Because of a last-minute change, this week’s speaker will be your faithful scribe, Wayne Gersen, who will offer a talk based on an Osher course I will be offering titled "The Philanthropy Paradox". This course draws on Anand Giridharadas’ book Winners Take All, which describes how billionaire philanthropists are changing the way the economy functions and how we are governed. I will use Bill Gates’ philanthropy for polio and public education as an example of the paradoxes that emerge when billionaires make decisions on how their money will be used. 
  • Mike Urnezis reported that we raised $5700 for Listen, which was matched by our club, which meant that Listen received over $11,000 to help offset the costs of heating for their clients.
  • President Tom Cstari Tom gave Paul Harris awards to Stan Williams, Dave Allen, and Carolyn Watson. 
  • Gina Allison won the cookie of her choice in the raffle … which assumes her choice would be either raisin oatmeal or chocolate chip
Stan Williams gave a gave a comprehensive overview of ECFiber, the company he leads that grew out of Valley Net and now consists of an alliance of 24 Vermont towns. He explained that because of Vermont’s laws, internet services cannot be funded by taxes, which poses a major problem for small rural towns who are not served by major telecom providers because they require an economy of scale that is unattainable when the population is small and far flung. This, and the outlying areas of towns that already have some broadband access, is ECFiber’s niche.  
Stan explained how ECFiber grew from a pilot project to a crowd sourced business to more traditional enterprise that offers a relatively low but highly assured 23-25 year payback on revenue bonds. He noted that his biggest challenge is keep the costs under control AND offer his employees competitive wage packages.  
At this juncture ECFiber offers roughly 50 schools and municipal entities low rates for highest speed possible and is also seeking to provide packages to lower income individuals who might otherwise not be able to afford broadband. He noted that unlike other non-profit efforts, ECFiber provides last mile service instead of middle mile service, which adds to the cost and complexity of its operation. 
January 16 Sherri Oberg speaks to us. Nan Carroll reports Ms. Oberg is “working on a cool project with the small goal of ending world hunger, with support from Bill Gates and others”. 
January 23 we will have a presentation on CASA. 
On January 30 we will have a social event in lieu of our regular lunch meeting. 
Wayne Gersen
Russell Hampton
National Awards Services Inc.