Program Reports

The program write ups as they appear in the meeting bulletins.

Program Report: Sarah Schroth- Proposed Duke Sculpture Garden and the Carol Dolci Exhibit

Sarah Schroth, today’s speaker, has headed the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke since 2013.  She has presided over perhaps the most lively period of the Nasher’s brief existence, since it was founded in 2005 as a successor to the smaller East Campus Art Museum.  She specializes in 18th century Spanish art and early in her career discovered unknown works from the period of El Greco and Velasquez.  Today she spoke on two topics: a new grand sculpture park for Duke and the current exhibition of a much neglected Italian Baroque artist, Carlo Dolci (1616-1686).

The sculpture park arose from a discussion about how to integrate the Nasher and the Rubinstein Center for the Arts, now nearing completion, across the street.  Sarah feels that the Nasher itself need not be extended “It is an optimal size for a university like Duke” she said.   The release to Duke (after the decease of its very elderly occupant) of a house adjacent to the Nasher was an added stimulus  to the new project. 

The Arts Center is just the most recent example of David Rubinstein’s ‘Giving Pledge’ philanthropy, adding to the Rubinstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library and a substantial contribution to the Sanford School of Public Policy.  After much discussion involving Sarah, Executive V-P and Duke Master Builder Tallman Trask, the plan is to take the Olmsted-designed Campus Drive and 144 acres of unused adjacent areas and create a sculpture park.

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Program Report: Rotary Peace Fellows – Cristel Greiner Butchart

The Rotary Foundation was in the spotlight at today’s meeting.  Nancy Marks honored two brothers and their wives  with Paul Harris Fellow  Awards.    Thanks to a generous contribution by David and Carmen Durack and other District Rotarians a $1.5 million Rotary Peace Fellows Fund has been founded.  Peace Scholars at the Duke-UNC Center benefitting from this endowment will be named District 7710 Peace Scholars.

Giving a personal insight into the influence of the Rotary Peace Scholars program, Cristel Greiner Butchart, a Rotary Peace Scholar sponsored by our club, spoke about her experiences as a scholar and how that experience weaves its way into her current professional work.

Prior to beginning the application process a few years ago, she had already formulated a personal philosophy that emphasized conflict resolution in personal as well as international relations.  As a school teacher she had worked on curriculum development to promote safer schools.  She also worked in Myanmar on children’s rights and preventing child trafficking.  Even with all that experience behind her, she conceded that the grilling she got from the club’s Peace Fellow interview committee—B.C. Dash, Vandana Dake, Newman Aguiar and Arthur Rogers—was really rigorous!

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Program Report: Renee Fink – What Can the Holocaust Teach Us Today

When I saw the program was to be delivered by a holocaust survivor I wondered how one of those skeletal figures pictured when the death camps were liberated in 1945 could have survived 70 plus years now and still be giving presentations to students and civic clubs.

So, I was a little surprised when I met Ms. Fink who was clearly younger than that by at least a decade or two.  Minutes into her presentation, however, it was apparent why she and possibly a generation or two after her are also genuine holocaust survivors.

My daughter Steph and granddaughter Maddy came to live with me three years ago now. Maddy is now five and has started kindergarten. I cannot imagine the agony we would feel if it ever got so dangerous here that our best option for her safety was to hand her over to an underground railway to deliver her to an unknown family in another country.

For those that were at the meeting, you know that Ms. Fink’s story was told in four videos that were entitled On the Back of a Stranger’s Bicycle: Renee Fink’s Story. Our time constraints being what they are, she stopped at three videos, but there is a fourth and I urge you to watch it too on-line. If you are reading this on the Club’s website, I’m going to embed the first video on the site so that those who couldn’t attend the meeting can see all four of them in sequence. If you just want to watch the fourth you will see links to all four of them by clicking through and watching them on YouTube. Or you can go to the website http://holocaustspeakersbureau.org where you will find a biography of Ms. Fink and a link to the videos.

