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Feb 07
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Celebrating Candlin

Candlin Dobbs leaves her post with the Shambhala Database, moving into a well-earned retirement

by John David Smith

Candlin worked for Shambhala for about eleven years, making many contributions. Initially, she was hired to head the Shambhala Database (SDB) implementation project, to call each North American center and help the leadership start using the SDB. It was a six month appointment that developed into more than two years of work. Then, information technology (IT) became a regular line item in Shambhala’s budget, so naturally, Candlin became the project manager, support, and training person for the SDB.  For many people, she was the face of the SDB, helping sort out knotty problems and develop solutions when the SDB’s limits were reached.

In Candlin’s own words

Q: What was it like at the beginning of your work in this role?

A: When we started, Shambhala International had no single list of the centers, of teachers and administrators, or of membership. Each office (the Sakyong’s office, Finance, Practice and Study) kept their own list — sometimes more than one — and the lists were always out of date and out of agreement with each other.  When President Reoch decided to visit all the North American Centers, the hardest part of the project was that there was no current, accurate list of where the centers were and who was in leadership.  This made planning the trip somewhat difficult.

Generally, people don’t know this.  They assumed there was a big database in Halifax that knew everything, but we didn’t have the staff to keep multiple lists up to date. Until the SDB project, there was no push to have an IT group as part of Shambhala administration, so no one was thinking about how best to manage information.

So, we didn’t really know who Shambhala was and what we were up to until the SDB was in place.  It’s amazing how far we’ve come since 2005.

Q: What was your favorite part of the job?

A: Talking to people and helping them with the SDB.  I loved doing online training sessions, showing people all the special features that help local centers communicate with members and manage their classes.  There are so many modifications that we’ve made to make it work better, to meet the needs of centers and groups.

Candlin at work

I have met so many terrific people throughout the mandala.  It has been an honor and a privilege to do this work, to be able to help the community do its work.

It’s also been terrific to work with the Shambhala IT folks.   Bernard and Ed Keizer are wonderful, as are the other Shambhala IT colleagues, and also all the various volunteers that we’ve had involved over the years.  And all the special folks in the Shambhala administration. What a bunch of delightful people, quirky, energetic, and wonderful in the way they’ve brought their practice right into working together.  More fabulous people than I could name.

Q: Any words of wisdom as we move forward with communications and technology in Shambhala?

A: We can’t forget the importance of having real people who can answer calls and emails.  It’s crucial that we have people to explain things, to talk about and resolve concerns and problems.  No matter how well-designed technology and websites are, there are always humans for whom that technology doesn’t work. People who have to have a conversation to help them get what they need.  And being the human whose job it is to help can be so much fun!

The Sakyong once said that in this work, it’s a mistake to think of oneself as a “problem solver” because no matter how many problems you solve, there will always be another. In the end you will just be exhausted and sick.  If you think of yourself as primarily helping people, rather than solving problems, then you can do that every day, and at the end of each day feel that you’ve been successful.

I tried to do my work with that in mind, and took great delight whenever I could help someone.  That’s what I’m going to miss the most.

Stepping down

Last year Candlin stepped down very reluctantly from her position due to an intractable chronic migraine that Western medicine seemed unable to resolve.  She is currently improving very slowly thanks to the Chinese herbs prescribed by a Vietnamese doctor.

Praise from friends and colleagues:

“I was always very touched by Candlin’s personal and emotional engagement in her work.  It wasn’t just work for her. She brought a very authentic and genuine part of her heart and personality to her position” – Paweł Molenda

“Candlin is a professional technical writer, and with those skills she helped to translate technical terms like mysql database and php user interface into terms, emails, documents, and coaching to help people from all the centers understand and work with the SDB. She did this with lots of patience and cheerfulness.” – Louis Kirouac

“Candlin’s work with technology was an expression of warriorship in the world. Inspiringly cheerful while clarifying all the confusion. The way she worked with technology — as a way of opening doors for people — was completely inspiring.” – John David Smith

