White Heron Sangha




Discussion about

Our New Center





On September 17 our Sunday program consisted of an open discussion about our new center. About 35 people were involved. Here is a summary of the points that were raised.

What’s going well at the new place?

The location is good
The ability to have other groups available and increased programs
Beautiful surrounding and building
Located in nature
Increased sense of community with our own space
Members are generous with their time and energy
Ease of set up on Sundays (not having to move chairs)
Ease in setting up for retreats
Good ambiance, good vibes, nice decorations, nice feeling
Friendlier space than Unity was
More inviting to new people
Chairs are comfortable


What are some challenges that you see?

Poor acoustics, can’t hear, noisy in general
The cost (we’ll need to place too much emphasis on money)
Not big enough for retreats
No meeting room
No separation from kitchen
Can’t see presenter
Can’t see or hear people when they say their names
Not centrally located
Not accessible to students or those on bike or foot
Feels too Tibetan
Feels elitist in this gated community
The chairs are too high for shorter people
Sometimes there’s a feeling of an “in crowd”
Not very welcoming to newcomers
Not enough people know about us
Unless you’re part of the board you don’t know what decisions are being made
Presenters need to finish by 7:15 so there is time for tea and snacks


What are suggestions you may have?

Set up chairs differently in circular or 3 rows facing each other
Place zabutons to the side to allow better chair arrangement
We don’t use all the zabutons so don’t put them all out

Have a rack at entrance so shoes can be removed to create a more sacred space and to keep it clean
Build a platform for the presenter
Have retreats at other locations that allow more folks to come (especially those that have to plan for caregivers for their loved ones)

Rent to others to generate income
Dana basket gets blocked by all those congregating for tea and snacks, move to the other side of the room
Be proactive with financial planning
Put some kind of buffering in place for sound absorbency
Make sure space is accessible for all
Have more decorations that are not Tibetan
Continue to look for other location in SLO to move to at the end of this lease

Suggestions not specific to the new center:

Stand when saying names so we can see who is speaking, use a mic, repeat names
Wear name tags (note on tag if person is a board member), keep at the entrance
Have greeters at the door
Place name of opener on White Board
Have opener wear a name tag

Get a deeper volunteer base, assign tasks for people, ask people to do a specific task so they feel included
Do more community outreach, have a way to let others know when a member is sick or in need
Have a way to let people know what there is to get involved in
Have more social/all sangha events throughout the year for community building
Explain the Refuge Ceremony so we have a better understanding of it
Have this kind of discussion a few times a year to create a sense of everyone having a voice
Make the board meetings and decisions more transparent, make the minutes available to anyone, create a sense of everyone having a voice
Move tea time back to the middle of the program on Sunday
Keep tea at the end

Suggest book reviews
Speakers need to finish on time so we can have a social time
Have more walking meditation
Have some suggested talking points to help in conversation at social time
Put out more sign up sheets for those who don’t do on-line

Items addressed since this discussion:

Several large acoustic panels have been added to the rear walls to reduce noise and reverberation. They help! More are on the way.
A 9" high platform for the teacher or presenter has been installed up front (see picture above).
A rack that will hold many pairs of shoes has been obtained and will be positioned just outside the door.

Dana basket has been moved over by the library on the other side.
Tea and social time are being restored to their previous time in the middle of the Sunday program

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