Jones and the R.I. Theme for 2022–2023

Posted By Robert Ballantyne

Each year Rotary elects a new International President, and that President chooses a guiding theme to be used throughout the world of Rotary. For the year beginning July 1, 2022, The incoming President is Canadian, Jennifer Jones, and her theme is Imagine Rotary. Jennifer describes her vision in this video.

Some people would prefer to read what Jennifer said, so, for you, here is the text of her presentation.

A few years ago my friend Bronwyn Stevens took me to a school in Melbourne. It was there that I met a young Interactor named Peter. He told me if you want responsible children you have to give them responsibilities. Peter was on to something important. We don’t have a problem bringing members into Rotary. We struggle to keep them. We’re a revolving door.

In every part of our world we need to ask our members what they want out of their experience. And then we need to provide them with meaningful responsibilities. It’s our offer of hands-on service, personal growth, leadership development, and lifelong friendships that create purpose and passion.

These are our responsibilities. If we don’t serve our members we don’t serve our communities. And if we don’t provide comfort and care for our members they may never truly get the power of Rotary. And please understand, when I use the term “members” it means Rotary and Rotaract. We are all Rotary members.

We have been entrusted with leadership in our great organization. Now it’s up to us to be brave and intentional in our actions. And to let others help us lead.

[Rotary] President Shekhar [Mehta] launched our “Empowering Girls” initiative last year and it has resonated around the world. We will continue this bold effort, recognizing that empowered girls becomes empowered women.

We have less than a year and a half to achieve the board set target of 30 percent women in Rotary. We’ve come a long way, and already more than 110 countries have achieved this goal! That said, We have a long way to go. And 30 percent is the next stop on the way to 50. And you know, our members in Rotaract have already achieved this distinction.

Speaking of embracing the different and unique — new clubs, and especially new club models, are vital to growing Rotary. I need your help. I need your help with this. And I’m asking each of you [District Governors] to help form at least two new innovative or cause-based clubs during your term as Governor. And then, and perhaps most importantly, instill in them, and your existing clubs too, our comfort and care philosophy.

Let’s make sure we engage our members so they love their clubs, and their Rotary experience. Fifty years ago an anthem was recorded that included this beautiful line,

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one.

I hear that lyric as a call to action. We all have dreams — but acting on them is a choice. And when organizations like ours dream big things like ending polio, and creating peace, it becomes our responsibility to make these dreams a reality.

Imagine Rotary - theme 2022–2023Imagine a world that deserves our best — where we get up each day knowing that we can make a difference. You don’t imagine yesterday, you imagine tomorrow!

Imagine a world without polio. Imagine a world with clean water for everyone. Imagine a world free of disease; a world where every child learns to read. Imagine kindness and hope and love and peace.

And that’s, my dear friends, why our theme is “Imagine Rotary.”

There is a great line in the song from the Broadway musical, “Rent.”

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure a year in a life?

Some of you may be familiar with this play, or some of you may be more familiar with the Puccini opera that inspired it, “La Bohème.” My friend, sitting Governor Michelle Bohreer, recently recently challenged a bunch of us to think about how each one of us gets the same number of minutes [every year]… how we choose to live them is the important question.

On July 1 [the beginning of the new Rotary year] the clock starts ticking. How will you use these minutes?

So, knowing that Melbourne is our convention destination, it seemed only natural to reach out and connect with an Australian artist. Ricki Salam is an indigenous artist with deep ties to the people of that land. We met virtually several times and it was amazing to hear him explain the importance of each element [of the theme graphic for this year]. As he shared the circle, the aboriginal culture signifies our connections to one another. The dots around [the circle] represent people. And there are seven because of our [seven] areas of focus. The circle and the dot together become a navigation star — and it’s our guiding light. The solid line underneath is what’s referred to as a digging stick, and it’s used when doing hard work. For us, as people of action, it represents a tool for getting things done.

You’ll also notice the colours: purple green and white. These are the same colours i’ve asked you to focus on instead of selecting a theme jacket. As we celebrate diversity equity and inclusion, I wanted all of us to be able to express ourselves differently in what we wear. But, to still have a connection, there are several ways to interpret the colours; and quite easily they could mean purple for polio, green for the environment, and white for peace. Together, as many of you have already guessed, they’re the colours of the woman’s movement. And for me, a subtle nod to this history.