Summary of TBS Melbourne Directors’ meetings –14 January 2023 and 25 March 2023

These summaries are provided to inform interested supporters and friends of the Peaceful Land of Joy Meditation Centre about recent issues discussed at TBS directors’ meetings.

Melbourne directors meet four to six times a year. After each meeting a summary will be posted on the Community Information page on the Society’s website with a link from regular newsletters and communications. You may wish to bookmark this link on your browser.

14 January 2023

Updates from last meeting

  • Temple roof repairs – Michael has been contacting roof plumbers but most have a large backlog.  

  • Kensur Rinpoche Lobsang Phende teachings – Anna conveyed TBS’ thanks to the organisers and that we’d be delighted to invite Rinpoche back to TBS if he makes another visit to Australia.

  • Temple visits by community organisations or requests by community organisations for TBS representatives  – Martin produced some wording in dot points that people can draw on, so that we can respond in a consistent way and convey our expectations and capacity as a community based volunteer organisation.

Class Teachers 2023

Anna provided the final list, which aims to include a mix of older and newer teachers both for regular classes and for sessions that are offered at fesitivals.

TNY 2023 Festival pricing and program

The festival team’s suggested pricing and program for the festival were discussed and accepted.

Publicity review

The publicity team is proposing a review of the strategy post COVID, including a review of the platforms we currently use and those we might use in future, and the budget.  The team has begun analysing some of our data and the technology team may be able to contribute.  A member of the community who is an experienced social researcher has also offered to help. The last external strategy review was done some years ago pre-COVID so it’s a good time to review it.

Community meeting

The community support team reported on the discussion at the community meeting where people from a number of different teams were able to talk about things that affect different areas of centre activity. The meetings are useful as it’s rare that there are opportunities for members of the community to come together and discuss the centre’s direction as a whole and how we can maintain and develop it from different perspectives, and in a broader way than individual teams can.  They also give an opportunity for anyone within the broader community to raise issues or questions or present to the centre community.  While there aren’t many things raised from the broader community the important point is that the opportunity is there.

New year donations

Following the email approval by directors the charitable team is working with publicity to raise funds for flood relief.  The centre will make a $1000 contribution from the charitable fund and circulate an email to the community.

Vajrayogini initiation – Zasep Tulku Rinpoche

Deb proposed that TBS stream the initiation, scheduled for April 30, to the temple so that people who wished to could take the initiation there.  It would be publicised to vajrayana students and it would need to be clear that the initiation was being organised through Gaden for the West and that people would need to register there.  The events team will look after it with help from Venerables Cathy and Manikam.

Short retreats

It was suggested that the proposed 1.5 day retreat in March be changed to a 1 day retreat given the additional volunteer work required for a residential retreat at a busy time in the calendar.  There was discussion about the importance of volunteers not taking on too much. It’s important that it’s understood  everyone is a volunteer and there is no expectation anyone should contribute more than they are comfortable with.  Any contribution at any level is valuable.

 25 March 2023

Updates from last meeting

Publicity about Vajrayogini initiation in temple to go out this week.

Finance report

Leah presented an update for the period from January to November 2023 on behalf of the finance team.

Income is recovering slowly as we have resumed normal activities interrupted by the pandemic.   The main contributor to increased income has been retreats, especially the well-attended January retreat.  Expenses have also increased this year but so far the recovery in income has outpaced the rise in costs.  We need to be mindful of costs as the interest rate on our NAB loan will increase, there are  upcoming maintenance expenses  and our current surplus of income over costs is relatively small.

Online Sunday classes

The Events and Classes team proposed ending the  offering of Sunday classes (introductory and lam.rim) online via YouTube and returning to offering them onsite in the  temple only. While offering classes via YouTube served us extremely well during the COVID lockdown, with the lifting of restrictions and general return to community normality its value is much diminished. In special cases where a person particularly wanted to attend a class and could not attend in person, eg due to illness, we’d consider requests to offer access via Google Meet. This requires much less volunteer support than YouTube.  Encouraging people to attend classes in the temple helps build community. It was agreed to adopt this change from the beginning of May.

