January 31, 2010

"Changing Lives with Water"

January 26, 2010: Today, we were addresses by Brad Reed and Mike Dickerman of Water Missions International and the Rotarian Peru Project. Mr. Brad Reed began leading Water Mission International (WMI) as President and Chief Executive Officer in October 2006. Before joining WMI, Mr. Reed was Executive Vice President and General Manager of Celgard, a global manufacturing company. In this role, he managed global Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, Manufacturing, Finance and Accounting, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Operations. Mr. Reed holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Clemson University.

Mr. Reed began his presentation with an overview of WMI's Haiti relief efforts. Currently, eleven of the twelve water systems have been installed in Port-au-Prince, while ten systems await deployment from Guantanamo Bay, ten in Miami and ten on a truck en route to Miami. Mr. Reed noted these water systems would not have been possible without the support of Mayor Joe Riley and the local community.

In addition to their extraordinary efforts in Haiti, WMI is working with the Rotary Club of Daniel Island and the Rotary Club of Charleston to provide safe water systems for six communities in the Belen Slums of Iquitos, Peru. Packed in a large container, the Living Water™ Treatment Systems were shipped December 12, 2009 from Charleston, SC and will arrive in February 2010. While in Peru, the volunteer Rotarians will spend time helping to install water systems, as well as joining Amazon Expeditions, an ecotourism company, which raises awareness as well as funding for the surrounding community.

Mr. Mike Dickerman, the co-founder of Amazon Expeditions, was raised by missionaries in Columbia and has spent nearly twenty years in the South American rain forest. Although he moved from South America to the U.S. in 1997 to further his education, Mr. Dickerman returned ten years later with his wife and started the Amazon Expeditions in 2006. Amazon Expedition's mission is to provide opportunity and promote conservation through partnerships with local communities and organizations. They focus on these key elements: fostering environmental sustainability & preservation through conservation programs with the local rain forest communities, creating economic opportunity by involving the local community in the day-to-day operations of our lodge, an helping develop and achieve sustainable community development programs specifically designed to empower small communities to thrive in an ever-changing world.

The Amazon Jungle Lodge, Palo Verde Lodge (located fifty miles south of Iquitos PerĂº) offers authentic yet comfortable bungalow accommodations deep in the heart of the Amazon Jungle. The volunteer Rotarians will be able to not only live in the Amazon but work with WMI to provide health and hope for the future of its inhabitants. Both Mr. Reed and Mr. Dickerman discussed the global water crisis. The statistics are astounding. One out of every eight people in the world, roughly 884 million, lacks access to safe water. (WHO/UNICEF) and at least 2.6 billion people do not have access to latrines or any sort of basic sanitation facilities. (UN WATER). 1.8 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This amounts to around 5000 deaths a day, one every 20 seconds. (UNDP)

Reported by Teal Van Saun, Keyway Committee

January 22, 2010

"Kick the Carbs in the New Year"

January 19, 2010: Dr. Ann Kulze, a graduate of Clemson University and The Medical University of South Carolina, is a practicing physician, CEO of Just Wellness, LLC, a firm which specializes in teaching others about health and wellness, and a well known author. Creator of the book, "Dr. Ann's 1-Step Diet", she believes that people can live right and maintain a permanent appropriate weight, losing weight as needed. Scientific research has concluded that maintaining an appropriate diet is the best way to prevent illness, especially obesity, cardiovascular decease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. The pathway to this good health begins with eliminating consumption of "bad carbs" and substituting more food from the "good carb" group. The bad carbohydrates are white flour, white rice, white flour products and sugary sweets. The bad carbs turn into glucose and are digested quickly, tthen they turn to insulin which stores fat and the body's glucose level is even lower than before eating, triggering even more eating! People actually become hungrier in this vicious cycle, which adds weight, and promotes disease.

Our early ancestors were hunters and gatherers, whose only source of sweets was honey, a substance which was never in great supply; they lived healthier lives. Sugar and sweets, which are such a pronounced part of our diet contain 50% glucose and 50% fructose, something which is new to modern diets. It is found in fruit, but its amount in an apple, for example, is small. The amount ingested in our typical sweet overloaded diet promotes fat in the liver which is a defining step towards heart decease, cancer, diabetes and overall fatigue. Today's society eats 4 times more fructose than we did 20 years ago, and is a big factor in obesity, which is the trigger of many other deceases. "Good carbs", which are great for our health include whole wheat bread, brown rice, grains and beans. Beans are a truly super food and should be eaten daily. They are a great nutrient and lower cholesterol.

Fruits and vegetables are the most important, they provide us fiber without excess calories. Among the best of the fruits and vegetables are oranges, a great cancer fighter, and all dark leafy greens such as spinach. Broccoli, cauliflower, berries, grapes and tomatoes are all excellent parts of the right diet.

