Jerry Meshulam, RC Sebastopol Sunrise, California, US


Vital networks, online resources!

Thanks to Zoom, ESRAG has become a humming network of real-time collaboration across the globe. Members are convening and recording meetings to share scientific research, project lore, and breaking news on business and public policy.  It’s like attending an ongoing Rotary International Convention, only better, because we can actually see the slides and references, re-read them, and easily follow up with the speakers. 

Most of the talks ESRAG members are posting are 30 minutes, a perfect length for a Club or District meeting. A great example is the World Affairs Council Nov. 16 keynote address  (fast forward to minute 14:05) for high school students, given by the youthful Central North Carolina DGE Nathan Thomas, founder of a non-profit that has already provided solar power to thirty schools in Uganda.  The Nov. 10 Climate and Peace talks on fire disasters, sustainable farming, and forces inclining corporations towards greater climate responsibility are already postedRecordings of the Biodiversity meetings are on ESRAG's website. 
If your Club or District has great digital content to share, let us know by emailing ESRAG webmaster Rob Anderson or ESRAG reporter Ariel Miller.  If you are planning an online conference on a topic of wide interest, please let ESRAG  Communications Chair Pat Armstrong know in advance and we will do our best to publicize it.

Pictured above, a fun way to build goodwill: Australian Rotarians Ian Dempsey, Faye Kirkwood, and Lesley McCarthy sent the care package above to everyone in the ESRAG ANZPI Chapter, writing, "These seeds are sent to you with compliments...We encourage you to plant them and COLOUR YOUR WORLD. These seeds will attract pollinating insects to your garden and the resulting blooms will brighten both your garden and your life."

Al Jubitz wins inaugural RAGFP Legacy of Peace Award!

On December 5, 2020, ESRAG’s wonderful supporter, friend of the environment, and ESRAG Honorary Advisor, Al (Albin) Jubitz Jr., will receive the inaugural Rotary Action Group for Peace Legacy of Peace Award.  This award has been designed to be bestowed to Rotarians and peace-builders who throughout their lives have demonstrated exemplary leadership and impactful commitment for non-violence and spreading of world peace. 

Chairman Emeritus of the Rotary Action Group for Peace (RAGFP), Albin Jubitz is a native of the peaceful and beautiful Pacific Northwest in the United States.  He has dedicated his life to promoting global peace, aiding at-risk children, and fostering environmental stewardship. 

Through the Jubitz Family Foundation he created the War Prevention Initiative and is a co-founder of the RAGFP . Al has been a strong supporter of ESRAG from its early days, providing us with founding guidance. In May 2018 he created a matching grant for our development, growth, and data stewardship. He advised that the future of our ability to advance environmental sustainability is through digitization and analysis of data, creating the backbone of our best management practices for the environment. 

RAGFP will be honoring Al at a special Zoom event to beheld on Saturday, December 5, 2020. To attend please contact Wendy Mitchell, RAGFP Development Officer. Upon this special occasion attendees are encouraged to donate generously to RAGFP in recognition of Al Jubitz and his passion for peace-building. 

Your Garden - Our Future 

 Rotarians 4 Bees webinar Nov. 26

It's spring in the Southern Hemisphere! Sign up for tips to make pollinator-friendly gardens  here! 

$25,000 Keeling Curve Prizes

The Global Warming Mitigation Project is now accepting applications for the 2021 Keeling Curve Prize, to award $25,000 to projects with a proven record of taking greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.  The deadline for applications is Feb. 10, 2021.  Two prizes will be given in each of five categories: Capture and Utilization, Energy, Finance, Social and Cultural Pathways, and Transport and Mobility. Read about each category and previous winners here.  

ESRAG Biodiversity Seminars Nov. 25 and Dec. 12

Nov. 25:  Connected Communities      

Speaker:  Brian Braginton-Smith

“Connected communities” is an ecosystem within the circular economy. It has the building blocks of a reticulate system, an integrated network. The circular economy aims at eliminating waste and the continual use and reuse of resources, at the same time maximizing utility. The “regenerative” ecosystem that we are looking at in this presentation has as its base-resource inputs clean energy and wastewater, moving through hydroponics to produce clean water, local food, and all power-driven needs in the built environment. All these elements are monitored and maximized in their use by the internet of things, data tracking all components, and delivering the used commodities back to usable resources. These mitigations and adaptations deliver the environmental resilience we need for the future.

Brian Braginton-Smith is Executive Director of the Lewis Bay Research Center in Massachusetts, USA, President and CEO of Aquagen-ISI, and Smart Cities Director of Boston Greenfest. He has spent his career working in ocean and environmental science, collaborating with the U.S.Department of Commerce, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Energy.  Brian began the discussion on offshore wind which bore fruit in the Cape Wind Project. He’s been working on advanced infrastructure systems evolution, alternative resource development, and, ultimately, the Connected Community nexus. He’s now developing the Cape Cod Watershed Institute as well as a living laboratory for experiential learning and a net-zero campus at his alma mater, Dennis-Yarmouth High School, where he was an Interact member for four years. Brian is a member of the Yarmouth, Massachusetts Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.


Dec. 12: Ocean plastic pollution:  USAID’s approach to the global problem

Speaker:  Colin Holmes, President of the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill 

Colin Holmes is a U.S.Foreign Service Officer and the Director of USAID's Office of Land and Urban (LU) which leads the Agency’s efforts to strengthen land tenure and property rights of individuals, businesses and communities, and to promote sustainable urbanization, improved municipal governance and improved service delivery. LU also leads USAID’s work to combat ocean plastic pollution. 

Colin joined USAID in 2009 and  the U.S. Foreign Service in 2011, serving abroad in Nepal and Bangladesh. From 2016-2019, Colin served on the management team of USAID's Office of Forestry and Biodiversity. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University and a BS in Biology from Santa Clara University. Colin’s Rotary experience began with RYLA in high school. He served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to India (2002-2004) where he studied public health and sociology at the University of Pune in the state of Maharashtra. He belonged to the  Rotary Club of Kathmandu Midtown while living in Nepal.

To register for ESRAG's Biodiversity Seminars, email Yasar Atacik


Dear Readers, 

We know you are doing wonderful work to save our planet home.  Please share your work and educational events with ESRAG so we can help get that important lore to others who can use it.  You can send us an overview via ESRAG's project report form or email ESRAG's newsletter reporter Ariel Miller if you'd prefer to have an interview.

The Environmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group operates in accordance with Rotary International policy, but is not an agency of, or controlled by, Rotary International.

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