Lawrence Central Rotary | Lawrence, KS

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New ED for Lawrence Habitat for Humanity Visits Lawrence Central

Lawrence Habitat for Humanity's Board President  Lindsey Slater and ED Erika Zimmerman | Lawrence Central RotaryHabitat for Humanity was founded in 1978 by Christian missionary and lawyer, Millard Fuller, in  the belief that everyone should have a “safe, decent place to call home.”

New Habitat executive director in Lawrence, Erika Zimmerman, and Habitat Board President Lindsey Slater, told Lawrence Central Rotarians  on Wednesday that since 1990  Habitat has built 88 homes in Lawrence. And In 2005 Habitat opened the ReStore  at 7th and Connecticut which accepts and resells new and used building material, furniture and appliances with the proceeds going to support Habitat.

“Lawrence is unique,” Zimmerman said “in that we have unusual resources in terms of donated time, labor, art, furniture, you name it.”

Families who don’t nave money to buy a home without assistance but have a stable income, no excessive debt and will commit to 225 hours of sweat equity are eligible. They take classes and make monthly mortgage payments. Their income must fall between the HUD Median income guidelines.

“The  houses cost around $85,000 to build , primarily by volunteer labor, and are sold to the families through no interest mortgages.  The payments don’t exceed 30% of the family’s income.”

Zimmerman said Habitat’s goals in Lawrence are to build six homes per year by 2018,  and to raise $450,000 by then. “Our biggest problem is finding and affording land’” she said.

“And we want to utilize our volunteer pool to the fullest. Millard Fuller said ‘The work of Habitat has literally moved forward on the shoulders of volunteers.’ “

For more information about the Lawrence chapter of Habitat visit their website.

“Hands on” Architecture with KU Distinguished Professor of Architecture, Dan Rockhill

RockhillDan_2013_0Kansas University Distinguished  Professor of Architecture, Dan Rockhill, spoke about his award winning program that provides senior architecture students with “hands on” experience in designing and building unique structures.  Rockhill teaches an intensive class that produces a prefabricated structure designed, built and installed by students.  Participants learn skills on the job including design, working with city officials and neighborhood associations, and actual construction.  Rockhill believes his class promotes engagement, creativity and practical experience.  The results of the program may be viewed in a number of Kansas cities and on campus or on the web site at  Rockhill receives no special funding from the university so the structures built each year are sold and the proceeds are put back into the program for the next class.  Sale homes may be viewed at  The structures are quite modern in appearance and are built to a high standard of sustainability and energy efficiency. Recycled building materials are often utilized, like aluminum scraps , limestone tailings and even chalkboard.  Homes are often placed in the urban core and in 2008 Rockhill’s students built a community arts center in tornado damaged Greensburg, Kansas.  Rockhill has written extensively about his work and he has received numerous awards for architecture and sustainability.

Here’s a great time-lapse from the Studio 804 site of the East Lawrence Passive House, being built. Having broken ground in January the studio went through all aspects of constructing this house which hopes to attain the status of LEED Platinum, Passive House and Net Zero certifications becoming one of the most sustainable homes in the city of Lawrence and the State of Kansas.

Bigs Change Lives – Mia Gonzales Explains Why Big Brothers Big Sisters Is So Important

Mia Gonzales | Lawrence Central RotaryA “Big” can change a life of a “Little” when matched up in a mentor relationship.  This was the message Mia Gonzales, Development Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, brought to the September 31 meeting.  Bigs are caring adults who volunteer  to spend at least an hour a week for a year building a friendship with a “Little”—a child in need of some extra guidance and encouragement.  These kids come from single parent homes, from alcohol and drug addiction backgrounds, and are living at or below the poverty level.  Kids enter the program as walk-ins or are referred from schools or social agencies.  Participating families are assigned a case worker who makes a complimentary match with a carefully screened volunteer.  Research shows that kids benefit significantly from a mentor relationship and show growth in skills and confidence.  Youth with Bigs are less likely to skip school, be involved with violence, or use drugs.  They are more likely to improve academic performance, improve self-esteem and attend a 4-year college.  Adult mentors also find great satisfaction from these relationships.  The organization also provides programs and mixers for Bigs and Littles.

