Posted on Jun 02, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter June 2nd, 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and mandatory social distancing, most of our volunteer opportunities and community support activities have been postponed. In response, we've continued to fund local and international charities. We've continued to meet on Tuesdays at noon. But, to maintain social distancing, our meetings have moved on-line. 
In Our Community:
Lois Sockol turns 87! Happy Birthday! Still protesting for justice!
Socially Distant Rotary Club Summer Picnic: at Claxton Field in Needham at 5:30pm on Tuesday, June 16th. Bring your own food and chairs.
Speaker: Igor Golyak, Artistic Director, Arlekin Players, on Adapting the Performing Arts to Quarantine (postponed due to a scheduling conflict as our discussion below ran a little longer than anticipated)
Igor Golyak founded the Arlekin Players Theater in 2009. Mr. Golyak received a masters degree in directing from the Russian Academy of Theater Arts in 2004 and an acting degree from Moscow's Schukin Theater Institute. He is an Associate Professor at the Boston Conservatory, and he has taught as a guest lecturer at Boston University, Harvard University and Wellesley College. He leads acting classes and directs plays at his studio on Hillside Avenue in Needham. The Arlekin Players Theater is rooted in the traditions of classical and contemporary Russian theater. Dance, spoken word, performance art and modern music blend to make unique and memorable productions in English and Russian with subtitles. This is their 10th season, but the Covid-19 pandemic has closed all theaters, and their entire season was cancelled. The Annual Gala, an important fundraiser, was postponed. Through the generosity of their Board and Supporters, a deficit of ($37,000) has been reduced to ($7,500). The Arlekin Emergency Fund seeks contributions to close the final portion of the deficit. Running as a free, live, interactive, on-line performance from May 17th through June 28th is, "State v Natasha Banina" by Yaroslava Pulinovich. For more information on how to make donations and on upcoming performances, visit the Arlekin Players Theater website:
Eight days before our meeting, a black man named George Floyd was killed during his arrest in Minneapolis when a white policeman held him down with a knee to his neck until long after he became unresponsive, despite his pleas that he couldn't breathe. No attempt was made to resuscitate Mr Floyd, who died at the scene. A bystander recorded and publicized the event to social media, which -following public outcry- resulted in the arrest of the police officer for second-degree murder. The three officers who assisted in the arrest were eventually charged with abetting second-degree murder. Perhaps because the people of the United States have been quarantined for months, perhaps because of the long history of police brutality against blacks ( a 2019 study by the National Academy of Sciences showed that black people are 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than are white folk), perhaps because the President's comments lacked empathy ("I am your President of law and order"), the nation exploded in the most widespread protests of racial injustice since the sixties. So far -Mr Floyd's Memorial Service is today- , 17 people have died, 12 major US cities have declared a curfew, 11,000 people have been arrested and 17,000 National Guard troops have been activated. Before the meeting, everyone allowed that they were upset about events as they have unfolded. So, cherishing trust and hope in our national ideals and institutions, we discussed the disturbing events:
  • Bill Paulson offered Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream speech from 1963: 
    • "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character".
  • ​​​​​​​Lois Sockol offered the "Golden Rule": 
    • ​​​​​​​"Love your neighbor as yourself".  (Leviticus 19:18)
    • "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". (Matthew 7:12)
  • Bruce Field offered that it's impossible for a white person to understand the discrimination experienced by black people, so we should ask questions, like: what can we do to help?
  • I offer former President Obama's hope-filled speech on Wednesday about the unrest at an online town hall:
    • ​​​​​​​"You look at those protests (the George Floyd protests), that was a far more representative cross-section of America, out on the streets, peacefully protesting, who felt moved to do something because of the injustices that they've seen. That kind of broad coalition didn't exist in the sixties."
    • "Every step of progress in this country, every expansion of freedom, every expression of our deepest ideals has been won through efforts that made the status quo uncomfortable. And, we should all be thankful for people who are willing in a peaceful, disciplined way to be out there making a difference."
    • ​​​​​​​Addressing young, black men, he said: "I hope that you feel hopeful even as you may feel angry. You have communicated a sense of urgency that is as powerful and transformative as anything I have seen in recent years."
Next Week's Speaker: Meet the 2020 Rotary Club of Needham Scholarship Winner!