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April 12, 2017

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Community,

As you know this is my third and final year of my term as Director. It has been a challenging but rewarding role as your Director when we all decided to leave our beloved physical space and form three deleks- Crystal Torch of the North in Redwood City, Fearless Open Heart in Mountain View, and South Bay Group in Cupertino. We are small but thriving as Shambhalians in this intimate setting. We were the first to figure out the Delek system, and others look to us for inspiration. We are boldly shining a light on how to build community without a space. Now San Francisco has downsized to the upper floor and Berkeley Shambhala has renewed a lease. Both centers have experienced substantial rent increases like we did in the past. Now that we have settled we can turn the flower out by unifying our community even more and connecting it with the regional Shambhala community as well as the international Shambhala community.

In my interview for Director, my vision was to deepen our Shambhala culture, clarify our structure, and strengthen our resources.

To deepen our Shambhala culture we have developed the three-fold logic of the Delek system taught by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche over 40 years ago.  The ground is: In order to realize our precious human birth, it is necessary to share the Buddhadharma. If we share the Buddhadharma, it is necessary to make friends with each other. The path is: When we are friends with each other, we are aware of others’ needs. When we are aware of each other’s needs, everyday life is not limited to personal concern. When our life is not limited to personal concern, we consider others as part of our family The fruition is: When others are a part of our family, we are dedicated to their benefit. When we are dedicated to the benefit of others, we protect their well-being. When we protect the well-being of others, this precious human birth becomes continuous delight.

We have hosted many classes and programs: Two Shambhala Meditation Transmission programs, Werma Feasts, classes on the Four Immeasurables, the Art of Listening, the 6 Ways of Ruling, and Ashe Mahamudra. Many students are taking the Everyday Life courses online with other Shambhalians from around the world.

We are growing! Fearless Open Heart has a mailing list of over 32 people! And each Delek has a process for welcoming new people and keeping our host homes safe.

To clarify our structure our governance model got small and powerful. We have the three pillars represented -Governance by myself, Protection by Ms. Kate Raddock, and Practice and Education by Shastri Charlotte Linde, Mr. Mark Hobbs and Ms. Denice Everham.

We also have our Dekyongs (Delek Leaders) represented by Kathy Kermit, Fearless Open Heart, and Becky Worledge, South Bay Group. (We are in need of a Dekyong for Crystal Torch of the North.) Our Dekyongs and our Head of Communications, Ms. Carrie O’Leary meet monthly to discuss their role in the community and how they can support our host homes and unify community.

We are strengthening our resources. Taking care of our resources is important and we now have no debt, and $17,000 in the bank. People are more aware of the wisdom in being a Shambhala member and our commitment to the practice, to the teachings, to Silicon Valley Shambhala Center, and to the Shambhala organization through financial support. We have more dues paying members than ever before because of this vision.  We have grown from 70 members of which 23 were paying dues to 27 member of which 24 are paying dues. Your financial support will help us rent a space in the future!

Our funds will continue to be used for food, flowers, honorariums for visiting teachers, scholarships, lodging, shrine supplies, online courses, and more. We want to support people who want to attend programs and help with lodging and transportation. Our entire Winter Feast of Practice was funded by additional donations from members. Thank you all for your generosity! We will continue to support the greater Shambhala organization through the Unified Giving Model and through regional unification.

In the Letter of the Morning Sun, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche wrote about his vision for 2020. Here is an excerpt:

“The success of our community, and its future, is going to depend heavily on the visible and ‘feelable’ kindness that is in our mandala,”he said. “We can be doing a lot of things right when it comes to programs, but if there is not a feeling of kindness, nothing is really going to stick. As a community based on basic goodness, if somehow we do not exude kindness to others beings, all the posters will be in vain.”

He said for us to achieve that there are three steps we have to take- deepen our culture, clarify our structure and strengthen our resources. So my vision for the community was not original but came from our teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.

I hope you share this vision with me and the Sakyong. Our community has gotten kinder, more humble, and more powerful than ever before. It has been a tumultuous journey that I have shared with you to get here. I love you all and will continue to teach and inspire each one of you to practice, study, and engage in community. Our world needs us to be connected to our Basic Goodness in order manifest kindness right now.

On Sunday, April 23rd we will gather at Crystal Torch of the North to practice the Shambhala Sadhana and have lunch together. I will update you on the status of the community and answer any questions you may have. Our new Interim Director, Ms. Kate Raddock will be present to share her vision of our community going forward as I step down at the end of this month to continue my work at WholeHeartedWay, coaching individuals and entrepreneurs around personal finance. I will also continue to host and teach in Shambhala. Our regional Director, Mr. Cody McGough will be present to talk about regional and financial unification and what that will mean for our community. Please come with your questions and concerns.

I am very excited for us and our future together.

Yours in the radiant vision of Shambhala,

Fern Alix LaRocca

Director, Silicon Valley Shambhala Center


Our Community –Our community is diverse, capable, and heartfelt. Our members and friends include dedicated senior teachers who have walked the Shambhala Buddhist path for many years, and enthusiastic newcomers who are just discovering our teachings on realizing basic goodness and building enlightened society.

Our Community Status- Bookmark this link for the latest Silicon Valley Shambhala Programs –SVSC Calendar

December 13, 2016

Dear Shambhala Warriors, 

The days are short and nights are long, but within the darkness there is light. Winter is the time of deep retreat for many. It is also a time for family, friends, and connecting with community. These activities nourishes and prepares us for the fresh start of a new year. 

It has been a very inspiring year as we find our way to gather in the north, south and central areas of the peninsula. Students have helped host, volunteered to help with communications, and lead discussion groups. We are all deepening our Shambhala culture. Every Sunday there is a meditation and social gathering as well as every Monday night. We recently welcomed the Santa Cruz Shambhala members to our gatherings since they lost their lease.

We have deepened our connection with the greater Sangha. Students and leaders go to programs in Berkeley and San Francisco. We also have online classes and discussion groups that offer us the opportunity to connect to the international Sangha and many Acharyas (senior teachers). This is happening despite our loss of physical space, the downsizing of the San Francisco Shambhala Center, and the rent increase at the Berkeley Shambhala Center. We are all living in the challenge

All of these offerings would not be possible without the generosity of you- our dear members and donors. During this time of financial uncertainty we are reaching out in many ways for everyone to support the Basic Goodness of all and our vision of Enlightened Society. You can help in many ways: 

  • Become a Member Our members pay monthly dues and 25% of those dues go to the Unified Giving Model which helps sustain the regional and international offerings. You can become a member with as little as $5 a month.
  • Donate Cash or Stock If you are not a member, but want to support our vision, you can make a cash or stock donation to Silicon Valley Shambhala Center P.O. Box 827 Mountain View CA 94040, or through PayPal at svshambhala@me.com. Contact me for the process of donating stock.
  • Assign Silicon Valley Shambhala Center as a Beneficiary You can put Silicon Valley Shambhala Center as a full or partial beneficiary of your Will, IRA, Roth IRA, or 401K.
  • Shop for Silicon Valley Shambhala Center  Everyone can help support Silicon Valley Shambhala Center through eScrip and Amazon Smile. If you register your credit card with eScrip at this link,  http://www.escrip.com/ merchants will donate a percentage to Silicon Valley Shambhala Center. It is free to sign up. If you shop at Amazon Smile through this link, https://smile.amazon.com/ch/51-0192622 Amazon will send a percentage to our bank account with no extra fee to you.

If you sign up for eScrip and Amazon before the end of the year, let me know (fernalixlarocca@gmail.com) and as appreciation for your effort, I will send you a gemstone hand wrist mala that I personally made. 

Thanks to your generous support, we have the resources to help our students take classes and level trainings and allow our leaders to continue their education as Shambhala Path Meditation Instructors. 

Silicon Valley Shambhala Center is dedicated to nurturing our students with meditation, classes, and community events. We are also excited about supporting members who will attend Enlightened Society Assembly next summer in Berkeley. Your gift will help support food, flowers, lodging, and tuition.  

Please look at our calendar, SVSC Calendar for details of our upcoming Winter Solstice Celebration and our Winter Feast of Practice Retreat. 

Now more than ever, we need to strengthen our connection to our Basic Goodness and the Basic Goodness of others. We can create a society that is enlightened and workable through kindness and compassion. We are fortunate to have these wonderful teachings and a path that does so much good in the world. Your continued support right now is essential. 

At this most magical time of the year, I wish you peace and happiness for you and your family, and I want to extend my warmest appreciation for all that you do and your generosity.

Yours in the Vision of the Great Eastern Sun, 

Fern LaRocca


Silicon Valley Shambhala Center

Harvest of Peace October 2016

Happy Harvest of Peace!

We all had a lovely time celebrating the Harvest of Peace this last Saturday, October 1st.

Harvest of Peace is one of 4 seasonal Nyida Days (“Nyi” = Sun, “da” = Moon) in Shambhala that occur on or around solstice and equinox days. These holidays are important times for us to join together as a community to practice, celebrate and enjoy each other’s company.
Here is a link to the Sakyong’s Harvest of Peace address to the Shambhala Community:

Sakyong Harvest of Peace

For those who couldn’t make the celebration, here is a recap:

We all practiced the Shambhala Sadhana together, followed by a potluck feast.

We welcomed 2 new members, Alison Clark and Aaron Tanz with a blessing of their membership pins and a practice calendar. That brings us to 8 new members this year! And we have 9 new participants in our groups.

I reminded members of the sacredness of membership and what that means. Shambhala membership means a commitment to meditation, to the study of the teachings, to the Shambhala community by volunteering and by a financial commitment of dues. (We also have a Generosity Policy for those who have financial hardship and cannot pay dues.)

We encourage all participants to contemplate Shambhala membership in their future. All of our Shambhala Educators support members on the path.

As the Sakyong teaches, the more we can express and connect with our Basic Goodness and Enlightened Society, the more we can inspire ourselves and others. It take bravery and courage, as well as allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and gentle.

I asked the gathering if they thought Silicon Valley Shambhala was Basically Good, and to contemplate that. We still have the pain in our hearts from leaving our space, and we also have a lot of joy from the energy of the community who continue to practice and manifest Enlightened Society. I have been contemplating this question and these are my reflections:

After a rocky start of gathering in 3 neighborhood groups and only having a 40 year old Delek Manual to aid us, we finally settled.

The South Bay Group is going deep with two 40 minute meditation sessions every first and third Sunday of the month. They have also organized hiking, biking, and kayak trips together.

Fearless Open Heart is in deep study of the Sacred Path of the Warrior, training in the bow, Umdze (Timekeeper) and Chopon (shrinekeep), and the 4 Dignities – as well as fun discussions around Lha, Nyen, and Lu. They gathered around a comedy show, and saw opera in the park, and more.

Crystal Torch of the North is where our advanced practitioners are with group Ngondro and Werma practices happening. Crystal Torch of the North will also be opening soon for open house on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. More info to come!

Let’s recap how our community has deepened in Basic Goodness and manifested Enlightened Society:

In January, we all gathered for the Sakyong’s transmission of Shambhala Meditation. This was his very first live online program and more will be happening.

In February, we held the traditional Shambhala Day, and welcomed 6 new members.

In March, we paid off all of our debts! We are now debt free and we are saving money every month. San Francisco announced that they lost their lease and would be looking at alternatives like we did.

In April, we gathered to help our fellow member, Lorin Krogh, pass. It was his wish to be cared for by us during his last days, and we honored his wishes.

In May, we held a memorial to celebrate his life with his family, friends, and coworkers.

In June, July, and August we scattered around the world to go into deep retreat as we always do every year. Meanwhile the challenges of high rents swept the country and more people are turning to Silicon Valley for inspiration.

In September– two of our members are organizing outreach.

Aaron Nankin is extending an invitation to join in the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” (in honor of his 3 living grandparents all of whom have Alzheimer’s/dementia). The walk will be on October 8th in San Jose. You can join his walking team (http://act.alz.org/goto/Aarons-advocates-for-ALZ) and/or offer your support in helping him achieve his fundraising goal of $2500 – and he has already raised $2,200! SO CLOSE!