There are 250 active matches presently in Douglas county and there is a waiting list of 75 to 100 kids. The organization also faces financial challenges as grant sources for non profits disappear.  Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters, or volunteer by going to the web site:

Mia showed a powerful video that is a true story of how being in a young person’s life can have amazing outcomes, we’ve posted it below.


Walk (or Bike) To School Day is Wednesday, Oct 7th

WalktoSchoolDayFlierMark your calendars! Wednesday Oct 7th is the official day that Lawrence Schools are encouraging students to walk or bike to school.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department had a great website with information about finding the best routes to your local school and even has maps.

From the website: “Be Active Safe Routes is a local movement to create safe opportunities for children to bike and walk to and from schools. The goal is to get children moving again and to reverse the growing rate of childhood obesity.

In 1969, approximately 50 percent of children in the U.S. walked or biked to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent do. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent and less healthy.

“The research is pretty clear that kids who walk and bike to school are more active. They will be healthier and perform better in school.” – Community Health Director Chris Tilden.”

New LCR Member Margaret Weisbrod Morris Talks About Arts Education

Margaret Weisbrod MorrisMargaret Weisbrod Morris is an artist, arts administrator and advocate active in the arts education and non-profit community. As the Chief Program Officer at the Lawrence Arts Center, Morris leads an extensive community arts education program that delivers over 500 classes a year to over 9,000 students in all arts media to students age 3 to 103. Since her arrival at the Lawrence Arts Center, she has pioneered the development and implementation of a model STEAM education curriculum, underwritten by the energy industry and recognized by the Hearst Foundation. She serves as the lead contributor and editor for major agency publications and grants, and serves as the public liaison for the Arts Center on matters of education and cultural policy. Before moving to Kansas, she started her career working as a prop artist for children’s television, eventually creating studio art and art therapy programs for non-profit organizations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and provided training on the use of art with people affected by violent crime. Ms. Morris is an active presenter and author, presenting in national forums such as the Arts Education Partnership’s National Forum, the National Association for State Arts Agencies National Assembly, National Art Education Association’s National Conference and the Americans for the Arts – Arts Education blog salon. She has served as a panelist for the US Department of Education, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid America Arts Alliance and the Oklahoma Arts Council. Margaret Weisbrod Morris holds a B.F.A. in painting and printmaking from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and studied with Edith Kramer, the founder of the field of art therapy, to get her M.A. degree from New York University.

She works with six people on her team at the Arts Center, along with three full time artists in residence as well as a variety of visiting artists and faculty. Morris pulls all this together while also giving talks such as the one she gave as a new member of Lawrence Central Rotary.

“Research shows that children who regularly study the arts are likely to show much higher academic achievement and be concerned, voting citizens of their communities,” she said.

STEAM Education Word Cloud | Lawrence Central Rotary“A Gallup poll showed that 91 percent of Americans think the arts are essential to building imagination and 73 percent believe the arts are as important as academics.”

In Kansas, one school credit in an art form is required for graduation. The most common art form found in public schools is music. Morris and the Arts Center staff work to compliment what students learn during the school day in out-of-school arts education. They present classes in art, theater, sculpture, digital media, photography, printing, film, to name a few. “In a regular class room, teachers don’t always have the time spend hours trying to figure out solutions,” Morris said “so we fill the gap by constructing a place where there is the time, setting  and support for people to test ideas, make mistakes, persevere, and realize a goal. These are the fundamental skills of innovation and invention. Since more and more of our economy will be driven by innovative thinking in the future, we do our part to help foster this.”

Lawrence Public Library Summer Reading Program is a Solid Success

Lawrence Summer Reading proramLawrence Central Rotary (and the other local Rotary Clubs) sponsored a hole for the Lawrence Public Library’s Caddy Stacks Mini Golf fundraiser event.

