Club Information
Welcome to Boise Rotary
Service Above Self
We meet Thursdays at 12:00 PM
Historic Hoff Building, Crystal Ballroom
802 W Bannock St.
Boise, ID  83702
United States
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VenueMap Venue Map
  Cheryl Godbout:  Editor
  Todd Fischer:  Photography

President Dirk called the meeting to order.
Jason Billester gave the invocation, along with his son Joshua.
Jason and Joshua Billester introduced the guests.
Jason Billester introduced Joshua Billester, his son, age 9
David Riffe introduced John Potter, a Sales Manager at Mass Mutual and all around good guy.
Bill Agler introduced Laura Mulkey, Executive Director of the Foundation of the College of Idaho.
Andy Erstad introduced his wife Shannon, the “chief lion tamer and coordinator of all.”
Three things:
In 1935, Romania banned Mickey Mouse because the censors thought a 10 foot rodent would terrify kids.
In 1942, Warner Bros considered changing the end of Casablana when news broke that Allied troops invaded North Africa.
Each year, Rotarians contribute 16 million volunteer hours to improving communities and providing lasting solutions.
December 6, no meeting during the day, but the holiday party happens at 5:30 that
evening. Please join us and our guests from City Light. RSVP to Dirk by email. We will not serve the meal at River of Life this day.
Acting General Bill Wooley has asked Yard Bird Tom Stitzel to announce the following plans leading up to the Rotary bell ringing extravaganza for the Salvation Army, noon, Friday, December 21.
1.       Buckets for member donations and sign up sheets for bell ringer tryouts will be on the tables at the meetings on December 13 and 20.
2.       The committee is holding a special allocation of spots for ringers for Rotarians with less than 70 years of membership. They will be in the novice division.
3.       Jerry Schroeder, official club composer, is putting notes to paper for the ringer’s Hallelujah Chorus.
4.       Auditions for the Chorus will be organized by Diane Minnick – more information shortly.
5.       Susan Mahoney, Dave Benion, Charles Clark, and Bob Rice are currently vying for First Chair of the Rotary Ding Dongs.
Tom’s phone rang, interrupting his presentation. It was a call from the President, who is sadly unavailable to ring a bell for the Salvation Army in Boise on December 21. Tom promised our club would do our best despite his absence and hoped he could join next year.
6.       Club soloist and recording artist Molly Gunther has generously agreed to interrupt her whirlwind Antarctic Tour to be the highlight of the program on December 21.
7.       Club costume designer, Keil Van Invegen, promises short but tasteful frocks and bibs for the volunteers.
8.       Following last year’s ringer complaints of cold tushes, club engineer Dave Bennion is working on a set of bun warmers for each ringer.
9.       Major Bob Lloyd will be in charge of clearing the parade route.
10.   The musical extravaganza will crescendo under the baton of conductor Bill Wooley on Friday, December 21.
Salvation Army Bell Ringing (in case you didn’t get it from the above): sign up now to ring bells on Friday, December 21, at noon. On December 13 and 20, please bring your personal contributions to the salvation army pots on each table.
Firkin Frolic, February 14, 2019. Ten companies have committed to sponsor so far: Little-Morris CPAs, Erstad Architects, Dowdy’s Automotive, Atlas Frontiers, Learned Lawyer, Buffington Mohr McNeal, Idaho Independent Bank, RidgeRun, Mountain States Appraisal, and Collier’s. Contact the committee if you want to sponsor for $250. Sponsorships are closing soon. is the website for the Paradise Rotary Club if anyone wants to make a donation to the club to help out after the fires.
New Members:
Bill Wooley introduced Laura Mulkey. She went to Southern Methodist University right after the football team was shut down, so she watched a lot of ping pong in college. She moved back to her home state of Colorado, where she raised her two kids. She and her husband moved to Boise about 1 year ago. She misses the Colorado mountains, but not the snow. She likes to hike, bike, read, and make jewelry. In her “not spare time” she is the Executive Director of the Foundation for the College of Western Idaho.
Andy Erstad introduced Ryan Erstad, his son. Ryan graduated from U of I with a Masters in Architecture. He graduated from Boise High, was very active in lacrosse and his fraternity in college. His best friend in college happens to be the twin of his wife. Ryan intended to come to work for Erstad Architects, but instead decided to work as a Project Manager for Rocky Mountain Companies, having realized that architecture is a dead end.
Bill Wooley introduced Bruce Newell, a banker from Southern California, but really a Mr. Fix-It. Bruce helped banks that were failing get back on track. He was a member of LA Five, a small Rotary Club in Southern California with about 800 members. Bruce and his wife looked at Texas, Arizona, and Nevada, but a friend from Boise invited them up. They came on a lark and fell in love. When he moved here, he moved into the real estate business – he is now a realtor with Keller Williams.
Dirk reintroduced Jason Billester, who was a former member, with the Boise Rescue Mission. Jason’s passions are family, ministry, and community. We are glad he is back!
Students of the Month:
Sofia Fregoso brought her principal, Mr. Thomson, and her parents Robyn and Hugo. Sofia comes from Boise High School. She is loyal, kind, smart, and caring. She has grown in her confidence and leadership qualities. Sofia is an excellent student – calm, quiet, and thoughtful. Sofia told us about a program for new immigrant students at Boise High. Many of the kids came just before the first day of school with no English skills, so the students hosted a Thanksgiving lunch for the kids. Sofia plans to study at Montana State or Utah State – something to do with plants and sustainability. She wants to be a leader in sustainable farming.
