EBERHARD J. WIRFS 0000-00-00 00:00:00
One of the most basic facts of nature is that it is dynamic. The visual world continually undergoes change, both from dynamic events in the world itself, such as the movement of trees in the wind, and from the visual changes generated from our own activities, such as locomotion. In other, more basic words, everything needs momentum, or movement, in order to progress, or grow. Move to grow. It’s a very basic concept, which can be applied to most everything. Nothing that remains static grows. It is this basic concept – move to grow – that I have chosen as my theme for 2009-2010, with the ginkgo tree and leaf as its symbol. Have you ever seen a ginkgo tree? The ginkgo has a long history, with ancestors extending back some 280 million years. It is one of very few plants living today that has such a clear lineage dating back into the Paleozoic era. Fossil ginkgo leaves and petrified trunks can be found during the Tertiary period in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is very resilient, with an average life span of 1,000 years, and unique in that it has both a male and female variety in the same plant. So why the ginkgo tree? The ginkgo is a symbol of hope and love, and a monument of peace and environmental protection and even considered a vision aid. The ginkgo tree has in fact been declared the “millennium” tree. When taking into consideration its other characteristics of esteemed heritage, longevity, adaptability, utility, sustainability, and global abundance, it’s easy to see a correlation between the ginkgo tree and Lions Clubs International. Compared to the origins and lifespan of the ginkgo, Lions Clubs International is still in its infancy. As a global organization dedicated to promoting international understanding, we must symbolically plant a ginkgo at every opportunity. The sapling has to be planted and nurtured world-wide in an appropriate manner with good soil, sunshine and water. Like a ginkgo tree, our programs must be a sustainable resource that will stand the test of time. Always mindful of our motto, “We Serve,” we must continue to plant seeds of understanding and enduring community service, and cultivate a clear and consistent message of purpose. This involves effort, momentum, action and NEED TO MOVE. I have learned a great deal through Lions and from Lions. I was entrusted to take on major challenges, and I am extremely thankful for that chance. Now the time has come to give back. The oldest living Ginkgo tree grew from one tiny seed. Have you ever planted a seed and watched it grow? Have you planted a sapling in your yard in the hope that one day it would grow into a beautiful tree? It takes time. It doesnft happen overnight. Even the hardiest, most resilient species must be cared for and nurtured. It must have good soil, plenty of sunshine and water in order to thrive and blossom into a sustainable resource. Lions Clubs Internationalfs most sustainable resource is our members. So how do we ensure our members remain as our most sustainable resource? By successfully ¡ Extending new Lions clubs ¡ Inducting new, qualified Lions members ¡ Providing service to the community ¡ Building international understanding ¡ Empowering members with leadership skills We must continue to grow our membership. It is the key to our success, and the key in our ability to meet the growing needs of communities around the world. Successful involvement of qualified members means long term retention. Qualified members . That is, individuals with experience, who are committed to sharing their talents and expertise with others for common good - will ensure the continued growth of our association. Everyone agrees that our associationfs future depends upon its ability to attract new, high quality members and to successfully charter new clubs. The invention of the steam engine and the printing press were critical in altering the course of human civilization. Similarly, providing of equal opportunities to women and making playing fields gender neutral have absolutely redefined socio-economic and political dynamics. LCI adopted the historical resolution of throwing open the gates of membership to women in 1987. Since then, various steps have been initiated to encourage the growth of women members. In some parts of the world, spouses of the members are fully integrated into the life of their club. They strongly identify with the objects of the association and by participating in the activities of their clubs they add value and demonstrate emotional involvement.A powerful organization like Lions Clubs International cannot afford to ignore gthe majority of the populationh in its quest to grow and remain relevant in our times. A study of the density of women population in districts around the world clearly indicates that we need to step up our efforts in this direction. The official opening of our organization to women members is by far not enough. We must actively expand this opening on a world-wide scale. We look toward women not just to inflate our numbers, but because we are convinced that their presence shall add greater meaning to our association, and that this demographic correction shall make us more contemporary. Women are blessed with the psychological advantage of gseeing with their minds and listening with their hearts.h In some parts of the world, we seem to have unfortunately become out of sync and stayed behind the times by keeping our clubs and districts a male-dominated bastion. We need to move ahead and change. If we do not ride the waves of change, we will find ourselves beneath them. Toward the end of the first decade of 21st century, we have a clear choice to make: Change or become extinct! Lions Clubs International will support those efforts through the Global Membership Team (GMT), extension representatives in the field, and a flow of information to arm you with the knowledge necessary to develop and execute effective membership growth plans. The GMT, implemented in 2008-2009, will continue to work interactively and with international experience in 2009-2010: analyzing trends, exploring new opportunities, monitoring targets set by the new governor teams, and providing assistance in pursuit of set goals. District governors and Lions in each district will be recognized for their successful efforts in ¡ extending new clubs ¡ including new members in existing clubs ¡ annual net membership growth. Transparency shall be built into the plan for recognition, which shall be based on the diverse ground realities in different constitutional areas. As certain benchmarks are reached, medals and awards shall be forwarded at the recommendation of the district governors. The details of this plan shall be circulated to clubs and districts separately. I would also request you to create an appropriate atmosphere to help nurture these new members. Extension of Lionism is possible through expansion of the existing markets and development of new markets. The former is a regular approach, and the Lions in ISAAME have excelled on this front. The latter is an opportunitydriven approach and the Lions in Europe have responded appropriately by forming positive partnerships between established Lions countries and countries where Lions clubs are only beginning to take root. We are beginning to reap the fruits of the newly established plan - Eastern Europe Project (EEP) - to revitalize clubs in this region through better retention and planned extension process. It is encouraging to see how the opening of opportunities in this part of the world that was shielded from global influences in the past is currently imbibing values of sharing and caring for community development. Plant a Lions ginkgo today, and grow our association of tomorrow.
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