april 2021 District Bulletin    

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From the Governor's Desk
the butterfly effect
A little over a year ago, I was given the incredible honor of being the Master of Ceremonies and speaking at the Centennial Celebration of The Burley Rotary Club. During my opening remarks, I shared some thoughts about the term “Butterfly Effect.”
I was first introduced to the “Butterfly Effect” concept when I saw a trailer for an Ashton Kutcher movie with that title back in 2004. Being curious about what it meant, I decided to look it up.
What I eventually learned is that the term Butterfly Effect is part of Chaos Theory.  It began with Edward Lorenz, an American mathematician and meteorologist, when he posed a question at a Conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  The question: “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” Having lived in Brazil for two years, I decided to keep reading.
The concept behind this provocative question was to illustrate the idea that small variances can have profound and widely divergent effects on an outcome.  Since systems are sensitive, outcomes can be unpredictable when introduced to a slight change.
Edward Lorenz made this discovery when he was experimenting with a weather model he created in order to try to predict the weather.  He inputted a variable with an approximate value of 0.506 and got an outcome.  Later, he inputted the full precision value of 0.506127, and the outcome of the model was completely different. 
We hear the phrase that big doors swing on small hinges, but in this case, a difference of 0.000127, slightly over a one ten-thousandth part, created an entirely different outcome.  Hence, the Butterfly Effect being part of Chaos Theory was born.  Maybe the real lesson here is that you can’t predict the weather?
In this case, I applied the Butterfly Effect to the organization and creation of The Burley Rotary Club slightly over one hundred years ago (A special thank you to the Pocatello Rotary Club for sponsoring us!).  I wish it was possible to talk to those original members, united by a simple idea of providing “Service Above Self” in their small community, and show them the figurative tornados of change for good that they have unleashed in people’s lives here in Burley and throughout the world, all thanks to the Power of Rotary.  I am pretty sure they had no idea what they unleashed back then. 
As I have enjoyed the privilege of visiting each of the 43 Clubs in our District, I am inspired by the giving and doing of each one of you. Rotary Opens Opportunities that you all take advantage of to do good and make a difference in the world. Each one of you that has flapped your Rotary wings of giving has sent tornadoes of good things to people everywhere. Think of the difference we have made in the lives of the 2.5 billion children that have received the polio vaccine since our End Polio Now Campaign began! Think of all the countless number of clean and reliable water sources that have been permanently installed all over the world!  Think of the countless number of schools and clinics that have been built!  Our simple giving and doing has combined together with other Rotarians around the world and we truly are making a difference.  The Rotary Effect is real and more powerful than the theoretical Butterfly Effect! We will continue to make a difference, thanks to the Power of Rotary and our powerful ideal of Service Above Self.
As we celebrate the successes of our incredible past, I look forward to celebrating more of the incredible difference that we will keep making in the future as we Grow Rotary!

Ben Nelson '20-'21 District 5400 Governor

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Aug 25, 2022
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