Vision 2020: A virtual committee plans a terrestrial District Conference to be hosted by a virtual Rotary club

Vision 2020 Logo w dateWhat happened two weeks ago in a meeting room at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Edmonton had never happened before and may never happen again.

A group of Rotarians who have been working toward for same goal for months, despite many having not met each other in person, came together for their first face-to-face meeting. 

Nearly a year after the committee planning the Vision 2020 District 5370 Conference was established, its members were all in the same room for the first time.

The Vision 2020 Conference will be held at the DoubleTree September 17-19, 2020. Register by Halloween to save $25 by taking advantage of the early-bird rate.

Screen Shot 2019-10-21 at 9.51.45 AMThe full registration is $425, but until October 31, you will only pay $400.

Thanks to sponsorship from the Edmonton Community Foundation, there is a reduced registration rate to Interact and Rotaract members.

Before their October 8 gathering, all of the committee’s monthly planning meetings had been online.

That is fitting because the Vision 2020 conference will be hosted by the Rotary E-club of Canada One, which conducts its weekly meetings on line, as the home club of the District 5370 Governor-elect.

For 2020-2021, Jim Ferguson will be the first e-club member anywhere in the Rotary world to serve as a District Governor, which means that Canada One will be the first e-club to host a district conference.

“I contacted Rotary International to ask if we are the first e-club to host a District conference,” say conference chair and Past District Governor Elly Contreras (E-club of Canada One). “They confirmed that we are.”

Unlike other recent District conferences, all of Vision 2020 will occur under one roof, with presentations, meals and entertainment scheduled for a banquet room only steps from the elevators that connect the meeting area with guest rooms.

The DoubleTree is offering a special conference rate to Rotarians, with a free upgrade for the first 20 people who book at the hotel.

The House of Friendship—rebranded as an “exhibition hall” for this conference—will be located directly across the foyer from the meeting room.

In addition to commercial displays, the exhibition hall will include a project fair. This will be an opportunity for Rotary, Interact and Rotaract clubs to showcase club projects, connect with fellow Rotarians, share ideas, learn, inspire and celebrate our successes. 

There will be a nominal fee of $50 per booth for Rotary clubs. Commercial displayers will pay $250.

PDG Judy Brown (E-Club of Canada One) is responsible for organizing the exhibition hall and project fair.

A booth application form is available on the Vision 2020 website. Inquiries can be sent to: Vision2020hof@gmail.com

Besides its virtual meetings, another difference in this conference’s approach to planning is the increased participation of Rotarians from other clubs in the conference committee. While the involvement of Rotarians from several clubs in conference planning is not unusual, the number of clubs represented this year is greater than in previous years. At least 12 clubs have members on the committee. 

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Members of the Vision 2020 Planning Committee at the 2019 People of Action District Conference in Grande Prairie. Left to right, conference chair PDG Elly Contreras (E-club of Canada One), Tammy Waugh (E-club), PDG Betty Screpnek (RC of Edmonton Glenora), Ramiro Contreras (E-club), Jocelyne Ferguson (RC of Athabasca) and DGE Jim Ferguson (E-club)

Including members of other clubs was not part of the initial plans, according to the committee chair.

“It just happened that way,” Elly says. “At the Changeover Event in June 2019, people came to Jim to offer to help. We have involved people from other clubs because many people want to be involved.”

Others, such as District Youth Chair Tamara Larson (RC of Edmonton Whyte Avenue) were invited to join the committee because of their expertise. 

“We needed someone for the youth committee. Rather than approach someone in our club, I approached Tamara.”

Elly sees benefits flowing from the involvement of Rotarians from across the District. 

“This may make this more of a District conference, than just a conference organized by a club for the District,” she says.

She also notes that the committee includes Past District Governors, who hosted previous District Conferences, and two future governors.

“Because Past District Governors have the experience, you don’t have to tell them what to do,” Elly says.

“This is also an opportunity to learn how it’s done. District Governor Nominee Donna Barrett (RC of Edmonton Sunrise) approached us, saying, ‘I have to do this next year, so I want to learn how it’s done.’ ”

Jocelyne Ferguson (RC of Athabasca) is leading the team that is planning social events, including a reception for Rotarians when they register Thursday evening, a Governor’s Ball on Saturday and a return of Rotary’s Got Talent after a 10-year absence from District conferences.

This could be your chance to highlight your vocal, instrumental, juggling or comedic talents. Learn how you can become part of Rotary’s Got Talent on the Vision 2020 website.

PDG Ross Tyson (RC of Edmonton Northeast) chairs the committee responsible for securing speakers for the conference, which will include:

  • Canadian Olympic gold medalist Beckie Scott, who now chairs the World Anti-Doping Agency. She will speak about integrity in sports and in life.
  • Dr. Chris Brauer, a highly regarded and sought-after world expert on the technologies of the future.
  • Rotarian Alan Mallory, who will speak of the extreme challenges he and his family endured while attempting to scale Mount Everest and how that experience has changed his life forever.
  • Amy Smith, who spent two years studying the social and cultural dynamics of development, at the University of Queensland in Australia, as a Rotary Global Grant Scholar.
  • Infectious disease expert Dr. Mark Joffe, who has studied the impact of the polio epidemic in Edmonton in the 1950s.
  • Norma Ascencio, a young woman who grew up in poverty with her family in the hills of Colima, Mexico, with little hope for a future until she was given an opportunity by Project Amigo to go to school. Through her ambition and hard work, she graduated as a lawyer.