Casey Chainee is organizing a Buddhist Relief Walk to end Hunger on Saturday, October 22nd.
To register, sponsor, or donate: https://www.firstgiving.com/41678/2016-san-jose-ca-walk-to-feed-the-hungry Please email Casey at sjwalk.bgr@gmail.com

In October, Crystal Torch of the North will be opening for open house on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month. More info to come!

So yes, the community of Silicon Valley Shambhala Center is deepening the practice of Basic Goodness and we are manifesting Enlightened Society! You are all amazing people and I am excited about our future together.

Yours in the Vision of a Good Human Society,
Fern LaRocca
Silicon Valley Shambhala Center Director


May 23, 2016

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Sangha,

As I watch the leaves sway in the wind outside my office window, I am thinking about all the activity outside and within our community.

The Crystal Torch of the North Deleg* is delighted to invite all members of the Silicon Valley Shambhala Center to an Open House meditation session, the second and fourth Sundays of the month, from 10 am to 12.  These are the Sundays when the south deleg is not hosting meditation, so now we have an opportunity to sit every Sunday morning.

The first of these sessions will be on June 12, at Charlotte Linde’s house in Redwood City.  Mark your calendar now: we will send out a reminder closer to the event, or contact Charlotte at clinde@mac.com

Our beloved Senior Teacher, Ms. Charlotte Linde, was appointed Shastri* to our community. She has stepped down from the council to take her seat. You will be seeing her teach some of the Everyday Life classes coming up with our other teachers (Shambhala Guides, Assistant Directors, and Meditation Instructors) helping her.

The Sakyong appeared in Chicago along with Pema Chodron for the Awake Chicago program.

As Pema Chödrön has written directly to us:  “Together we have the power to heal and change the conditions causing violence, trauma, and inequality in the city of Chicago.” Shambhala Chicago had over 42 organizations that wanted to align with us to stop gang violence.

We had a regional congress at the San Francisco Shambhala Center where the topic was addressed about our real estate situation. San Francisco will move temporarily upstairs to a less expensive space, while raising funds to purchase a building. All of us support this endeavor through the participation of the Unified Giving Model in which we will give 25% of our gross income to support the regional and international activities that we all participate in.  A delightful costume ball of Tigers, Lions, Garudas and Dragons ended the day long meeting. 

Meanwhile the announcement of the very first regional Enlightened Society Assembly (ESA) will happen in the summer of 2017. I want to support everyone who is interested in taking the Shambhala Level Trainings and the Way of Shambhala curriculum prerequisites. Please let me know if this is something you aspire to and I will support your journey any way I can.

Be sure to check out our Silicon Valley Shambhala Calendar. We now have one social event a month for our Community. This Friday May 25th- Meet and Greet over Some-Mores and Hot Chocolate. Everyone is welcome.

We said goodbye to our dear member, Lorin Krogh. As home hospice took care of him, many members also were at his bedside. He passed away in his home and in comfort- just the way he wanted. It was an honor to know him and be with him. There was a Shing Kam Ceremony and memorial that members, friends, and family attended.

*In 1981, the Druk Sakyong, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, unveiled a way to reduce large urban communities into smaller social units, like villages, which he called ‘delegs’. (De “Joy”
Leg “Good”)
*Shastris are senior teachers in our Shambhala Centers who have been appointed by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche to represent and teach the integrated Shambhala Buddhist curriculum, The Way of Shambhala, including the “In Everyday Life” courses, the Basic Goodness courses and the Shambhala Training Levels. The shastris’ role also includes mentoring and training other teachers and meditation instructors, providing guidance to students entering the Shambhala Buddhist path as well as supporting the leadership in Shambhala Centres in building community and strengthening the vision of enlightened society.

Swaying in the wind

The force behind the breeze

we open our eyes and begin.

Yours in the Great Eastern Sun Vision,

Fern LaRocca

Your Center Director


March 12, 2016

Dear Shambhala Community,

The spring rain and flowers are here already. There is a sense of spring cleaning as the community and leadership changes for the future. Change is good and I am always thinking of how myself, the council and the community can take care of each other.

Many changes in leadership both locally and regionally are happening to better serve you and the greater community.  Mr. Cody McGough, our new regional Shambhala Director, will be discussing the Sakyong’s Vision for the  region at the Regional Congress. All Shambhala members are invited- see here.  I hope to see you there! Please stay for the Tiger, Lion, Gardua, Dragon Costume ball that will follow the meeting.

On the local level, our council has separated into two. Our Governing Council which represents the Pillars of Shambhala Governance are:

Fern LaRocca -Director, Pillar of Governance

Kate Raddock- Kasung, Pillar of Protection

Charlotte Linde-Senior Teacher and Head of the Practice and Education Team

Our Executive Team  who supports the vision and policies of the Governing Council are:

Laura Chen Allen- Head of Communications

Denice Everham- Practice and Education Team

Mark Hobbs- Practice and Education Team

Ms. Everham will be taking the Retirement Oath for her years of service as Head of Societal Health and Well-Being. Mr.Mitchell Blank will be stepping down from his role as Finance Manager. I look forward to honoring these two wonderful people for all that they have done for us and continue to do to support the community.  A date will be announced soon.

The Governing Council looks forward to a time when our community is prepared to rent a space. Until that time we are listening to your needs. Keep the communication flowing to your Dekyongs (neighborhood leaders- Mary McMahon, Carrie O’Leary, and Carol Engberg). We want to hear from you.

This is the current feedback we have from you:

  • Many of your want to ride share or want to carpool. Many have also expressed that they are uncomfortable driving at night.
  • You want to learn about and enroll in the programs, and other offerings that are available in the region.
  • Many missed the Sakyong’s transmission of the new Shambhala Meditation, and want to receive the transmission.

We are working to address these things. Have extra time to help out? Let us know!

Meanwhile, Level 1 The Art of Being Human will be held at the San Francisco Center on March 18-20.

I am pleased to hear so many people feel good about settling into groups and I know that there is a lot more to do, so please let me or the Governing Council know your feelings. I am always available for a chat.

Our membership is steady and if you pay by check monthly, please send to our new address:

Silicon Valley Shambhala Center

P.O. Box 827

Los Altos, CA


The storm has ended, and spring has arrived. I see you all as blooming spring flowers, fresh and ready to connect with your Basic Goodness and the goodness of others. I am honored to take this journey with you.

With Love and Appreciation,



February 12, 2016

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Warriors!

Happy Shambhala Day !

It is the year of the Fire Monkey, a Monkey year is “extremely rich and holds many surprises—anything can happen. This is a year in which one must be cunning and seize new initiatives. All opportunities are open and one should be flexible enough to take advantage of them. This is a year of daring progress, not for the slow or timid.”

We were fortunate be flexible and seize the opportunity to have leaders from Northern California Shambhala help us negotiate a favorable lease settlement so we could vacate on December 31st without going into debt. Thank you Dave Rapson, Gale Young, and Manny Madeiros!

Our year started with sadness and pain from the loss of our physical space. Many of us shared in the opportunity to say goodbye with a ceremony of dignity and grace on the last day of the year. Many objects were stored, given away to good homes, donated to people who could use them or sold. A wonderful celebration that evening reminded us that our practice is one of loving kindness and compassion for all – no matter what the situation.

We are six weeks into our Fire Monkey year and a lot has happened since we moved out. We have 3 active neighborhood groups:

Crystal Torch of the North meets every other Monday evening in Redwood City and is headed by Carol Engberg 4cberg@gmail.com.

Fearless Open Heart meets every Monday evening in Central Mountain View and is headed by Mary McMahonmarymmcmahon@prodigy.net.

South Bay Group meets once a month in Cupertino and offers 2 Sunday morning (March 6th & March 20th) and is headed by Carrie O’Leary carrieoleary@gmail.com

Please see the leaders above if you would like more information.

Fearless Open Heart hosted the all day online program where the Sakyong gave transmission of the new Shambhala Meditation Practice. It was the first online Program that the Sakyong has taught and we had a full house of 14 participants. If you missed this program and would like to receive the teachings, please see Charlotte Linde (clinde@mac.com) who is setting up another program for those who missed it.

Many students are taking Shambhala Training Level 1 The Art of Being Human in Berkeley this February 12-14, and in San Francisco on March 18-20th.

Our New Shambhala Leader of the Pillar of Government, Ms. Jane Arthur will be visiting the Bay area, and visiting with the council. I am sure new information will be coming about the unification of the region as well as the progress of the Unified Giving Model. The Silicon Valley Shambhala Center council supports the Unified Giving Model and looks forward to more information before we participate.

Please be assured that your membership dues are not just about supporting a lease. Your dues support the cost of programs, food, flowers, teacher’s honorarium, and much more. The council will be presenting financial reports and policies on spending soon.

I value your comments or concerns, so please call or email me at any time 415-819-3065 fernalixlarocca@gmail.com.

I am happy and excited for our future. Remember to keep the 3 Jewels (Meditation, Study, and Community) close to your heart.


With Love and Appreciation,


On behalf of

Kate Raddock, Charlotte Linde, Denise Everham, Mark Hobbs, Mitchell Blank, and Laura Chen-Allen.



December 23, 2015

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Sangha,

It is a difficult time for us as we transition out of our beautiful space on Old Middlefield Way and into neighborhood groups (deleks) and a future rental space. We have had wonderful experiences here since we signed on in 2012, but with the increase in rent we no longer are able to afford the space.

Our last public open house will be this Sunday, December 27th. We are still looking for  affordable rental space to host open house, so get on our mailing list so we can let you know where we “pop-up” next!

Our last day of practice will be December 29th concluding our Winter Feast of Practice (see the website for details). I hope you will join us for the closing Lhasang ceremony at that time.

Our members are already practicing in neighborhood groups (Deleks) in Redwood City, Mountain View, and Cupertino. Santa Rosa and San Francisco have deleks and have guided us in this practice. (For more info, see Charlotte Linde (clinde@mac.com). It is a rich tradition in our lineage:

“The purpose of this Delek System is to share responsibility, not simply to delegate responsibility to one person or another, but to share responsibility. All of the changes that are happening in the entire world make it necessary to come back to our basic position, to where we started from. In Karma Dzong we started very simply and we got very big. At some point we stopped growing, and we just stayed where we were. Now it seems that the most important thing to do is to look at each other and recognize that we share responsibility for the continued manifestation of the Buddhadharma in this world.

The best way of sharing that responsibility is to involve ourselves in each other’s world. So the state of each delek reflects the health of the entire teachings. The responsibility for the continued manifestation of the teachings rests in each individual delek, as well as in all of them together. It is basically the same as the notion of sangha. Sangha doesn’t necessarily mean dependence. It means that each individual is practicing with the encouragement and involvement of the entire sangha. So that’s what we would like to do.”  -Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

I want to thank our former director, Wayne Dyer, and our former Assistant Director, Amy Dyer, for all that they have done as well as our many donors who have allowed us to practice and enjoy such a beautiful space for so many years.

I would like to thank our former Northern California Regional Director, Joanne Martin Braun, for bringing Sacred Governance to the council so that we could take action that was in the best interests of all.

Thanks to all of you for the overwhelming response to the council survey, and for your participation in our monthly community meetings.

Many thanks to Richard Landry, our Shambhala Facilitator who helped the Council process the wants, needs, and concerns of the community into an action plan that the Council unanimously agreed upon.

I would like to thank the brave warriors on our rental lease negotiation team:

Dave Rapson (Shambhala International Representative), Gale Young (Northern California Shambhala Representative), Shastri Manny Madeiros, Alex Halpern  (Shambhala International Legal Counsel), Connie Brock (Shambhala International Chadzo, Treasurer), and Acharya Alan Schwartz for their tireless support of this community in a time of chaos and confusion, and help negotiating a lease termination that everyone was happy with.

I love you all and look forward to a fresh start in 2016.

