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Jun 12
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Town Hall in Seattle

“Great to get together and be heard”

from the Seattle Shambhala Center

Center Director Michael Busby convened our first Town Hall this spring. It is the first of an ongoing quarterly schedule, which he started to bring the sangha together and create an avenue for open communication. Michael told us, “Confidence and health have always been a part of basic goodness. We need communication to have health.”

Participants reported that they liked the open conversation, finding it both thought provoking and informative. There was very positive feedback on the frank discussion about finances, and also on how open Director Busby was about his recent performance evaluation. Others commented on how nice it was that a diverse representation of the Sangha was in attendance: newer and older members, teachers, Governing Council representatives, Kasung, Shastris, and of course the Director himself. The Town Hall covered results from our Vision and Values exercise, the Director’s review, and financial discussion, leaving some time for open questions.

JoAnn Schindler shared the outcome of the Vision and Values exercise she facilitated with members on the Shambhala Day. The summary of the values exercise was illustrated with a Wordle shown below.

Seattle Center’s Values Wordle

The words are sized according to how many votes they received. When asked what core values we want reflected at our Center, the most frequently given answers were generosity, compassion, wisdom, and authenticity. JoAnn also shared the results of the vision exercise, and put the compilation of everyone’s comments online for us to read. Some of the highlights shared at the meeting were encouragement to persevere, inclusion, and sharing our gifts. People saw growth for the Center; they shared a desire for a new larger Center, more diversity in people and programs, and more use of technology.

Our director Michael Busby shared his evaluation results with openness and candor. He invited discussion from the people who had contributed to his review. In the review, he was complimented on his strong connection to the lineage and attempt to share that with us. Michael was encouraged in his review to engage more, to improve care for the Center itself, to delve further into the finances, and to consider having an assistant. He has created several initiatives as a result of the evaluation, and out of his sincere ambition to serve our community well. Among them, he feels a need for space to heal differences. Michael encouraged all of us to engage with him if there is an issue that we would like to discuss.

The first of the director’s initiatives is around the finances of the Center. There are two pieces involved: a shift in Shambhala as a whole to being “more like life and less like school” and also a shift in the Center’s outlook on finances. The Center has a need for a more consistent source of funding to create stability.

To improve our financial stability, we are going to have a new structure for membership. There will be four levels of support named after parts on a tree. They are related to the impact of what each member gives:

  1. Leaf: This is the adornment. It’s an entry point for people who come to the Center and participate in our groups and programs. This level is perfect for those who are newer or come only occasionally.
  2. Branch: These people offer a place for the leaves to adorn. They address the need for an income to open the doors.
  3. Trunk: Related to uplifting, for people who have a strong connection to Shambhala and the culture.
  4. Root: The roots of enlightened society can penetrate into the Center and provide the stability to weather through difficult times.

Support at any level can be split as desired between the satellites and the main Center. This new structure can allow us to shift away from the emphasis on program revenues, so we can make sure our programs are accessible and affordable, offering our teachings to more people.

There are also new activities coming up, including an art program schedule, and community days to bring us together as a sangha. Another new initiative will be led by Megan Bent, our new Head of Household. She is spearheading our first “Raise the Windhorse!!” program to provide ongoing maintenance for the Center. The first work day was held at the end of May, followed by dinner, music and enjoyment!

After the town hall presentation, the floor was opened for comments and questions. It was a rousing discussion that many enjoyed and found informative. We look forward to our next quarterly session, when we will have meditation, art, tea and Town Hall, to spend time together celebrating, enjoying, and manifesting the culture of Shambhala.

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1 response to “ Town Hall in Seattle ”
  1. This is a very inspiring article.

    I’m visiting B.C. from the Atlantic Provinces so particularly interested in what is going on over here.

    Thank you Seattle for leading the way…the more voices heard the more diversity we can step into.
    That can only mean growth, growth in view, practice and action. May all beings benefit!

    All good wishes,

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