Responding to Conflict
In June of 2020, following an escalation of racial tension in the United States, George Lourigan, who was serving as Club President, invited Past President Ron Swain to speak to the Club on the difficult issue of racism. Ron shared his personal experiences growing up as an African-American in Macon, Georgia, during the Jim Crow era. His moving story motivated a group of Rotarians to begin holding weekly conversations about race and discrimination. With guidelines in place to support respectful dialogue and learning, the group took up challenging topics. They began to envision what the Rotary Club of Georgetown, Texas, could do to foster racial unity. While eradicating racism seems like an insurmountable task, who better than Rotarians to see if goodwill and better friendships can be built where conflict has created division?
Racial Unity
As relationships within the group developed, their weekly conversations inspired them to approach the Club leadership about formalizing their work as an area of focus for the Club. The Racial Unity Committee was formed. Rotary International's statement on racism provided further inspiration. The group adopted mission and vision statements and began its work to end discrimination with the Four-Way Test as a guide.
The Racial Unity Committee began to share its approach with other Clubs. By staffing information tables at District meetings, the group met other Rotarians committed to the cause of Promoting Peace. Through a recommendation from Rotarian Carolyn Holloway, Rotary Club of Sun City, group members connected with the Rotary Action Group for Peace (RAGFP) during the Rotary International Convention in Houston in 2022, and with encouragement from Alison Sutherland, Rotary Club of Cardiff Bay, Wales, decided to apply to become an official Peacebuilder Club. Taking the responsibility as a Peacebuilder Club seriously, more than a third of the Club's membership completed Rotary's Positive Peace Academy in just a couple of months.
A Minute for Peace
One of the ways the Racial Unity and Peacebuilding Committee keeps peace on the forefront of Club members' minds is to provide a Minute for Peace during our weekly meetings. The Minute for Peace features a quote about peace and is read by a member of the Club. The Club has produced a brochure titled 52 Minutes of Peace. It lists quotes for peace that can be used at Club meetings or in classrooms throughout the year.

Peace Gardens

The Rotary Club of Georgetown, Texas, began its Peace Gardens project in 2022 with a District Assistance Program (DAP) grant. In keeping with Rotary’s commitment to “creating environments where peace can happen,” the Club’s Racial Unity and Peacebuilding Committee envisioned the building of peace gardens on the campuses of local schools. Working in partnership with the Georgetown Independent School District and its campuses, and with the support of Home Depot and the Sun City Texas Woodworkers Club, the Rotary Club of Georgetown is helping to establish peace gardens throughout our community. Learn more about our ongoing efforts with Peace Gardens and Peace Poles.