Northfield Rotary Club

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Rotary Cogwheel | 01.22.2015

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:20pm

Today: Liz Blanchard, Northfield Women’s Center (Amerman)

Birthdays: Rotarians everywhere

Next Week: Lydia shares her youth exchange experience.

Last Week:
Why do 180 million Pakistanis tolerate the Taliban and its radical Islamic message? Ramiz Allawala, a principal in Gulfstone Leadership Training and a native Pakistani, says it’s complicated.

The oil shocks of the ‘70s that made Saudi Arabia a fabulously wealthy country, the United States decision to arm the Mujahideen to oppose the Soviet Union’s incursion into Afghanistan, and an internecine struggle within the Muslim world have painted Pakistan into a corner, creating a “perfect recipe” for an army of religious warriors.

The Saudis used their oil profits to export a conservative Islamic theology. The schools they funded in poor countries like Pakistan provided the only educational opportunity for children. They nurtured several generations, Ramiz said, who grew up exposed to radical Islamic ideas and carry antipathy toward Western culture.

Modern Pakistani culture has been shaped by a series of occupations over 3,000 years. What has emerged in the 21st century, according to Ramiz, is an eclectic, often self-defeating culture that values hospitality and family above all else, but is governed, in the end, by a sense of fatalism. All of this has created space for the propagation of the Taliban message with no room for competing ideas,

Pakistani culture requires deference to elders, said Ramiz. Their intense regard for hospitality allows radical proselytes to be invited in to the household. The entire family is subjected to the Taliban’s message, and no one challenges it.

He also said an amendment to a Congressional act in 1991 forced the United States to cut ties with Pakistan because of their pursuit of a nuclear capability. Prior to that most of Pakistan’s military officers were trained in the United States. We no longer have the benefit of that cross-cultural contact.

Behind the image of the bearded, gun-toting Taliban fighter, Ramiz said there are well-educated, sophisticated people working on the Taliban’s behalf, people who know how to exploit today’s technology.

The Taliban’s calculated attack on a Peshawar school in December that left 145 students dead was Pakistan’s 9/11 event, Ramiz said. He said he thought it might spark a wide-spread repudiation of the Taliban, but he is not optimistic that Pakistan is ready for that.

Guests: Camilo Zuluaga, a former exchange student from Colombia (Halvorson), Karen Allawala (Taylor), Deb Anderson (Anderson) and Faye Caskey (Caskey).

Scholarship Enhancement: Giulia Mercanti


—- Northfield is launching a “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” program to provide support for veterans and their families. A kickoff meeting is set for Monday March 2, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Northfield Armory. Organizers are looking for any kind of professional or service work that would make life easier for these families. If you have questions, contact Virginia Kaczmarek.

—- Charlie Cogan reported that The Key has been recognized with this year’s Northfield Human Rights Award. The youth organization was recognized earlier this week at a gathering on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Corrine Smith, a member of the Northfield Human Rights Commission, told the Northfield News that The Key is a “remarkably diverse community.”

“It’s where youth of all backgrounds can find common ground,” she said. “It is a place where each individual’s worth is affirmed and perspective respected.”

Rotary has had an ongoing partnership with The Key over the last few years and we have collaborated on several fundraising initiatives.

—- Lynne Pederson thanked Rotarians for delivering Meals-On-Wheels.

—- Todd Thompson thanked those who helped him raise $10,000 through a crowd-funded campaign to teach music at schools in Guatemala. He will leave in February.

—- Rotary has sent a letter to the City Council in support of the skateboard park at Old Memorial Field. Skateboarding is an athletic activity the Rotary supports, and these facilities have been a longtime coming.

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryClubVideos

Coming Up:

Feb. 5 — Sten Johanson, Delfi to Denmark (Willgohs)

Feb. 12 — Mary Jo Christofaro and Erica Zweifel, Northfield Solar Project (Zweifel)

Feb. 19 — TBA

Feb. 26 — Philipy inbound exchange student (Quinnell)

Categories: Organizations

Rotary Cogwheel | 01.15.2015

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 5:07pm

Today: Ramiz Allawala, Wellstone Training (Taylor)

Birthdays: Lynne Pederson (1/11), Erica Zweifel (1/14), Rick Esse (1/16), and Mark Abbott (1/17).

Next Week: Liz Blanchard, Northfield Women’s Center (Amerman)

Last Week:

Libby McKenna’s spent last summer working with a non-governmental agency in Nepal. It was a homecoming of sorts. The Carleton College senior was born there.

Libby was adopted at nine months by a couple of Carleton College alums and raised in New Mexico. Nepal has always had a hold on her. She studied there in 2013 and went back last summer to work with the Community Development and Relief Agency of Nepal (CDRA).

