That circle in the Rotary logo and in the Imagine Rotary theme logo for this year has a deep meaning.
You could say that the circle represents that those in Rotary share an interest in serving others. Author Brene Brown says “We are wired for connection. But the key is that, in any given moment of it, it has to be real.” Riki Salam, the person who designed the Rotary theme logo points out that the circle in aboriginal culture signifies our connections to one another.
August is membership and extension month for Rotary clubs around the world. The article below draws attention to the value of connections when people participate in Rotary. We hope you’ll share it on your website, your social media challenges and for sure send it out to members of your club and encourage them to invite friends to join.
Rotary Exemplifies the Value of Connecting.
Excerpts from “The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again.”  Robert Putnam
At the turn of the twentieth century, American politics, both North and South, was violently riven as it had not been for nearly half a century. The very intensity of these partisan divisions prevented major new problems from being recognized and resolved. In the eyes of increasing numbers of voters, the two traditional political parties and their leaders were not helping the country to address newly pressing issues. Third parties like the Populists, the Free Silver Party, and the Socialists arose, and gradually reform coalitions began to cut across party lines. Within a few decades around the turn of the century, a quickening sense of crisis, coupled with inspired grassroots and national leadership, produced an extraordinary burst of social inventiveness and political reform. In fact, as we shall shortly see, most of the major community institutions in American life at the close of the twentieth century were invented or renewed in that most fecund period of civic innovation.
The first Rotary club, for example, was invented in Chicago in 1905 by Paul Harris, a young lawyer, just arrived in Chicago from a small town, who lacked useful social connections and felt “desperately lonely” in the urban maelstrom. Within four years his Chicago club had two hundred members, and within six years Rotary clubs existed in every major city in America. Imitative competitors like Kiwanis and Lions (and dozens more) spread rapidly across the country. Paul Harris’s Rotary Club was one of hundreds of similar organizations and associations started during the Progressive Era, each an outgrowth of a wider cultural turn away from atomization and individualism and toward “association” and communitarianism. From fraternal orders such as the Knights of Columbus, to cultural organizations such as the Sons of Norway; and from trade unions like the United Mine Workers to women’s groups such as Hadassah—the range of clubs and societies formed by Progressives and their contemporaries was massive. And, much like Rotary, though these organizations often started as social and leisure groups, a great many eventually oriented their activities toward humanitarian efforts, community issues, and even political activism. These groups and their broad-based memberships proved remarkably enduring, creating a vast store of social capital that fueled the nation’s upswing for decades.
No one party, no one policy or platform, and no one charismatic leader was responsible for bringing about America’s upswing as we entered the twentieth century. It was, instead, the result of countless citizens engaging in their own spheres of influence and coming together to create a vast ferment of criticism and change—a genuine shift from “I” to “we.” Rotary clubs continue to be a place where we can connect and get to know people in our community and to help bring our society together as we seek to serve our communities, our state, our nation and the world beyond.
Randy Bretz
Rotary District 5650 Public Image Chair