PDG Bill Goodwyn
"Around The World in 21 Days"
Radio Talk Show Host Lores Rizkalla
Sweetheart Valentine Brunch
Lawry's Beverly Hills, 12:30pm
I know that Rotarians from other clubs can, and do, read our Windmill from time to time; I also know that a Google search will find our club’s website as well. For those of us in attendance at today’s meeting this will come as no surprise, but for those of us who could not make today’s meeting and those who have found this edition of the Windmill online, today’s speaker was simply fantastic. Get him to speak at your club or organization if you can. (More on this later, of course.)
George Cox led us in the pledge, followed by Lenny Friedman with a raucous rendition of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” (Lenny, tell us, who is in the kitchen with Dinah?) Leo Tseng gave the blessing today, and guess what? It worked! The rolls were warm, the carne asada was perhaps the best beef ever prepared by the UCLA Faculty Center, and the apple pie was pretty darned good.
President Chris introduced our newest Rotarian, Dwight A. Heikkila, asking the other members and guests to spell his last name. PP Dave Whitehead mumbled, “H-I-S-L-A-S-T-N-A-M-E.” Correct you are, Dave. Luckily for Dave, President Chris didn’t catch Dave’s response, and the crime went without appropriate punishment.
UCLA’s Rotaract Club was well represented at the meeting today, including its President, Katia Vaisberg, its Treasurer and Webmaster, Stephen Gardner, and its member, Paul. PP Bob Wessling introduced his better half, Judy, and our speaker, Gil Garcetti, introduced his three guests as well. PP Steve Scherer introduced his special guest, Professor Sarosh Motivala.
PP Steve was given the lectern to induct Alyssa Shoji (UCLA Medical Sciences Development). Aly will be giving her craft talk on February 28 (together with Lorin Ruttenberg), but her sponsor, Peggy Bloomfield, gave us a brief introduction. Peggy met Aly while serving on the Women’s Health Advisory Board. Aly, welcome to the club!
President Chris announced that the invitations to the Sweetheart Brunch are “in the mail” - so be sure to save the date (Sun, Feb 17, 12:30pm 3:00pm at Lawry’s in Beverly Hills).
And now to our speaker, Gil Garcetti. Gil served as Los Angeles District Attorney from 1992 until 2000, focusing on domestic violence, hate crimes, welfare fraud and combating LA's street gangs. The Simpson case was a disappointment not only for Mr. Garcetti, but the voters as well, and as fate would have it our speaker found a turning point in his career. Garcetti has always been an avid urban photographer. During his time as District Attorney he would carry a small camera with him at all times. After leaving the DA's office, Garcetti focused on art photography, initially producing two collections on the Walt Disney Concert Hall: Iron: Erecting the Walt Disney Concert Hall, focusing on the ironworkers who constructed the landmark, and Frozen Music, focusing on the finished building itself. Photos from these works were featured in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. His exhibition, Dance in Cuba: Photographs by Gil Garcetti, was featured at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History in Spring 2006.
Today, our speaker focused on West Africa and his book, “Water is Key.” (All proceeds from the sale of Gil Garcetti’s book go to the Water in West Africa campaign. Links to the Amazon.com website and to the campaign’s website are now placed on wvrc.net and westwoodrotary.org.) As PP Steve Scherer would later ask, “Which gives you more satisfaction, prosecuting criminals or raising funds through photography for safe-water initiatives in West Africa?” Gil Garcetti has found deep personal satisfaction in both endeavors.
Gil first traveled to West Africa with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in January of 2001, starting what became a 5-year photographic project. With camera in hand, Gil captured the beauty and the plight of the people of such places as Mali, Niger (the world’s poorest country), Chad, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. Water is plentiful over much of this region - underground. But for seventy percent (70%) of West Africans, obtaining water is a matter of walking to the nearest polluted pond. Women and girls are given this twice-daily chore, sometimes walking miles each way to bring back in heavy jugs carried on their heads what water is available on the surface. Girls are kept so busy with this chore that few go to school. The muddy water is strained, but many who consume it develop diarrhea, become infested with Guinea worms, go blind, or die.
Garcetti is working with over 150 non-government organizations - one of which should certainly be Rotary - to dig wells and teach the people how to provide safe drinking water for all. One of the most successful approaches has been through “micro-credit” programs, making small loans at low interest rates to entrepreneurs.
The floor was opened for questions. Mark Block asked , “Why black and white photography?” Black and white is Garcetti’s favored medium; it forces you to focus on the subject and not the surroundings. Color can be distracting. Tom Barron asked about the involvement of the United Nations in providing safe water. Garcetti responded that the U.N.’s efforts have been huge. Steve Pettise asked about what the men were doing while the women and girls were doing these chores. The men are typically out finding work in the fields, sometimes migrating far away to obtain work. PP Mike Gintz asked how much it cost to provide safe water; Garcetti answered that the program for one well and related services costs in the neighborhood of $28,000.
NEXT WEEK: Our own PDG Bill Goodwyn gives his travelogue, “Around the World in 21 Days on a Private Jet.” Don’t miss it!
(filling in for YOE, on hiatus in Oregon)