 Next community meeting

A save the date email for the community meeting on May 27 is about to go out.  Directors are encouraged to consult with teams and the community generally in case there are items for the agenda that any member of the community wishes to raise or (ideally) present.  It’s great if there are community led items for the agenda, but the most important thing is that people are given the opportunity.  As with all the community meetings, half the time will be unstructured/open forum so anybody can raise anything they wish even if it’s not been raised as a formal agenda them. 

Retreat team update

The retreat team ran through the retreat program for the remainder of the year.  The expanded retreat program seems to be receiving  a good response.

The retreat team is aiming to improve info about retreats on the website by setting up a separate page that includes the basic calendar of retreats planned for the year. This helps people see what’s coming and plan leave etc.  It won’t need to have detailed info about each retreat and so the calendar can be flexible.  Detailed information  about each retreat will be  prepared for each retreat as it approaches.

Publicity team update

Several people have now been trained in use of  Campaign Monitor and the website.  This means that publicity implementation is now being shared more widely amongst team members.

One of the benefits of this is the opportunity and time to review our current publicity focus and come up with a plan for the world post covid and potentially to reach new generations who may be interested in classes, retreats and events.

A revised Publicity Strategy team has been put together to meet twice a year and follow up where needs be via email. Because digital is the focus of contemporary promotions some technology team members have been approached, as well as an expert social researcher who has offered his services.. Anyone interested in this work, is more than welcome to become involved

 Volunteer hub

The Community support team has been doing some work to focus more on  our approach to TBS volunteering.  The publicity team also has a central role

 The centre is wholly  dependent on committed volunteers and every one of us is a volunteer.

 It is possible that people who come to the centre are not aware of  how dependent we are on volunteers. The centre might be very important to them but they may not recognise that sustaining it depends on our community of volunteers.  To people who come along occasionally it might look as if what the centre does and offers  all happens like  clockwork.  The existence of the centre is a dependent arising depending on its volunteers.  People might not be aware that they can contribute as an occasional or regular volunteer, how to go about it or of the benefits of volunteering.

 Creating more awareness of this is a long term and ongoing exercise.  A first step would be to have something like a “volunteer hub” on the website.  This is just a tool of course and not a complete solution in itself.

At present the  website information about volunteering is little more than a shell  The volunteering page doesn’t tell the full story and the method by which people can volunteer or express interest  is clunky and hard to use.

There are some quick things we could do, broken into 4 stages – improve basic information, making volunteering/expressing interest easier via a web form (community support team is working on this), good volunteer stories (in newsletters), maybe some video stories. From a publicity point of view the strategy should be to communicate regularly about volunteering opportunities and  benefits and continuously drive people back to the hub, as a volunteering “one stop shop”. so it’s easy to find more information.

The final stage would be is about having more dynamic engagement via the volunteer hub,  eg it could have updated information about one off or ongoing activities/roles that  people might be interested in.

This is just one string to the bow.  It’s also useful to think of other ways of building awareness in the community.  Some visiting teachers have made  express comments about the benefits and importance of being part of a Dharma community and supporting its activities, but great care needs to be taken so that no one feels  pressured  to contribute. The objective is to build more awareness that the centre is totally dependent on volunteers, that there are always opportunities to do so, one-off or ongoing, how people can volunteer or find out more and most importantly that if they do volunteer they have as positive  and supported experience as possible,

Other volunteer activities

Scott has very kindly painted the temple kitchen and it looks great.  Terry from Sydney has visited for a two week stay and has been continuously cleaning the inside and outside of the temple

Tushita books offer to Great Stupa library update

Directors previously approved Nick’s suggestion that we offer a set of Geshe-la’s books to the new Great Stupa library.  We’ll offer a set of the sutra books not including Fundamental, as the library already has 2 copies.  We will offer 2 copies of Path to Enlightenment as the library already has one copy of Meditations and Essence.  Nick will deliver the books to the Great Stupa with a letter from the centre. Nick mentioned that it will be acknowledged at the library’s official opening.

Next meeting: Saturday 24 June 2023 at 1.30pm