Dear Shambhala Community,
We hope that you are safe and well and we wish to express our sympathy to everyone suffering from the conditions of the global COVID-19 crisis. Like many, the Board members have been staying in place at home while continuing our work. We are impressed and inspired by the strength of our communities and center leaders in rising to the personal and financial challenges that have been heightened by the pandemic.
At this time, all of our centers are physically closed to public and community programming. We ask that everyone exercise the greatest diligence to keep themselves and their communities safe.
We have much to share in this update, and, as always, look forward to your valuable feedback and thoughtful comments. We will detail in this update new care and conduct initiatives as well as new online programming relevant to our current situation and need to connect to each other.
We will also report on the first quarter’s financial results and on our recent survey to leaders about their centers’ financial status. Throughout the mandala, the requirements of staying in place and social distancing have had a significant impact on our revenues. Our land centers have many challenges since their income is driven almost completely by in-person programs and gatherings. Your local centers continue to depend on member dues and generosity, and, now, as well are applying for government programs and working with landlords and/or lenders.
As a Board, we continue to contemplate and explore our heart-felt wish that our community can find unity, growth and ways to bring benefit to others. We acknowledge the need to do much more work with both the community and with the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to realize this.
With warmth and appreciation,
The Shambhala Board
Since the last update, the Board has considered and authorized the following:
- Decided to bring five new members onto the Shambhala Board as Directors.
- Decided to fund a limited number of community grant applications, given the need to relate to financial issues as a result of the pandemic.
- Surveyed centers about financial issues centers they are having as a result of the virus, and began working with centers having difficulties.
- Worked with Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC) on updating our working agreements including an easement to guarantee road access to the Stupa of Dharmakaya (the Stupa is on a land parcel that Shambhala USA has owned separate from SMC).
- Authorized the initial steps in a reparative process for the Shambhala Community (details below).
- Added funding to the Right Use of Power training to allow for translations and integration with Shambhala teachings.
- Fulfilled the Shambhala Day commitment of offering free online teachings through the new Sunday Gatherings programming initiative.
- Conducted a community survey to help determine initiatives needed in this time of COVID-19.
- Accelerated the roll-out of the new Code of Conduct.
- Provided resources to improve coordination and planning of on-line programming .
- Authorized the professional review and updating of our privacy and database policies.
- Initiated a review of the Shambhala Global Services (SGS) employee handbook and related policies.
Welcome to New Board Members
In April, the Board Advisory Nominating Group sent their candidate recommendations to the Board along with recorded interviews and references for our review. The Board is excited to announce that the following individuals have accepted a position on the Board as a Director:
- Phil Cass (Columbus, Ohio)
- Susan Engel (New Brighton, Minnesota)
- Lily Gleich (Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia)
- Peter Nowak (Vienna, Austria)
- Tai Pimputkar (Fairfield, Connecticut)
Please click here to see photographs and brief bios of each new Director. In addition to a strong commitment to the Shambhala mandala, the new Board members will bring a wide range of skills and background to our work, including non-profit management, organizational management, financial expertise and professional psychology backgrounds as well as prior experience in leadership roles within the Shambhala community.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming these new members in the coming weeks. We cannot express how much we appreciate the professionalism and diligence of the Board Advisory Nominating Group and wish to deeply thank and offer a bow to Patricia Anderson, Gabe Dayley, Christine Heming and Fred Van Welsem for their commitment and many hours of excellent work.
Community Care and Conduct
The Shambhala Board holds community care, conduct and training as a priority, and we are pleased to announce continued progress made in these areas. In March and April, the Code of Conduct Support Group (CCSG) and the Director of Community Care and Conduct released the new Child Protection Policy (CPP), along with an explanatory CPP webinar (which is now available to watch as a recording), as well as “Preparing the Ground” presentations to over twenty groups in Shambhala.
A Reparative Process for the Shambhala Community: The Board recognizes that a reparative process for our community is necessary to acknowledge the harm that has occurred and support healing, as we simultaneously move forward with accountability, transparency, inclusion and care – all under one umbrella.
To continue moving forward, the Board has contracted Robert Wright, who previously delivered the “Sexual Harm, Trauma, and the Healing Journey,” course, along with two members of his team, Linda Atkinson and James Dubé, to offer professional support to a community design process. The team will assist in outlining and modeling a reparative community process. If you would like more information, please contact the Director of Community Care and Conduct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to acknowledge and thank the Process Team and countless others for their heartfelt and significant effort in advancing the healing work – work that has held our community together in many ways despite the most difficult of circumstances.
Forming a Child Protection Policy Council: A Child Protection Policy Council is being created to 1) support community members in reporting matters according to local law and mandatory reporting, and Shambhala principles, 2) handle complaints and issues using appropriate, child and family-sensitive methods, and 3) recommending and developing related training. We encourage qualified community members to consider applying to be part of Council here.