From Library Executive Director Kathleen Morgan, “Summer Reading is an important annual program for our entire community. Not only does it provide great summertime entertainment, but it also is essential to preventing summer learning loss in Lawrence’s kids. Numerous studies show that students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer. Low income students who do not have access to these important summer learning activities are particularly at risk. Thanks to your help, 4,176 of Lawrence’s kids, teens, and adults chose to spend their summer at Lawrence Public Library and read nearly 35,000 books and attended 258 library programs.”


Library TY

Fall Lawrence Community Bike Ride – Enjoyment by All

September-CBR-Flyer-2015-TYThe rain finished the night before, there was a sigh of relief when we could see the final rays of sun through the clearing skies to the west on Friday night.

Our latest ride held Saturday September 19th starting in the Haskell Indian Nations University stadium parking lot delighted more than 100 guests riding along the Burroughs Creek Trail. Members of Lawrence Central Rotary with the help of our sponsors and though applying for grants and fundraisers were able to hand out all of the 80 bright neon safety vests we purchased and fitted 42 brand new helmets (mostly to children) to keep them safe while riding their bike not just that day but for many days, weeks, and months to come.

But, that just speaks to the numbers. Everyone who attended had a great morning and the participants had fun… and that is the key thing. People having fun, being active, using their bikes, possibly seeing new trails, and meeting new friends along the way.

We look forward to seeing even more people again next summer for more Lawrence Community Bike rides!


Get To Know Some Of Lawrence Central’s New Members

New-MembersFour new members of Lawrence Central Rotary engaged in a panel discussion at the September 16 meeting and, while they work in very different professions, it became obvious that they have a lot in common.

Serving as moderator, Rotary President Kate Campbell asked each of the four, Steve Mason, Margaret Weisbrod Morris, Janis Bunker and Paul Radley, three questions:

  1. How did you get involved with service organizations
  2.  What are family traditions in your family, and
  3. Describe what you think is a perfect day.

Three of them, Radley, an architectural engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, Mason, a programmer for Lawrence Parks and Recreation and Bunker, senior vice-president and trust officer of Trust Company of Kansas, all said they were invited by friends to join a service group. Both Mason and Morris , program officer for the Lawrence Arts Center, said they were influenced by their parents who were active volunteers in service organizations.

“I come from a family where community service was important. My parents were early workers in the civil rights movement,” Morris said.

Family traditions all involve get-togethers with extended family. Bunker’s family has a Christmas eve tradition, Radley’s family times are during summer vacations at a family compound in Minnesota, while Morris’s family goes to an island near Seattle. Mason’s family times all involve music. “Birthdays, any time we get together, turn into a jam session,” he said.

A favorite day for Radley, Morris and Bunker begins with sleeping late, while Mason is up and out—preferably on his bike.

President Campbell said she plans on more panels like this one that will include long-time members.

New Lawrence Central Member Paul Radley Discusses Problem Solving By Design

Paul Radley | Lawrence Central RotaryPaul Radley provided a vocational talk for the September 9, 2015 program.  Paul is an architectural engineer with Professional Engineering Consultants, P.A.  Paul explained that architectural engineers do the detail tasks of making the building design work.  This includes designing mechanical and electrical systems and dealing with structural issues.  There are often significant challenges to coordinating these systems and dealing with unique site requirements and surroundings.

Paul grew up in Wichita and got his training at Kansas State University.  His first big project was in Saint Louis where he worked on a performing arts center.  It was a huge project with beautiful circular elements.  Paul also worked in New York for a company that built cable and membrane structures.  The structures appear to be tent like and are very popular in Europe.  He worked on one of these projects in Houston and it was used as a performing arts venue.

Paul stated that he mostly does design work and very much enjoys overcoming site and design problems. He sited a multi structured office building with corner offices  constructed without columns as an example. Clearly, Paul is a creative person who loves what he does.

The Lawrence 2015 Fall Community Bike Ride Is Set for September 19th

Fall-Bike-RideMark Your Calendars, Tell Your friends and Neighbors, the Lawrence Central Rotary Club is hosting the fall 2015 Lawrence Community Bike Ride on Saturday, September 19th, at the Haskell University stadium parking area and using the Burroughs Creek, and recently refinished bike Trail south of Haskell.

The event is open to anyone and there is no cost to participate.

