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Nov 07
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Unified Wealth

Ryan's favorite view of Halifax from across the water

Ryan’s favorite view of Halifax from across the water

Interview with Ryan Watson, new Director of Finance, Shambhala International

by Sarah Lipton, Editor-in-Chief, Shambhala Times

Shambhala International is pleased to announce that after a thorough recruitment process, we have hired Ryan Watson as the new Director of Finance. Ryan is a second generation sangha member who has run his own financial management business and previously worked at the ALIA Institute. He will start part-time this fall, orienting himself to the new job while wrapping up other projects, and take the helm full-time in January 2015. We are happy to have him!

Having grown up in a Shambhala household in Nelson, British Columbia with his parents Trime Persinger and Eric Watson, Ryan moved to Halifax in 2005. He then worked at the ALIA Institute for seven years, primarily as their Director of Finance and Operations. During that time he also led the Green Party of Nova Scotia through a provincial election. Ryan started his own financial management company in early 2013 before stepping into this role with Shambhala in the fall of 2014. He now lives in Dartmouth with his wife and two daughters, the eldest of whom is in first grade at the Shambhala School, the youngest is two and a half years old.

When asked for a funny tidbit about himself, he shared that he is six-feet eight-inches tall. “Given that, it might not surprise you to hear that I played competitive basketball for a number of years!” And it turns out that he still enjoys playing basketball when he has the time.

Ryan Watson

Ryan Watson

Ryan is warm to talk with and it is clear he has a good sense of humor, a smile could be heard in his voice even over our long distance phone call.

What brought Ryan to this position at Shambhala International? “It’s a great fit with my skill set and my passions. I know that numbers and financial systems may seem like an odd passion to many people, but I’m totally excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead in this role.”

As Ryan describes it, the Shambhala organization is large and complicated. “We as Shambhalians see Shambhala as one thing, especially now that we are beginning to work with the Unified Giving model.” But there are numerous legal organizations within the umbrella of Shambhala, not to mention over 100 centers and various other divisions. “So for legal reasons we need to maintain independence, and at the same time we need integration so we can see the big picture. It’s inter-dependence in action!” says Ryan.

“Helping all this run and work smoothly is a big undertaking. And as the mandala continues to grow, the challenge of integrating it all grows as well.”

The Unified Giving model is all about integration. “We are starting to really see ourselves as one global community. Creating financial systems and reporting processes that reflect that view is an essential next step. There is a lot of work to ahead of us in this area.”

According to Ryan, the Director of Finance is responsible for supplying the Kalapa Council and the Kalapa Executive with the financial picture of the mandala. Members of Shambhala are also welcome to see this information. “Our policy,” he shares, “is to be transparent with our financial reporting, so anyone who is interested to find out more is invited to get in touch.” Just remember that he’s only part-time until January!

Apparently, Ryan’s interest in money doesn’t stop at financial management. “I’m in the process of helping to found an alternative currency,” Ryan related. “Actually, an alternative to currency if you can wrap your head around that one!” As he says, “Finance and money is a passion and a path for me. It is not just how we manage our finances as individuals and organizations that matters, it is also a question of how we set up our money systems on a societal level.” The new currency is called “cred”. “We’ve been running the ‘cred experiment’ here in Halifax for the last nine months, and in the next few weeks we will be launching a web app.”

As it says on the website (http://www.credex.org/), Credex is an alternative to currency that can replace money for transactions, investments, and gifts. Using Credex, you are participating in a network of exchange that grows tangible wealth across communities. It builds on the rich knowledge and resources already present, strengthens personal connections and trust, increases resilience, and generates value sustainably. Basically, says Ryan, “this is about skillfully aligning the foundation of the economy with the principles of virtue, compassion, and social justice. The systemic economic and environmental challenges of our world need to be addressed at the root, and the way our money system is designed has a major impact on the systemic results we get.”

Ryan Watson's wife and daughters

Ryan Watson’s wife and daughters

Looking ahead within Shambhala, Ryan aspires to create good connections between the financial and governance systems within Shambhala, and between all aspects of the mandala. He believes strongly that the picture this will paint for us will foster the continued emergence of growth and strength across the worldwide mandala. “When a whole system sees and experiences itself as a system, so much more becomes possible than when all we can see is our own silo.”

We certainly wish you luck, Ryan! Thank you for stepping into your new role at Shambhala, and thank you for bringing your wealth of experience with you to the financials of our community!

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2 responses to “ Unified Wealth ”
  1. Denny Robertson, Boulder
    Nov 16, 2014

    Congratulations Ryan! This is one of the best practice positions from which to enjoy the Shambhala Dharma. Buddhism joins with capitalism to the enrichment of both. I am now retired from 35 years service to the financial health of the mandala (Naropa U and Ashoka CU,) and if I can be of any counsel, including astrological, please be in touch.
    Ki Ki, So So.

  2. This is such a noble and worthwhile cause. But there are lots of alternative currencies floating around, bitcoin, beetcoin, dogecoin, etc. We can use an existing time bank or currency rather that create our own. I love what Gesar Mukpo says here:
    “The Dharma is in fact truly just a human experience that has nothing to do with Tibet. It has nothing to do with religion. The Buddha shared wisdom that is universal and it’s completely arrogant to think that that experience belongs to anybody. You look at any of the great teachers like Matthieu Ricard making books with scientists. There are cross-faith conferences—this is the direction we should be moving in. You may think you are not putting up a wall but we are building walls that separate us and define us because we have no self-identity otherwise. It’s not that we can stop doing that completely but it’s time to recognize that and really take a look at the direction the world is headed in and really question ourselves of how can we be of benefit to that. I think we can be of benefit and make a difference only through being open and not through isolation and creating boundaries.”

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