The New Code of Conduct: The writing of the Code of Conduct has been one of the most significant and important endeavors of the CCSG and the Board working together. The Board has approved an ambitious drafting and roll out schedule for the new Code, commencing with the CPP. This roll out now needs the engagement of all of us. As a community, we are embarking on a significant cultural shift, which is to truly ‘walk the talk’ of our Shambhala teachings. This Summer, the remaining Code of Conduct policies and process will be finalized along with an annual review date. We encourage community members to become familiar with the new Code when it is published and participate in ways to improve and implement the new Code which we will announce when it is released. If you have questions or feedback, complete a feedback form, and/or contact: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing the Ground Presentations. The CCSG, which includes Jim Fladmark, Susie Vincent, Jan Frans Sturm, Kristine McCutcheon, Greg Lubkin, Claudia Arnau, along with Tara Templin, Director of Community Care and Conduct, are now offering a Preparing the Ground presentation to the entire community. This will be an opportunity to discuss further and deeper with the community the principles of the new framework, which is based on restoring trust through inclusivity, transparency, accountability, and care. They will present an overview of the policies and processes, how they differ from the current Shambhala Care and Conduct policy, and the next steps in regards to the
implementation of the new Code of Conduct framework.
You are invited to participate in a 90 minute call that best fits your schedule (on June 12 and June 13)
If you’re unable to join one of these calls and want to submit a question, please send it in advance to email@example.com. The call will be recorded and made available to the community following the live events.
Right Use of Power (RUP) Training. In June, individuals holding positions of authority in Shambhala will be invited to participate in a “Right Use of Power” training. The RUP training will support individuals in positions of trust to relate with awareness and insight to the power that derives from their positions, and with increasing sensitivity to the impact of the use of power on others and in their field of influence. Cedar Barstow, Executive Director of the Right Use of Power Institute, and Acharya Susan Skjei will be delivering and facilitating this training for our community. Further information will be forthcoming on how to be involved.
Meeting with the Sakyong’s Representatives and the Sakyong Potrang
The Shambhala Board has had a number of Zoom meetings with the Sakyong’s representatives and correspondences with the Sakyong Potrang to discuss the relationship between Shambhala and the Sakyong and Shambhala and the Sakyong Potrang. The Board is firm in its aspiration to find a way to heal the community and to hold space for all aspects of the Shambhala community to thrive. We are committed to continuing to work diligently on the best way forward. We plan to continue these meetings and to share more as they unfold.
New Online Community Programs
We are happy to announce several new online initiatives that will begin in May that are intended for community participation.
Sunday Gatherings, which began on May 10, will occur weekly and feature a guest presenter and include meditation practice, and occasionally Q&A or group discussion or breakouts. Weekly presenters will offer either a short dharma teaching or will present on a particular topic. Every effort will be made to bring in many different presenters on a wide variety of topics so that as many people as possible can be invited to share dharma with the global community. If you are interested in suggesting a Sunday Gathering presenter or topic, please contact Shelly Webb at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please click here for information on specific presenters, topics and times. Click here to register through Shambhala Online so that you can receive the link to the event. Events are free; donations are welcome.
Virtual Chöling is an online calendar for vajrayana practitioners to join together to do specific practices on a regular basis that will be available by May 20. Click here to see the calendar of practice sessions, umdzes, and host centers. You can add the Virtual Chöling calendar to your Google Calendar here or your iCal here. This initiative is intended to invite our vajra sangha to join in with others to do their individual practice — umdze hosts will lead each session and any tantrika can umdze. If you would like to umdze a vajrayana practice session, please email Camren Von Davis at email@example.com or fill out this form.
Shambhala Online is offering more ways to connect with dharma:
- A year-long course on the Teachings of the Hinayana (foundational Buddhism), which can be taken as a whole or in smaller bites. Foundations in Freedom has just begun – feel free to jump in! More information at: https://shambhalaonline.org/recognizing-suffering-as-an-awakening/
- Living with Resilience: How to Become Gentle and Tough with Acharya Fleet Maull. This course is live and ongoing and is a wonderful way to explore personal choice and empowerment. More information at: https://shambhalaonline.org/calendar-details/?id=442370
Support For Centre and Group Online Programming
If you need help with developing or presenting local online programming, please contact Shodie Lyon at firstname.lastname@example.org who will be delighted to help get your centre or group up and running and publicize your Center’s or Group’s offerings to the global community.
Community Grants Announced
With all of the financial issues that our centers need to confront now, while the Board wants to conserve our community resources, at the same time, we also want to look to the future. We are now announcing $41,814 USD in grants. Each of these grants is intended to benefit the community as a whole and be future facing. Unfortunately, we will need to put all of the other 37 applications on hold while we work to ensure the financial stability of our overall community.
The grants that will be funded include:
- Touching the Earth Collective – $22,000 USD funded. The purpose of this initiative is to leverage the successful efforts of the Shambhala Touching the Earth Collective through both the compelling launch of its Shambhala Online portal, and a targeted one-year pilot project featuring online working sessions by Irene Woodard in order to initiate or amplify engagement within and beyond these Shambhala communities as exemplars and agencies of environmental transformation. Funding for this project is also from two other organizations, Greenfaith and Living the Challenge.
