Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

RCZC Board Minutes.05.06.2009

Red Cedar Zen Board of Directors

meeting agenda Wednesday, May 6th 2009

encouraging words

Tim spoke about leadership: that the antidote to that feeling of needing to be the one who knows everything and does everything may be to look around and be more attentive to the little things and big things that are working well without our intervention. Tim mentioned the example of the pen leashed to the phone downstairs.

full value contract

We commit:

to maintaining physical, psychological, and emotional safety
to working together to foster both group and individual goals; giving the group what it needs and individuals what they need.
to speaking and listening fearlessly to one another and fully talking things through.

Our Guest’s Business

RCZC Garden: discussion/proposal with Bob Penny. The Board has authorized $500 dollars for 2009 to do a first step towards building an attractive garden/outdoor environment in our back lot.


Bob presented a well drawn, ambitious and beautiful plan for a comprehensive Japanese-style garden and grounds in the back lot including lining the cyclone fence, a large central ornamental planting bed on top of pea gravel for drainage right on top of the asphalt. Bob recommends several large rock features a small (prefab) goldfish pond, pavers for a central meeting area by the back door, a walking meditation path around the main garden bed, a small dokusan/tea hut, and a new fence and gate separating the garden area from the north half of the back area which will remain for parking 3 cars.


Bob will post his plans, gather further sangha input, and muse about first steps for $500.


The Board was awed and impressed and concerned about cost. Bob agreed that he was presenting “a fantasy” but all agreed it is a beautiful fantasy. Bob had not done cost estimation yet and it was not clear how to spend the initial $500 towards the garden. Bob noted that a few free-standing planters could be done separately from the main growing area and also that the larger rocks would need to be in place first before the main growing area was started. Concern about the cost of purchasing those rocks from retail garden suppliers was noted. Jeff mentioned that he has a neighbor who is an excavator who stockpiles rocks at lower cost but they may be less attractive. Bob decided to post his plans along with a written explanation for the sangha to review. Probably to be placed in the library.

please note:

Any sangha member interested in the garden project is strongly encouraged to look at Bob’s plan (currently in the library) and get in touch with Bob directly - 360-927-5702 or Next steps will hopefully emerge from this engagement. No immediate plans were made and the release of the $500 in the budget was not authorized by the Board.

Our Old Business

Teacher Compensation: a discussion

previous action: Previous discussion included dividing the revenue by percentages with a high end cap for the instructors. It was suggested that the prospective teachers be formally invited to participate in this conversation.


Ask Marti to compensate Nancy and John Wiley at the rate of $25/hour for contact hours for classes and workshops they have led.


Authorized Zen teachers (have completed shuso training in our lineage, others by arrangement) may be compensated for their time leading Red Cedar Zen classes and workshops at the rate of $25/hour of contact time (scheduled event time). The teacher is welcome to share compensation with other helpers if they choose. A special arrangement for Tim Burnett as Spiritual Director continues in which Tim receives all registration fees beyond sangha expenses for classes and workshops. Note that policy on teacher compensation for sangha retreats (Zen retreats such as the rohatsu retreat) is not clear at this point for Tim or other teachers, the policy clarification is for workshops and classes.


Tim created a spreadsheet ( showing the financial impact of giving the teachers $25/hour for contract hours without worrying about caps or total amount. The results in the last 4 classes/workshops led by Nancy and John W. end up giving the teacher between 40%-50% of the registration.

Nancy: Regrets that she needs to take compensation but her financial reality necessitates that she do so. $25/hour is more than she was expecting.

John W.: The first priority should always be making the hall rent so this compensation should be dropped if there’s a danger there. And what about other sangha members who haven’t been shuso who are putting lots of time in, will their time feel valued if they aren’t paid? Let’s go ahead but be listening to the sangha about this.

Mary: It’s both simple and deeply philosophical. Tradition suggests we should do everything by dana to teachers. In our Soto tradition we need to admit that there’s a hierarchy; that there are those who have earned permission to teach. Lots to think about but the method of compensation suggested makes too much common sense to fiddle with.

Greg: Agree this makes perfect sense.

Tim: Even though we decided not to do the old system of a minimal registration fee going all to the sangha and voluntary donation (dana) going to the teacher, the spirit of dana/generosity is built into the sliding scale fees for our events, and this way we avoid the “double dipping” feeling of asking people who’ve already paid registration to pay again for teacher dana.

Nancy noted: John and I were specifically authorized by Norman to receive dana only last year.

Safety and Police Recommendations: report by Don McCleary


Tabled. We failed to re-invite Don to this meeting. Just as well since time was tight.


Invite Don to the June meeting.

Red Cedar Dharma Hall Logo: update

previous actions: Tim will finalize the various logo options submitted by the community, then Brian will make and send out a survey on Survey Monkey


Tabled, Tim started working on this but does not have logo options available yet.


Tim will contact Brian when logo options are ready.

Holes in the Bylaws: update

previous actions: Greg will add the clause to the bylaws by the next board meeting.


