newsletter logo: Sangha Reflections

Spring 2003

Notes from the Community Gathering, March 2, 2003

EDITORíS NOTE: All interested members of the Washington Mindfulness Community are welcome to attend Community Gatherings, which take place quarterly and are followed by a delicious pot luck supper.

In attendance: Carolyn Bluemle, Richard Brady, Joseph Byrne, Carolyn Cleveland, Irene DíAuria, Mary Hillebrand, Joann Malone, Annie Sidley, Steve Sidley and Joe Toole.

Mary Hillebrand invited the bell and led a brief meditation before beginning. Richard Brady skillfully chaired the meeting. Irene DíAuria took the following notes:

Communications Committee

* Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) published an appeal for peace statement; itís on the web site and was distributed to the list-serv.

* Soon committee will be sharing pictures of Barbara Newell, newly ordained nun, at Plum Village; see p. 4.

* WMC Member Directory will be updated based on the election registration forms.

* In search of new list-serv provider that enables distribution of e-mails with no ads (inappropriate material is currently being advertised on our e-mails) at no charge; will ask Pittsburgh sangha how their service is working; may also consider Carolyn Clevelandís domain; if ad-free list-serv costs money, will consider a special fundraiser for that purpose.

Community Care Committee

* Second Body Practice is half-way into the current session and reporting 100 percent participation!

* Current round of study groups is going well; coordinator Steve Sidley, stevesidley(at)aol.com, would like to know if anyone is interested in forming a study group during the summer months, perhaps May through July; suggestion that a comment form be used to gather feedback from study group members.

* Erica Hamilton is very sick and in the hospital; committee will assist WMC members wishing to visit in pairs, if some are uncomfortable visiting alone.

Family Committee

* End-of-January "Free to be Me" retreat was a tremendous success, due to the complete cooperation of the attendees regarding chores, mindful and flexible scheduling, excellent and frugal provisioning by Annie and Steve Sidley, diligent communication between all the adults and all the children, and the determination among participants to take care of themselves first, then take care of others; retreat incurred a small deficit, after paying for use of Charter Hall and purchasing provisions, due to last-minute illness that diminished attendance by nearly 40 percent. The Family Committee expresses gratitude to the community for covering the deficit, which is less than $200, from the WMC treasury.

Mindful Politics Committee

* Carolyn Cleveland conducted a wonderfully energizing meeting, attended by 9 or 10 people, to outline the committeeís basic goals and priorities.

* Coordinating with the Faith & Politics Institute a two-day Congressional retreat with Thay, which may correspond with the scheduling of a public talk by him in D.C. Dates are being discussed, but itís too early to say more.

* Next meeting will focus on ways to better organize the committee.

Board of Trustees

* Glass fusing parties at Joe Tooleís have had tremendous success, raising more than $500; sharing of glass-fused ornaments has provided non-threatening, social vehicles for exposing friends and relations to mindfulness practice.

* Vihara basement bathroom renovation project, funded by glass-fusion proceeds, needs skilled volunteers. Contact Joe Toole, glasstool(at)aol.com.

* Joe Toole will also coordinate Vihara gardening/outdoor cleanup day soon.

* For treasurerís report, see p. 5 in this newsletter.

Operations Committee

* Coordination and participation of various bell inviters is stabilizing.

* Tom Eigelsbach and Bill Menza are creating an inventory of WMC library and wish list for additional titles; Board will consider their requests for money for new books; notice will also be published on WMC list-serv seeking donations of wish-list books.

* Volunteers for registrar and retreat coordinator are needed for next WMC retreat. Contact Richard Brady, bradyr(at)sidwell.edu.

Practice Council

* Received request from Insight Meditation Community to advertise their courses to our list-serv and in our newsletter. Understanding that our answer to this request would set a precedent, Council determined that WMC list-serv and newsletter should be reserved for activities initiated and endorsed by WMC. WMC continues to welcome flyers advertising mindfulness practice-related activities, which will be available during social time on Sunday evenings on basement literature table.

* Addressing question of how to provide appropriate space and encouragement for all to participate in dharma discussions, especially, but not exclusively in study groups. Council determined that each study group should have an informal facilitator who will repeat at the beginning of meetings that each person share only once until all have had a chance to speak, and that leaving space and silence between sharings is a deeply valued practice.

* Council will draft statement of same sentiment for bell inviters to repeat at beginning of Sunday night dharma discussions; statement will be included in bell inviter training sessions and distributed via WMC list-serv to already-trained/participating bell masters.

* Twenty-minute guided meditation is no longer offered as part of newcomerís night.

* Suggestion about developing mentor program to assist newcomers; ideas and questions can be addressed to Carolyn Bluemle, tangokali(at)erols.com, or other Community Care Committee members.

Annual Elections

* 21 WMC members registered to vote; 16 votes were counted; three people ran for Board of Trustees and three ran for Practice Council; Carolyn Bluemle and Joann Malone tallied votes.

* Board of Trustees: Joseph Byrne and Irene DíAuria were re-elected to serve with Mary Hillebrand and Joe Toole on the Board. (Name removed) was also on the ballot. Practice Council: Steve Sidley was newly elected and Richard Brady was re-elected to join Bill Menza and Jeanine Cogan on the Practice Council. Carolyn Cleveland was also on the ballot.

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