Sunday, December 09, 2007

Discussion Gathering: Yearly Reflection

Annual Reflection
Sunday, December 9, 2007
2 pm

We have 6 gatherings a year, this will be our one gathering that deals with the business of the chapter. All who are interested in participating are welcome to attend.

We will reflect on these questions:
Is our leadership structure working?

  1. Is our decision-making process working? What has been useful, what has not been useful?
  2. What was our most meaningful activity of previous year?
  3. What challenged do we face as a chapter?
  4. Any other feedback? For the chapter? For BPF as a whole?

Responses to related questions last year can be found here.

Background on the questions:

1. Our leadership structure has been looser than we aimed for in the past. We've had a core group of 6 people, recently adding a 7th. These people were invited to be part of the core group as they'd already demonstrated a persistent interest in the routine activities and questions of the chapter.

All input is welcome, but this core group shares the commitment of somewhat regular communication regarding the doings of the chapter. This has helped to make decisions possible without bogging down the entire yahoo group, or pestering those members who don't wish to do decisions.

2. The core group emails each other privately about the decisions of the chapter. They let the yahoo group know about decisions, and feedback is welcome. Most decisions are straightforward. Decisions not so straightforward are opened up for wider discussion.

3. See the website archives for a review.

4. This could be an interesting and useful discussion.


David R. Jones said...

Dear BPF Portland,

I have a question. What is BPF stance on undocumented immigrants. As person of faith, I am very troubled with what I am seeing and hearing. This last Friday, Governor Kulongoski signed an executive order eliminating
drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. This is not only a problem for public safety both for the undocumented immigrant driving,
but for citizens. What is to become of the people that need to drive on Oregon's roads to get to work, buy groceries, and take their
kids to school but can't get licenses to do so?

I am also extremely troubled by the anti-immigrant hysteria that seems to be accepted into mainstream. As a Buddhist and a person of faith, this makes me very sad. Where is the compassion in all of this for these people that just want a better life for their families? Is BPF engaged in this issue at all? If not, I hope you would take it up. As the War in Iraq rages, there is a war in the United States on immigrants and specifically those from Mexico. Please do something.

Peace to you


BPF Portland said...

Here are the outcomes of this meeting:

Hi all,

In November we looked at the past year in reflection, and Rhea and I revamped our chapter's core focuses to reflect the way in which our bimonthly gatherings have evolved. (How'd it take me a quarter of a year to get this to you?) The purpose of this chapter has evolved. You can see the new brochure document here: Click on Brochure 2008.

our new Core Focuses

*To give voice to an Engaged Buddhist presence in Portland
*To stimulate and support our understanding of peace matters through sharing of knowledge, clarifying of feelings and positions in a group setting, and meditation
*To create a space in our gatherings for collaboration among Buddhists with similar goals in Engaged Buddhism; these spaces could give birth, could inform, could effect clarity, could deliberate strategies
*To serve as a conduit, or clearinghouse, for the natural wish of groups and individuals to become more engaged in social action
*To plan or participate in events and to act with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship mission statement as our guide:

These were our answers to the annual reflection questions:
(1-3 simply clerical questions)

4. How often does your chapter meet each year? at least 6 times

5. How many people belong to your chapter? 7 core members, otherwise no formal membership

6. Are there at least 3 people who serve as stewards/caretakers of the chapter’s wellbeing? Yes

What leadership structure has your chapter found most useful?

Core members work together to plan gatherings and make decisions. Anyone may make proposals, and for something to be implemented, at least one person needs to take the lead to implement it, usually works out that it is the person proposing it.

7. What kind of decision-making process has your chapter found most useful?

All opinions, core or not, are considered in decision-making. Core members strive for consensus. If consensus is not reached, we would use a process like this as our guide. We are a small group and easily agree, so far disagreement has not been an issue.

8. What event or activity has your chapter found to be the most meaningful and inspiring during this past year? Please tell us in detail, and attach any flyers or other materials you created that you’re excited about.

We worked (and are working with) a local sangha to get a post-incarceration Buddhist program going. The sangha (Dharma Rain Zen Center) was already interested in doing this as a natural consequence of their Prison program. The Portland Chapter jointly hosted an informational gathering with DRZC on the Oregon Home For Good program, inviting interested individuals from Portland area Buddhist communities to come to the meeting.

It wasn't just the nature of the meeting that is exciting to us, but the method of collaboration with another sangha. It helped to clarify our role as a conduit and focal point for Engaged Buddhism in the area, while giving us a way to touch on many issues without having to carry the whole load to keep those issues going strong.

This development inspired us to amend our core focuses to reflect this maturation of the chapter.

9. What challenges does your chapter face?

Many followers, but few are willing to put action into their interest. Energy is low towards action. Our numbers are slowly growing though, with a new core member gained this year.

10. Have you been in touch with your Regional Representative this year? If yes, how did the interaction go?

Our contact is our Representative.

11. What else do you want the BPF Office to know? How can we serve you better?

As the purpose of the Chapter Council teleconference calls has evolved, we need to rethink what we do with the Chapter Council…or create different teleconference calls for different purposes. We would suggest use of BPF Radio and YouTube for informational messages to all interested BPFers, and then follow-up teleconference calls open to all interested BPFers for Q&A. We would then suggest the Chapter Council conference calls be reinstated as focusing on Chapter Council business. Perhaps a repeating 3-month schedule would work: 1 month for CC, 1 month for Q&A, 1 month for...