The Epistle of Q — Chapter Eighteen

Sometimes it is a long and winding road that leads me to your door… Here it is the end of the weekend, and I have hardly spoken a word, although I have heard some good questions over the past couple of days and I may just refer to one or two in the course of my conversation tonight.

Q #1
Why should anyone join Rotary?
I’ve been a guest at a number of Rotary functions over the past couple of years, most of them related to doing some volunteering to help raise money for the various worthwhile causes that they support. And I must admit that has always been how I saw Rotary, even in my consulting days when I would be asked to speak at a club luncheon or breakfast about a project I was working on it seemed that Rotary was about improving aspects of the community’s life. However I am coming to appreciate another aspect of Rotary that more should be aware of; it is an excellent party group. Rotary has a very important social interaction side to it. The other evening I was invited to a TGIF gathering (it happens at that particular club on the last Friday of every month. Some member hosts it, every one brings some food and their own drink — it lasts two hours and members can bring a guest. The conversations are many and fascinating. Little politics or religion is discussed, but lots of talk about emerging trends in the world, people’s recent trips to intriguing places, etc. In this world of social media and smart phones, it is so refreshing to get to meet real live people and enjoy great nibblies and fine wine all the while chatting about different but interesting topics. I really think they ought to invite teenagers and young adults occasionally so they could learn this fascinating art!!

Q #2
When is living in a smaller community really an artistic blessing?
When the Rene Bolduc Jazz Ensemble is playing in the village of Oliver and doing their tribute to Dave Brubeck. Friday night I had the distinct pleasure of listening for two hours to some incredible jazz and then, in the lobby afterwards, visit with the artists. And this only cost me about $25 — for a show that doubtless would have charged triple that amount in Vancouver or Montreal. Having been a Brubeck fan since my university days, I was quite familiar with the work but the way it was played would have made Dave proud. And even though I was in the back row, I was only eleven rows from the stage so I could see the pianist’s fingers dance on the keys, the sax player’s incredible command of all the stops on his instrument, the bassist ability to make his bass almost talk and the drummer keep everything in time. All the musicians are lead artists in their own right, but the way they connected with each other was most remarkable. Even the drummer’s solos were unique and not the same as you often see at a rock concert. Each set was non-stop music, with little chatter and the impact was major league, it was as if Dave Brubeck’s group was actually playing — if they come near your place, get a ticket.

Q #3
What can one person do to help the arts?
I’ve often heard this question raised in all manner of contexts. What can one person do to facilitate world peace? What can one person do to overcome poverty? On and on it goes…seemingly without much resolution. Well, guess what, Saturday night I was invited to participate in an effort by one person to improve the stability of our delightful little Art Gallery in Penticton. This lady, who for the moment will go nameless, decided that one person can do something. She loves to cook and she has a wonderful home with a huge dining room table. She invited eight of us to come to her house for a simple dinner — all we each had to do was bring some wine and $25. It was a delightful evening, augmented by a game whereby another person would draw questions that each of us had to answer which kept the conversation rolling along while the food and drink were consumed. While the questions tended to be a bit heavy and might have benefited from at least one lighthearted and/or funny one, it was a jovial evening. Everyone had a delightful time, and the Gallery is now $200 better off. It was hoped that five different people would hold such events on a given weekend, thus raising $1,000… I think the idea is an excellent one — pick your favourite not-for-profit and try it out. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone else that has tried this, or is contemplating doing so.

Q #4
How do you make church-going people feel they can be relevant when their church is struggling to pay the bills?
Today a church that I attend occasionally held its AGM (annual general meeting). In the service that preceded it, the minister wisely chose the theme “picking the road less travelled”. He suggested that maybe it was time for the congregation to think in new and different ways/directions. The meeting started after attendees had enjoyed a delightful lunch prepared by the Ladies Guild — if you are not connected with a church, especially a Presbyterian one, you might not fully appreciate how important the Ladies Guilds are. They raise money for the church, they put on events, they are keen supporters — once again today, they put on a meal fit for royalty. But that is really a sidebar to the AGM itself.

The meeting was sputtering along without much enthusiasm or any sense of long-term planning. The financial report pretty well brought sufficient amounts of dark clouds to keep people from breaking into song or even enthusiastic motion making. As the meeting wound down, the suggestion was made that maybe the Annex (which houses the church’s offices as well as Sunday School classes) could be renovated or even sold to help the bottom line. The counter-argument was then made this would mean moving all that back into the church, thus reducing the usability of much of the lower hall. Finally, after listening to the questions and concerns for a few minutes, I suggested that maybe it was time to think outside the box a bit. Had they given any consideration to looking into the feasibility of creating a condo complex of several stories on the property — a place that could include church offices and classrooms, a decent parkade, and maybe a goodly number of condos that would be attractive to active seniors as well as others who prefer a downtown lifestyle.

Well, it was as if a bomb went off in the hall. Several people became very animated and gave suggestions how to enhance the concept. Six people agreed to sit on a committee and begin the research aspect of the idea. References were made to other congregations that have done similar projects in other urban settings. By the time the meeting was adjourned there was palpable energy again in the room. People were vocally excited that maybe there was now a real project that could breathe some needed life into the congregation. It was both enjoyable and exciting to see. Another instance perhaps of people getting beyond their initial comfort zone and seriously wanting to get to better. It will be interesting to see what transpires in the next few weeks — stay tuned (I was put on the committee!!)