Wishing you love, peace, and prosperity,


on behalf of

(Charlotte Linde, Laura Chen Allen, Kate Raddock, Mitchell Blank, Mark Hobbs, and Anil Narasipuram)


December 17,2015

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Sangha,

As the holidays quickly approach, I would like to reflect on what has transpired over the last year. You may remember that the Council sent a survey. The answers from that survey were processed in an all day meeting with a professional paid facilitator which resulted in  the council  unanimously concluding that we must leave our current space. In addition, our financial reserves would not allow us to stay in the space to finish out our lease through 2016.

This was a long heartbreaking process that could not have been done without your feedback. You are a diverse community of amazing people doing good things in the world and we will continue to work together to bring about Enlightened Society which is sorely needed now.

In the spirit of gratitude for the strong relationship that we’ve enjoyed for 4 years, we want to vacate on good terms with the landlord. Negotiations are still in process, but I did not want to delay in letting you know that we plan to leave the space by Thursday, December 31st.

Through the tender heart of sadness, I want to remind you that we are still a strong Silicon Valley Shambhala Center. Like our larger Northern California community, we have formed neighborhood groups that have been meeting this month. A committee is also looking at space for rent that is affordable for us so we can continue our open house, and possibly create a savings plan. As you know this is a difficult task to find an appropriate and affordable space so if you can help call and look at spaces, let us know.

Our Winter Solstice Celebration on December 20th is still happening.

Our Winter Feast of Practice will have a modified schedule this year so keep checking the website.

More information will be coming shortly on the moving process, in which we will need your help. This is just the beginning as our community manifests in different ways.

In the New Year,  the Sakyong himself will be teaching students on Shambhala Meditation in an online LIVE program in mid January. This is your opportunity to receive direct teachings from him. More information will be coming soon!

“Chaos is good news!” -Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

I am always available to talk (415-819-3065) and the council welcomes your thoughts and views.

With Appreciation and Kindness,

Fern LaRocca

on behalf of

Silicon Valley Shambhala Council

Charlotte Linde, Mitchell Blank, Laura Chen Allen, Kate Raddock, Mark Hobbs, Anil Narasipuram


Community Meeting:

SVSC Community Meeting Notes 11/7/15


Thank you for coming.

People are studying for vows ceremony on November 24th.  Three jewels – Buddha,(the Meditation Practice), Dharma (Study of the teachings), and Sangha (Community)

Sacredness in our lives – everything is workable

Recap (Fern):

Started in 1976

3 years ago, moved from 900 square feet on Castro street, 2970 square feet – due to generosity of donors.  3 year commitment has expired at the end of 2014 and our growth has not been able to keep up with expenses

Had successes in membership, programs, donations

Council made attempts to rent – but still not enough to fill gap

Explored splitting space and found that we could not make it affordable

Did research on what we could afford – we can afford about 800 square feet; main shrine room currently is 865 square feet

Fern and some representatives of SI and Regional Board will meet up to take next steps

SI is in no financial position to fill gap

All is quite heartbreaking and disturbing, but I have been feeling as though it’s time to let it all fall apart and come back together to make something new

Start with gathering together in small groups

Santa Rosa lost their lease and is now renting.  SF is losing November 2016, but both have small groups now meeting in people’s homes.  Council members have been meeting with those groups to find out what works for them. Trungpa Rinpoche started teaching this way in the seventies.

Members have been generous about opening up their homes: Charlotte and Leslie/Kate in Redwood City (North), Denice in Cupertino (South), Fern in Mountain View(Central).  Extremely auspicious because members are intertwined around those three places. Many others are offering to host.

Will ask people to sign up for groups and we will soon start to announce meetings.


Concern about space and stuff we have

We have a google document with places we called. We encourage you to help look for affordable space to be able to offer open house in the future.

If possible rented hourly space would be available for public to come

We’re discussing with Joanne Hen in Santa Rosa about how they’re doing shrine implementation

What is our budget?

Currently it’s closer to $2,300 to $2,500 unless we need to use these funds for our financial indebtedness to the landlord.

If we distribute to homes, what is the ideal size/number of one group

We haven’t thought about the numbers, but there will be overlap in terms of neighborhood groups

But there will be overlap on what’s going to happen on each house on each day

You don’t have to host everyone – can put a cap on classes or double up classes if they are popular

What is landlord’s reaction

Very positive – she will start marketing the property

We could have 30 days notice to vacate if they find a suitable tenant

Are we looking at january or march?

She can give us a 30 day notice at any time

We have not come to any conclusion about a move-out date

We have had interest from potential sublet partners, but critical issue was that in 2017 the rent will go up substantially

Have we talked about how to maintain a community

Each of the groups will have a leader (a person who is not a host, not on the council, not a Meditation Instructor or Shambhala Guide) , who will communicate with other leaders and council.  Even better communication systems. 

How do we intend to rent on an hourly basis

Would be like an ordinary open house – same type of program in a rented space (e.g. Reignstoff community center) if we can afford it

But the other programs will be within the community- book study, Shambhala Sadhana, etc.

Do we have a budget?

Not yet.  Depends on future negotiations with landlord

If gap is still there, then we won’t be able to afford an hourly rental

Have people talked to city of mountain view about Reignstoff site?

Charlotte looked at it.  We believe it is one of many possibilities.  We’d like even more possibilities

Landlord currently advertising?

We believe so, since October when it was discussed.

We are good tenants so they have been positive and communicative.

Do you know what steps she’s taken as a result of that communication?


Did she rent space across parking lot? I assume so.

Took longer because big spaces people like to do specific build-outs

There is another vacant space upstairs and one of the other tenants in the building is subleasing.

Are community meetings once a month? Yes. Approximately?

Do we have goals between meetings?

The council sets up the agenda with time allowed for input from the community.

We intend to have the groups unfurl right away

A one on one phone call may be appropriate and a warm invitation in addition to email sent

Is the reason the groups are in different areas because they’re MIs?  Or is it just location?

Neither. Just coincidence that the hosts are in different areas.

Open house will be for the public.

Groups are more for people committed to the community

Leaders of the neighborhood groups won’t be council members or the hosts

Has membership been stagnant or growing or diminishing?

We only canceled 1 program for inadequate staffing

We’ve grown 6-7% per year from 2012 to 2014, but Chris doesn’t know

(but don’t have a great idea of when people cease to be members)

We’ve had a history of membership being slow-growing, but have been fortunate to have generosity of large donors

We can’t right now count on any of it-only half of members pay dues monthly.

How are you going to inform the other members?

Laura is taking notes.  Fern will make an email that summarizes the results to the community

At this point are we asking people through email in terms of what they would like to do?

One on one phone calls would be appropriate

Put it on the bulletin board

Maybe we can start with the profound treasury, to give people an idea

Maybe we can do it

The different parts of transition planning are:

Financial/legal issues

Planning the move

Future plans:

Finding a space that’s quiet/has good parking/can accommodate us

Program planning – Mark as head of education

Program planning is on hold

Once we get a picture of the groups.  Deciding what programs people would like

The profound treasury is still going

Enlightened Society Leadership training is still going

Fear in Everyday life is still going on.

The children’s program is still going on.

Our Winter Solstice celebration in December is scheduled and everyone is invited.

October 18, 2015

Community Meeting:

-Recap of our financial situation

Brief financial review

Since 1976 Silicon Valley Shambhala Center has been in and out of rental spaces and homes on the peninsula

We came here in 2012 with the generous support of our donors and members. we went from approximately 900 sq feet to 2,978 square feet.

In 2015, our donors had met their 3 year commitment to fund us-we thank them for that,  but our membership had grown but only by 6% (this is no one’s fault- but just a matter of our revenues did not match our aspirations)

Our rent has continued to go up every year, and the council took action to

stay in the space:

increase membership dues,

increase donations

Add more programs

do fundraising

cultivate more donors

We asked the community (through monthly community meetings) for support and members took action to:

Call for potential monthly renters/sub-letters

place a Craigslist ad to rent our space

pursue outreach programs

Situation is that our rent is rising faster than our revenues and donations.

We are not alone in this problem.

We are part of the Northern California Region

Many centers in the region are facing soaring rental prices

(Dave and Connie will address this later-See details in Community Meeting Notes)

Santa Rosa has already lost  its space

San Francisco Shambhala is looking at loosing its space in November 2016


Excellent response (over 60% response rate).  39 out of 60 responses

We asked you to vote and comment on 4 options:

Stay and revenue raise

stay and split the space

Stay and sublet/Rent

Move to a smaller and less expensive space/rent a space/create neighborhood groups

We took comments and responses to heart.


STAY in the current space-

Aggressively increase membership dues and donations,  fundraise, create programs, increase revenue. We have tried this.  It hasnt worked; some extra $ but not enough

-We dont have support to do what needs to be done-




*We heard you, we tried, and had some success, but not enough to cover rental expense”

Options Voted On:

3. Get Revenue by Sharing Space/Split space

-Sublet: no one wants it for a year. Cant compete with church rates.

-Renting, etc. (non-profits that SI lets us rent to are very limited and would not bring in enough revenue.)

-Even if split, we could not afford it. and the layout would not be appropriate for our needs.

4. Find another space to rent hourly =Move and also create neighborhood groups

-We can only afford~800 sq ft./mo at current market rates. Too small!  Our large shrine room is 865 sq feet

Decision Process

-Daylong meeting with professional facilitator to come to a decision. 

We agree with you with option 4 – that it is time to find a space that we can rent hourly and start to form neighborhood groups now.

Heartbreaking -take time to acknowledge your feelings-

“Experiencing the upliftedness of the world is a joyous situation, but also brings sadness …It is like falling in love…you feel both joy and sorrow…The warrior who experiences windhorse feels the joy and sorrow of love in everything he does.”

But we are faced with defaulting on our rental agreement. 

Because Shambhala International signed as the financial backer of the lease, I thought Dave and Connie could talk to you more about this:

Dave (Treasurer for Northern California Shambhala talks first and then Connie Brock (Treasurer for Shambhala International) :

As you know, we are facing large increases in our rent.  We are not alone in this problem 

We operate as part of Shambhala International. 

They back our lease, and are part of our decision making process

We are part of the Northern California Region

Many centers in the region are facing soaring rental prices

Santa Rosa has already lost  its space

The Dzong in San Francisco is looking at loosing its space in November 2016

The region is exploring various options for how to deal with this. 

We have to make our decisions now, before we have any info about regional decisions

Dave and Connie take Questions


We thank Dave and Connie and they can bow out or stay for the next part of the talk

Charlotte talks on Option 4:

1. Be Creative: Grassroots Plan

Go over graphic

This is the plan the council decided on

It is very sad that we are loosing this beautiful space

We hope that the new plan will have its advantages: closeness in community, ability to take care of each other better, more of a chance to follow your own inspiration in dharma studies


The council and the community decided on option 4.

We are working with the landlord, which will let us develop a timeline

We have identified some possible rental options.  Need people to help visit spaces, decide on suitability.  (We need a Design Squad)

* We know about the human tendency to fight impermanence, to be attached.  We can have confidence in our ability to come up with a new way to create enlightened society.

Chaos is said to be extremely good news.  Let’s see.


Community Meeting Minutes 10/18/15 taken by Anil          

            Intro by Fern: started in 1976. Transition through groups and spaces. Moved from Castro st to current space. Generosity from large donors. 3 year commitment from large donors. membership has grown 6-7% since we moved. Increasing revenues by memberships, programs, fundraising, donors. Pursued various options for alternative options like subletting, outreach, etc. Other centers in the region are facing similar difficulties.

Did a survey and got a great response. Vote on 4 options – stay and raise revenue, stay and split the space, stay and find subletters, find a cheaper space. We all want to stay here, but the council found that we don’t have the volunteers, funds to cover the increasing rent. Had a lot of response for people who want to sublet, but no one wants a lease that is just for one year and increase after it. Splitting the space, to make it usable for our needs we don’t have the funds for the cost of the rent. Looking for smaller space. Current shrine room is 865 sq ft, and we can afford 800 sq ft.

