Posted by David Button on Mar 10, 2021
Presidents are allowed a bit of reflection and contemplation about their efforts and in the old days it was about contemplating their navels.
Wikipedia gives an adequate insight into this age-old practice! Navel-gazing or omphaloskepsis is the contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation.[1] 
Phrases such as "contemplating one's navel" or "navel-gazing" are frequently used, usually in jocular fashion, to refer to self-absorbed pursuits.  Perhaps I am self-absorbed to making our Club effective again, or perhaps just looking for that lint in my navel!   
Over the last eight months, we have ploughed through a lot of ground to find commonality with our Rotary Club of Berwick members. The board has instigated the results of several surveys moving towards lower-cost meals, low dues, a Zoom option for remote members, an alternative Saturday meeting for busy members and smaller, more frequent hands-on projects. All the things that were put forward by the respondents have now been tested and the results are in!
The purpose was to boost attendance and participation within the Club to grow and strengthen our community service, build our community networks, and enhance our existing members' social involvement.
These changes have done nothing to get the members who complain the most, into the Club's rhythm. In July 2020, we had an average of 27 members attending a Zoom meeting. In March 2021, we have an average of 23 members attending a physical meeting, with 2 Zoomers. Lots of work with no net participation result. Several members have resigned due to ill health, or moving away during this time, which has impacted our latest results.
It seems that some members are not happy with whatever you do and now is the time to forget about pandering to the complainers and push forward with plans for a different Rotary Club of Berwick.
The process has, however, refocused our existing active members on why we are part of Rotary and sparked debate amongst these active members on how our Club could evolve to welcome new proactive and focused members. We have had nine physical meetings at Holm Park. Each one has had a friendly vibrant vibe with attending members.
While I love what we have had in the past, we are not convincing our inactive members to be the Rotarians they signed up to be. It is time to shake the tree and see who is still hanging in there to serve the community.
In my game, dead wood should be pruned out to give new life and vigour to the remaining tree. While this might get me fired from being a Rotary President, our Club cannot continue carrying deadwood. We have a lot of work to do and we need a coherent team that work well together. Rotary is almost an essential service as we can provide many leadership, mentoring and life-changing programs to the local community if we have the focused and active members to fulfil them. With the right blend of people, we can do so much more.
So let's get on to potential steps forward.
A Satellite Club proposal was put forward by PP Jim Wilson's to the attending members this week. You can find Jim's lengthy speech HERE. While the proposal itself was straight forward, it gave rise to question the dilemmas within our current Club model concerning attendance and participation. We have tried everything our surveys told us to try, with no result. The only thing left is to restructure our meetings and only take counsel from those Rotarians who are walking the talk! The Satellite proposal is one way to move our club in a new direction and bring fresh ideas and vigour into the club.
With any new change, however, doubt of its success raises concern. Doubts may inhibit change, but concern puts the brakes on. Our surveys laid down a path for change, but when tested have been fruitless. Every active member of our Rotary Club is invested in success and is not interested in failure. Each active member is looking for examples of other clubs who are expanding, to learn from. We are looking for a new Rotary Club of Berwick model that will breakdown all the barriers we have been fighting against for years.
All I can say is that I enjoyed the atmosphere and the robust discussion. It is nice to be amongst friends who are engaged in service to make the world that little bit better wherever they can. Stay tuned!