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Rotary Club of Oakland Civic Luncheon Meeting, October 21, 2021

President Dudley Thompson called the 5,361st Civic Thursday meeting of the Rotary Club of Oakland to order at 12:31 p.m. He reminded us that under Alameda County’s health protocol, everyone in the Ballroom must wear a mask when not eating or drinking.

Sarah Chavez-Yoell invoked the wisdom of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor who said, “Success has its special reward; but failure will teach us valuable lessons and should not be feared.”

President Dudley then led us in reciting the Rotary International Vision Statement.

Past Pres & Past District Governor Ed Jellen reported that no visiting Rotarians had checked in on Zoom, but later Sandeepa Nayak reported a very special guest on Zoom – Concha Delgado Gaitan, Pres. Dudley’s wife. Members in the Ballroom introduced their guests.

President Dudley informed us about World Polio Day that will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24. For this important anniversary, he reminisced about a time during his childhood when his family took a detour around a local town that suffered from a polio epidemic; and he recalled a neighborhood friend’s gallant efforts to overcome the debilitating effects of polio. Turning to Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign, Dudley emphasized that, although polio has now been eradicated from over 99% of the world, we have to keep working hard with more immunization drives to cross the 100% goal. Still, we should feel pride in the many lives and $ billions that have been saved as a result of Rotary’s initiative.

Ruth Stroup came to the podium to join President Dudley in recognizing several generous donors to the Rotary Foundation who have become Paul Harris Fellows by donating $1,000 or more to the Foundation.

President Dudley announced that starting next week and continuing to Thanksgiving, all Thursday meetings will be held in the Ballroom. Be sure to bring gently used coats, hats, scarves and gloves for the Winter Wear Donation Drive.

Past President Robert Kidd then introduced our speaker, Margaret Gordon, the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP). Margaret gave an inspiring talk about her long history as a community activist and her organization’s successful battles against the air pollution that has long plagued the West Oakland community, especially the toxic diesel particulate pollution from diesel trucks and other vehicles going to and from the Port of Oakland.

Under Margaret’s leadership, WOEIP has focused on the strategy of conducting careful research producing convincing data that educates the community and policymakers to take action to mitigate the sources of this insidious pollution. For example, using state-of-the-art scientific measuring instruments, WOEIP has demonstrated that diesel exhaust and other airborne toxins are dramatically more prevalent in West Oakland than other areas of Alameda County. Their research further demonstrated that this heightened exposure is correlated with corresponding high rates of cancer, asthma, and other debilitating and fatal illnesses in the community.

Largely as a result of WOEIP’s environmental advocacy, the Legislature passed AB 617 in 2017 that requires local governments to collaborate with local residents in devising solutions to a community’s air quality problems. Through AB 617, WOEIP has played a leading oversight role in the West Oakland Community Action Plan that is forcing significant reductions in deleterious emissions. Because of the Action Plan and related legal initiatives, vehicular, train, and cargo ship diesel emissions are expected to decline significantly over the coming years due to the transition to electrification of motors and other improvements. WOEIP has also been engaged in other environmental issues that affect West Oakland, including its advocacy for mitigation work to protect the low laying parts of the community from the rising sea levels that will likely occur due to climate change.

In addition to many other awards, Mayor Dellums recognized Margaret’s preeminent role in the environmental justice movement by appointing her to the Oakland Port Commission on which she served from 2007 to 2012, and she was also appointed to the panel of clean air advisors to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010. It is not surprising that she has a large seat at the table where the Oakland A’s ballpark plan or any other issue that affects her community is on the agenda.

For more information, see WOEIP’s website at: https://woeip.org

Click here to watch Margaret Gordon video segment

Missed our meeting but interested in checking out the next one?

Click here to learn more: https://www.oakland-rotary.org/calendar

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