- Expansion of the Shambhala Art Heritage Teachings – $7,014 USD funded (for Phase 1). This initiative will make the Shambhala Art teachings more widely available by creating online versions of the courses and additional resources. This will give the worldwide sangha and broader community access to tools to work authentically with other people in the world. This initiative will be led by Steve Saitzyk, International Director, Shambhala Art, Anne Saitzyk, Assistant Director, Shambhala Art, and Stuart Rice, Director of Communications, Shambhala Art.
- Technical Upgrade of the Shambhala Archives Data Management – $12,800 USD funded. This grant will enable the first phase of a modernization project for the Shambhala Archives which will allow the archives to better manage the tremendous amount of data associated with audio and video teachings and securely house that data in an online environment multiple workers can access. A group including Jeanne Riordan at the Shambhala Archives and other archive and library experts will be coordinated by Alex Van Gils to accomplish this phase.
Advanced Program Scheduling
Through a collaborative effort guided by Practice and Education, the land centers, and the Board, Shambhala is engaged in an ongoing review of holding advanced programs. As it becomes clear that certain programs already scheduled in 2020 cannot be held due to the global pandemic, those programs are being postponed and individuals who have applied or registered are being notified. Future rescheduling options are continually being considered, and programs will be rescheduled if and when it becomes apparent that the holding of programs is feasible. Shambhala is committed to acting responsibly related to the coronavirus pandemic, and this will be an important factor in decisions regarding when group gatherings may be possible again.
For current information about the status of advanced programs, please refer to the online schedule at https://apas.shambhala.info/.
Financial Reports and Initiatives
Shambhala Global Services (SGS) First Quarter Financial Reports: We have posted the Balance Sheet, Income Statements, and Comparative Charts to the same period 2019 and to Budget for the First Quarter ended March 31st, 2020. Of note is the fact that revenues for the quarter were significantly under budget, but comparable to the same period in 2019. Shambhala Day giving was down significantly this year, but recurring donations held steady as did center transfers. Expenses came in lower which not only offset in part the revenue shortfall, but indicates we are controlling expenses. Since we have added staff and expanded the scope of SGS activities, we are pleased to be able to enhance services yet maintain a lean expense line. Please click here to review the 1st Quarter financial reports.
The Board has initiated two surveys in the last month: one to find out what the community would like to see in this time of COVID-19, and another to leaders to determine how centers are faring financially. The Board wishes to thank the Process Team Survey Group for all of their work to help with the survey process.
Over 1,100 community members completed the survey about what is important to them in terms of Shambhala activities in this time of COVID-19. The survey results are being released in two parts. The first shows the results in data and charts and can be viewed here. The second part will be an analysis of the various text fields and will be available in the coming month.
The financial survey to leaders of our centers and groups had 87 responses. Six centers were having difficult financial issues now, and an additional eight see issues looming in the next six months. 84% reported financial viability through the end of the year. through applying for government programs, working with the generosity of members, dipping into reserves, working with landlords and banks and moving programming online. The Board and the Office of Finance will work to determine next steps for centers facing financial challenges as we continue relating with our centers and groups.
Fundraising Efforts for our Land Centers
Thanks so much to everyone who has given generously to support the Land Centres in the last few weeks. We are heartened by the immediate response of the community to the Land Centres joint appeal, and at the same time acknowledge there is further to go to ensure they are financially stable during this unprecedented time.
We invite you to continue giving generously to the Land Centres and to your local Centres and Groups. If many community members are able to start or increase monthly donations or make one time gifts, our collective giving will make a huge difference. Your warriorship and unwavering support for the Land Centres and your local communities is very much appreciated.
Revenue Generation Training and Financial Stabilization Workshop Update
Since the spring of 2019, the Shambhala Development Office has been offering a six-week online Revenue Generation Training to Shambala leaders. This training comprises best practices, exercises, and activities related to key areas of revenue generation at the local level: Membership, Programming & Marketing, Fundraising, and Finance, and is meant to be taken as a team of three to five people (or more) from a Centre or Group. A recent update to this training has been a specific focus on Online Programming.
Thus far, four six-week Revenue Generation Trainings have been offered, with the most recent training in April and May of 2020. Over 250 leaders, 31 centres and groups, and 3 land centres from the worldwide Shambhala community have now participated in this training and the feedback has been very encouraging.
There are no upcoming six-week Revenue Generation Trainings or Financial Stabilization Workshops scheduled, but if this is something that is of interest to your leadership, please email Development Director Faradee Rudy at email@example.com. Please click here for additional information about the training.
Appointments and Departures
Directors, Shambhala Board:
- Phil Cass
- Susan Engel
- Lilly Gleich
- Peter Nowak
- Tai Pimputkar
Loden Nyima has retired as a Shastri at Shambhala Mountain Center.
Diana Evans has retired as a Shastri in Boston, MA.