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Program Report: George Habel and Benjy Capps – Miracle League of the Triangle

Everyone deserves a chance to play baseball

To the 100 or so die-hard Rotarians who chose to attend Monday’s meeting rather than gaze upon the eclipse, Capitol Sports Vice President George Habel expressed his thanks for the support our club has given. First, for “Take a Kid to a Ballgame,” which – spearheaded by a generous donation from fellow Rotarian Michael Goodmon and Capitol Broadcasting, and complemented by club donations – allowed us to treat 66 youth to a Durham Bulls home game, complete with hotdogs and Bulls baseball caps.

Second, George conveyed his gratitude to the club for choosing to move our weekly meetings to the DBAP. “It was a first-time job-related task when I had to hire a chef for the Bulls,” George said. “And now, with Rotary’s commitment to Monday luncheons, I’ve had to hire a sous chef!” While the Convention Center (and the Marriott before that) have certainly worked hard to be accommodating, our move to the ballpark emphasizes our growing, progressive club’s efforts to represent and support the Durham community even more strongly. Reminder – our Monday, September 11 meeting will be held at the DBAP!

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Program Report: David Graham – The Atlantic Online

David Graham looked more the part of guest student until he took the podium as our featured speaker Monday representing one of the nation’s most venerable and respected magazine titles, The Atlantic.

Graham, it turned out, is a seasoned staff writer and journalist who covers national politics at The Atlantic. He told a full house that much of his work is producing journalism to compete for reader attention in the digital information battlefield where fine traditional reportage goes up against cheap clickbait, fake news, lazy rewrites, Tweets, blogs of all quality, some of it “total junk.”

Given this reality, serious readers, in Graham’s view, could do themselves and society muchgood by training themselves to separate the wheat and the chaff.

“In general, society benefitted from more media literacy,” Graham said. “It’s important to read articles closely.”

Among reminders he suggested in a broad, quick look at the state of today’s journalism are to keep any eye on the reporters and writers, their track records on the subject matter at hand, and the number of sources driving a given story, plus how the sources are identified. Keep an eye on the reporter’s attitude about the subject matter at hand – is the writer generally hostile or friendly?

Graham is a 2009 Duke graduate who has served with other national quality publications such as the Wall Street Journal. Through the modern miracle of remote technology, some good bosses in Washington and the fact that his wife landed a nice job in Chapel Hill, he is living back inDurham and still writing for The Atlantic. (Suggested piece: Bull City charms.)

Though young, he reminded club members of some age-old facts of journalistic life, for example:

“Reporters are sharks. We want stories. We want juicy stories. If we see blood in the water, we go after it.”

And: “Even the best outlets screw up. The difference is we are apologizing and correcting.”

Last: “The press should be adversarial, not the adversary.”

These maxims are both true and a fine standard of conduct and values that should be a refresher course for many participants in a once-proud profession trying to regain its footing. Our thanks to David Graham for his entertaining presentation.

Graham was introduced by Judge Nancy Gordon.

Submitted by Mark Lazenby

Program Report: Ward Nye – Martin-Marietta

A full house of Durham Rotarians sat down to listen to Ward Nye (no relation as far as I know to the science guy).

President Seth Jernigan introduced him in a speech “that could have been written by my Mother!”, said Mr. Nye, leading all to infer that Mr. Nye was well-loved indeed.  Ward Nye is Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Martin Marietta Materials, a large company.  He also serves on numerous other company boards and lives in Raleigh.

Yes, “materials”.  Some older Rotarians may remember M-M as an aerospace company, a part of Lockheed Martin.  They built many major engineering projects like nuclear power plants, the Walt Disney monorail and modified Titan II rockets.  Martin Marietta Materials specializes in heavy construction materials – such as aggregates, concrete and asphalt.

Mr. Nye gave a polished talk describing the aims of the company and its 400 current operations throughout the country. He emphasized the values of the company and its emphasis on safety – not a trivial matter in this kind of business.  They aim to go beyond the legal requirements of OSHA.  Working for M-M is apparently statistically safer than working for Wal-Mart.

MMM is very concerned that their projects have a “social license”, the concurrence and support of the local community. Some twenty percent of its business is in fact in housing.  Mr. Nye was optimistic about Durham and how we are doing.

There was time for a couple of questions. One was “Are we running out of sand?”  Mr. Nye seemed a little surprised by the question. His response was basically that there is sand and there is sand implying that there were shortages of certain types of sand but that we shouldn’t worry about the beaches.

Submitted by JS