Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

April 2011 Minutes

Red Cedar Zen Board of Directors                         Meeting - April 13, 2011           

Board Minutes                                                                                   

PRESENT: Jeff, Tim, Joan, Talus, Edie


 encouraging words

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.

            review agenda and set time limits

NOTEAction Items are indicated in bold type; board members, please act on your tasks before the next board meeting and prepare to report about them.  Thank you.

 Our Guest's Business  Marti commented on the budget details.

 Old Business

            1. Sangha Survey Results Report - Tim gave board members each a copy of the sangha survey taken in January, 2011, showing sangha responses to questions about our current programs and future direction.  Board members will study the report in preparation for discussion at the May board meeting re: the question, Are our resources supporting what the sangha wants?  Edie will send a reminder to board regarding this homework.

            2. Volunteer Roles Flow Chart Review - The board looked at the large flow chart of sangha roles and commented that most functions are being covered well, with the exception of the need for updating names in some roles and for consolidating some outreach functions.  After seeking input from members involved in the outreach and membership functions, Edie will do an initial update of the chart for review by the board at the May board meeting.  Joan will tabulate the volunteer interests on member application and renewal forms to match interests with needed sangha roles - for review at the May board meeting.

New Business

            1. Arts Event - Based on the enjoyable Zen and Creative Expression shuso classes during practice period and the practice committee's endorsement of the proposal to put on an arts event, the board discussed having such an event this year, perhaps in early fall. It would include musical performances, displayed art work, poetry reading, etc. by sangha members.  The idea of making the event a public fundraiser was discussed. This led to some discussion of the need to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan as the context in which to plan and hold the arts event (see Budget discussion below).  Edie will develop a plan for the arts event for board review at the May meeting. (See also fund raising plan, under Budget discussion.)

            2. Meditation day for Japan Disaster - The board discussed the commendable idea of sponsoring a day of meditation open to the public in support of the people of Japan who have been suffering from the earthquakes and tsunami.  After some discussion, it was decided that if a small group of members stepped up to organize such a event, the board would support it; however, the board members themselves regret that they do not have the time/energy at this time to lead such an effort.            Subsequent to the board meeting, Kate McKenna was asked if she wanted to head up such an effort, but she too had to decline, so this idea was tabled.

            3. Garden - Tim reported that Alborz and the non-profit he's starting called "Majestic Dharma Forest" is interested in cooperating on improvements to the Center's back parking area into a garden, using some of the elements of Bob's design. Although the board liked the prospect of improving the back area, it felt our budget won't support it presently.  We might, however, develop a work party to clean up the area and set up a picnic area with a donated table and benches and a few potted plants for summer use.  With this we could see how much interest sangha members have in further development of the area and plan accordingly.  Tim will communicate this to Alborz.

            Joan noted that Dove Toll has done a lot of work on our front garden. Tim will send Dove a thank you note from the board.

            4. Building Lease Agreement - There is some lack of clarity and agreement about the terms of the lease agreement currently under discussion with the building owner, Riaz Monjazeb, with regard to resumption of a 3% per year increase in rent for the new 5-year lease agreement, proposed to begin in 2012.  Jeff and Tim will ask to meet with Riaz to better understand this element of his proposal.  Joan will do research on local economic indicators on rent increases to help us better understand this issue.

            5. Budget Report - Talus, along with some detailed input from Marti, presented the Profit and Loss Budget (the budget statement is available online on our webpage). Comparing first quarter actuals with the 2011 plan, we have a net loss of $1,124.00 so far this calendar year.  This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the March retreat expenses are offset by retreat income. And we will receive a boost from the Samish retreat in the second quarter. Overall, however, our monthly income is not matching our monthly expenses.  Membership contributions are at 81% of plan; rental income at 94%, though donations to the center are at 143% of the year's plan for the quarter.

Some expenses have been higher than plan: utilities have gone up due to greater use of the hall by both us and BIMS.  Much of the year's budget for outreach, equipment, building improvements, technology, etc.-all very small annual budget items-has been spent in the first quarter, and further expenditures may or may not be needed in these areas.  However, our operating budget is trending in the negative direction.

Given this tight picture, the board discussed the need for watching expenses carefully, for asking BIMS to pay part of the monthly utilities expenses (they currently pay only rent), and for developing a plan for a targeted fundraiser (as we did successfully when we lost the major donor funding two years ago).  Talus will talk with Steve Hansen to request that BIMS contribute one third of the utilities bill.

             6. Fund Raising - The board's budgetary concerns led directly into brainstorming about a targeted fund raising plan.  We discussed what the community at large would be interested in contributing money to.  We realized that we should capitalize on our strengths: our ongoing and numerous offerings to the community-- five meditation sessions every week, orientations and continuing instruction in zazen and other zen forms, practice discussion opportunities with three teachers, Buddhism study groups-all free of charge--plus the availability of our building for many short-time users from different disciplines holding events at low cost.  We decided we could fund raise to support our free and low-cost public community programs.

One initial task is to write a new brochure describing our public programs.  Another task is to develop a comprehensive plan for fund raising for this purpose.  A third task is to consider developing an Arts Event as a fund raising event.  Toward these tasks, related to the proposal for the arts event (see #1 above), Edie will develop ideas for a comprehensive fund raising plan and bring suggestions to the May board meeting.  The board needs also to develop ideas for what to include in a new brochure, to be used to publicize the arts event and the targeted fund raising effort.

As a further element of bringing in more financial support, Jeff suggested that we follow up with newcomers to the Center to see if we can be doing something more or different to encourage them to continue practicing, which encouragement might ultimately increase membership income.  We didn't have time to discuss this, but one suggestion was to ask all people who come to meditation sessions to sign a guest book, which would give us information for following up.  The board will brainstorm further about ways to track and encourage participation by new people.

Agenda for next board meeting:

  • Discussion of sangha survey results: are we meeting sangha needs?
  • Sangha volunteer organization - recommendations for changes
  • Lease agreement update
  • Arts Event plan
  • Fund raising plan development
  • Ideas for new brochure
  • Following up with newcomers - guest book, other actions?
  • Budget - report on BIMS contribution to utilities bill

meeting reflection

on relationships, process, values and mission

of good value


upholding the contract

sangha on the horizon

NEXT MEETING:  May 11, 2011 - 5:00 - 6:30 pm, Red Cedar

Respectfully submitted, Edie Norton, Secretary

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