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Shambhala Congress

Notes from Community Conference Call

Sunday 25 April 2004

The first conference call of the day took place. The second one could not take place because there was an error in making the booking. Apologies to anyone whose day/evening was disturbed by this.

The first half of the call was devoted to a question and answer session with Connie Brock of the Mandala Governing Council. Connie coordinates the work of the chairs of the eight Working Groups set up as follow-up to the Shambhala Congress.

The eight Working Groups are:

  • Communications Working Group chaired by Karen Wilding
  • Community Care Working Group chaired by Amy Conway
  • Diversity and Accessibility Working Group chaired by Cortez Rainey
  • Leadership and Succession Planning Working Group chaired by Victoria Bell
  • Mandala Structure and Governance Working Group chaired by Joe Inskeep
  • Membership Policy Working Group chaired by Mary Whetsell
  • New Economic Model Working Group chaired by Jim Rosen
  • Outreach Working Group chaired by Holly Gayley

This list, along with contact information for each chairperson, will be posted to the Shambhala.org website by the end of the month.  Each group is in the process of finalizing their objectives, which will be posted in a few weeks. This will be announced to the whole community through the Shambhala News Service

Connie also reported that the names of all the people who signed up to be on Review Groups have now collated. Confirmation notices will be emailed within the next couple of weeks by the chairs of the working groups. Anyone who does not receive a confirmation email by May 10, or anyone who would like to join a Review Group should contact the appropriate chairperson. 

In response to a question, it appears that at this point that each Review Group has between 40 and 80 people listed. The Review Group that Connie chairs for the New Economic Model Working Group has 78 people involved both by email and conference call.

There are also five Advisory Groups that are in the process of being set up:

  • Environmental Policy
  • Practice and Education
  • Shambhala Conduct
  • Shambhala Congress
  • Social Engagement

Connie pointed out that the Communications Working Group had, as a major aim, ensuring that everyone in the community knew about this process, and will be producing a regular “Transformation Bulletin” to keep the community informed and up-to-date with the whole process.

President Richard Reoch, who was chairing the conference call, said that the arithmetic of people involved through the Working Groups, Advisory Groups and Review Groups suggested over 400 Shambhalians would be directly involved in formulating and discussing these issues ahead of the next Shambhala Congress – when all proposals would be circulate to the entire community. The dates of the next Congress, to be held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, would be 15-20 February – thereby fulfilling one of the main recommendations of the first Congress!

Sarah Littlefeather, who is an advisor on accessibility issues for the state of Vermont, urged consideration of these issues – as many Shambhala Centres do not currently provide access for people with limited mobility. She will now be put in touch with Cortez Rainey, Chair of the Diversity and Accessibility Working Group.

David Wimberley asked that the Environmental Policy Advisory Group consider internal air quality issues at Shambhala Centres (and not limit itself to out-of-doors environmental concerns). He pointed out people with multiple chemical sensitivities faced special problems coming to programs at our centres.

Mary Whetsell initiated a long (and wonderful) exchange involving Jane Arthur and a number of other centre representatives about the value of smaller and larger centres being able to exchange ideas and experiences. This expanded into a discussion on the value of having “mentors” for a number of purposes throughout the mandala.

Jane Arthur drew everyone’s attention to the forthcoming meeting of centre directors that will take place 28 July – 1 August at Shambhala Mountain Centre. This will coincide with the first meeting of the Mandala Governing Council and will be a great opportunity for centre directors to meet each other, have sessions on issues of mutual interest and also join in sessions of the Mandala Governing Council, which will hear reports from all the Working Groups.

There were four people on the call from the Shambhala Centre in Juneau, Alaska, who asked about regionalization. Richard explained that this idea was very much on the agenda of the Mandala Structure and Governance Working Group and cited different examples of how current regional efforts at cooperation and planning aimed to produce coordinated programming that would better support students on the path in those particular areas.

The call ended with what is now the traditional conclusion to all such conference calls – the dedication of merit.

The next such Conference Call is planned for Sunday 23 May.

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