Nicholas Russell brought his dad, grandma, and counselor Mrs. Crum. Nicholas is from BK. He is an elite distance runner, but he is modest about his abilities. He worked at a summer camp for blind students as part of his community service hours at BK. He helped at St. Joe’s with students, and then raised $125 playing guitar at the Saturday market for the school. He is looking at West Coast schools, doesn’t know what he wants to study, but knows he wants to run.
Happy Dollars:
Todd Fisher is happy because he went to the Children’s Museum of Idaho, which is opening on December 1. He got to mount a bunch of pictures on the walls and build some cabinets. He was surprised by how much they have to do – if anyone has free time, they need help! They are located in Meridian.
Susan Mahoney wanted to thank the members who helped with the Children’s Museum.
Ron Gambassi is happy because it has been a gift to Ron to get to know Bill Wooley over the years.
Tom Wilford is happy because he’s 14 days out of hip replacement. Kevin Learned brought Tom to the meeting, but only if he would share his handicapped parking space.
Dave Benion says it was a heck of a ball game Saturday night. It was cold and there weren’t many people left at midnight. Dave also wanted to recognize Tom Stitzel for his efforts on behalf of the club. Dave has taken the prototype model of the bun warmer to Bogus, and it didn’t really fit, and he isn’t sure it’s going to work as Tom promised. Dave is a civil engineer, not an electrical engineer.
Don Coberly said Sofia was the opening student speaker for the district meeting. She spoke to 4000 people and did a fabulous job.
Kevin Learned says handicapped permits are like pickups – it you know someone with one, you don’t need one yourself. Kevin wants to honor Todd because of all the things he does for us. While he and Todd were in Ecuador, the Rotarians there have Rotary-branded business cards. Todd and Kevin thought they were cool, so Todd had 500 cards made for Kevin. Kevin wants to pay him back, but he knows Todd won’t take it, so instead he will make a donation to Polio Plus.
Andy Erstad is happy today to have Ryan join the club as a fourth generation Idahoan. Andy has known both students of the month since they were young and he is so proud of them and impressed by them. He wishes them the best in the future. Andy is also happy because the newest class of Rotarians is an interesting data point. When Andy joined, the average age was 89.6. The newest class brought that average down to closer to 60.
Jeff Leedy is happy because Dave Silva has offered for him to be our speaker next week. Also, he will be exposing himself at the Boise Christmas Show this weekend, but the Boise Police don’t seem to mind.
Dave Silva introduced Cameron Crow. Cameron grew up in Garden City, went to Boise State. He then went to work at the National Security Agency. He will be cryopreserved at his death to possibly be revived in the future. He is a founder of Make Idaho Better and of Boise Analytics.
Cameron talked about “Surveying to make Idaho better.”
Data empowers people to answer questions. Collecting information in a quantifiable way helps to determine what is working and what isn’t. Everyone wants to improve and make an impact, but without data it is hard to know. It is also hard to know when your assumptions are true or untrue without data. Data helps to determine when assumptions don’t hold water.
We are all making decisions every day on how to invest our money, or our time, or our energy. Data helps us do that.
Boise Analytics: not many people have data analytics skills, so it is difficult to find and hire people. Typically, they are only accessible to large businesses. Small and medium organizations need the data, but can’t afford to hire anyone full-time. Boise Analytics is designed to make big data affordable to small business on a part-time basis.
Boise Analytics was Cameron’s first attempt to use data to make where he lives better. But he found himself daydreaming about a local leader coming to him to say, “it would help me do my job if I could know what everyone thinks at all times.” So Cameron set about creating a research data platform focused on local issues. Who’s having pain points? What are possible solutions that might work and how can we focus on the few that might work?
Eventually Cameron decided to quit daydreaming, and instead built a system to allow people to contribute their thoughts to be a part of state and local solutions through Make Idaho Better. They distribute short weekly surveys about state and local topics, and they make the data public for everyone. The company does not pay people to take surveys – it is strictly volunteer as part of people’s civic responsibility to make your opinions known. Citizens can engage in many ways – vote, attend Rotary, testify at a government meeting. But not everyone can access those options. Make Idaho Better provides another, convenient way for people to contribute to the dialogue on what problems and solutions we are facing in Boise and Idaho.
On Monday, the survey is distributed by email to subscribers. A recent topic, for example, was guns. We hear about a lot of polarized views on the news media, but the goal is to find out what many people think in a more nuanced way. On Thursday, the analysis of the survey is published, with Cameron providing a video analysis, as well as raw survey data.
Cameron believes in transparency – the overall results are public so that anyone who is interested can access the data and make decisions based on those decisions. He hopes the platform will be a force for empathy and more thoughtful discussions on topics. It is easy to think that people who disagree with us are stupid or wrong. We get lots of information through social media, which is designed to feed you more information that agrees with what you already think. This site is an important way to find out what other people really think about issues.
His company is not a non-profit. He has tried to find creative ways to make the site sustainable. Organizations can add specific questions to the surveys for a fee. The surveys are short – about 10 questions – but Cameron saves room for questions from organizations. Organizations can also purchase custom analysis broken out by demographics or more specific responses.
Cameron believes that his system will get better with more people responding to surveys and with people accessing and relying on the data in making decisions.
Recent survey topics have examined neighborhood safety and neighborhood outlook. The Depot Bench area was the most positive for outlook but much lower on safety.
Another topic was discrimination. That survey showed that women feel discriminated against much more often than men.
Boise Growth has been a popular topic. More respondents think growth has been positive than think it has been negative.
Cameron is interested in pairing up with subject matter experts. He will send out the survey based on the expert’s questions, and then will comment on the results as to whether they seem rational or not.
Everyone can participate at MakeIdahoBetter
Thank you to Scott Learned for taking the notes this week!
Russell Hampton
National Awards Services Inc.