Last community talked about 2 options that people voted on. The council had a professional facilitator come and go through a day-long process. Came to a conclusion that we will find a space that we could afford on an hourly basis, and form neighbourhood groups. Decision was not easy. Faced with dwindling funds and a lease that ends till 2016 which we cannot pay for. Shambhala International (SI) is our backer in our lease agreement.

Dave Rapson (Treasurer of Northern California Shambhala)- difficult situation and we will miss the space dearly, and want to acknowledge the sentiment. Decision to leave the space is an important step to achieve financial stability. One step in a longer process, it’s not the end. Need to make some important logistical decisions. Open question as to when we will leave the space, which has many dimensions to it including financial. Projection of running out of resources before the lease ends. Question whether to leave earlier, don’t see a clear answer to that question yet. Perhaps we can stay in the space and try to raise more funds. Other option is break the lease and leave early, which requires an agreement with the landlord. Since rents are high, so landlord could find someone to pay more, which could help with more favourable terms. It may take time for the landlord to find new tenants, and time is quite precious since our coffers are dwindling. Joining the meeting on behalf of the NorCal organization, and see a role in helping resolve the situation. There is no clear path towards the region being able to step in and help financially. The size of the shortfall is the same as paying a full-time employee. We are operating with significant constraints. We are trying to build the infrastructure but not there yet, and don’t think we can be counted on. The aspiration is there, but don’t have the ability as of right now. Trying to get smart with the legal side to help with the negotiations.

Connie Brock (Treasurer of Shambhala International) – Minneapolis had a similar situation in the 90’s and had to leave the space. Spent a year meeting in people’s home, and found lease in a year later and eventually bought land for a permanent space. Need to let the center and find another way for the community to manifest. We have 1 center a year which downsizes. It is very challenging to find alternate spaces in high cost rental markets. SI is liable in the event of a default but they don’t have the reserves to step in with the funds needed. We’ll do whatever we can with advice and support. Ethical responsibility for the community to fulfill the obligation. The goal is to try and find a way to work with landlord, and the sooner we start talking the better.  If the landlord can see the opportunity to make more money, and find an agreement to put it on the market right away and shorten the period to cover rent payments. Recommend a Shambhala person in the state who can legally represent you. The region may have suggestions for someone if you don’t have anyone in mind.

When do we run out of money? Mar 2016. When does the lease end? Dec 2016. Rent could go up to above $10k per month from January 2017.

Fern’s conversation with the landlord:

Landlord has been generous. She would allow us to get out of the lease if she got a signed agreement. Big spaces like this need building permits to begin construction. Would be easier if she could split the space.

We should give the landlord every option, either split the space or find someone to take over the space which would require building out the space.

Charlotte talks about the options. It starts with the community rather than the space. What do we want to accomplish? What kind of things do we need to do these things?

Pop-up spaces – renting space for open house, programs. Seems to be possible to find spaces to rent on an hourly basis.

Affinity groups – meet in people’s homes, book study groups, online classes, outdoor practices, issues with private vs public events.

Virtual world – study groups, online classes, study buddies

Neighbourhoods – particularly about taking care of one and another, meeting for dinner and tea, who can I call when I have the flu, would be good to develop even if did have a space

NorCal region – programs move to larger centers

Comments and questions:

What about large donors? We can confirm that there was a 3 year timeline and they are not willing to extend.

San Francisco is looking into working with special funds to help bridge. Northern California council may have special funds for these kind of situations.

Concerned about the community staying together. Next steps will be done by community participation.

Is there a possibility that we can sharing space with other religious organizations? There are concerns about the confusing advertising with the space.

What would nourish you? We have people who come here for things besides the curriculum

We have the opportunity to do the some new things.

As a newcomer, the thing that would make it hard would be not knowing when people get together and things going.

Need to get smart about our communications infrastructure.

The Shambhala network is severely underutilized. The council’s job first is to make sure that there are things on it and make people aware it.

The Davis center has a welcome packet with the schedule, etc. We should get very clever about having a welcome handout packet.

Does the center need some small office space to coordinate all of this? No

Carrie wants to grow the children’s program. Want a reliable space to nurture the program.

In our next community meeting, we will be planning timelines and one of the things we need to do is come up with the checklist.

Denise – all our centers started with small groups. When we originally started in Henry Pollard’s house. Trungpa really liked the living room model, talking about enlightened society as doing our practice and work together. The kings can’t go off and meditate, and he really wanted to work with our community to become enlightened. We need to see this as an opportunity.

The neighbourhood model would allow for expansion.

Benefits of renting hourly is that we can start saving. The financial stress has been really big.

Next step would be figure out how we get out of the space. How do we find rental space? Need to have committee. Getting communications infrastructure working. Need to be prepared to leave in a month.

Need a list of things, the council will have something for the next meeting.

Have just done a search for spaces to figure out if it is possible. Need to do more detailed search once we know more about when we leave.

Stability would good for open house. Issue is that a lot these spaces have the same time every week.

Libraries would be a good option for finding spaces.

It’s not that we screwed up, it’s just that we are in an appalling real estate market.

We will draw upon the wisdom from other centers.

The council really wants this to be about you and bring forth wisdom from the community.

Is there a sense of the Norcal region working together? Is there one that is older and bigger and more financially stable? There are 10 centers which started separately, and started to work together about 20 years. Pema Chodron’s programs brought the region together. Have started working together on programming. San Francisco is intended to be the center of the region. Programming is coordinated regionally.

What about if we go to San Francisco once a month? And another one in Berkeley?

Programs are not a big revenue, so it’s not a big deal if we don’t do as many programs

Membership is not just about paying rent, but needs to be about connecting to the community.

Needs to be less gloom and doom, and think in terms of what are we getting out of this.

Bring it back to the community, hope we come out of it with a stronger community.

To see this happen, it feels powerless.

The need to hold 2 things at once, one is that the terribly sad at the thought of losing this space. Want to let ourselves feel that. The way forward is also exciting, and I want to be able to hold both emotions.

Comment – As a newcomer, I am mostly excited about the steps going forward.

March 2016 is tomorrow, and it is making it anxious. Feel like we need to have a plan for proceeding forward. Relax. We do need an input from the landlord to move forward. We will do it.

Chris – see this as an opportunity to form a community, I grew up in a christian fellowship and see this as a good direction to come closer.

Denice – Loren would like to have more veggies. If one person can sign up for a week for a week to donate veggies. Everybody can take a look at the list and sign up.

Fern – take some time today to acknowledge how you are feeling. Quote from Trungpa.

“Experiencing the upliftedness of the world is a joyous situation, but also brings sadness …It is like falling in love…you feel both joy and sorrow…The warrior who experiences windhorse feels the joy and sorrow of love in everything he does.”- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche


September 29, 2015

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Community,

Many of you were not able to attend the recent Harvest of Peace celebration. I would like to summarize the day for you. Our Harvest of Peace was wonderful with about 20 people in attendance. Here is the video of the Sakyong’s talk:


This is an overview of a new teaching that is coming on the topic of household.

After that I reminded people of the various resources and support (The Unified Giving Model) that we get from Shambhala International (SI)  for free as part of our connection to the greater Shambhala Mandala that includes 220 centers around the world. There were donation slips for SI near the donation box for those who wished to give back.

We had our new Regional Treasurer, Dave Rapson, give a talk by skype video about the regional situation. San Francisco is losing their lease in November 2016, and Santa Rosa has lost their lease and is now renting hourly. He reminded everyone that we are not alone and that this economic boom is affecting all the centers in the region.

I reminded everyone of our strong history of moving in and out of spaces since 1976 while still staying strong. Our current rent is $5867 of which we can only support $3000 a month and the rest comes from reserves and donor donations which will be exhausted by March of 2016.

Based on community input and action by the council:

  • A membership letter was sent out to increase the dues (approximately 20 pay regularly-20 pay sporadically and another 21 are non-paying members)
  • Donation boxes were more visible
  • Our fundraiser raised $1550 by 31 of our 60 members who paid $50 each.
  • Programs have increased to serve the Sangha and increase revenue
  • Potential Donors/Sponsors were contacted
  • Ads have been place to rent/ sublet space when we are not using it
  • Members are calling to get potential renters/sublet partners
  • Committee was formed to do Meditation Instruction outreach for revenue generation.

These actions have been successful but not to the degree to keep up with the rent expense.

Our survey had 39 responses (out of 60 members)

The council had an all day retreat with a paid professional facilitator and Shambhala practitioner, Richard Landry. We not only reviewed all the data but came to some conclusions of what the community wants. The two options were:

1. Split/Rent the Space. Put a wall up and rent just the shrine room, sitting area, and kitchen. Or find potential partners to rent the unused space we have which we are pursuing.

2.  Form Deleks and rent a space on an hourly basis for open house and other public programs.    (Charlotte gave a talk on what a Delek is and how it works).

At our next community meeting, we will discuss details of those options and present a final decision.

Some of the heartfelt comments from the survey:

“I think Sharing the space is a great idea!”

“We have to do what is sane and sustainable. Let’s bring on the delek system!”

“I think expanding and rotating to different locations within the area would be wise. If you are in San Jose, Getting to Mountain View during rush hour can be hard.”

“Few Attend events. The need for an expensive space is not necessary. It’s nice but not used.”

We ended with practicing the Shambhala Sadhana together and having a feast.

I know that this is very difficult for everyone.  I and the council are listening to what members want and also to what they are willing to do to make that happen. Feel free to call (415-819-3065) or email me (fernalixlarocca@gmail.com), if you would like to discuss this more.

“Being aggressive, you can accomplish some things, but with gentleness, you can accomplish all things.” ― Sakyong Mipham, Ruling Your World: Ancient Strategies For Modern Life

Yours in Great Eastern Sun Vision,

Fern LaRocca


and the Silicon Valley Shambhala Council

(Charlotte Linde, Mitchell Blank, Laura Chen Allen, Mark Hobbs, Denice Everham, Kate Raddock)


July 21, 2015

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Center Sangha,

I want to announce the date of the next community meeting which will be Sunday, August 16h at 1:30pm.  We will have a potluck lunch at noon so please bring a dish to share. An agenda and reminder will be sent later.

At our last meeting we discussed our finances and many of you had wonderful ideas to share on how we can raise revenue. A lot of those ideas have blossomed.

For those who couldn’t make it and requested more information, I am attaching a financial update from our finance manager, Mitchell Blank.

Our new membership coordinator, Chris Hakim, sent out an email about increasing membership dues. Thank you to those who have responded. Remember that all are welcome as members. despite finance resources.

Donations have been increasing since we made our donation box more visible and we are asking our visitors to contribute what they can.

We have an abundance of fall and winter programs! Please check our website. Our head of communications, Laura Chen Allen,  is working with Dru, and Anil to promote our programs through print, website and social media.

We are having a BBQ/pool party fundraiser on Monday September 7th (Labor Day) from noon to 5pm. Buy a ticket online on our website and come and have a good time with the community! Thanks to Carol and Mitchell for coordinating.

We have been invited by a start-up to do a pilot meditation instruction program. Aaron is working with Charlotte on researching rates for us to charge for future programs.

We have had inquiries about short and long term rental of our space. We need more volunteers to call non-profits, wellness centers, and mindfulness groups to see if they would like to rent our space, or sub-let from us.

The council and the community is working hard in response to the deficit and the rent increases.

Let’s continue to explore how we can work together.

“The history and legend of Shambhala is based upon a great community that was able to reach a higher level of consciousness. This community could occur because its individual members participated fully in creating a culture of kindness, generosity, and courage.”

  – Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche 

Yours in the Vision of a Sacred World,


Director, Silicon Valley Shambhala Center


July 10, 2015

Dear Silicon Valley Shambhala Sangha,

A lot has happened since our community meeting in June. This letter and future letters will be updating you on what’s happening at the Center. 

