Although some of us got to hike and leaf peep in the Wasatch and others to visit the Great Salt Lake, this year’s Member Conference schedule was jam-packed leaving little time to visit the Crossroads of the West. Teresa Crockett and her team -- Shyla Esko Bare, Phyllis Chinn, Teresa Crockett, Julie Emory, Joy Emory, Margret Boes-Ingraham, Vicky Wason, Lauren Cetlin, Natalie Petersen plus Dan Bare for tech support -- deserve kudos for their efforts – flower and chocolate decorated tables, a peace mosaic, early morning yoga, Servas bingo and a great group of speakers who shared many ways in which our travel, language, and volunteering enable us to all play a part in peace.
Shyla Esko Bare provided a high-energy kick off for volunteers on Friday afternoon. This was followed by Dr. Dave S. Derezotes, Director of Peace & Conflict Studies at the University of Utah’s College of Humanities, and a provocative discussion of the radical middle ground, a place he believes we all need to be if global polarization is to be reduced.
Saturday featured Board Member, Shyla Esko Bare on sustainable travel, Lynn de Freitas on the Great Salt Lake, Meeche White and Andrea Stack on Recreation for People of All Abilities. Shyla and husband Dan are the people behind Wild Spirit Travel. Lynn de Freitas is the Executive Director of Friends of Great Salt Lake. The Great Salt Lake is a terminal lake – there is inflow, but no outflow. The heat and drought of the past few summers have reduced its depth by almost fifty percent. It is approximately four times as salty as the ocean. It is currently within twelve feet of its all-time low which presages negative impacts for all who depend on its 21,000 square miles of watershed. On a more positive note, almost 30 years ago Meeche White established the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah. The Center is internationally renowned for its adaptive sports programs that serves thousands and their families every year.
This was followed by our hybrid Annual General Meeting at which President Arnie Rowland brought us up to date on some of the changes that have been made in the past year. Ernie Baragar discussed his work on the Elections Committee. Kent Macaulay and Alison Telsey joined us to bring us current with activity at the United Nations.
On Sunday Paige LaCombe updated the group on all things Servas. She also spoke about the U.N. Committee on the Status of Women and shared powerful videos of women from around the world. Whitney Holcomb shared the albeit complicated process which starts with www.welcome.us and what one person can do to help refugees from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Venezuela here in the United States.