Sangha Meeting Minutes: October 20 2018

 

Thank you to all who attended our October 20 sangha meeting. Attendees are listed at the end of this report. We have three sangha meetings per year. Minutes are published on our website and will continue to post them on our bulletin board.

Opening sit at 10am followed by the approval of the June sangha meeting minutes.

Teacher’s Report (see below for the complete report written by Henry for the meeting)

Financial Report
Johanna presented the current budget, sourced from our accounting system, and a balance sheet prepared by Michael. There was a request that Michael either skype or call into sangha meetings to answer questions. Members would also appreciate a short written narrative by Michael about the reports he creates.

There is a discrepancy between actual 2018 NASZ income and budgeted income. The budgeted line looks like a mistake. Also a request was made to change the title of Independent Employees to Independent Contractors. Members are curious if our electric bill has reduced since the solar has been installed. Johanna believes yes, the bills are lower but we have increase draw due to expansion and more usage.

The financial reports are designed in such a way that it is difficult to determine if our operating fund has a surplus or deficit. We have approximately a $30K surplus. Can Michael and Johanna make this clearer for future meetings?

Look for a year-end appeal in the coming weeks. Suggestions were made that we have a goal, perhaps 25K or 30K. 2017’s year end appeal exceeded the stated goal. Last year’s appeal brought in numerous large donations ($500 and over) but surprisingly few small donations ($25-$200). We hope to increase the number of small donations and maintain or increase the large donations. We are requesting that all members make a donation, of any amount, to our year end campaign.

Infrastructure / Cottage Update
Board member Jay is now in charge of finishing the construction work (phase 1). The priority is to finish the infrastructure in order to recoup our bond, and pay back our donor. This is nearly complete. Beautiful stone retaining walls have been made and the road and parking lot is nearly completed.  Asphalt will be placed on the first 50 feet of our road (at Old Santa Fe Trail). This will be done in early November. Parking spaces need to be finished and reinforced with fencing and RR ties. Signage needs to be finished. Our driveway now has the required 20 foot access, so please don’t park on the road. Park in the designated spaces. We have parking for 40 cars.

The second priority is to finish the cottage lofts, ladders and railings prior to rohatsu. Residents are spending much of their time getting this work completed. Samu has been and will continue to focus on construction until the bond is returned and the cottage is complete. 

RGMI Update, presented by John
RGMI is a main outreach arm of Mountain Cloud and has a secular vision for alleviating suffering in the public (and private) educational realm. Teachers are overwhelmed, overworked and underpaid. There are 700 open positions for teachers in New Mexico. RGMI Heart of Teaching (HOT) workshops (all filled, with waiting lists) and other outreach programs in the schools are designed to help teachers build mindful coping skills inside the classroom and out. John shared a HOT schedule, evaluation form, resource hand-out ,and some photos of  HOT and other events to give sangha members a better idea about what RGMI actually does. John also spoke to the difference between Mountain Cloud, as a Sanbo Zen practice center, and RGMI’s secular mindfulness programs. 

In addition to service directly to teachers, RGMI has programs specifically for youth. Rent events included a workshop with Davis Scholars and multi-week series with Desert Academy 11th grade students. John would like us to think of the students and teachers that RGMI impacts as extended members of our sangha community. 

RGMI also offers programs for corporate groups. One such group, Global TreeHouse has given MCZC significant funding for our construction/expansion project, intending future collaboration with us for mindfulness trainings with executives at MC.

RGMI’s finances are sound. Donations are always needed as is additional grant funding. RGMI received a $16K grant from LANL for 2018 and will receive another $20k for 2019. One of RGMI’s mission is to add to MCZC’s budget. 

The RGMI teaching and support team is growing and is now including some of our own sangha members including Kathryn, Nic, Mary Ann and Sarah. John is also seeking a Spanish speaking RGMI teacher. In general, John would love more sangha participation. If any one can give a couple hours on Saturday morning Nov 10 to direct traffic and greet participants at our next Heart of Teaching workshop, please contact melissa@mountaincloud.org. Help is much needed and appreciated.

Residents Program / Samu  presented by Sean and Sarah
We have five residents in our program and are not currently seeking additional long term residents due to housing limits. However, we now have facilities to accommodate short term resident renters as needed. We offer varying levels of residency from basic rentals to sitting and working residents. Prices differ based on work and sitting practice. 

We discussed whether or not to continue our Saturday samu. After some discussion, sangha members decided…

1) to have our next scheduled samu on Saturday November 3 with the goal of working on road and infrastructure. Once the bond work is finished we will revisit the Saturday samu issue since very few attend and much work is being done during the week-day samu periods. 

2) to announce (on Thursday evenings) specific work tasks to be done the following week and request volunteers. Mark P believes that announcing specific tasks to be done on specific days will motivate more volunteers.

3) to have clear samu announcements and obvious sign up sheets at sits, on the black board, and in the newsletter.

4) to be sure communication channels between residents, staff and all volunteers remain clear and open. 

If anyone notices something that needs to be attended to at MCZC (cleaned, repaired, changed), please email facilities@mountaincloud.org with the concern. Residents will monitor this email.

One important samu note…. although we have five residents who do a large amount of facilities work at our center, they are not the only people responsible for cleaning and caring for Mountain Cloud. All sangha members share in the upkeep of our beautiful land and facilities. As a community we are all invested in maintaining MC, so please volunteer to help as you are able. Our daily work has increased with the new cottage and increasing number of renters and events. 