At our Community meeting, we discussed our financial problems such as the rent increase coming at the end of the year, and many were inspired with various ideas on how we can do more outreach to raise revenue. We are planning on another community meeting soon to expand those conversations and  discuss how to make those ideas, and any others happen as well as how people can help with some initiatives that are already making progress. 

Several immediate efforts to raise revenue are already in place.  We have approved a rental policy that is now on our website, and we are looking into rental possibilities with compatible organizations. If you know of any organization that is interested in renting our space, please have them look over our rate sheet. We want to share our beautiful space!  Rental income can also help us cover the deficit.

Additionally, the Council has clarified our suggested dues structure. 

We will also be holding a Fundraiser BBQ- $50 a ticket for great food, music, games, entertainment on September 7th. Details are here.

Charlotte Linde, our Head of Meditation Instructors and Mark Hobbs, our Head of Education have been busy programming for the Fall and Winter. We are offering Enlightened Society Leadership Training, Fearlessness in Everyday Life, Level 1 -The Art Being Human, Refuge vow preparation class, Book Study classes, Monthly Shambhala Sadhana Practice, Monthly Mahayana Practice and Instruction classes, as well as a possible Acharya Visit and a talk and book signing by Dr. James Doty of CCARE. This is in addition to our regular Open House and Wednesday night programs. Please check our website often for updates.

Our Head of Communications, Laura Chen Allen is working on promoting our center and our programs through print, website, and social media properties. She also plans to start a newsletter. Laura will also be posting Council meeting notes on the website.

Ronald Feichtmeir is our Head of the Ziji Collective and he is supporting our movie nights and overseeing the Wednesday night Ziji meditation, reading and discussion group

There have been some changes on the Council. Our long time council member, Abby Pennington, has stepped down from the council as Membership Coordinator and Chris Hakim has been approved to take her place.  Another long term council member, Mary Frances Allen, has stepped down as Secretary and Laura Chen Allen, has temporarily taken her place.  As Chris has stepped down from Finance Manager, Mitchell Blank was mentored into the role and approved by Council.

Your presence is always welcome at the Council meetings, and the Council and myself are always open to talking with you about any concerns you may have. This is a difficult time for all of us and I want to quote from Acharya Alan Schwartz’ talk at the community meeting on creating enlightened society as our current practice:

“So the thing that I want to say just by the way of offering is that this meeting isn’t some organizational thing that we have to do, that we all have to suffer through together so then we have Shambhala at some other time and place. This is Shambhala and there is a very important context in which these teachings are presented which is the notion of enlightened society and that’s not some utopia that happens at other points in time but has to do with how we treat each other and relate with each other in whatever present circumstances we find ourselves.”

I look forward to seeing you at our next Community meeting.

With Much Appreciation,

Fern LaRocca

Director, Silicon Valley Shambhala Center


Community Meeting Transcript from Audio File 08/15/15

Laura ­ So basically, since I took over or, I guess created, the position of Communications and Community Outreach, I’ve been thinking about a lot things we can do. One of the things is being more aggressive with print material, so I’ve been designing some print material to put out there. And I really do need help with people helping me put it places. I think rather than having one person who just goes to a bunch of different things, I think we can all be part of a marketing strategy. I am also looking at printing business cards, not the kind that will have our individual names on them, just a business card sized object that will have details about the center and when there’s open house. I would like to distribute those to everyone to have in their bags or pockets, that you can then be your own little marketing people. I know that when I say to people, ‘Oh I’m going to meditate’, they immediately say ‘Where do you do that?’. It would great to have a thing you can say ‘Yeah, there it is’. Then we can all be our own little marketing people, and when we go to Pema Chodron book signings or whatever, be sure to take sure those with us. I would love to have someone come to join us on our Tech and Marketing team to kind of set up that operation. Like keep track of where people have put a poster in a coffee shop they go to, or put a stack of flyers so we know to go back to put more there. It would great to do that. We are also working on social media. One of the things about social media is that it is kind of the network of people who are in your network. We all have to be bit more engaged for social media. If there’s an event that we post to the Facebook page, like­ing that event, promoting it, sharing it with people who are following you on social media.

Comment ­ Aside from social media, that is the big ones like Facebook, there are also small bulletin boards ­ stuff that might be more oriented towards or a leaning towards Shambhala and stuff like that. I don’t know of a more local board that might have that.

Nalini ­ LinkedIn has a lot of groups for Not­for­profit. It’s very active. Lot of not­for­profits on LinkedIn are very active. One way to do that is write blogs. Each council member who has been with Trungpa in person, people who have rich information on this can post a blog. That could be virally emailed to people. Who knows, somebody who is just bored at work might read a Trungpa extract, and then it might lead to Shambhala link. Those are the digital options, people are bored at work all the time. Systematically, those efforts will pay off. It should be run as a company, although not as aggressively, but with the goal of spreading it.

That’s another volunteer role. We’ve been really wanting to strengthen. It’s like you said there are an overwhelming number of places where we could post things. So to just have someone with their eye on, these are the ones we can post it to. And then we can work on getting content.

Nalini ­ We can digitally track it, who’s clicking on it. Those things are all free now. Google has now made analytics free. Once we track who’s doing that regularly, then we can even email that person with more. Those things are possible. But one of us should sit there and give our time. Those of us who are interested in marketing through Not­for­profit boards and stuff, we can meet and talk about it.

Comment ­ As far as posting to all these boards, I think it will be more effective if rather than making one person find out what boards are good, all of us participate and spread it. Because, it’s not gonna be as effective.

Nalini ­ The tracking is going to be from one person, but the contribution of article and knowledge. Like we sit and discuss on Sunday, the blogs could go out. My idea is that people like Trungpa and Pema Chodron, since they are known more and there is an extract from them and we follow up ­ we spoke about basic goodness ­ it might intrigue someone.

Comment ­ If you volunteered me to write a blog, and I have this great idea. And I would ask, and you have just volunteered yourself if you’ll notice, what I need is point me to where I should post it. Point me to where I’m supposed to post to and if there’s any trickiness about doing so, help me walk through the first time.

Nalini ­ We’ll take care of all that. Putting it up, the blog. All we need is content. Comment ­ Content no problem. Point me to a url.

Comment ­ The best place post the blog would be our own website. And then have it connected on Facebook, so that people could like it.

Nalini ­ Even tweet about Shambhala. Who knows? It might sound dumb.

Fern ­ We have a Twitter account, a Google Plus account, a Facebook account. They are all linked by Buffer, so you can make one post and it spreads out to all three.

Dru ­ The only thing is that for the Twitter part it needs to be 140 characters. Fern ­ She can just uncheck Twitter and just send it to the other ones. Comment ­ Can you manage a Haiku in 140 characters? (Laughter)

Aaron ­ LinkedIn has a pretty powerful publishing platform that anyone can use. It’s just about getting followers and making it relevant. Sort of like professional uses and professional applications of meditation or mindfulness. There’s a lot of people writing about it. It’s only shared with your personal account, because you don’t actually publish from an entity like the center. You publish as yourself and you can link to our company page. Or we can link to the blog.

Nalini ­ Do we have a Shambhala group for LinkedIn?
Laura ­ I’m going to set that up. But I’ll need the experts to help me. Nalini ­ And then LinkedIn for Good. We can use that.

Laura ­ The other thing is that in terms of Twitter, I would really like to start a contemplation tweet every week, where we can all try to contemplate the same thing as a sangha. I think that might be an interesting way to get people going on Twitter.
The next thing I was going to ask for, we always need photos for social media.

Comment ­ When it comes to Facebook. If you put a photo on any post on Facebook you instantly up the engagement. People don’t read the posts by themselves. Instead photos of the sanga, kittens might be even better (Laughter)

Dru ­ I’d like to add, we have all these great technologies that are for doing this kind of outreach. We definitely need content to put there. In order to do a great job of things I’ve been using Google Apps. So now we can organize this effort better by having a dedicated marketing and technology team. Anyone who feels inspired to write some content, take some pictures, send it to the tech marketing group that we created. If you are not tech savvy on Twitter, we can do the tech part for you and put it on there.

Nalini ­ If you can package Trungpa, and sell it to the 30­40 somethings. Trungpa is an awesome brand, I’m sorry to talk like this, but we want money these are the ways to go about it. Trungpa really appeals to the intelligent young person. Those are the things we need to take and repackage and put into social media. Do you know who this guys is, did you know he walked thousands of miles from Tibet, ate his own shoes to survive. Things like that. Pema threw rocks at her husband, now she’s a nun. Unusual people. These are all fun, but the boring thing is trackability. That if someone in the technology team can track the blogs and get people emails, that’s a complete marketing campaign right there.

Dru ­ So anyone is interested in doing it, come talk to me.

Nalini ­ I’ll work with Laura to put together the tracking strategy and all that.

Laura ­ The final thing is that I put a really easy sign up sheet for us. Part of what we’re trying to do is also make a volunteer list or group that you can contact for volunteer efforts. Name, email, phone and opt­in for one of the things we’re trying to develop. So anyone who is a member can go see the contact information of the other members and we don’t have to be shouting throughout the whole wide list if we just want to talk to so­and­so. If you want to be on the volunteer list and want to help with rental, communication, education, or some other thing you want to help with. I’ll pass it around after everyone’s done talking.

Fern ­ Thank you Laura.

Comment ­ I’m thinking as far as taking pictures of the place, I think it would be more effective if we actually had people in the pictures too. So, get a mix of photos from behind of people sitting in meditation, that sort of thing. I’m looking for models. (Laughter)

Mark ­ My area is education. I don’t have a whole lot to say. Everything actually has been posted, that is coming up, on our website which, thanks to Dru and Laura for taking care of that. Just to go over the programs that are upcoming. Of course we have the Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma which people has been ongoing, which is great. It’s the first book in the three volumes that are published. People can certainly purchase that and read it on their own, which I encourage, it’s wonderful. It’s all of the seminary transcripts that, Trungpa Rinpoche did seminaries, which were given on retreat starting from ‘73 on to ‘86. They condensed all those and compiled and edited them, this was Carolyn Gimian, into 3 volumes broken into the Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana. So, you can certainly study that on your own. Right now the Hinayana is being studied, this is the 2nd group that is studying the Hinayana. We will be doing the Mahayana course at some point in the future. Those dates are not set. For people who want to do more intensive studies, I really do recommend if you do have the time and interest. In addition to that, the Way of Shambhala. Level 1 is coming up, I don’t know if everyone here has done Level 1 but you may want to repeat it. Coming up on Oct 24, 25. There will be a Level 2 in January, and a Level 3 later in 2016. Also, we have the Enlightened Leadership Training program which Fer will be conducting, and that starts Aug 30. Did you want to say anything about that?

Fern ­ We have orientation on that day at 1:30. Mitchell and Laura are going to be coordinating the people going into their different internships during the program. I have a very good response so far, I’ll send out invitations and more information to sangha as a whole about it.

Mark ­ Denise will be doing a guided Mahayana practice which will be Tonglin, the date on that is Sep 13. Just as an introduction, I don’t know if she’s going to be doing classes after that. I think perhaps, but I’m not certain.

Comment ­ I think she’s contemplating once a month. I think that’s under consideration.

Mark ­ Charlotte, who seems to be our resident teacher, is doing Fearlessness in Everyday Life, which is a series of 5 classes. There’s going to be reading, study. The classes will begin on Oct 4 through 3 meetings in Oct and 2 in Nov.

Charlotte ­ Open to anyone who has done Joy in Everyday Life. Fearlessness is Garuda, we get to jump into the sky. If you’ve done Joy, you’ve probably done Contentment in Everyday Life. If you haven’t done any of the Everyday life class, this is not the first one to take.

Mark ­ However, I did want to mention something here that the Everyday Life series is now available online as well. So far who may be busy with work, or you missed them and you want to take them, you can go to the online classes which is a great way to connect to these teachings. I would say it is preferable to do it in person obviously, but if you can’t do it in person certainly go to the web.