“Candlin, come back! ” – Bernard  

“For more than ten years, Candlin has been one of the often unseen but irrefutably essential forces behind the continued functioning of Shambhala. Her unshakable conviction in the power of data and systems to make the impossible vision of enlightened society possible has allowed the mandala to grow and develop in an interconnected and semi-coordinated way. Her skill as a translator between the technological wizards and the neophytes among us facilitated development and ongoing improvement of the mandala’s communication–in ways that directly addressed the needs, requests, and imaginations of Shambhala centers and leaders worldwide, whether they knew it or not. At a personal level, my relationship with Candlin throughout our years together was one of the most supportive, inspiring, and all-accomplishing ones that I experienced in Shambhala–we sure got a lot of good work done together. I send her all my love and good wishes for whatever she chooses to do next.” – Anna Weinstein

“With graciousness, devotion, dedication, and infinite patience, Candlin has carried the weight of the Shambhala Database in her arms for a very long time. Rigorous, well-organized, logical: these are the talents she has brought to bear, alongside loyalty to her co-workers and the Shambhala lineage. And all this while being good-natured, flexible and kind. I simply cannot imagine that the SDB would be as well-established as it is today had it not been for Candlin Dobbs. Shambhala has not been lucky to work with her, Shambhala has been blessed.” – Larry Barnett, Communications Director (Retired)

“It is one thing, to make a technology tool, it is entirely another to get people to actually use it!  Candlin worked diligently with each Shambhala center in North America to bring them on to the Shambhala Database. One by one she taught and trained Shambhala centre members making sure they were comfortable in making the transition to using an online database.  I recall that was a really big deal at the time.   If it were not for her efforts, I don’t think that we would have such a unified mandala today. She has always brought such heart, playfulness and honesty to her work. I look back on many moments of strategizing, problem solving and laughter together.” – Cameron Wenaus

All who have had the pleasure of working with Candlin will miss her very much, and wish her all the best in her well-earned retirement. And as for the many who have benefited from her work with the Shambhala Database, and from her leadership in information technology for Shambhala, we also offer our our best wishes, with much gratitude and appreciation.

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10 responses to “ Celebrating Candlin ”
  1. Kristine McCutcheon
    Mar 3, 2017

    and more thank you Candlin. You so helped us start to apply shambhala princibles to systems thinking. ditto to all above. Thanks

  2. Chris Montone
    Feb 12, 2017

    I met Candlin at the first (and maybe ONLY) Shambhala Technology Conference held at the Boston Shambhala Center in 2007 (I think). Later when I heard she was going to be coordinating the SDB prjoect, having met the techie (and sometimes grumpy–I say lovingly) men she’d be working with I thought, “Won’t be long before she burns out!” Instead, Candlin just burned brighter year after year. She exuded positivism, was open-minded, playful and fair, and yet could be tough and draw a line in the sand when needed. I think it was this combination of masculine and feminine energies that allowed her to persevere and excel for all these years. I can’t express enough my admiration and appreciation for all that she’s done. Thank you, Candlin! You will be greatly missed and please continue to rest and heal!

  3. Judith Smith
    Feb 11, 2017

    Candlin, you sort of are the definition of an “unsung hero”! What you accomplished with the SDB project was totally fabulous! I loved being able to consult with you, and have always appreciated that you were there. Sending you much affection, and best thoughts for your healing to continue quickly and thoroughly.

  4. Jaynine Nelson
    Feb 10, 2017

    Thank you Candlin for your devotion, diligence and heart that you brought to a job so well done!!
    Mahalo and aloha, Jaynine

  5. Rose Ann Mancias
    Feb 10, 2017

    Thank you Candlin for your support and patience with Houston in our effort to step into the unified SDB. It was great working with you. Many thanks. May you heal quickly.

  6. Craig Adams
    Feb 10, 2017

    Thanks to you Candlin (and also Bernard) for helping us in Ecuador feel connected to the whole worldwide sangha. We appreciate what you have done for all of us. Please come visit if you so desire or your health permits!

  7. Timaree Bierle-Dodds
    Feb 9, 2017

    Thanks Candlin! Heal quickly!

  8. Candlin,
    Thank you so much for all your have done for our community and centres. My very best wishes to you.
    Christine Heming

  9. Thank you, Candlin. Your excellent efforts are much appreciated, helping to unify the mandala centre & centres, as well as providing a foundation for our current online presence and communications!

  10. Heather Scott
    Feb 8, 2017

    I can’t imagine having been able to get Shambhala Online off the ground without the unwavering support of Candlin Dobbs! In the early days of Shambhala Online, it was a collaborative dance of technologies. The SDB team were integral to getting participants to the virtual classroom.

    Congratulations, Candlin! May your next adventures bring as much contentment and camaraderie! We will miss you!

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