Greg will email out amended bylaws – and at least three Board members need to approve by email.


The Board will review and approve Greg’s recommended changes by email. Our bylaws and articles of incorporation require a Board action to amend the bylaws.


Greg wrote an indemnification clause for the bylaws and had his assistant double check the index vs. the clauses. The clause: given our policy coverage with the new insurance, which covers Board Members and Officers exclusively. Practically the insurance will cover us before indemnification is needed but it’s still good to have. There were issues with the index and section numbers in the bylaws which were also corrected.

See for approved amended minutes.

Finalize Insurance Decisions: update

previous actions: Greg will contact Church Mutual and have the policy written. He will then send it to the board. Tim will ask Latona to inform potential renters of the new insurance arrangement.


Greg has finalized the agreement with Church Mutual for our new policy with them and faxed a cancellation request to Rice Insurance to end our previous coverage through them.


The policy from Church Mutual has been written and we are bound as of May 5th. Greg has cancelled the current Rice Insurance. Church will send an invoice. This insurance gives us full liability protection for any occurrence by any user of the building regardless of their insurance status. And we now have directors and officers’ protection and many other protections for property (including food spoilage and many other more or less helpful bits of protection!). The Board is pleased to be able to offer the building more freely to groups which do not have insurance and to have liability protection for officers and directors in place.

Our New Business

Board Member Grant Writing Training: proposal to use $100 from fundraising budget line to send Mary to that a fundraising workshop


Mary has taken this $100 out of the Sustainability budget ($250/year budgeted)


The Board acknowledged Mary’s authority as the Board member supporting Sustainability to go ahead without Board input.

Open House: planning by Mary


Request from Mary to have an open house in July.


Tabled but nothing stopping us from going ahead with planning.

Samish Cabins: discussion concerning Samish registration policies and the Board’s involvement in workgroup decisions.


No changes to 2009 Samish housing policy. See note below about future retreats. Members encouraged to speak to Tim as Retreat Manager about retreat policies and concerns. Board does not wish to be involved in retreat operational decisions.


The Board re-affirmed that the Retreat Manager in consultation with other members of the Zendo and Programs Workgroup has decision making authority over retreat organizational decisions. When uncertain about decisions, workgroup members are encouraged to seek support as needed from their supporting Board member and Board members are encouraged to seek support from other Board members as needed when uncertain. Members attending retreats are also encouraged to request scholarships whenever needed.


Tim described the issue of Samish housing pricing: a decision was made by the Retreat Manager and Registrars (part of the Zendo and Programs Workgroup) which two members attending the sesshin didn’t agree with.

Decision was to (A) continue previous year’s policy of charging a “luxury tax” of $100/person for the retreat on the nicer e-cabins which have a shared bath – more than the approximately $20/person the camp charges per person for e-cabin above regular cabin. Purpose of extra fees being to raise more money for scholarships and sangha, and (B) if two people share an e-cabin to offer a $50 discount (halving the $100/person additional cost of e-cabin compared to regular cabin). Two members requested a larger discount for sharing an e-cabin. The Retreat Manager consulting with the Registrars, thanked the members for the input but chose to continue with a $50 discount for a shared e-cabin. One of those members then asked the Board to re-consider the decision.

Mary said people who strongly object to a volunteer's decision can take on that volunteer role in the future or join that workgroup, and help make decisions as part of that workgroup.

Jeff said he’s concerned that the workgroups aren’t being empowered and the workgroups should have decision making ability. This decision making ability shouldn’t be undermined by the Board, but if a workgroup member isn’t sure what to do they should ask their corresponding Board Director to assist in clarifying a position.

Tim expressed concern that people may not be comfortable taking positions of responsibility if any decision they make can be “appealed” to the Board. And that person responsible may have big picture issues in mind due to their involvement (e.g. raising scholarship money in this case).

Jeff expressed concern that the Board would be paralyzed if it got involved in operational issues. There would be no time left for larger issues of policy, flow, and visioning.

notes for the future:

No changes to 2009 Samish policies but for the future Tim will call a meeting of the Zendo and Programs to consider the underlying philosophical issue about pricing for the e-cabins at Samish: whether our events should be run like conventional events (where it’s customary for nicer accommodations to have a higher price) or something more like just passing bare costs on and relying more on the sliding scale to provide money needed for scholarships and sangha ongoing needs (receiving extra from retreats is an important part of the 2009 budget to help cover Earth Room donation loss shortfall). And Tim will get input from Zendo & Programs on whether there should be special arrangements for people with physical challenges (disease/disability issues, old age) in having priority and/or price breaks for the e-cabins at Samish.

Budget Tracking: discussion about process and the role of the board. Concerns were expressed by Mary about she can track the Sustainability/Welcome/Outreach budgets and make members of those workgroups aware of the fiscal constraints of budget.


Tabled, no time.


To be considered outside of Board meeting and brought back to the Board as needed.

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