Laura ­ Bear in mind that they are prerequisites for certain things like Rigden Weekend and enlightened society assembly. So if you’re looking to shoot like a rocket, you might want to do that.

Mitchell ­ Yeah, you have to complete Level 5 and Wisdom in Everyday Life for Rigden Weekend.

Fern ­ There’s an updated path org chart that’s on the bulletin board. With a bunch of colored bubbles, so you can see where you are and where you need to go next. There’s been a lot changes and it’s a little bit confusing, so if you have any confusion go that chart and check it out.

Mark ­ For people that are interested in taking Refuge, Charlotte’s going to be giving a workshop on Oct 31.

Charlotte ­ I know they’re being done in LA, I’m not sure they’re being done here.

Fern ­ They’re being done here on Nov 24. Acharya Richard John. This would be a prep class if you have the intention of taking Refuge vows.

Charlotte ­ Or if you just want to know about them. Actually the more people who have taken Refuge, you can come and be very useful to your prospective fellow Refugees.

Mark ­ Will they be doing Bodhisattva vows too? Fern ­ I don’t think so.
Mark ­ Okay

Nalini ­ One more thing, in line with what I was talking about. These classes, every time I have to go look at the online thing, and there’s no reminders coming to us. Hey, in 10 days there’s a class. So people are driven their thing coming on their iPhones, so if you can set it that way, where there’s notification reminder on their iPhone. Not only a notification reminder, but Shambhala can send it. That’s one way of ensuring participants, people have so many things. People don’t consciously go to the website, but when Shambhala resurfaces on their iPhone. And selling content that he is creating, that you can sell for a cheap price. Say for I just have to pay $10 for a download, or $5 for a class. I’m just throwing a number $10 or $20, it scales. More people download class if they can’t attend. Everything is a revenue stream, and then you can track it.

Laura ­ As far as the online classes are done through Shambhala Online, we don’t have control over that. We have the ability to make our own classes, and put them on our own website.

Fern ­ We have the ability to do social media posts to promote the online programs before they have them. So we can blast that out to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus a couple of days before they have them.

Nalini ­ Even if we don’t get direct income from these online classes, we could develop some interest in our center here.

Charlotte ­ As far as our classes go, these online classes are very carefully set up. In terms of how you take them, setting you up with discussion partners. So they are working very hard them to make an appropriate container for the teachings within the context of an online class. It’s really quite impressive. We’re trying to make an appropriate container for face to face class, and we make those recordings available to people who are members of the classes. I don’t think it would be appropriate to make them available more widely.

Nalini ­ No, to whoever we are sending the emails to attend the class in the database. If there’s a split option, if you can’t make it to the physical class, usually the events I see that, there’s a webinar happening always have a download of the webinar. So even if you can’t attend the live webinar, you can have a recording of it. Like you said, it can’t just be done at random. The class has to be conducted in a certain so it’s fit for recording, and sold for half the price or something.

Charlotte ­ I think you are ahead of us. We would need to think about how to do it appropriately and consult with people who have done it. I don’t want to do it homebrew, but it’s quite conceivable that we can find a way to do it appropriately.

Mark ­ The distinction is that what we do locally is not videotaped. The ones that are videotaped are with Shambhala International, they’re separate from us.

Nalini ­ Just an audio download, I’m saying.

Mark ­ We wouldn’t at this point be able to do that, unless we can figure a means to do it, but we don’t.

Nalini ­ I’m just throwing revenue opportunities, to bring an extra $3000 immediately. There are student memberships, sliding memberships.

Mark ­ The last thing I was going to mention. There’s the Basic Goodness series along with the Everyday Life series. We’re going to be doing Basic Goodness class. We’re actually utilizing one of the videos, and it’s being stored in the library and we’ll be showing it here. Wayne will be leading the discussion. This will be conducted as a 6 week class, and there’ reading along with that. I don’t think there any prerequisites to the first one. I don’t have the dates for that one yet, but it will be in the first quarter of 2016. I need to get the dates. So that was it.

Fern ­ We have a fundraiser. We decided not to do it at the center this year. I offered to host a barbeque at my home on Mon Sep 7 which is Labor Day. Everybody will be off of work and can come. It will be $50, try and finagle some money to buy you a ticket. Obviously, it’s about trying to raise money. Just bring yourself and swimming suit, we’ll have plenty of food and drinks, and we’ll have some entertainment too. We had one a couple of years ago, it was a lot of fun. I’m really happy to be doing it again. Some of the council members have tickets, or you can just go online and buy them there.

Mitchell ­ If anybody wants a ticket, I have them in my car. Fern ­ Fabulous prizes too.
Mitchell ­ Probably not. (laughter)

Charlotte ­ I will report back on corporate outreach. This is actually several ideas that came up the last community meeting that we’ve been pursuing. ‘We’ is Abby, Aaron and myself. To teach meditation in corporate settings, and to get set up courses for continuing education credit which San Francisco has been doing, Abby has been working on that. We’re moving ahead on the Redwood City startup that Fern mentioned and that Aaron has been working with with his own company.

Aaron ­ I can give an update on that. Sorry, I haven’t been in communication.

Charlotte ­ Let me give an overview first. This is moving along, I talked to a number of the Shambhala guides and not all of the MI’s yet. But we have enough interest that we can certainly staff the 2 possibilities we have. This is a very interesting revenue generating possibility, which is limited by our teaching staff. The model we are thinking about is that the people who volunteer to teach it will be paid. There will be some split from the fee between the teacher and the center, which seems fair. And if people then want to donate back they can, and if not, not. We’re working with materials that Aaron got from San Francisco, some very nice materials. This looks like a very promising possibility. I’m just coming back from a program in Nova Scotia with very senior students, and I sat in on a workshop on mindfulness and Shambhala outreach. It seems like a lot of centers are doing this in one way or another. Everybody is kind of finding their way of how to do it. In the longer term Acharya Fleet Maull, who some of you may know, has a very interesting idea about a certification program for meditation teachers. Similar to what’s going on the yoga community of certifying yoga teachers. Since everybody in the world is teaching meditation, some kind of certification whose requirements would be easily met by the training that Shambhala guides get let alone our meditation instructors.

Aaron ­ Is this that non­Shambhala meditation instructors or would­be meditation instructors would come to Shambhala to get certified?

Charlotte ­ No, this is just a certification program for people who’ve gotten their training wherever. But this is a program that Shambhala practice instructors could offer when we go out to a corporation to say, we were trained, we’re certified by this board. Down the road this would be an issue. Unfortunately, people are not really asking for, you know it would be lovely if people would challenge us a little more. But in the meantime, we’re starting. Fern and just jumped in and picked a number, which I was impressed. You know, $300 of my time for half an hour? I’m impressed. So, we’re moving ahead on that. Abby has been working with NorCal on the Continuing Education, and we’re looking at what the revenue generating possibilities are for the continuing education programs and whether they would work for us in the effort versus the payoff. I’ll turn it over to Aaron and Abby to say anything further, but just wanted to say that this is a possible revenue stream that we can get started fairly soon. It has it’s natural limits, but I’m very excited by it.

Aaron ­ I had a conversation with Alex at the SF center, who shared a lot materials with me just for collateral, and a lot of things we could use like Powerpoints. Things like, this is what we do, and include options like an offsite for your team or an onsite where we would come to your company. Your team or whichever one of the group, we would offer meditation instruction either an hour or it could even be a half day. We might speak about whatever topic. As you can imagine. They sort of have an a­la­carte style, the SF center, they’re sort of doing this with a handful of companies. What they’ve done which I think is the most effective thing, they’re partnering with a company, there are a lot of companies like this, which are vendors for large companies and they’ll bring in part of the facilities crew, their gym staff, nutritionist staff, and they would partner with to bring in a meditation instructor. So I’m actually looking into that at LinkedIn, and they unfortunately already have that. They have third party meditation team, like 2 or 3 individuals, 2 or 3 times a week. I talked to one of them, and none of them really represent a particular lineage or a particular set of teachings, they sort of discovered it, they went to a couple of weekends and want to offer it to people as a passion of theirs. Most of them started off as yoga practitioners and sort dabbled in meditation and are now teaching it. The turnout is pretty good, they get probably a dozen or more people each time. She didn’t talk about the cost, but I did talk this with somebody else and also with Alex. It seems like around $120­$175 per hour, which is actually 45 mins or actual meditation and 10 mins of set up and everything is around the price.

Fern ­ Well we have to drive there.

Aaron ­ Where I’m at is I’ve just been too busy to follow up with this. I did with a conversation, 2 very productive conversations. One with the head of Global Wellness programs at LinkedIn, and he was super enthused about it. I think he himself has a meditation practice, so he was really turned on by the notion. I said, look I know you already have the company you partner with for your gym, nutritionists and everything. But what we would be offering is sort of, could be a specialized program, like maybe their team would like to have an offsite, or department meditation hour once a week. Because, to just come in and offer the same thing that they would

be doing but at a premium to what they are paying them doesn’t seem feasible. The last thing was that, I am now in conversation with one of the guys we would work with. I am dragging my feet on updating Alex’s materials to say Silicon Valley and to get rid some of the other stuff that they offered that maybe wouldn’t offer. Like they offer Qi­Gong and Yoga.

Charlotte ­ It’s a matter of who is available.

Aaron ­ Alex and I talked a little bit about that, and I asked him, would you show up as the meditation instructor guys or as the Shambhala lineage representatives? He said, no we’re very conscious about showing up as representing Shambhala, and they’re not necessarily trying to do a lot of conversion over there. They do try to represent the path as much as they can. I don’t think necessarily yoga was sort of a Shambhala thing, but they have the skills and able and willing people offering that, so they put on the a­la­carte list. So I wouldn’t we’re anywhere just yet. There are some things need to do in terms of getting the collateral up to snuff, which I can review with Charlotte. I haven’t reached out to any other companies.

Charlotte ­ I don’t think we should until we’ve got to test this. Let’s start, and also talk to me because i had a very interesting conversation about metrics.

Aaron ­ Did we hear back from the RWC startup?

Fern ­ No I haven’t had a chance to call her since I came back.

Aaron ­ If you’re still busy you can hand that off if you want.

Fern ­ What I’d like to do is to have more folks call. If you’re comfortable with cold calling like I am, I have no shame (laughter).

Charlotte ­ I would say wait, at least at least we’ve got the material set up. Then let’s zoom. Fern ­ Okay, sounds good. Thank you.

John ­ I used to be looking at the recovery area, in terms of 12 step program and stuff like that. A lot them suggest meditation, but they don’t really teach or guide in any shape or form. They don’t tell you who your higher power should be. So in recovery, maybe not with a 12­step group but through a hospital or through some other institution they might offer meditation.

Charlotte ­ We have a recovery group that kind of relapsed. (laughter). It’s the kind of thing we would love to do if we had the strength to do it. Definitely not a revenue generating operation and we’re never thinking of it that way.

John ­ I suggesting separate from the membership, that could also be a revenue generating thing too.

Charlotte ­ No I don’t think it generates revenue.
John ­ Alright.
Charlotte ­ But it generates enormous merit. It’s a good thing to do.

Aaron ­ Just to clarify, you’re saying that we should partner with local hospitals or with places that conduct these programs. We could go there for that group, as an instructor for those groups.

John ­ Yeah that was my idea.

Aaron ­ I still don’t know if there’s a lot of money in that but it could potentially lead to something.

John ­ My other suggestion was that, I used to be a member of Overeaters Anonymous, and in junior college they offered what they called [not audible] and they offered it several times a year with different themes. I was there representing OA. I’m thinking there are various colleges and campuses have similar things, we could set up a table, that would be another opportunity to introduce ourselves.

Charlotte ­ Laura and Abby on the continuing education.

