Community meeting notes – 26 November 2022

 

  • Rosie welcomed everyone to the meeting, and opened the meeting after leading the Refuge and Bodhicitta prayer

Martin: Short retreat trials 

  • 2 have been held so far this year
  • 1 day retreat (August) – 30 people in attendance
  • 5 day retreat (November) – 16 people in attendance
  • (50/50 old and new students in 1.5 day retreat)
  • Feedback from participants was positive.
  • Will continue next year in addition to normal retreats, 4 x short retreats: 2 x 1 day + 2 x 1.5 day (calendar to come out soon) 

Comments:

  • Discussion group session in 1.5 day retreat went really well and good format
  • 5 day retreat was flexible and catered for new students but also suitable for more experienced meditators
  • Survey about short retreats and retreat topics is being put together – may feed into study group ideas (see also Blogs below).
  • Short retreat on Mahamudra was suggested 

Dharma programs

  • 2 x high lama visits incredibly successful
  • Putting effort into similar programs next year
  • Identify other possible lama visits
  • Intro course + PTE (26-27 classes per year) “real time” attendance in person or online about 12 people (other people tune in, in their own time after class, on YouTube) 

Comments:

  • New Dharma program initiatives may boost the number of new people coming into Introductory class + PTE
  • Festival Blessing ceremony a lot turned up, but fewer ordained attendees 

Deb: Study Group – Fundamental Potential for Enlightenment (FPE) trial

  • Attendance online + onsite – 14 people
  • Having long-term students in study group really helped
  • Various Dharma topics came up in discussion, good outcome – main focus was on FPE but there was also time for discussion of general Dharma practice issues
  • Based on feedback from the group, the plan is to continue to study FPE for next year (calendar to come), we may also introduce topics such as Mahamudra

Comments:

  • Noted that Deb was a great facilitator
  • The study group has been a success in expanding the Dharma program 

Deb: Cookbook – Enlightened Recipes

  • $25 at enjoyment shop or order online + postage
  • It was fun to put together, TBS Melbourne + Perth provided recipes
  • Sales have been good so far

Comments:

  • Tied in with Jay + Malini cooking demonstration (recipes for demo from the book)
  • Deb to put up signs on tables advertising cookbook 

Chris + Jen: Dharma blog & newsletter topics

  • Online newsletter / streamlined / varied topics. Newsletter sent twice per year via Campaign Monitor (CM)
  • The newsletter has a new focus. In addition to traditional article content, it now includes extra articles about Dharma such as the Dharma blogs (2 per edition) and guided reading on tougher passages from Geshe-la’s books. It also has increased contributions from the broader TBS community (eg with articles about Geshe-la) and photo displays (eg last issue included beautiful early pics of Geshe-la, dating back to India), volunteer’s stories and garden updates.
  • All the blogs are also found on their own tab on the TBS website. 

Comments:

  • We could consider promoting the existing blogs on an ongoing basis as they are on core Dharma topics
  • Some Website traffic analysis could be useful to understand use of the blogs on the main website (clicks are counted), Google Analytics
  • Short videos were suggested as general items of interest for the website etc, and as a possible way of extending the blog idea (1-2mins) to a ‘vlog’ (video log).
  • Facebook and link to website
  • Short / sharp + spontaneous
  • Could be based on a snip out of class – e.g. teacher makes funny joke / time to be noted so Manikam can go back and extract the section from class recording.
  • Publicity team could promote on social media pages 

Blog topics:

  • It was suggested that the current study group topics as well as the results of the proposed survey about retreat topics might also inform possible blog topics or newsletter articles
  • Please send any further ideas for blog or newsletter topics to events@tushita.org 

Ideas for Newsletter content/articles:

  • Perhaps an article re the Tibetan monks escaping to Buxa, which Geshe-la used to talk about, with a link to a wonderful documentary that Rosie has seen.
  • Photos of TBS people from George St + Yuroke (a photo spread re GTL was in last edition)
  • Brief history of TBS, where it started and how it started
  • Anecdotes of residents living at TBS over the years eg could include the filming of Mission Impossible story 

Discussion re increasing readership of the newsletter:

  • 35% of mailing list open it currently (sent to around 860 people)
  • It was observed that the newsletter has great content but is quite long and so many may not read it.
  • It was also noted that the Newsletter is not designed to be like other Campaign Monitor emails which relay information about special events and classes etc as briefly as possible, but rather a bit more like a TBS magazine. So maybe, the purpose and structure of the newsletter needs to be better differentiated from other Campaign Monitor emails.
  • As such, one suggestion was that perhaps the mailing list subscription tools could describe what different types of communication get sent via campaign monitor (eg open days, retreats, classes, festivals, newsletter, and if possible, allow people to choose what they wish to subscribe to (see discussion below). 

Mailing list unsubscribes:

  • Jill mentioned that when we do multiple prompts for events (advance notice / reminders) or have a high volume of emails generally, unsubscribe requests go up.
  • However, we need to do multiple emails for retreats as the final reminder usually results in a number of extra registrations
  • There was a suggestion that all upcoming TBS events be centralized to one Campaign Monitor email that would be sent once a month in order to reduce number of emails and decrease unsubscribes. However, it was noted that this strategy would put all co-ordination onto one person, which would be too much work.
  • It was therefore discussed again that perhaps there might be different subscription options: such as retreats, newsletter, classes (see above).
  • Manikam indicated that he could further investigate this possibility in the current Joinit tool or perhaps an alternative program. Michael to be consulted. Jill would like to be involved in any analysis of software solutions.
  • Jill maintaining 2 x databases with only a manual link (Joinit and Campaign Monitor)
  • Deb has offered to help Jill with customized lists ie for people desiring only certain types of communications from TBS if we are able to identify those differences in the near future
  • Jill does lots of work for unsubscribes, it peaks with events, peaks for volunteer emails with people that reside outside Melbourne. 
  • New visitors to the TBS There was discussion about the fact that people are sometimes anxious about coming to a Dharma centre
  • Maybe we could have a newsletter article/website material that would help to alleviate worries / addresses what to expect
  • What should you do / who to see
  • In East Melbourne we managed this in part by having the first intro class in a series done in a public place
  • We could consider preparing a 2 min video taking a person from car park to class (what to expect) 

Chris (for Festival team): Festival

Ideas about themes and speakers for next year

Comments:

  • Good to have variety with festivals / slightly different
  • It was suggested that perhaps we start with focussing on/finding the guest speaker and then decide on the theme to match speaker
  • Areas to choose speakers from? Social justice? Other religious traditions?
  • It was suggested that it would be preferable to try to find speakers from Buddhist traditions.
  • One possible speaker suggestion was the Zen teacher (Ekai), inviting him to suggest a topic based on his interests
  • Other possible speaker sources eg Great Stupa project – linking Buddhist centers
  • Speaker from Indian community (e.g. talk on Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine)

Market stalls

  • Suggested that market stalls and jam, cream and scones are a big drawcard for people
  • However, it was noted that we need these days to preferably avoid dairy (cream, butter on scones) due to council requirements
  • Very hard to get stall holders these days as there is lots of competition, lots of festivals etc
  • One idea was then to perhaps highlight the Enjoyment shop and consider if we could highlight the market aspect, as people may be more likely to be attracted to market concept?
  • Try and find stallholders within our TBS community?
  • Perhaps one of the Tibetans would like to have a Tibetan artifacts stall?
  • Noted that the festival has by necessity been scaled down as there is a lack of volunteers to support it (not too onerous on volunteers) and we were no longer getting big crowds.

 

Rosie closed meeting and great afternoon tea was had by all 😊