Interesting words came out of the last decade, including binge-watching, mansplaining, autotuned, and guyliner.  Have you used any or all of these in your day-to-day speech lately?  What new words are going to be added to our vocabulary in our new decade?
In the December issue of The Rotarian, “The Sustainability Challenge” captured my attention.  The word “sustainability” has become popular in the last few years and addresses the ability to maintain at a certain level. The article summarized a Rotary-USAID water and sanitation project in Ghana over the last 10 years.  They reviewed the work that was done and more importantly, discussed lessons learned in order to make the project more successful as they move forward.
The team set out with clearly defined goals and accomplished a great deal that Rotarians can be proud of: improving sanitation and hygiene in schools and health facilities, increasing community access to safe drinking water, and advocating for government support and financing.  What came out of their review were improvements to the project that will guarantee its sustainability.
Lesson Learned: Don’t forget the broader community. They learned the importance of involving people who do not only directly benefit from the program, but also those who might be impacted by the changes that are brought about in the community.  How can community members, such as teachers, business owners, and public employees, be involved to help reach goals as well as benefit from the project?
Lesson Learned: Financial planning is crucial. There is the initial cost of a project, but in order for lasting change to be made, the ongoing financial need must be addressed early.  They decided to set Ghanaian Rotarians to act as mentors to those who would be moving the project forward.  Rotarians have a unique situation to allow experienced members to train and mentor new members keeping not only the breadth of experience, but also depth. 
Lesson Learned: Choose technology that suits the local context.  The expertise that Rotarians have stemming from the wide range of businesses represented always needs to be fitted to the community being served.  It is important to learn ways that Rotary can come along side of community leaders to integrate and support. If new technology is introduced, how will it be taught and maintained?
Lesson Learned: Be prepared to work incrementally.  Making positive, long-lasting change requires time.  Set milestones and evaluate frequently, getting input from the project partners. Are we all working toward the same goals to accomplish our vision?
Can we apply some of these ideas into our projects?   President Ken articulated many wonderful things we have done in the community in 2019:
  • Purchased and installed a Park Bench for N. Nevada Veteran’s Home
  • Food bank volunteering
  • Bell ringing for the Salvation Army
  • Collecting toys for needy children
  • Purchase and assembly of entry way furnishings for Eddy House
  • Supporting several RYE students
  • Support of KNPB’s Young Writer’s contest
  • Held a World Polio Day event
  • Held a Rotary Means Business event
I am hoping that “sustainability” continues to be an important part of our conversations as we start our new year.