Abby ­ I sent Charlotte the thing about education credits. It has been a learning experience, some of the things we’ve talking are like scaling back the cost. For instance, if we don’t to pay presenters, which is what one the programs in Berkeley did and was very successful. But there were also 14 contributors, so it’s a large cost. So if we want to cut out contributors, than what we might be offering is more of a restorative program. And so we might want to do, based on the what I proposed in the budget I sent to you, the first one we might want to do an alpha program like a half­day restorative retreat. We might offer meditation instruction and meditation period, pay a yoga instructor to do maybe a half hour for a couple of groups. So it’s purely restorative, so then we wouldn’t lose the credit and keep the cost of the program lower.

Aaron ­ So in some way this demonstrates that people are learning.

Abby ­ Yeah, definitely something would have to be measurable. So it’ll be good to have a program first and see what kind of interest there is. And a lot of people, like nurses who worked with Leslie say they would like to do more. I think we maybe need to do a trial run, and see how people feel about it, do a questionnaire at the end and see if people found some value.

Fern ­ I wanted to get clear as we go forward with a lot of these things, I want to be clear if all the Shambhala guides were able to do outreach. What’s the status on that?

Charlotte ­ The one thing that I did get from this mindfulness and outreach meeting was that Acharya Fleet Maull saying that from what he’s seen out there in the wild west, people who are out peddling meditation instruction far less training than our Shambhala guides. As far as I am concerned, I know our guides and I feel totally comfortable with any of them going out and doing it. And certainly push the MI’s, it’s really going to be a matter of people’s availability and willingness. This is a revenue generating opportunity, but it has its limits. Specially since probably any company we go to is going to want to do it during lunch.

Nalini ­ Is it training people to be instructors in meditation?

Charlotte ­ Just as people we have coming in here for open house and we offer them meditation, we’re going out and teaching people meditation.

Aaron ­ And also just like with people coming in for meditation, sometimes they don’t want instructors and do their thing. Often times I’ve seen, at least at LinkedIn, is sort of just giving a container for them to come in and do meditation. Like hey we’re here, we’re going to offer instruction, but if you just want to take a break to clear your head or whatever you’re doing is cool too. Your company is paying us that can come and spend your time with us, but of course we’re offering instruction.

Mitchell ­ Piggybacking on this potentially, I know we’re limited in resources but let me just throw it out there. Somebody said something about leadership, I was thinking more in line mindful leadership or mindful management or whatever. Is that doable, potentially it might actually be easier.

Aaron ­ Do we have a course like that?

Charlotte ­ I think we are learning how to do it. I think we’re learning how to do enlightened governance. I don’t think we’re there yet, I think we are learning. Ask me in a year, would be my take. Right now we to teach something like that, package and sell it, I feel I would be a hypocrite. In a year I might know more.

Mark ­ I do think there are programs out there that are being done similar to the leadership training. Omega institute.

Nalini ­ If we put together some videos for enlightened leadership that we watched for the program, that content if you can give some of the proceeds to SI and take some for your

revenue. That’s some content you leverage on. You don’t have to recreate the content. You can the Richard Reoech videos and use it.

Aaron ­ It’s all about the platform, what is the platform we use. There is a lot of media available. Even if we’re don’t charge for it, do like a suggested donation.

Mitchell ­ We can look and see if they’ll let us do that. Fern ­ I’ll talk to Karen.

Charlotte ­ I would say, my heart is really in meditation outreach. As far as enlightened leadership outreach, my heart isn’t there since I don’t know enough about it. So if somebody else wants to lead on that one, I’m totally happy. But I can’t bring the same enthusiasm to it.

Nalini ­ Business are always looking for leadership oriented classes because they don’t have good content on leadership. Since we have created something, and it also ties in to companies like Google who are looking at different ways of doing leadership. And startups. If you can give them something, this is something you can teach a manager, hey you can be an enlightened leader. That’s good in both ways. It changes companies too, how they look at leadership, not from an aggressive point of view but from an enlightened point of view.

Aaron ­ Now that I’m thinking, part of the last community meeting we had last time we had a lot good ideas too. What happened to me, I don’t know about everyone else, I really got on fire on all these different ideas. Yeah this is great, I’m already working here, I can leverage it. There was activity, and then was also me being busy. I just want to like, how do we keep each other on track, keep each other accountable. How do we track things. Sounds like we have 2 or 3 working groups? We could just say, go independent working groups, go action and report back to us whenever. Or the council could say, the council recognizes this and this group. We need a report by X date. I think a balance would be great. So we should be independent working groups, but you guys should demand something like working toward a deadline, or even say can you report by this whatever. Because if you just leave up to me, I’m just going to get too busy. But you can have Charlotte and Abby keep me accountable.

Fern ­ That’s why we have Laura.

Laura ­ That’s why I have the signup. If you want you can go to the shambhala.org group and look in the shared folder, and we can check in you and say hey we want this or that.

Charlotte ­ I like your idea of deliverable with dates. I think our working group needs to update the materials, and have a date when we can bring that back. Similarly, we need to have more of

a conversation about Abby’s idea about the restorative half­day program. And then report back. I think those are our next 2 action items.

Aaron ­ It would be great to have a similar format, like today there’s a working group session. What are we going to do today? If we can’t find time in our off time, we meet for 3 hours. And 1 group’s in here, 1 group’s in there. And then at the end we all get together, this is what we did and get feedback.

Mitchell ­ One thing while we still have Meditation Instructors and stuff, it strikes me that we have a brand new meditation guides who have just got on board. Where are the pictures? We don’t have them up on the board.

Mark ­ I think we may have submitted our own pictures for that. Charlotte ­ Viktor took most of them. You may have submitted it.

Aaron ­ I have a quick question for the finance guy. Let’s say, best case scenario, we got everyone to commit to whatever percentage of their salary. And let’s say we had every member contributing at that level. Do we know what portion of the shortfall it would cover.

Michael ­ That’s something I’ve wanted to do, but we don’t have the numbers. So we can’t answer that.

Mitchell ­ One thing I do want to say, and this is just eyeballing, what I want to do right now is get a by person, obviously not published, and put them up on a histogram so we know this is how much we are getting a year. We’re getting 10 donations at $40 or so. Eyeballing it looks like we got a huge group around 35­45 a month. Just to give you an idea of where we’re at. Since we need close to a 100 to cover, assuming 60 member.

Aaron ­ We have 60 members?

Fern ­ We have 60 members, but only 30 are dues paying. 20 pay regularly, another 10 pay sporadically and the rest are non­paying.

Aaron ­ So coming at it from a different angle, if we didn’t know everyone’s salary was. If we just said if every member paid X it would be a $100.

Fern ­ But the average dues is $63. People are paying at a higher rate to make up for people that are not paying.

Mitchell ­ That’s an average number, but the issue with that is that it makes us very dependent on large donors. We would like to unburden them and grow ourselves.

Nalini ­ What about reciprocal benefit for a member chooses to pay more, we can give them a class free or something like a reciprocal gift that they can get.

Fern ­ No. Shambhala International feels very strongly that there should not be different classes. That we’re all treated the same, whether you give 0 or you give a lot. That’s been an issue across the board. Abby had this discussion with SI executive, because at some point we saw a center had different levels like garuda level and different benefits. They were like no.

Comment ­ There is some danger of people who give more assuming more privilege. When I was a member of a unitarian congregation, one family donated a lot of money to the center and so they named it after them. There was kind of an assumption that anything they wanted they were going to get. And that’s kind of dangerous. Along those similar lines, part of the people’s donation level, in terms of what they are giving and what they can give. I’ve heard people assuming there’s a lot more money in the center than there is. Maybe what we need to do is have something where we say this amount of money is coming from this percentage of members. And put it out there so that everybody knows, so that ignorance part of the problem.

Mitchell ­ Yeah you’re right, this beautiful center is obviously a benefit and also a curse. People walk in and assume we are wealthy sangha.

Comment ­ So they know that most of the money is coming from a very small group of people. And people die! Even without this pre­arrangement of 3 years, anyone could just go. And suddenly we’re up the creek.

Fern ­ I talked to other leaders about what works and doesn’t work for them. A big problem was a dependency on major donors. Another thing was we have a culture of pay what you can, and what that used to mean for us is that if you can’t pay you don’t pay anything. And now pay what you can means, pay something even if it’s a dollar or 50 cents, but that wasn’t really communicated well.

Comment ­ So this, plus explaining what you mean by pay what you can meaning actually giving something and not all or nothing. Then between those 2, we can even out most of the issues.

Fern ­ What people don’t understand over email is how beautiful and unique we are. How many other non­profits would allow you to come in this door, and say if you can’t pay anything you’re still welcome. How many non­profits?

Laura ­ I was just going to say that I did see the option to give a membership discount online, and I assume that the option is not there because that is forbidden. You can’t really differentiate

between Tiger versus Lion members, but if we did offer a 10% member discount on programs for example, we could do that.

Fern ­ Yeah I can talk to SI about it, but it was my understanding that they did not encourage that at all.

Michael ­ There’s also the program of tax deduction. It has to be a wholly altruistic donation to be deductible.

Fern ­ We have started pre­pay, like you can get a discount on a program if you pay ahead of time so that we can start to have a better feel for how much food or how many coordinators we’re going to need. Like if we’re going to have 2 people or 20, we never know. By having a little bit of discount thing, if you pay in advance you get a discount. We started to implement that in some of the programs and other centers have done that.

Abby ­ I had a comment to add to what John was saying with the financial trends and all that. Taking what you have in your document, I think it should be there in the lobby and think somewhere on the website, maybe not the first page but in a member’s section with something like here’s how we’re doing. I think that the general statement that we say at Open House, it’s a non­profit, run by volunteers, we could have a passage about that. Just so as something people will see on our website and also when people come in, people will know how the center runs and can see the math.

John ­ As far as the website is concerned, is there a place where we could log in to which is accessible to members versus non­members? A document like that maybe should be gate the information.

Mitchell ­ If need be we can put up public information that anybody can have, right now I’d like to put something up.

Abby ­ It’s just a way to be open to the membership, it doesn’t have to say too much. Mitchell ­ Do you want to write it? (laughter) Just being transparent.

Michael U ­ I remember whenever I made a donation, I was one of those members that always put money in the box to generate merit. Make sure you write your name, so you can track it a little bit better. Some people just want to put money in, if you could, put it in the envelope to make it easier.

Fern ­ Especially with someone like you, you’re a regular member, you’re putting your dues in the donation box, we have no idea how to track that. If you are a regular member, but you’re putting your dues in the donation box, the envelope really helps us. We say, okay he’s paying dues and we separate that out from the donation.

Aaron ­ Can I ask a question about what we’re doing separate from the working groups that are listed here and have plans for raising additional revenue. Meditation Instructor is kind of interesting, maybe it pans out maybe it doesn’t, you can’t bank on that. And same with the nurses’ psychology credit thing. Apart from the work being explored, what is the council doing to plan to raising additional revenue. I see the subletting thing and the time­sharing thing, are those the 2 key things? Are there other things?

Fern ­ There’s member’s portions which we sent out the letter about increasing dues. We got a fundraiser, we’ve got outreach. And then the program revenues, we even have Acharya Daniel Hessey will be coming Dec 14, that’s very special, we worked really hard in getting that. I know it’s on an awful on a Monday night. So basically that’s we’ve all been working on. I’d really like the sublet and rental situation. We have a very serious partner come in, the Insight Meditation Group. They know us, we know them, we’ve done joint programs with them. I had a lot of negotiations back and forth with the rental situation. The council did a wonderful job of putting together a rental policy which is posted on the website in detail. They were very interested and then when we got into negotiations, you know we’d rather be a sublet with you guys. And that gets a little tricky. So you had some negotiations about what that would look like, because we would have to put their name on the door, we would have issues with advertising, issues with when do you use space, when do we use space. All kinds of issues were coming up. Then we thought about, why don’t we just split the space. They knew that if they got till that wall [points], that would be perfect for them, and we know that this space [points] till the mat area would be perfect for us. I said this looks really good, I was feeling very positive about it. When we sat down and crunched the numbers, because of the situation with our lease coming up in 2016. The unknown of 2017 was a deal­breaker, because it was already a stretch for them to take on the space for $1.97 and the unknown at the end of the lease, they weren’t in a financial position to pay for that.

