Cheerful greetings from Shambhala Mountain Center, where winter is arriving with brisk winds, occasional snow and plummeting temperatures. I’m writing today to share some significant developments regarding the health of our land, changes in our legal relationship with the Sakyong Potrang, and the restructuring of our debt.
Over the years, you have shared in our successes and supported the center through a series of challenges — from putting in the Wastewater Treatment Pipe, to COVID closure and the Cameron Peak Fire. Thank you for your continued support and generosity. Before asking for your support today, it is essential that I share these details with you.
Restoring Forest Health & Resiliency
As you know, the Cameron Peak Fire nearly destroyed SMC. The land is recovering, but this is a process that will take multiple stages and many years. Despite the tragedy and devastation of the fire, SMC has been recognized as an exemplar of regenerative, conservation-based land stewardship. In 2018 we completed Phase One of a three phase conservation forestry project that treated 125-acres in an effort to restore forest health, and this past spring we completed Phase Two. When the Cameron Peak Fire swept through the land, it slowed down and burned less searingly hot in the treated areas, enabling firefighters to establish SMC as the northern anchor of their defensive line and stop the further spread of the fire in our area.
This forestry work gained international and regional recognition, including the Larimer County Land Stewardship Award. Since the fire, regional forestry partners have gathered at SMC to study and discuss forest health, conservation, and watershed protection. I’m delighted that SMC can help advance the science of conservation and be a partner in Colorado’s effort to restore forest health and resiliency.
Despite the financial and existential challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cameron Peak Fire, we will continue to work with our partners to restore, nourish and protect the land and the larger ecosystem. Your continued support has made this possible.
Unlike the other land centers in the Shambhala community, Shambhala Mountain Center has long been an independently incorporated 501c3 Educational nonprofit. SMC is also unique in its history of hosting programs with a range of teachers from Tibetan and other Buddhist lineages, as well as from a wide array of diverse secular and non-secular wisdom traditions.
For many years, the Sakyong Potrang (the nonprofit entity that holds the assets of the Sakyong Lineage) has held a seat on the Governing Council, Shambhala Mountain Center’s board, and has held veto power in a few key areas of SMC governance. Both the Potrang and SMC Boards recognized this arrangement to be no longer necessary, and after much discussion, the Sakyong Potrang graciously agreed to relinquish the veto powers and its seat on the SMC Governing Council.
We believe that these changes will enable SMC to better respond to the challenges and opportunities we encounter as we rebuild, restore and emerge from the pandemic. We remain committed to serving the Shambhala community and providing a space for a wide range of secular and non-secular wisdom traditions, practices and activities.
Shortly after reopening this past summer, we learned that our bank, Wells Fargo, had sold our loan to a holding company that purchases blocks of debt from banks. The loan, which was taken out to build the lodges, has a balance of roughly 4 million dollars. We are presently in negotiations with the holding company and working on a range of solutions to provide short and longer term stability for SMC. I will share updates as we clarify the possibilities and establish our route forward.
We Need Your Support
Together, we have faced a series of significant challenges. Due to the continued impact of the pandemic, we are now heading into winter with a lighter-than-usual program schedule. Shambhala Mountain Center has a history of finding solutions and turning these challenges into opportunities, but we need your help now. To keep our doors open and provide a stable basis for the beginning of 2022, we must raise $150,000 by the end of the year. If you are able to give, please consider a generous donation before the year is out.
In closing, this is a lot of information to share and I expect you may have questions. Please don’t hesitate to reply with your questions and I will do my best to answer them. If there is interest, we can also schedule a live question and answer broadcast in mid-December, similar to those held during and after the Cameron Peak Fire.
As always, I am deeply grateful for your ongoing support and love of SMC. Together, I know that we can move through the changes, challenges, and opportunities discussed above, and share this powerful, sacred land with generations to come.
With love from the mountains,
P.S. Today is #GivingTuesday, a worldwide day of giving and gratitude. I am grateful for you and appreciate you considering SMC in your end of year giving plans.