November 28, 2008

"Be an Encourager, not a Discourager"

November 25th, 2008: Stovall Witte introduced our guest speaker as an author of twelve books that range in subject from ancient highways to the differences between men and women. He also wrote "Jewel, an Oprah pick." Mr. Lott is a Fulbright Senior American Scholar whose teaching credentials include the College of Charleston, the University of Massachusetts, and Louisiana State University where he was the editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journal, The Southern Review. Stovall said he and Bret meet over yard work ... Brett agreed stating "his yard looked a little shabby." Mr. Lott opened his talk last Tuesday with a poem from Tom Lynch on Rotary then immediately used his life as an example of why poetry, writing, and essays are so very important in life.

Brett's father worked for RC Cola and fully expected him to follow suit in the same profession. When he proceeded to work his way through multiple college majors: forestry (I'd like to be a Park Ranger) and marine biology (I like the beach), he ended up becoming a RC Cola employee only to realize no matter how happy that made his father, the vocation was not for him. The only "night school" college course available to Bret in 1978 was a creative writing course that he attended in his daytime uniform ... for that he was labeled "so establishment" by the professor. But, it was that professor who inspired this future author with the reading of one sentence and observation: "that's a writer's sentence." His future was launched! After "burning everything I'd written" while a professor at UMass in 1986 Bret decided to teach at the College of Charleston. His first thoughts of Charleston: "wow, it's like the Pirates of the Caribbean!"

During the lighthearted and insightful question and answer session, Bret showed his depth of character by answering his greatest reward for writing come from the simple things like a "letter from someone who likes you book." He also related that he thought Oprah's phone call in 1998 was a joke and he had to re-read his own book before appearing on her show.

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

November 23, 2008

"What a Fantastic Time to Live in Charleston"

November 18th, 2008: Helen Hill is an Ashley Hall and Clemson University graduate with a degree in Tourism ... within 3 years she became Executive Director and has held that position for 22 years.

Ms. Hill began her enthusiastic presentation by stating "we live in a fantastic place, and the rest of the world knows it." She expanded her explanation by sharing the fact Charleston spends 8 million dollars a year to reach out: "what we do best is media relations."

"Selling to the Press is like selling to anyone else and we've had a banner year." Helen stated if she doesn't have an article in Southern Living every month she's failed. She quoted from the latest article, "The 10 Reasons to Visit Charleston ... again." Traveler Magazine listed Charleston #2 behind San Francisco. She emphasized the fact "tourism is the first step to economic development." The #1 reason people visit Charleston? For the first time food tied with history.

Helen explained we are uniquely placed for the future. She recently attended a conference in London England and stated "regardless of who you voted for, the UK was on fire about the election ... the US was cool again." President-elect's Porches of Charleston quote will help us immensely.

Our future is bright as it pertains to tourism and it's all about friends and family. Charleston is where history lives and our demographics have dropped to the 35-55 year old group ... a great sign. Even California has "crept" into our top 10 tourists and Europe continues to branch out. "So much for the quote about Charleston being so gay."

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee Chair

November 14, 2008

"The Rotary Foundation Allowed Me to Be an Ambassador"

November 11th, 2008: John Bleeker and Kyra Morris were "proud Rotary parents" today. Between announcing Rachel Ward as our new Ambassadorial Scholarship winner, Keely Robinson as our first World Peace Scholar Recipient (see page 2), and introducing Julie Ohlandt, our Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar (2006-07) .... they had a full day.

Ms. Ohlandt is a James Island High School graduate who went on to Queens College (now University) in Charlotte NC.

Julie went to Chile to attend the University of Southern Chile. She stated, "it changed my life!" But she also apologized for wearing casual black shoes and keeping time with her cell phone since "no one in my generation" wears a watch. She spent the year of graduate studies getting her degree in rural development ... but she learned much more.

First, some parts of Chile are cold: "thanks a lot!" They have the driest desert in the world; active volcanoes; shorelines to the Pacific; lakes and waterfall that take your breath. But after living in Santiago (where one-third of their population lives), Valenderia (where they had the coldest winter on record), and various other locations she realized: "nothing compares to the people; my fellow classmates (Cuba, Columbia, Philippines); and I'm an ambassador for Rotary and our Club."

Submitted by Bill Crowe, Keyway Committee

November 12, 2008

Social, chili cook-off

Scores of our club's members enjoyed good times, good food and good chili at our first annual Ribs and Rotary social on November 6 at the Charleston Rifle Club.

Thanks to Angel Postell, Dave Echols, Jack Meetze, Robin Freer, Dan Ravenel, Carroll Schweers and others on the Social Committee for making this event a whopping success!