CDRA is working on a number of sustainability initiatives for this economically challenged region. Agriculture, education and health have been the focus of their efforts,and they have had success. They have introduced greenhouses to increase vegetable production, worked on irrigation for coffee crops, improved schools and brought more health care to the region

Libby said the immediate need is the refurbishment of 15 water pumps stolen by the Maoists during the recent civil war. Each one serves 1,500 people and would help increase the production of rice, coffee and vegetables. The cost is $10,000.

For more information on CDRA, go to or


When we last left John Sinning, he was in vocational transition. Last week, he announced he is involved with a new non-profit that will provide service dogs to veterans and people with disabilities. He is calling it Canine Service Partners.

John said a talk last fall by Sam Daly about his experience training dogs for bomb-sniffing work in Afghanistan piqued his interest. It has now fallen into place.

John has lived in Northfield for 13 years. He is married with two grown children. His daughter works in Minneapolis. His son, a junior at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., is in Rome this winter on an exchange program.

Guests: Jayne Hager Dee (Prowe), Meredith and Juergen Schroeer (Yogi)

 Scholarship Enhancement: Dennis Hanson

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryClubVideos


Our youth exchange program was featured in the recent issue of “Rotarian.” If you have your copy yet, please bring it in so we can use it for program promotion.

The board has elected to save resources — time, paper and manpower — by sending out our statements electronically. Please check your e-mail address in the Membership Directory to ensure it is correct.

The board is looking for someone to fill the board position of Club Service Director. Michelle Lasswell is vacating it to assume the responsibilities of President-Elect. If you are interested or would like to nominate someone for the position, see President Rich.

Coming Up:

Jan. 29 — Lydia shares her youth exchange experience.

Feb. 5 — Sten Johanson, Delfi to Denmark (Willgohs)

Feb. 12 — Mary Jo Christofaro and Erica Zweifel, Northfield Solar Project (Zweifel)

Categories: Organizations

Northfield Rotary’s Youth Exchange Featured in Rotarian Magazine

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 8:47am

The Rotarian is the official magazine of Rotary International and its 1.2 million members. Northfield Rotary’s Youth Exchange program was featured in the most recent edition. Check it out!

Categories: Organizations

Rotary Coghwheel | 01.08.2015

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 8:28am

Today: Libby McKenna, Water Pumps for Agriculture in Southern Nepal (Sinning)

Birthdays: Curtis Tiano (1/6), Teresa Tillson and Elvis (1/8)

Next Week: Ramiz Allawala, Wellstone Training (Taylor)

Last Week:

Rice County Dispute Resolution Program (RCDRP) provides an alternative to litigation. It is less expensive and less acrimonious.

Now in its 14th year, this independent, non-profit annually handles 85 to 100 cases referred from conciliation court and another40 community mediations. Debra Peterson, its executive director, says the program works. In the vast majority of cases, parties reach resolution and the agreements stick.

She does all of this on a shoe string budget and with a cadre of dedicated volunteers. The key she says is helping parties set their sense of violation aside and reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Often it’s the disputing parties themselves who come up with the most creative ways to settle.

Referrals come from all areas of the community. Fees for individuals are $100 per party. There is a sliding scale for low and moderate income people. Business rates depend upon the type of dispute. Debra said issues she often sees involving businesses include discrimination cases, disputes over time off, medical time off or pay.

RCDRP is always looking for financial support, but publicity is important too. Debra is available to speak to groups and would appreciate all of us “liking” their new Facebook page.

New Member: Rachel Estrella, a Northfield resident who practices law in Lakeville, is our newest member. She said Rotary is a great way to make community connections. Rachel is a graduate of Carleton College.

Guests: Gina and Ed Little, Salvation Army, (Conway)

Scholarship Enhancement: John Sinning


— Maria and company received a standing ovation for the great food they prepare for us each week.

Rotary is responsible Meals-On-Wheels delivery the first two full weeks of January. Check with Lynne Pederson to see if we have filled all of our slots.

— If anyone is interested in learning more about Rotary, including those who plan to join the board in the future, please note that the district 5960 Leadership Academy/Midterm and PETS1 (Presidents Elect Training Seminar) will be Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30 and 31 in Roseville. Several members of our club will be attending. See President Rich if you would like to attend. 

Past Northfield Rotary Club meeting videos on Youtube: NorthfieldRotaryClubVideos

Youth Exchange and Reflections December 29, 2014

Coming Up:

Jan. 22 — Liz Blanchard, Northfield Women’s Center (Amerman)

Jan. 29 — Lydia shares her youth exchange experience.

Categories: Organizations

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