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Year of Service – What we discussed at the AGM weekend
The Year of Service (YOS) proposal was a major topic of discussion at the AGM weekend. The proposal had been prepared by a group (Chani Grieve, Lily Redgrave, Jane Hobday, Dan Burgess-Milne, and Georgia McCrory-Bowick) following community consultation and discussion with the elders. The Board had sought more detail on an initial proposal, and this was the second version offered to the Board.
The full proposal was circulated to everyone registered to come to the AGM. It is available to view here. The central vision expressed for the YOS is:
- To reaffirm having Dharma at the centre of this Dharma Centre
- To explore the fundamental role of Service to the Path of Liberation, and opportunity to explore the many facets of what this means
- To support the presence of consistent ongoing practice at the centre throughout the year
- To support the cultivation of a continuous sense of community on the land, and to share the workload required to maintain the centre
- To explore a more sustainable model of practice, service and retreats that provideprecious opportunities for people to experience and integrate the teachings in their lives, while ensuring Wangapeka has the practical and logistical support that it needs to function well into the future.
We sat in the warm main hall and discussed the proposal in a fairly informal way, tossing around ideas and responses. The focus was on the practical aspects of the proposal rather than an exploration of the meaning of service in this context (which was the topic of last year’s AGM hui) or details such as possible financial arrangements.
From the discussion came a clear consensus that we should move forward with this exploration. Whether it proves to be a one-off year, or the first year of an entirely new approach to operating the Centre, will depend on how the initial year unfolds.
Central to the YOS proposal is having teachers (or at least experienced Dharma practitioners) present – and preferably living – at the Centre for the full year. Our discussion led to the realisation that securing a commitment from teachers to fulfil this role is the key to unlocking the potential of the YOS.
The Board’s first task in supporting YOS has to be to approach our teachers with a request to come to the Centre to support the Year of Service. At the AGM, the members gave a clear formal instruction to the Board to do that.
Once a teacher or teachers are involved, a subcommittee of the Board can find out who else wants to commit to living at the Centre for some or all of the Year of Service. The details of how the YOS will operate will really depend on who is involved and how they want to engage with the project. The Board is committed to supporting the development of the YOS while ensuring it doesn’t compromise the long-term sustainability of the Centre.
A programme of retreats for 2023 has already been developed and confirmed. The Board could not delay settling the 2023 programme while the YOS proposal was in its infancy, as the financial viability of the Centre depends on running retreats to pay for the fixed costs of the Centre and the wages of caretakers. Some features of YOS may be able to operate alongside the 202 programme – or even alongside this year’s programme. However, it is more likely that the YOS will require a different sort of programme, so it is more likely to start in 2024.
My own hope is that we take the time to develop a rich YOS, with many committed people participating and the full support of the Wangapeka community behind it.
Dan Burgess-Milne is both a member of the Board and a member of the group that developed the YOS proposal. He will be the first to spearhead the subcommittee that will be tasked with developing the proposal once the Board has had initial discussions with teachers.
Cashy Yates – new Board CoOrdinator