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Feb 24
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Dot Dictionary

The Dot Dictionary is shutting down along with the Dot, but please send your questions to Shambhala Times via [email protected].

Last spring the Dot received an email inquiring about the origin of its name. Here is the whole story:

or how this paper came to bear this name – by Ben Moore

ABOUT A YEAR AGO [fall 2001], a group of editors sat around a table, brainstorming about the perfect vehicle for sangha-wide communications. There was already The Shambhala News, our community newsletter; The Shambhala News Service, an email update for sangha administrators; and the web site. We also had a number of more targeted publications: the Kalapa Journal, the Iron Wheel, and Ki Ki, So So. Clearly, communication within the sangha is tremendously important. Some wondered if we might combine several of these vehicles into a single super-newsletter; others vigorously opposed the idea. Still, there was fairly widespread agreement in the room that our broadest and furthest-reaching publication, The Shambhala News, was not living up to its potential. We agreed that after the July issue, we would take a break, give it an overhaul, and launch it anew in the fall, under a new name.

Long before we had the new name, we had decided on a new format. So there could be no mistaking the new newspaper for the old, we decided to move to a tabloid size, and to a lighter weight paper. Suddenly, we found ourselves with twice the space of the old newsletter, and our feelings of having been cramped gave way to agoraphobia—how would we fill the space?

That fear quickly proved unfounded. As the weeks passed we added first four, then eight, then twelve, and finally sixteen pages to our original twelve-page newspaper. The more people we talked to, the more content and advertising we found coming our way. But no name in sight.

We had sent a request to the sangha to help us name this new publication, and the responses poured in. But for every well-received suggestion, there was a well-conceived explanation for why it just wouldn’t work. In a short period of time we had several “final naming meetings,” and only managed to whittle down the list to a handful that no one really loved, but no one hated either.

Meanwhile, every morning we received more content for potential inclusion, and before we knew it, we found ourselves having to pass over good material in order to keep the publication (almost) on time and on budget. Throughout the process, we tried to keep our eyes open to the many cultures and perspectives represented in our mandala and we think it has paid off in a newspaper that is not simply the voice of a distant office in some city somewhere, but a newspaper you can call your own. A newspaper that we briefly (well, long enough at least to play with logo ideas) called the Blue Pancake.

Blue Pancake refers to a teaching of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s on ati (check it out at shambhala.org). In the end though, we decided that it might be a touch too obscure.

The lack of a name was holding up the design and layout of the newspaper, which in turn was making it hard to know how much space we really had for content. At the same time we all agreed that, like a new pair of dress shoes, our new name should show polish and panache, be stylish but sensible, and most importantly, it should fit us well. When it came to the point that our no-name status threatened to bring our progress on the newspaper to a grinding halt, Cheryl Campbell—the director of the Shambhala Office of Media and Communications, which produces this paper—intervened: she presented the executive council with two names: Chrysanthemum and the Dot. Their decision was swift and unanimous; and so, the Dot was born. The Dot—just so; not pretentious, it is ordinary and humble, and yet, it is bold and confident. It is the fist meeting of paper and ink; it is first thought. “One is one—a dot in space—and evermore shall be so.”

Lest too many words be spent on the story of the name, let’s return to the newspaper itself, where finally, name in hand, our intrepid designer was able to lay out the articles, photos, titles, and captions—in short, able to design the Dot. By the way, for those wondering who won the $100 gift certificate for coming up with the winning name, it came from within the communications office, so we’ll be donating $100 worth of books to charity.

As the paper came together, there was a collective sigh of relief—an end product from such a challenging process. And thankfully it is not just an end product, but something that is already beginning to live up to the potential we saw so many months ago, when we first looked over the pages of The Shambhala News with a critical eye. As we thought, bringing this publication in-house gave us the flexibility to build a newspaper around the news of our sangha, instead of simply filling pages and meeting deadlines. For us, this is the first important step in making the Dot a true reflection of our community.

We hope that you’ll see these pages as we do; as a worldwide sangha gathering, a printed community meeting where we can share teachings, views and opinions, and news from throughout the mandala. We’ve placed the first dot. Now let’s all paint the rest of the picture.

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