A letter from our Director—Sharchen Dzong Space

offering bowls 220x220May 3, 2016

Dearest San Francisco Sangha Family,

Thank you for your attendance at any of the recent community meetings, your patience as we work through this time of transition, and your genuine, generous, and often vulnerable feedback.

At the April 16th Regional Congress, we explored many questions related to Sharchen Dzong and our greater community. This letter includes some information based on the outcomes from that event, and an invitation to our next Community meeting on May 22nd at 3pm.

Northern California Shambhala Sharchen Dzong Space Report
The first purpose of this email is to share with you the report sent to and accepted in whole by the Kalapa Council. Please find the report here.

Timeline and New Lease
Our landlord has agreed to our proposal to move the San Francisco Shambhala Center into our upstairs space and to our signing a three-year lease on that space. Details are in the attached report. We can make this move earlier than the end of our current lease (which expires at the end of November 2016); however, we are still responsible for the rent on the downstairs space until our landlord has found a new tenant for it.

At the last community meeting our leadership team, especially our Chagdzö, made clear that being mindful of our finances, we should make this move after our last large Vajrayana program scheduled. That program took place in April.

Therefore, we have told our landlord that we would like to make this transition as early in the Summer as possible. We must sit with some groundlessness here as we wait to see when the landlord will be able to successfully rent the downstairs space. He has reported to us that he has received some interest from several potential tenants.

The landlord appears amenable to paying for some of the improvements to the upstairs space detailed in the aforementioned Sharchen Dzong Space Report.

Invitation to the Next Community Meeting: May 22nd, 3pm
Let’s gather together again, and this time, let’s focus on what’s important to us as a community as we make this transition. As we move to a smaller center, we will have to make decisions about what to focus on and how to use our reconfigured space. At this gathering, we will explore what makes our community special and what we want to cultivate in the near future.

For example, several parents who care about our Families and Children’s program want to make sure we can hold this program in the smaller space. By identifying this priority ahead of time, we can be sure to make it happen.

Hearing Critique and Feedback and learning from our Past
To close, I want to recognize an important piece of feedback that we in the leadership have received from members in the last Community meeting, from responses to my summary letter of our community meeting, and at the Regional Congress. That feedback is a reminder that our current strategy—finding an interim home that we rent while we focus our energy on purchasing a home in the close future—was in fact the original plan for our current space at 1231 Stevenson. The fact that we were not able to increase our organizational strength over these past six years to the point that we can purchase property right now is heartbreaking for many. There is a real desire and need for us to not ignore this truth. It’s important that we can learn from the past six years, ask ourselves what we could have done differently as an organization, receive critique, and implement changes.

As center director and personally, I am always open to your feedback. Learning more about our Center’s long history and of your aspirations for its future is an essential part of my vision of how best to move our community forward.

Thank you for reading this letter and for being an engaged member of our Sangha.

With love, your Center Director,
Alex Van Gils

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