Although I’ve lived in a small Western town for 30 years now, I have never known much about one of its fundamental institutions, the service club. Many small-town residents still center their lives on Lions, Elks, Rotary or similar organizations.

Not me: I’m not a joiner. Yet as our national culture moves farther away from such settings for broad discussions, I worry that I’m part of the problem.

A while ago when I was asked to speak at our local Rotary Club, I hesitated, picturing white guys networking with each other and complaining about newcomers. But I had published a book, and publishers instruct authors to market wherever you can.

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