In the question session, she noted that a glass of wine a day is helpful. She also recommends against sugar substitutes, unless one is diabetic, because they increase your appetite and make you gain weight. And, yes, she herself exercises 45 minutes per day.

Reported by Fred Sales, Keyway Committee

January 18, 2010

SC Chamber of Commerce 2010 Competitiveness Agenda

January 12, 2010: Mr. Rawl became President and CEO of SC Chamber on Oct. 1, 2008. There are 6,500 member companies in the Chamber, 90% of which are small businesses. He opened his presentation by stating that "We are here to stir things up." He used Kyra's silver spoon as an object lesson. He said that there needs to be a greater amount of accountability in Columbia, making sure that legislators come to our point of view. Mr. Rawl stated that the most important issue in the state is JOBS, that more jobs need to be created because we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Other states have better jobs, more sustainable and long term jobs than we do. The arrival of GE and Boeing offer a great chance to turn things around and move forward. Mr. Rawl had several ideas that he feels are crucial to promoting our state; "the real thing we must do is elect a Governor that is pro-business, one who goes to bed at night thinking about how to bring new jobs into the state. Additionally, "we need a more energetic Dept. of Commerce, to develop more jobs. We need to develop more comprehensive tax reform policies. This would primarily have a major impact on the growth of small businesses".

In the speaker's opinion we need more economic development in the state. We are in the bottom 10 of all the states in corporate class action lawsuits. There needs to be an expansion of our port. This is not just an issue for Charleston, but for the entire state economy. Stabilize the port! The Dept. of Commerce does not have enough resources to develop new jobs in the state. The cost of energy is also a concern in the state.

Other major issues that Rawl mentioned were the quality of employees . Where are we going to get a skilled workforce? The State demand for jobs will increase by 16% in the next 20 years. The state unemployment rate is currently at 12.3%. A reform of the SC Employment Security Commission is needed. There is a strain on our economic system because so many people are unemployed and receiving unemployment benefits.

Healthcare was another area of concern Mr. Rawl discussed. SC healthcare costs are the second highest expenditures for businesses after payroll. 98% of medium and large employers provide healthcare for their employees, and 720,000 people are uninsured in the state of SC. SC cigarette tax is 7 cents per pack. The state needs to raise that by 50 cents a pack to help pay for healthcare, Rawl is encourages that the cigarette tax will pass this year.

Rawl feels that government restructuring is another must. There has been a $2 Billion reduction in state revenue in the past two years and more constitutional officers need to be eliminated. The state needs to jointly elect the Governor and Lt. Governor and our state expense forcasting models have been flawed and procedures need to be improved. Rawl said that we need to protect SC workers from the dangerous federal employee Free Choice Act, or, "Card Check." One other major issue Mr. Rawls spoke briefly about was CAP and TRADE. Mr. Rawl stated that CAP and TRADE would mean corporations would either fail or move off shore. Many industries would move to other countries. This would be an enormous burden on our citizens.

Submitted by: Bill Christian, Keyway Committee

January 8, 2010

Leventis stresses a more pragmatic view of politics

Jan. 5, 2010: State Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) urged Rotarians to pull the wool away from political issues to see that nothing is really black or white. Most issues come in shades of gray, he said.

If you listen to political rhetoric, "everything is in absolute terms," he said. "Practical politics is not like that." He noted that most issues don't have simple answers because there are almost always unintended consequences that result from simple solutions.

Leventis, who has chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee and is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, outlined how state government was an exercise in providing quality services to its investors, the taxpayers.

"State government is not a political science experiment - a zero-sum game where Republicans win or Democrats lose. It should not be partisan in the sense of who wins or loses. Being a governor is about the practical - opening schools, staffing prisons, paving roads."

State lawmakers, he chided, seemed to spend too much time on divisive issues that don't matter. They seemed to forget that what's important is educating children and protecting the citizenry.

He also said that many politicians wrap public policies in "good stories' so much that they focus only on the story and not the important public policy or facts behind the situation.

"I want you to be more skeptical about the sources" that politicians provide, Leventis said. "What we don't need are more stories."

He urged members to hold politicians accountable to making public policy more measurable.

"I think what we should be doing in government is setting measurable goals, observing them in appropriate time frames and then be held accountable. "

Leventis, a member of the Sumter Rotary Club for more than 30 years, told Charleston members that the word "tax" shouldn't be a dirty word.

"We as a community can't do without the government," he said. "We should demand accountability. We should consider our taxes as investments and expect a return. When we put our public discourse on that level - the Rushs, Glenns and Keiths will be out of a job, but the community will be better off."

Submitted by Andy Brack