“Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world….” — Narada Thera, The Buddha Dhamma
Board Member Bios are below the meeting summaries.
Summary of Board Minutes of February 14, 2018
Today there was a school shooting in Florida, and 17 people were killed. Carrying this tragedy in our hearts, we read this poem by William Stafford to remind ourselves to be awake, as he suggests:
A Ritual to Read to Each Other
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give––yes or no, or maybe––
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
The main orders of business today were:
- A discussion of finances. We are doing well. We spend down our account during the year but recoup during the Annual Fundraiser in November and December.
- Our Board of Directors now has liability insurance.
- The letters of acknowledgement and thanks for annual fund donations have been sent out.
- Michael Stoner has agreed to join our board! Thank you, Michael!
The next retreat/workshop will occur on March 10 at St. Barnabas Church. The topic is trauma, but the day is not intended as therapy. Rather it is an exploration of how we can acknowledge and manage the busy-ness of our lives that can sometimes overtake us. The next retreat will be on July 21 with Kevin Griffin.
- We discussed teacher dana—for which our teachers are very grateful—and ways of simplifying and sharing administrative tasks.
- We considered the way we identify ourselves and agreed that we are part of the Insight Tradition. We do not need to identify ourselves as “Theravadan.”
- As we move into March and finish Gil Fronsdal’s Unhindered, we will focus for awhile on readings, talks, and perhaps videos suggested by members of our sangha as the subjects of our sits.
Summary of the Minutes of the VIMS Board Meeting of January 10, 2018
Present were Gina Sonne, Bob Metz, Terry Cioffredi, Geri DeLuca, Doris Hampton (via skype), Mindy Schorr, and Michael Stoner. We reviewed the work of our various committees; discussed the issue of Board Liability for any suits that might be brought against the sangha; and then spent the greater part of the meeting discussing two issues: the administration of our retreats, and how we compensate our teachers.
Retreats: as we seem to be offering an increasing number of retreats in the coming year, we are concerned with making sure that we have a full enough team of volunteers to oversee the planning and execution of each event. Doris Hampton, who has been our retreat leader for a good while, would like to step down as Head and remain in an advisory capacity. Others who have volunteered on those days may not be available. So: our question is: should we be compensating people who do the various tasks necessary to make sure that a retreat runs successfully? Should we pay a retreat coordinator? What other models are there for the help we need.
Teacher Compensation: we considered the practice of dana, the freely-given donations that are made to teachers at each sit. Does that dana compensate teachers sufficiently? In general, does it limit the number of people who might be willing to move in the direction of becoming teachers? Should we provide an administrative assistant for our teachers so that in taking on the role of guiding teachers, they do not also take on a great deal of nonteaching work?
We welcome suggestions from our sangha on these issues. And as usual, we invite interested members of our sangha to feel free to attend our board meetings, which generally occur on the second Wednesday of the month, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the home of Gina Sonne, our president.
Summary of the VIMS Board Meeting of December 13, 2017
The meeting was held at the home of Gina Sonne, and we are thankful to her for providing that warm and friendly space. Attending were Gina Sonne, Bob Metz, Peg Meyer, Karen Summer, Geri DeLuca, Mindy Schorr, and Michael Stoner.
We began with a five-minute sit, and Peg Meyer, one of our two guiding teachers, gave a brief and beautiful talk on generosity. We then summarized what our teams are doing:
The communications team is maintaining the website, writing the newsletter, and creating flyers.
The finance team is creating a clear budget, thanks to the work of Bob Metz, Gina Sonne, and our bookkeeper, Teresa Thurston.
The retreat team is successfully running a number of retreats this winter and spring.
The support sangha team continues to help sangha members and others who need help due to sickness, injury, or other of life’s vagaries.
Our teachers will be away for periods of time in the spring and we are working to make sure that peer-leadership of our sits is effective.
The Sunday sit at the Kilton Library, though not a VIMS-sponsored series, provides opportunities for community members and their children to sit.
We are thankful to our board members and our teachers for the continued work that keeps our sangha thriving. And we invite any members of our sangha to attend the next meeting, which will take place on January 10, 2018.
Brief Board Member Bios
I’ve lived in the town of Hartford for almost 30 years with my husband, Evan. We have two children, I work as a physical therapist and Evan as a high school teacher.
I grew up in Rutland Vermont in a Catholic family. My love of “the great silence’ developed from that tradition. I loved the candles, the incense and the chanting. Sitting in the back of most any Catholic church felt like my safe, peaceful place.
As you might expect, Thomas Merton’s Zen and the Birds of Appetite was my introduction to a more Buddhist practice. Maia Gay, an Upper Valley Buddhist in the early ’80s introduced me to Karme Choling and weekly sits at Rollins Chapel.
But, I found my home at VIMS with Doreen a few years later and have remained here ever since. At this point in my life I am particularly interested in learning how best to take my practice off the cushion and into the realm of social justice. I am inspired by the teachings of Dipa Ma, and Ajahn Sucitto, particularly his book on the Paramis.
Some of my best teachers, however are my children Mateo and Lucia. And to be completely honest, I have learned some of my most important lessons from my horse Have a Little Faith aka Faith, who never hesitates to remind me to be Here Now.
I have thought about becoming a VIMS board member for a few years. The timing feels right as my children are beginning to head off for life on their own. I am looking forward to deepening my relationship to VIMS, listening hard and adding my own voice to the dedicated group that makes up the Board.
