Minutes of the Community Gathering of the Washington Mindfulness Community

March 12, 2006, at the Buddhist Vihara, Washington, D.C.

Thanks to Carolyn Bluemle for recording these minutes and to her and Joe Toole for serving on the Election Committee.

Present: Carolyn Bluemle, Richard Brady, Alan Heymann, Brigitte Pichot, Carrie Rose, Lindy Russell-Heymann, Pat Smith, Joe Toole

Board of Trustees Report: Joe Toole is leaving the board. He has been great and we are grateful for what he has done and sorry he is leaving. He wrote a wonderful poem which will be coming out on the listserve.

Treasury report: We have in the past spent a bit more than we take in. This has been fine since we have made extra money when Thay comes to town. We give to the Vihara $2,000 and we receive $2,000 from Sunday night donations. We buy a few library books and pay for the mail box. We have given to Plum Village as a way of giving back for Thay's visits.

It has been a great year. An anonymous donor gave us $10,000. This is designated as primarily for outreach events and scholarships for retreats. We plan to set up a matching fund system for this gift. Whenever we use it we will use an equal amount from our other funds.
We will raise more money for scholarships and the Vihara and will give to Plum Village when there is a particular project or equipment need. We are thinking of a special fundraiser once a year.

When we have retreats at Charter Hall we lose money. We will raise the fee from $50 to $70 (the charge for children is still to be decided by looking again at the figures) and encourage those who need help to ask for a scholarship.

We will soon be sending out an email asking for ideas for activities.

We had a balance of $5,712 in checking, to which we have added $3,000 from the big donation. The rest, $7,000, has been put in a 6 month CD.

Representation in the Interfaith Community via the Washington Buddhist Network: Brigitte has been representing us at the interfaith events and the Martin Luther King celebration as well as giving a presentation on Buddhism at Gettysburg High School. She expressed concern that she was representing her understanding of our practice rather than the Buddhist Network in general. The network has not yet become a community and is neither cohesive nor clear on its purpose. Richard suggested that she write a report on what she presented and send it to the Network members and ask for feedback. "Sometimes our view of Sangha is the biggest obstacle to Sangha".

Practice Council Report:
Sunday Evenings: The council has responded to wishes expressed last year for longer sits. We have agreed to 4 Dharma teaches each year on second Sundays. The other second Sundays have 2 sits: 30 and 45 minutes each. Dharma discussion but no recorded Dharma talk. The response has been positive and was among those present at the meeting. It offers a different side of the practice which is rich.

This scheduling allows a chance for a couple of special events each year (e.g. someone special coming through town.) Last year several special talks came in succession. We are now trying to avoid that. We need to make sure that people know what is happening before the sit. Greeters need to do that. In addition, Jeanine is working on a calendar with a schedule of Sunday sits and retreats. The calendar will be in the foyer so people can see what is coming up. Bell masters need directions for the long sits. Carolyn agreed to write something up to be reviewed by Richard.

Community Care Committee Report: Members are Carolyn Bluemle, Rob de Bara, Lisa F., Susan Hadler, and Steve Sidley.

Second Body Practice: Going well.
Book Groups: "Transformation at the Base" went very well and will at some time sponsor a half-day of mindfulness when we can share some of the videos of the retreat. " Creating True Peace" also went well. "Going Home, Buddha and Christ as Brothers" book group will start in April sometime. Several people are interested.
Life changing events and Milestones: We need to make sure people know that we are happy to celebrate and mark these things as a community.

Clearness Committee Report: The committee has met twice and we still need to work up some information on it so that more people know it is available and what it is.

Communications Committee Report: no one present.

Operations Committee Report: Charter Hall retreats are great. Regarding newcomers orientations, Susan is not available. Joe Toole loves doing it and needs a backup. Pat Smith volunteered.

The Committee on Mindful Politics is no longer meeting. The Buddhist Peace Fellowship (www.wbpf.org is strong and can meet some of these needs. Bill Jenkins is most involved. We can ask him to write an article for the newsletter. We can ask him to give a Dharma class on a third Sunday pre-sit meeting.

Other business: Thay is impermanent. What are we doing to prepare for his passing? The more of us who can go on retreat with him the more we can transmit his energy. We need to encourage people to go and those who need it to ask for scholarships. Brigitte is going this summer and would like to go with others. It was suggested that she send out an announcement in an e-mail to find out who is going, to mention the scholarship and to suggest all go together as a Sangha.

Election Results: Board of Trustees: Carrie Rose and Sankar Sitaraman; Practice Council: Elisabeth Dearborn and Susan Hadler