Garden
Sarah is now in charge of maintaining our garden. The abundant harvest this year required daily attention and maintenance (~ 2 hours daily).  Sarah will be sending out an email to members to find out who wants to continue or begin working in the garden.  Sarah wants to determine whether or not we should expand, decrease, or maintain as-is our garden.  If we want to grow it larger, we need more people invested in doing so. Gardening is a wonderful samu practice but it requires enough committed gardeners. Look for an email and an announcement in the Newsletter about garden plans.

Other Business
Jay is requesting a pick up truck and ATV to help with construction and maintenance.  If any one has a truck to donate to Mountain Cloud, please let us know. The donation is tax deductible as an in-kind donation based on the value of the vehicle. 

Peg requests more Thursday evening greeters. If you are interested in coming about 30 minutes prior to the Thursday night event and greet folks, particularly new-comers, let us know.  

Henry’s Teacher’s Report

First of all, I want to say how sad and sorry I am not to be there with everyone. I’m sharing the Dharma this weekend in San Diego and alas the clash of commitments proved unavoidable. But as this is the first time in all eight years I’ve been at MC that I haven’t attended a sangha meeting, it’s also exciting to see that the show can roll on without me! Thank you everyone for attending and supporting our center this way.

One. Activities at MC:

Retreats:

a. Sesshins.

Since the last report, we have held two sesshins. 

The first, in late June, was a 5-day, attended by 32. The zendo team was Bill, Peg, Kathryn, with Luke leading yoga and chi-gong, and Sean taking care of samu. Four participants had never done a sesshin before; one was a Zen teacher who leads the North Carolina Zen Center, doing his first retreat at Mountain Cloud (he has been working on koan training with Henry). Several attendees were from out of town and out of state, and about half of them were on the younger side (!).

The second was a 6-day in late September, attended by around 25. The team was Tor on the bell, with Will as both jisha and tanto, and Sean and Sarah handling samu together. Although a bit smaller than usual, this was an intimate and powerful experience for attendees. It also saw more use of the new cottage, which accommodated five participants. And we initiated a new start to each day: fast walking outside around the turning circle for twenty minutes prior to early sitting. 

b. Intro retreats were held – in mid June and late August. Each had attendance of around 24. The august one was led by Will, with assistance from Nancy – the first time we have had any Mountain Cloud retreat that was led by someone other than henry – so, a mile stone!

c. A zazenkai in early September, attended by around 26.

Weekly events:

Weekday early morning sits have been stronger, with 8 to 12 or 14 people not uncommon, followed by breakfasts, cooked by residents – then samu 8.30-11.30, followed by lunch. 

Afternoon dokusan continues to be offered almost every Wednesday and Thursday, in addition to most Monday mornings and Thursdays after teisho.

Wednesday Intro class, and Thursday evening sits. 

Attendance on Wednesday and Thursday evenings seems to have mostly been growing, with intro class attended usually by 12 to 20 people, and Thursday evenings anywhere from 30 to sometimes in mid 40s in number. Henry now offers skype dokusan on some Monday mornings, as well as Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. 

Other events:

Tuesday August 22nd Rodger Kamenetz gave a riveting talk about dreams and the poet Wordsworth’s views on the imagination – around 35 attended.

Wednesday September 9th Natalie Goldberg read and spoke from her new book, Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home, about going through treatment for cancer. A wonderful evening inspiring and engaging. Around 33 came.  

Mid September Nic Redfern led a day of Insight Dialogue at MC. Very successful and excellent day. 

Two. Teaching elsewhere:

August 3-5 Henry led a weekend of meditation and Zen teaching at the Nuremberg Center for Zen and Mindfulness in Germany, supported by two assistant teachers there. 

August 6-12, he led a sesshin at Sonnenhof in the Black Forest. Attendance of 43. Superb retreat. 

Three. RGMI: (more from John)

Two RGMI whole-day events:  October 5 and 6, one held in Espanola, the other at MC. Both with attendance of around 40 by regional public school teachers – very successful and helpful events. Mary Ann led the yoga portions both days, John Braman led much of the teaching, and Henry led the mindful sitting and walking portions. Fantastic support from Melissa, and a great deal of work beforehand from both John and Melissa. 

Wonderful ayurvedic lunch cooked by Tess (and Ben?) at the MC day. 

Four. Residents (more from Tor)

All five residents have been attending dokusan regularly, and the daily sitting, and Sean and Sarah have been stepping well into their new management roles. 

Five. Henry’s ongoing support and training:

August 12-16 Henry attended the Kenshukai Teachers’ Retreat led by Yamada Roshi, this year held at “Domicilium” in Weyarn, Germany – a hospice house and zen center, with capacity for 75 or so, currently being directed on the Zen side by Sato Migaku Roshi. Superb retreat. 

October 29-November 4 he will be at the Sanbo Sesshin led by Yamada Roshi at Dietfurt in Germany.

Six. Prospects:

Ongoing training of Intro Class instructors and RGMI facilitators.

 


 Attendees: John, Sondra, Karen, Jay, Johanna, Damon, Glen, Laurence, Christian, Dave, Peg, Melissa, Mary Ann, Gudrun, Mark, Christy, Liz, Sarah, Sean, Vivian

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