Geri was an English professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, for 37 years before moving to the Upper Valley. She directed a number of writing programs, and created and co-edited a journal about children’s books called The Lion and the Unicorn, which is now published by Johns Hopkins UP. In 2006, she and a colleague received a program fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Northampton, MA to introduce contemplative modes of teaching into the curriculum. She brought meditative practice into all her classes–which students generally loved–and she led faculty development seminars on the subject until she retired. She has published several essays on this work with meditation and is now writing a book–and trying not to be attached to the outcome! She is married to a retired political science professor and administrator. She has 2 grown children and is the proud grandparent of 2 little ones.
Shortly after taking a meditation class around 2008, I stumbled into the opportunity to attend an 8 day retreat at IMS with Tara Brach. I remember having no expectations, then overhearing an experienced yogi anticipating the “suffering” to come, and wondering “What have I signed up for?!” The retreat was wonderful and I felt I had found a “home” that had eluded me since childhood. Practicing on my own and learning to trust my own experiences and understandings during the first few years was important to me, but I yearned for the support and meaning of a community of practitioners. It took a while for me to discover VIMS which is a distance from my home and family in Canterbury, NH. VIMS, our sangha and our wise teachers are a wonderful gift in my life. For many years I worked as a social worker on a team providing comprehensive healthcare to children from low income families in Manchester, NH. Loving my job and the agency where I worked, I never expected to retire and paid lip service to “when I retire I will find more time to practice….” That time arrived unexpectedly. Joining the VIMS Advisory Board is a way to deepen my connection to sangha and a way to respond to this gift in my life.
I grew up in a Philadelphia Quaker family and attended a Quaker School which means I started ‘sitting’ as an infant. In my early teens I began looking for something to do with the silence other than reflecting on what was being spoken in Meeting for Worship or following my wandering mind. When I was 13, I found the 10,000 Songs of Milarepa. I was fascinated and began fifty plus years of academic and personal exploration of Buddhism. I dropped out of college after a year and ended up in San Francisco, working for an anti-poverty action agency and visiting the SF Zen Center. I subsequently volunteered for the draft, spent two years in the Army including a stint as a Chaplain’s Assistant. Then back to school where I majored in Comparative Religion, spending my senior year writing a thesis on ‘20th Century Salvation Schemes’. I then taught Quaker History and Eastern Religion courses in a Quaker high school in Philadelphia and studied for an MA in Counseling before moving to Vermont and eventually becoming Director of the Public Arts Program of the Vermont Arts Council. Subsequently I turned a hobby in computers into the rest of my life’s employment, owning my own software company for the last 25 years of my work life.
Woven through my professional work was an ongoing exploration of the Dharma. A mongrel of sorts, I spent moments in time at the SF Zen Center, Karme Choling, Tassajara, Green Gulch, Spirit Rock, Upaya and most recently a week in California attending the regular daily events at Gil Fronsdal’s IMS Redwood City. I feel so fortunate to have found the Valley Insight Sangha. My motivation in joining the VIMS Board is to contribute my time and whatever experience I have accumulated to the Sangha’s benefit.
Mindy grew up in New York State. During her undergraduate education in New Paltz, NY, she studied biology but held a strong interest in anthropology and ceramics. It was during her time in New Paltz that she learned and was inducted into Transcendental Meditation. This began her meditation practice and interest in the dharma. Eventually her studies became concentrated in a concern and passion for women’s health issues, especially the preservation of normal pregnancy and birth care. She attended the University of Pennsylvania where she received her Master’s Degree in Nursing and Midwifery. Mindy had the privilege of practicing nurse-midwifery at DHMC from 1984 until her recent retirement in July 2015. In 1991, Mindy began taking yoga with Doreen. The space in the barn where classes were held felt sacred, as did Doreen’s presence and teaching. Involvement with VIMS grew from there. Mindy served on the board of VIMS from 2008 – 2010, and is happy to be returning now. Mindy lives in West Lebanon. She is the very proud mother of two grown daughters, and at the time of this writing is patiently awaiting the birth of her first grandchild. Mindy is happy to have more time in her life now to continue to pursue her interest and hobby in creating handbuilt functional pottery.
Gina joined the VIMS community in the spring of 2013. My spiritual seeking really began with my father’s death when I was barely 6. Being aware of mortality at an early age informs one’s life in a powerful way. Learning of the value of silence in community was a tremendous gift from the Quaker community which I joined in the early 90’s. My spiritual search was accelerated when I took a position with Hospice of the Upper Valley in 1992 as volunteer and bereavement coordinator. (Actually replacing Doreen) It was during this time that I was introduced to Buddhism and studied with mentors like Stephen and Ondrea Levine, Frank Ostaseski and Joan Halifax. Service in community has always been a strong component of my life and I really look forward to putting the Path into practice through working on the Sangha Board.
AT THE CENTER OF THE SANGHA
The Advisory Board is the hub of our many volunteer activities. Since VIMS’ inception in the mid-’90s, we have had a steering committee of some sort. In 2002 this group began meeting regularly. At the time of our incorporation as a not-for-profit organization in 2006, an official Advisory Board was defined. It has met monthly ever since. This core group continues to shape our direction, advise our teachers, help administer our classes and sits, and support VIMS’ retreats. Approximately thirty five sangha members have served on the Advisory Board. We offer a deep bow of appreciation to these dedicated individuals.