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Nov. 11, 2017 Community Council and Board Mtg Notes

ZCP Business Meeting 11-11-17 Notes

 (With our apologies if this seems a little incoherent in places. It was a long meeting and the following contains contributions from multiple people – Alan)

About 25 people participated in the Business Meeting from about 10:15 am to a little after 12:00 pm.

Welcome. Alan Shusterman opened with a statement of welcome and gratitude for all the people who chose to stay after the morning meditation and attend this meeting. He emphasized that even with the recent changes at ZCP, including the resignation 11-02-17 of Larry Christensen as Resident Teacher, ZCP was continuing to operate and that volunteer support was critical to keeping us going. He also said that the changes had exhausted Board members and volunteers alike, and that the Board had approved moving the annual membership meeting from its normal January date to a Saturday in early December, and that this date could be set with input from the membership so that we could capture as much participation as possible. Alan then turned the meeting over to three members, Vijay Raghaven, Karma Forbes, and Daryl “

A brief discussion of the role of the ZCP Board in relation to the ZCP Community followed.  In the past, the ZCP Board has served some operational functions and the community would like to review these functions in light of other non-profit boards with predominantly focus on the ‘business’ aspects of the organization.

Vijay Raghaven briefly outlined the activities that the facilitators hoped to accomplish during the next 2 hours.

Group discussions. Vijay and Karma Forbes facilitated a group discussion of two functional questions: What is working at ZCP? & What is not working at ZCP? (detailed list of member responses follows).  In the What is working at ZCP? discussion, a vote for top priority to keep going yielded the two top priorities of:  1) sitting and 2) community council/discussions.  A commitment was made to communicate sitting schedules for the next week, the next month and the next three months as soon as possible.  The Extended Sit of Saturday 11-18-17 was confirmed.  No other next steps were identified.

Vijay facilitated the next activity; We went around the circle so each person could have the opportunity to respond to the question Why did you first come to ZCP/why do you now come to ZCP?  An additional question emerged during this activity:  Why do I no longer come to ZCP?  We heard many heartfelt stories of welcoming and disillusionment, learning more about each other’s journeys and really sharing what is important to each of us here at ZCP.  (detailed list of member responses follows)

 We then explored the Short Term needs of this community.  Alan clarified that Larry communicated that ZCP can likely stay at this current location for 3 to 6 months.  Some brief discussion followed; no next step was identified.

 Organizational structure during the transition. Daryl “Karuna” Eigen provided a handout and description of a structure for moving forward to ensure essential ZCP functionality.  This design includes four proposed committees:  Operational, Fiscal, Communication and Long-term Planning.

Community members expressed concerns with regard to the process of identifying next steps and leadership for this meeting and for the short-term future; Vijay and Alan emphasized that both process and leadership were offered by member-volunteers as acts of service to the community, were not ‘fixed’ and were open to input and participation by other members.

Community members also expressed concerns with regard to transparency.  These concerns were noted and a commitment to transparency in Board and Operational functions was expressed by those facilitating the meeting.

December membership meeting. The ZCP Community and Board would like to have a meeting for elections in December and a commitment was made to send a survey to the community for a best date.  In addition, this survey will ask members if they are willing to serve on the Board and if they are willing to volunteer for one of the ZCP Task Commitees. A tentative date for the survey email was set for Sunday 11-12-17.

In the final minutes, these four concerns were clarified:

> 1)  This community is experiencing a transition that can have the impact of a spiritual trauma.  There is no fixing this or skirting it . . . and there are concerns that by ‘moving forward’ we will be trying to ‘sweep it [trauma] under the rug’.  This upsetting circumstance is what is right now and the impact of Larry’s resignation and behavior are part of this upsetting circumstance.  We need to be with this together as a community.

> 2)  Having so many unknowns, including whether ZCP will continue as a community, makes it difficult to commit to putting time and energy into volunteering for the kinds of tasks and roles that would allow ZCP to continue as a community.

> 3)  There is a ‘leadership vacuum’.  ZCP has a history of relying on one person to make decisions, and delegate leadership tasks and roles, and there has been insufficient transparency.  Also, communication in the past has been spotty.  ZCP will need to develop a new process for decision-making, and there needs to be transparent and timely communication about how this new process is being developed.

> 4)  We have no idea how we are moving forward without the ‘spiritual authority’ of one central and identified leader.  Because this is a spiritual community, everything we do or don’t do has spiritual implications.  We need to be mindful and thoughtful and wise in the choices we make for change.

In response, we reminded ourselves that this is a process that will take several months as fundamental issues will need to be sorted through as a community.  In this process, we committed to inclusiveness, transparency and developing and implementing a Community-wide decision-making process.  A commitment was made to have ongoing discussions of these concerns and action items, especially at the next ZCP Board meeting in December.  This meeting will serve as the Annual Membership meeting.

 Notes of Community Activities during 11-11-17 Business Meeting

 What’s Working: 

Sitting (#1 priority)


The number of sitting periods each week

The physical location



A recent increase in level of community involvement

Community Council/Discussion (#2 priority)


Cushions & Mats

Grieving Process

Recent retreat innovations

What’s Not Working:

 Physical Location

# of sits (do we need 9 per week?)


Book Discussion

Lack of Family Orientation/Involvement

Teacher Interviews (now)

Welcoming New People

Spiritual Direction

Board Transparency and Inclusiveness with Sangha

Diversity plan – Socioeconomic, Racial, Age

Sitting Room

Communication from Board to Sangha

Facebook Page


Tax Status Confusion

Decision Making Process


Lack of Informal Space for Community Bonding

 Why Do/Did You Come to ZCP?

It was welcoming

The space

Daily sitting schedule

Opp to work with a teacher

Larry’s amiability and ability


Sitting with Others

Ordinary Mind School


Larry’s teachings on self-compassion

Connections with Others in Community


Coffee after sits/bonding with community members

Slow, patient growth of friendships

Book discussions/lively debate

Not too much, not too little amount of form

Freedom within practice

Larry’s Commitment

Exploring Zen with Others

“My people are here”

Developing functional partnerships

Why do you NOT come to ZCP (anymore)?

Feeling cliques in community

stale feel

no Larry

no influence

not enough non-sitting activities

About Thomas Miller

Ordinary Mind Zen Senior Zen Practitioner since 1996 Marble Sculptor Owner of ZMassociates Environmental Corporation Passionate about saving the environment