Aaron ­ Are we doing any more generate more leads for sub­let or timesharing?

Fern ­ Yes, so anyone who wants to cold call you are always welcome. What I’ve been doing, first of all I go, and Laura’s helping get a little more organized with this because she’s got a document that I can use so that we’re not tripping over calling the same people. But I’ve worked on a lot of people come here through Meetup. If you go to the Meetup site, you see that they are connected to other groups like Meditation, wellness or a masseuse or whatever. So I’ve been contacting with the people who’ve actually come here. We’ve just let them know that we have space available, send them to the link with our rental policy. I’ve got a lot of positive feedback, but most of problem with the people that really want the space is the cost, they say it’s just too rich for them.

Abby ­ Can you go back to the thing about Daniel Hessey? Fern ­ Dec 14 the Acharya is coming here.

Abby ­ That program the Acharya is doing, I would suggest starting now talk about. This is really exciting, put it up everywhere, on the website. Put out if people need housing, organize hosts.

Fern ­ Laura and I talked about that, we were very impressed by the hospitality the Davis center shows to Sangha members that come to programs there. They have a sheet with restaurants, who you can stay with, can call, all these wonderful resources. Laura’s inspired to get on that.

Laura ­ Having a list we can blast, hey who has space. That would helpful.

Mitchell ­ What’s the directory column here?
Laura ­ That’s to opt in if you want to be on the directory so that other people can find you.

Abby ­ I hope that this Plan A is developed and I think it would be good thing to put out to the sangha to let people comment on. I would like to see the council meeting minutes published on a regular basis.

Fern ­ They are. They’re on the website and also on the bulletin board. Laura ­ They’re not on the website quite yet.

Abby ­ Maybe an email that goes out when they’re on the website. And then, we have some really great contributions from people. I know that the announcement for this meeting came a month or so ago, but the reminder only came out on Friday. I think there would have been a better response if there had been a couple of reminders a week in advance. This is wonderful to have everybody participate, and it would be great if there are even more.

Michael ­ There’s still a nagging detail, I really want to know what our lease options will be in 2017. I think we press the landlady as possible for a number.

Fern ­ Yes, that’s on my agenda.

Michael ­ Because all the efforts that we do right now, we’re doing at the level of our current increase. We’re talking of a rent increase of potentially 40­60%, so the option of staying here and occupying the entire space, requires a whole level of stepping up again.

John ­ The donation box, I’m wondering we put it right next to the door, so people can see it right as they’re leaving.

Fern ­ They can take it with them as well (laughter)

Mitchell ­ I would actually be concerned about a walk­in. I actually think people, every Sunday we quietly ding on it every time. I’m watching, people they walk in and walk out and awful lot of people are consciously giving. I don’t if the numbers have changed, but behaviourally I’m seeing people giving money.

Michael ­ The box is transparent so people get the hint.

Aaron ­ So would you suggest, from what you’re looking at, would you suggest that we start looking at a new place to be now and save our reserves?

Michael ­ We have the lease anyway till the end of 2016. Suppose the rent for 2017 is $9000, it’s being realistic. To make the rent be sustainable with now large donations, we double our income, now we’re tripling our income. This obscures the fact that at a smaller scale, we’ve growing very nicely at 6­7% per year, in terms of revenue memberships. Programs have been increasing, and people are happy with the programs. I would like to say that all these things have been good, but at a different scale, rent and all these things are not good.

Mitchell ­ When we say 40­75% we’re looking at what the landlord is looking to rent other spaces in the building. The larger space looks closer to 75% and the smaller is 50%

Fern ­ To give you an idea, in January our lease will go up to $1.97 from $1.91 per sqft. Our sqft is 2987. She’s getting $2.98 for the places upstairs, and she got $3.50 for the upgraded space across. So her sweet spot is between 2.90 and 3.50, and we’re going to be paying 1.97 and we’re not funding even 1.97 by half.

Aaron ­ So in terms of what we’re talking about today, today we’re hopeful and our working groups experience some of it might work, but to make it up for that difference is a pipe dream I guess. So we should start talking about going to another center more now? Like what are people’s wishes for the new place to be? Or wait to cross that bridge when we get there.

Fern ­ We could get tomorrow walk in the door and say I’ll sub­let that space from you. And we’re still here. Or another opportunity is the landlord is willing to put up a wall right there, and Mark did the numbers at 1618 sqft and Chris crunched the numbers, and we barely break even depending on how generous the landlady is going to be. But that would be doable, we could

give in to the door, have some screen, keep the library and the kitchen and it’s all our space, and we don’t have to move. So that’s another option too. We want to utilize all that we can right now to stay, and as we get closer see what happens. So I’m still optimistic.

John ­ I’m just wondering if there’s something we could do to show people, not as individuals but as a sangha that giving more is helping the sangha. Right now we are talking about is give money, or this is all going to be taken away from us. I don’t think people respond well to something being taken away, as to seeing benefits from it. So not as individuals, but as a sangha something we put together as volunteers to show the benefits of giving more money to the center.

Aaron ­ It could even be as small as the talking points that we use to advertise membership, could include, with your membership dues we are able to give scholarships to people who can’t afford a full program.

Abby ­ Shambhala International does that, scholarships for students or stay open on a Monday, anything like that.

Mitchell ­ There’s all kind of verbiage on the websites, one of them has wonderful verbiage as programs as pay­as­you­can. It doesn’t sound like, just give us nothing. It’s lovely and touches the heart.

Nalini ­ You have some children’s programs here. With our own Leslie, if we can use this place for children to safely be in for child care, and they pay for the center. That’s another revenue option. I am talking about leasing the space for nannies who want to rent it.

Abby ­ We talked a lot about financial issues, but I feel like there are things they need to be doing that are important and nurture and build community. I would like to see more things like a potluck, or a maybe a sadhana. I just don’t feel like we’ve been having much, I don’t feel as connected this year with the sangha, because I don’t see people on a casual basis for more events. The half hour before sitting and 15 mins after. I would like to see more regularly scheduled social events so that we can be together and not be about we’re trying to raise money so we can stay in the center. I want to spend time with my sangha, and I don’t feel like we spend time doing that.

Aaron ­ Would this fall around the membership coordinator? She’s raising an issue with the council that we’re focusing our meetings on logistical and transactional, and would feel more inspiration with the community.

John ­ One thing that stood out for me versus Santa Rosa is that there was alway somebody setting coffee and tea and snacks. And because of that people hung around more, and it seems

like people here come in and meditate and just skirt. If they hung around a little longer that would create a community too.

Fern ­ We used go out for lunch on Sundays and we used to have dharma night, poetry night. I feel the same way, I feel very disconnected. I think people have been traveling a lot and going on retreats, it’s hard to even communicate and get people together to talk about issues. I would love to see some more stuff, like say every Friday of every night we could just get together and just hang out together.

John ­ The thing about going out afterwards, if people are having a hard time giving, that adds to the difficulty because going out to lunch costs money.

Aaron ­ Are you envisioning something that arises organically in the community and someone just hosts that? Or are you thinking that as part of the council, make sure there are events and show up?

Fern ­ I think it’s more community driven, if this community wants it and spearhead, people will come. It doesn’t need to be top down, people have to show up.

Aaron ­ I’m wondering if in your vision, it’s not part of the council’s ambit to offer more of those events, and the resources and the food. Currently as I understand, you don’t see it as part of the council’s duty to schedule more of those things.

Michael ­ There are some things like Shambhala Day and Harvest of Peace. And there are things we literally don’t do for no particular reason. Very much based on available time and how important people feel those things are.

Michael U ­ There things we just need to rejuvenate and just get it going again. I made a couple of contacts of people to try and do public relations for these community events. People are coming back, but some people are busy. I was doing this sort of auspiciously on my own, but I don’t know if it’s the title that makes things harder. Like ‘Enlightened Society’.

Mary ­ I’m very new here, so I’m hesitant to say much at all but I’ve been listening a lot, and the discussion we’re now having triggers right into this volunteer sheet. The people who are not here, don’t know there’s all these opportunities. In my mind, I thought, there should be some kind of notification of very specifically and detailed list of these are things we need volunteers for. Then you might have people out there, who can say yeah I can do that. Right now, my observation has been that there’s a core group doing everything, and as I sat here, I thought where are all there others? How many of them have no idea that there are volunteer things they can do and how specific that has to be. If I’m mom with 3 kids, give me something I can do in 20 mins a week that’s a very specific thing. Just looks like things need to be somewhere on a website.

Nalini ­ During Christmas, you did the week where people could come for meditation, there was a google sheet where people to sign up.

Charlotte ­ Each year we had a food coordinator, and the food coordinator did those things. Nalini ­ They would come and say what they wanted to volunteer for and sign up for it.

Laura ­ I think the first step is that we just got the ability to have our own domain. This is the first group of people going on that list, and we will start adding more in. Also the volunteer coordinator we’re talking about, to be honest we really need one someone. We’re a small group of people and some of us are wearing 2 hats on the council. We really would love another person come up and take responsibility for that.

Nalini ­ Can a non council member volunteer to do that?
Laura ­ Yes, of course.
Nalini ­ I volunteer. (cheers)
Chris ­ Congratulations. I’m not the volunteer coordinator any more.

John ­ I’m wondering if some members don’t know that they’re needed, we can think of volunteer opportunities. If people we haven’t seen around, if they can fill that role that would be another way to go.

Mitchell ­ Michael has been doing that ex­officio. He calls and says, you know I haven’t seen you for a while, and he calls them a Sunday of next week.

John ­ I want to give them a role to so that they keep coming back. Fern ­ Do you want to work with Nalini on this?
John ­ I don’t know anyone, but sure.
Nalini ­ Doesn’t have to be me, if someone else wants to do it. Charlotte ­ You’ve got seniority.

Aaron ­ For the volunteer list, if there was a central list we could go to, and there would estimated effort, estimated time, skill prerequisites. Then we could go ahead and look and see the tasks associated with individuals and working groups so we know how we’re contributing. We know what the time investment.

Mitchell ­ And going the other way, for any of us who are going through tasks, and instead of doing it ourselves, we should just put it on the list.

Nalini ­ Maybe I can take the template for this list later from you. In addition to assisting Laura with the tracking of social media.

Abby ­ I kind of want to go back to the health of this center. I think this is the council’s job to have social events to bring it together. Are there any events coming out.

Charlotte ­ In a sense, there is a council role for societal health and well­being. But she’s out right now.

Abby ­ We haven’t had a fundraising kind of thing for a long time, and I would like to bring the group together.

Charlotte ­ You mean non­practice and non­fundraising events?

Abby ­ Well I mean we haven’t done a sadhana for a while. I’m just remembering over the years, there were more social gatherings. Maybe there were sadhana and we had a big potluck afterwards. It just seems we don’t get together that often anymore. Maybe September will be a good opportunity since people are back in town to bring the group together again.

Charlotte ­ Certainly Harvest of Peace will be one of those. I think you’re right, to some extent we’ve been running in desperation mode.

Mark ­ Summer’s are usually slow.
Abby ­ I know, I haven’t seen the group together in a long time.

John ­ How about something that is focused inside the sangha, do more like her pool party. How about we have a sangha picnic. Where people bring food and do that?

Michael ­ I know we’ve done that in the past. And there’s Milarepa Day which we could celebrate.

Laura ­ I really liked doing that in LA.
Michael ­ If we look up the Tibetan calendar, there’s plenty of stuff going on.

Charlotte ­ You can always convince me to say, let’s have a sadhana. And have an ice­skating party afterwards.

Michael U ­ Sadhana and dance?

Mitchell ­ Sadhana and waltz.
Fern ­ Anything else? (pauses) Shall we dedicate the merit?

By the confidence of the golden sun of the great east May the lotus garden of the Rigden’s wisdome bloom May the dark ignorance of sentient beings be dispelled May all beings enjoy profound brilliant glory