Community Care Working Group 

Interim Report – July, 2004

Chair: Amy Conway

Ground

There is a sense from within the Shambhala community that we could be doing a better job of caring for one another. We need to develop a culture of caring in our communities. The process of doing so is fundamental to the development of enlightened society. Yet in the past, the community has had no clear, practical vision of how to make this aspiration a reality.

Path

The Community Care working group and review group have engaged in an open and honest process of exploring how we can address this topic. We are not working as a group of experts, but as a collective group of inquiring minds interested in learning about how our community addresses successes and failures in caring for each other. Our working group is focused on communicating with each other and with the community using simple language that does not include abstractions or Buddhist jargon. We are engaged in a process of openness and inclusivity which includes soliciting and incorporating ideas and practices from other communities that demonstrate success in being caring and compassionate to one another.

Fruition

To help the larger mandala develop a culture of caring.  Our aspiration is that over the next year or two, communities throughout the mandala will embark on the path of developing their own practical vision and begin to implement innovative systems and processes that enhance caring for one another.


Membership

Jane Condon               Boulder, Colorado

Judith Broadus            Lexington, Kentucky

Alan Sloan                  Port Royal, Nova Scotia

David Whitehorn         Halifax, Nova Scotia

Jay Stewart                  Sonoma, California

Tara Slone                   Toronto, Ontario

Dennis Southward      Boulder, Colorado

Jon Barbieri,                Fort Collins, Colorado

John Seex                    United Kingdom

 

Objectives and Status 

Objective

Status

1. Identify the qualities of a caring individual and community. Explore ways that our community and traditional communities might relate to the acute needs of community members and maintain the long-term, ongoing sense of connection which allows us to share both joy and suffering.

The group created a document entitled Community Caring in Action which describes the characteristics of a culture of caring. In this document, we first identify some positive characteristics of a caring person. This is followed by a description of how caring people might manifest in our community. We are presenting the latest and most final version of our work, but we are open to suggestions about any gaps that might be missing from the document.

 

2. Collect "skillful means", best practices, and models of care which show how to create a caring community as part of our practice. Identify practices that are working well now and share them with the community.

 

The Chair of this working group, Amy Conway, is collecting best practices, resources, and processes that have been successful in helping others in our community. She will be organizing these into a Community Care Resource List which will then be turned into a webpage and posted on the Shambhala.org website. Please send Amy any type of resource that you have found helpful in your own community. Resources can include anything that has helped facilitate care for others (i.e. processes, councils, books, community resources etc.) (AmyxConway@yahoo.com)

 

This Community Care Resource List will be completed and posted by the 2005 Shambhala Congress, but will be an ongoing list that can be updated as new resources emerge.


 

3. Create specific proposals about how our sangha community can increase our awareness of each others' needs, stay connected to each other, and be more proactive in helping one another. This may be different in each local area depending on the community.

 

The working group is developing a facilitation guide and exploration process that communities may use to assess which areas of care may require attention. This guide will include an inquiry process to be used within a community meeting format. The goal is to develop a practical action plan that each community can implement.

     The guide will include a process for communities to look at how they are doing currently, what the ideal caring community would look like, (relating their ideal to our document), and to create an approach to get from the current to the ideal. The Community Caring in Action document describes a model, caring community. Each community can tailor our suggestions to determine how their ideal might manifest.

     This process will suggest ways to identify priority areas, set measurable objectives, and monitor outcomes and success over time.

     The process will be a map/action plan for how they can work with what they have. Neighboring regions may choose to work together on areas that overlap.

     This facilitation guide and community exploration process will be completed by the 2005 Shambhala Congress.

 4. Explore the role of Shambhala Center administration, the deleg system, the Dorje Kasung (particularly the Desung Arm), Upaya/Wisdom Councils, self help groups and other relevant forms within the Shambhala community in providing a structure for community care. Look at how people in these positions are trained in providing an environment which fosters a caring community.

The working group is researching traditional Shambhala forms such as delegs, Upaya councils etc. to learn how these work, what has been successful, and what suggestions might be useful to Centers interested in using these forms to enhance community care.

 

This information will be added to the Community Care Resource List by the 2005 Shambhala Congress.

5. Offer community processes to respond to the needs of community members. These processes could include both those that have been successfully put in place and those that are just getting started.

Some of these community processes are included in the Community Caring in Action document. Processes will be described and offered in more detail in the Community Care Resource List on-line.

6. Connect the recommended care models with the Shambhala Buddhist teachings using the Shambhala Treatise on Society and Organization as the ground.

We are keeping in mind the view of the Shambhala Treatise on Society and Organization in all our work.


Reports of Findings Submitted to Date 


Updated 2004/08/26