In a letter to his brother Theo in 1874, Vincent Van Gogh wrote: “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.”
You can see Van Gogh’s love of the natural world in his paintings: luminous sunflowers, gnarled olive trees, and the starry night sky over a Provençal village. When you see nature through Van Gogh’s eyes or through your own, such as during a trip to the park or a beach, you can’t help but stop to appreciate it. And when you love nature, you also want to take care of it.
April is Environmental Month for Rotary, and Earth Day is the 22nd. Marking the occasion with local projects such as roadside cleanups is fantastic and makes a difference. Consider also thinking big about protecting the environment — one of Rotary’s seven areas of focus — by partnering with other clubs and districts on a larger-scale project funded through TRF.
The more our clubs work together on larger projects, the more we accomplish. Supported by a Foundation global grant, Rotary clubs in Pennsylvania and Brazil teamed up to provide plastic processing equipment for a waste pickers cooperative in the city of Rio Claro. The workers, who recover recyclables from trash, increased their income by 50 per cent and expanded the cooperative, while contributing to a cleaner environment.
Acting big is also one of the main ideas behind the Foundation’s Programs of Scale. With each $2 million grant distributed over a programme’s three to five-year duration, the work done on the ground scales up to fulfil the potential for long-term sustainable change. The 2021–22 Programs of Scale recipient, Together for Healthy Families in Nigeria, is hard at work right now on solutions aimed at reducing the country’s maternal and neonatal mortality rates.
Programs of Scale grants are among the most exciting developments of Rotary and its Foundation in recent years. They will have a big impact on the world. Remember that Programs of Scale grants take nothing away from your Foundation grant projects; the money invested is a relatively small portion of the Foundation’s total. In addition, The Rotary Foundation designed Programs of Scale to foster greater partnerships, which can include co-funding the initiative.
So, think big this month — about the environment and about global grants and Programs of Scale — and you will see that, when it comes to the good we can do through our Foundation, the “starry night” sky’s the limit.
Ian H S Riseley
Foundation Trustee Chair