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March 2022 – KCC Board Highlights

March 31, 2022

Dear Sangha,

The March meeting of KCC’s Board focused on the following major topics:

Updates from the Community Life Service Group.  Judatha Kline reported to the Board on the work of the Community Life Service Group in her capacity as the co-coordinator of the group.  Community Life comprises three sub-groups, the Needs-Care Group, the Engaged Buddhism Group, and the Sattva Social Club.

  • Judatha is the informal leader of the Needs-Care Group.  The group has created a list of community resources available in Portland and have posted that in News & Community and Service Group pages on the KCC website, with tech help from Linda Grove and Jennifer Chang.  The Needs-Care Group is now working on a survey for sangha members regarding their capacity to provide help to those in need.  The Group hopes the survey can ensure their aspirations are realistic and do not burn out the community.  Once that survey is complete, they will turn to a procedure by which those in need can ask for help.
  • Members of the Engaged Buddhism Group are Sarah Clark, Sonia Aaron, Elaine Johnson, and Judatha.  They have been doing some volunteer work and making small group donations to causes they want to support in the community.  They have also researched the limits of political activity by a 501(c)(3) church organization, and have reached out to Engaged Buddhism groups at the Zen Center in Portland and the Berkeley Zen Center to discuss their approaches to affiliation with their sanghas in terms of political activity.  The KCC group wants to be engaged in things like Vote Forward, which should not be a problem as they are not supporting particular candidates.  There was some discussion that the Board would need to approve any actions that are explicitly taken on behalf of KCC.
  • Amy Vance has stepped back as the de facto leader of the Sattva Social Club, so that group is grappling with that change.  They are putting together a movie-night plan and talking about group yoga.  They do not want to do any fundraising, but be purely about having fun.

Service Group Meetings involving all of the Service Groups continue to go well.  Judatha reported that the twice-monthly meetings are very well attended and have a good atmosphere of creative collaboration.  Linda Grove is still coordinating those meetings.  Doug Dunlap asked whether the Board is supposed to be reviewing minutes of other Service Group meetings besides the one(s) that report at the monthly Board meeting.  Linda Grove explained that those minutes should be available in Box for Board review.

After Action Review of Board’s Past Response to Karmapa Allegations.  The rest of the Board meeting focused on the Board’s response to Canadian legal proceedings and other more recent allegations regarding sexual abuse by the Karmapa.  The discussion started with a discussion looking back at why the Board did not take more tangible steps more quickly when it first learned of the Canadian legal proceedings in the summer of 2021.  At the August 2021 Board meeting, the Board had reviewed the “Fundamental issues Proposal” submitted by the Planning Committee, and referred further action on the proposals in that document to the Strategic Planning process. There was discussion that some of the suggestions for more tangible immediate actions to address the allegations had gotten lost in some of the larger proposals to address other larger issues around patriarchy and sexism in the Kagyu tradition.  There was also discussion about how the Board had poorly treated the representatives of the WAG that attended the August 2021 Board meeting, with some Board members acting with an angry and dismissive tone to their concerns and proposals, a tone that other Board members did not address or correct.  Several of the Board members that attended that meeting apologized for not confronting the Board members that were dismissive of the issue and rude to the WAG attendees.

Discussion then turned to next steps to follow up on the Board’s letter to the Sangha regarding the allegations.  Several participants suggested that KCC should hire a professional facilitator to help organize and lead the discussions around processing sangha-members’ reactions to the alleged abuse by the Karmapa.  It was noted that a facilitator with some background with Buddhism and trauma related to sexual abuse would be ideal.  There were some points of view that a facilitator might not be required but the majority agreed that a facilitator would be helpful.  It was also proposed that forming a working group to formulate the process for the discussions contemplated in the letter would be a good way to move forward.  Ultimately, the Board unanimously approved a motion to establish a working group to research facilitators and suggest a few suitable candidates to the Board. Once the Board selects the facilitator, the working group will work with the facilitator to organize the initial discussion sessions referred to in the Board letter.  Board member John Rothermich volunteered to chair the working group, and Marci Roth later also agreed to join.

Additional items of note:

—Linda Grove’s Goodbye.  Linda Grove said goodbye to the Board as part of her changing role at KCC.  She expressed enormous gratitude for the opportunity to help the sangha, to let go of her thought that her way was the right way, and to see that others’ ways of doing things are always valuable.  She reminded us that every sangha member is valuable and taking the time to listen and help one person is valuable even when it takes energy away from a larger task at hand.  The Board thanked Linda for her amazing service and some members relayed personal messages of thanks.

— The finance report, sangha meeting report, and strategic planning report will be made via email as the discussion of the Karmapa past shortcomings and future next steps took up most of the meeting.

If you wish to see the full detail of our meetings, the full minutes of each KCC Board meeting are posted after they have been approved by the Board at the following Board meeting (30 days later).

All Board meetings are open to all sangha members. We meet by Zoom on the third Sunday of each month from 1:30-4:30pm.  Please join us.

John Rothermich, KCC Board Secretary