Other activities from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. include:

  • A Training Wheel Takeoff. Experts will help children who are ready to take off their training wheels in a safe environment.
  • Bike Rodeo. Kids can practice and improve their riding skills
  • Bike Helmet Fitting and Giveaway. Safe Kids with LMH will help outfit kids with helmets, while supplies last, along with providing cycling safety tips for kids of all ages – and for adults too!
  • Inflatable Bounce House and Slides for the kids!

“One of our goals as a club is to get more and more people discover cycling and an active lifestyle as a fun and healthy activity,” said Steve Lane, a member of Central Rotary Club. “This event is a great opportunity for families and individuals to enjoy cycling in a safe and scenic area on Lawrence’s east side.”

If it is raining September 19th, the ride will be rescheduled for on Sunday, September 20, at 1PM.

Registration for the event is required and can be done before the event.

Releases will be available at the event or you can download one HERE to fill out ahead of time.

Thanks to all our sponsors and partners who help to make these events happen in Lawrence.

September CBR Flyer 2015

New Lawrence Central Member Jay Holley talks Architecture in his Vocations Talk

Jonathan Jay HolleyIn his Rotary vocations talk on September second, Jay Holley said as a licensed architect he wants to be well rounded and include all aspects of architecture. He said some architects are visionaries, some emphasize the technical, some are business people, and some are project managers., depending on the person’s strengths. He believes a combination of these skills is the path for him.

Becoming an architect involves three to six years of school, a professional internship that can be from three years to “forever,” and becoming a licensed architect (which means, he said, you are through with tests forever—unless you practice in California.)

Jay worked as a summer intern for an architect and in his last semester at KU was in a program called Studio 804. They built modules in a warehouse that were then installed in Kansas City, KS. “You are, literally, in the trenches,” he said. “The jobs involve long hours and hard work.”

After school he went to an architecture fair to find a job, showing projects and hundreds and hundreds of sketches. He is with GouldEvans architects and several years ago took the advanced tests to become a licensed architect.

He showed pictures of his projects including the new Lawrence library.

“Architecture,” he said “is more than just going to a builder. Some things as small as where the coffee pot is will influence a whole design.”

Crystal Swearingen Discusses the State of Residential Real Estate in Lawrence

Crystal Swearingen - President, Lawrence Board of RealtorsCrystal Swearingen, a realtor with McGrew Realty and president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors said her job is both rewarding and challenging.

The ups and downs of real estate, tied in with both the health of the community and of the economy and the development of technology  keep realtors on their toes, she said.

“The first half of 2015 from January through June finished strong,” Swearingen said.

Seven hundred seventy homes sold in the period compared to 633 homes in the same period in 2014 and 698 home sold during the entire year in 2011.”

The $150,000-$300,000  price range for single family homes has been the sweet spot for the Lawrence market and the measure of inventory levels, the “Months Supply” of homes, is at the lowest it has been in many years.

“Lawrence realtors work to build better relations with home owners and to have Lawrence continue to be a place of good jobs and good wages,” she said. “We work with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.”

A new generation is used to doing everything on line and this has created a problem for realtors when prospective buyers do their shopping on the internet.

When asked where she predicts the city will expand she said she really doesn’t know. A lot of it depends on school placement. She said she believes the South Lawrence Traffic way is going to be  good for the market.

Questions for the future, in addition to expansion, she said, are affordable housing in Lawrence, how many rentals are too many, and  what the economy will do next.

Scott Campbell & Jane Huesemann Talk KU Field Station and Bee Hotel

Scott Campbell DSC_0265 small imageKU Biological Survey Researcher Scott Campbell visited Lawrence Central to talk about a hidden gem on the northern outskirts of Lawrence – The KU Field Station and our own Jane Huesemann was on hand to explain her firm’s part in a project on one of the field station’s trails.

Technically it is the “biological field station of the University of Kansas, was established in 1947. Its mission is to foster scholarly research, environmental education and science-based stewardship of natural resources.

The Field Station is situated within the grassland/forest transition zone (ecotone) of North America, where the eastern deciduous forest and tallgrass prairie biomes meet. Faculty, students and visiting researchers use the Field Station’s diverse native and managed habitats, experimental systems, support facilities and long-term databases to undertake an outstanding array of scholarly activities. The Field Station is available to any person or group whose research, teaching, or conservation interests are compatible with our mission.”

In real people terms that means the KU Field Station has become a small island of nature and biodiversity in an otherwise settled landscape, thus highly valuable for research.

Jane HuesemannThere are trails for the public to explore and see, but the newest public trail amenity is a “Bee Hotel” which is a “sustainable resting space for solitary pollinator bees, which make up over 90% of the bee population. They are local bees that pollinate flowers and other plants. Solitary pollinators work independently to spread
pollen from plant to plant, flower to flower. Solitary bees are different than honey bees.  They live individually, rather than as part of a hive, and they don’t make honey. The Hotel “rooms” are designed as small tunnels. Different species occupy different diameters of tunnels and will construct a series of ‘cells’ in each room. ”

beehotel600Places like this are important because bees play a keystone role in food production and in the beauty of our world through the pollination of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and flowers but these essential pollinators are
under threat and need our help. Bee numbers are declining and, for the solitary bee, this is mainly due to loss of habitat and safe living quarters. The plan was to help them by providing safe and well-designed places to stay. The hotel was researched and designed by Clark Huesemann and built and installed by Prosoco as a part of the USGBC Green Apple Day of Service with help from local Girl Scouts.

“The bee hotel adds another educational layer of interest to the features of the Rockefeller Prairie Trail,” said Scott Campbell, outreach and public service director for the Kansas Biological Survey, which manages the KU Field Station.

The Rockefeller trail, part of the Field Station’s five-mile public trail system, is ADA-compliant and runs along native and restored prairie. Amenities include interpretive signage, a restroom, a drinking fountain and benches. At the trail’s turnaround point, the Overlook deck, built by KU architecture students, offers a view across the Kansas River valley to Mount Oread.

Images from the flier that promotes the project are below with instructions on how you could create your own bee hotel.

BEE HOTEL Handout 2.0 final_Page_1 BEE HOTEL Handout 2.0 final_Page_2


Sister Cities Travelers Visit Lawrence Central

Haley Lockwood-Peterson and Nia RutledgeIt was a day to celebrate young people, their families and other guests at Lawrence Central Rotary on August 12 when two Lawrence teen-agers presented a program about their experiences in a sister city exchange this summer and Kevin Munge, an exchange student from Helsinborg, Sweden  was introduced.

Nia Rutledge and Haley Lockwood-Peterson each  spent 10 days in Hiratsuka, Japan, living with local families, soaking up local culture, going on field trips and even taking time to do some shopping. Nia had made a video of the highlights of her trip and  Haley passed around pictures she had taken.  Both had been sponsored by Central Rotary and were at the meeting with parents and grandparents.

Lawrence youth in grades seven to twelve are eligible for a Sister Cities’ Exchange Program that involves 10 days in a Lawrence Sister City. Ken Albrecht of the Sister Cities’ Advisory Board also attended the meeting and thanked Central Rotary for its support of  what he called “a very worthy project.”

Haley said she would like to be bilingual and believed this was a good start.  She is still in contact with the families who were her hosts. Nia said her impressions of Japan included crowded streets, the Tabata Festival (similar to our Fourth of July), learning about Japanese food and a fireworks display on her last night there.

Kevin, who had only been in Lawrence for two days, said he is adjusting quickly and is looking forward to playing soccer at Free State High School where he will be a senior this year.

LCR Big Crowd


Lawrence Central Welcomes Stephen Mason

Stephen Mason | lawrence Central RotaryLawrence Central inducted a new member in early August.  Stephen Mason who is a recreation center programmer for the Lawrence Parks District. You’ll be hearing more about him in the weeks to come when we schedule his vocation talk.  He’s pictured here with sponsoring member Glenn Davis and Club President Kate Campbell.

Welcome Stephen!

Meeting Information:

Untitled Document

Eldridge Hotel
701 Massachusetts
Lawrence, KS 66044

Wednesdays at Noon

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