April 2019

The Shambhala Process Team (PT) is in the midst of a very vibrant development phase, with several initiatives shaped by the creative and diverse energies, opinions, and experiences of our team. All PT Working Groups (WGs) are now meeting regularly and working together both to develop relationships within their groups and to establish and then make progress toward achieving their work goals. The April WG updates follow:

The Process Team Steering Committee (SC)

The SC has continued to meet weekly as a group, and each individual member serves as a “lead” to help coordinate the various PT WGs while holding the view of the PT’s work as a whole. You may review our meeting minutes for further information.

This month, specifically, we have:

    • Created group systems, structures, and processes to keep the PT moving forward
    • Planned and hosted an online meeting of the full 85-member PT that included:
      • Group practice of meditation and contemplation
      • Practices of listening and storytelling
      • Discussion of the draft Code of Ethics
      • Review of communications and technology tools and best practices

The Healing, Learning and Protection Working Group

We continue to meet as a full team every other Sunday. In between those meetings, the following sub-groups are meeting:

    • The HealingandProtection@gmail.com email response team
    • European Healing and Learning discussion group
    • The Code of Ethics working group
    • Trauma-Informed Care training for office holders working group (just starting)
    • Dorje Kasung exploration group

All of us on the team would like to offer help in any way we can. Please contact us with your concerns at the HealingandProtection@gmail.com email. We want to hear what you are experiencing and what you feel would be helpful.

The Processes Working Group: Survey Team Sub-Group

Our newly-formed sub-group of the Processes WG has met three times so far, and consists of 7 members who have professional experience with, or a strong interest in, creating surveys that meet the needs of the PT, Interim Board (IB), and sangha. Our initial challenge was how to form a collaborative team when none of us had ever met in person, which is unlikely to change any time soon.

Reflecting on the objectives of the PT (to gather the wisdom of the Shambhala community to shape new organizational structures) and the IB  (to make responsible decisions in the context of community feedback), we know that gathering accurate information from the community is foundational for these goals. But surveys and other information-gathering approaches must be well-designed and sensitive to our situation in order to make a positive contribution.

We have taken the following actions to move toward these goals:

    • Dialogued with the Interim Board about their survey needs, with our WG convener meeting weekly with an IB liaison
    • Selected SurveyMonkey as the online survey platform because of its strengths in supporting multilingual surveys, allowing unlimited responses to unlimited questions on unlimited surveys, and managing participant invitations and reminder notices; it is also familiar to multiple people on the Survey Working Group and the IT group.
    • Started to design, with Kalapa IT, a system to generate email invitations from the Shambhala Database that can be customized for different groups of people for different surveys.
    • Explored European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance in relation to community surveys, and formulated plans to meet those requirements.
    • Identified 3 categories of surveys that are likely over the next several years. Some of these will be collaborations of the entire PT and IB, while others will be requested by specific teams.
      1. Needs assessment of the sangha (problems and issues that need addressing)
      2. Health assessment of the sangha (strengths and vulnerabilities of the community)
      3. Targeted surveys to gather feedback about decisions, proposed models, etc.

Our hope is that in May, we will be ready to facilitate the IB sending the first online survey to the community, as a pilot test of all the various systems involved. Also, we will be reaching out to the various parts of the PT so that they know we are here as a resource.

The Processes Working Group: Process Synthesis Sub-Group

We are continuing to work on:

    • Exploring ways to reach out to the entire sangha to identify questions/issues/possibilities that they, the sangha, want to be worked on
    • Exploring ways in which the various PT groups could help with relevant knowledge, skills and data, and
    • Developing a future-oriented “blue sky” process in which the entire sangha can work towards creating a sangha more suited to what is needed.

The Communications and Technology Working Group

The Tech-Comm WG is a small group which does most of its work asynchronously, meeting mainly on an as-needed basis for specific projects. As we begin to reach increasingly beyond the PT, our needs and activities are also evolving. In April, we worked on the following projects:

    • Working with other PT WGs to develop PT “Vision” and “Mission” statements for the website and to share with the community
    • Corresponding with people in the Shambhala community who hold constituencies and have offered to support our work
    • Continuing to respond to communications received by the SC and the PT
    • Assisting with communication between different areas of the PT
    • Developing the technology infrastructure necessary to facilitate communication among ourselves and with the sangha
    • Preparing a brief presentation for the PT on technology resources and best practices
    • Maintaining our PT website (https://shambhala-process-team.org)

We continue to aspire to offer and support technological tools and communication practices that can facilitate our shared process of engagement.

The Culture Change Working Group

The CCWG group is composed of 17 members from Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, New Zealand and the United States. With this geographical diversity has come a range of views regarding the intersectionality of personal, social, and Shambhala cultures. We are examining and learning to recognize the myriad cultural manifestations of our Community – we are not any one culture – and what that might mean for designing processes to engage “the community” in conversation about damaging cultural practices. We are recognizing that rushing into this kind of work could be counterproductive, at best.

With the practice and view of family (Rigden Principle), we are working to develop approaches for engaging in healthy and open-minded discussions of components of Shambhala culture and what different communities may or may not want to change.  We are also exploring what each of us might be able to offer – as well as what further training we and others may need – to build a reflexive, kind, and inclusive organization.

The Charter Working Group (a combined sub-group of the Governance Working Group and the Processes Working Group)

We held our first meeting on April 18, with the task of writing a charter for the Process Team. The charter will contain statements of our values, vision and goals, as well as operational guidelines for how we can best work together. We have the aspiration that the Process Team charter can eventually serve as a helpful model for Shambhala as a whole.

Building trust is necessary for our work. To build trust, we need to work through conflict, within a simple framework of how to work together. Some suggestions for that framework were made and practiced in our first meeting, including basic meeting guidelines of:

    1. no interrupting,
    2. each person speaks for no more than two minutes in a turn,
    3. allow a gap before speaking, and
    4. instead of raising hands to speak, we took turns speaking in the same order, in multiple rounds. Speaking in regular turns provided a greater sense of space, relaxation, and confidence that we would all be heard.

By the end of the meeting, we all felt refreshed by the experience and enthusiastic about continuing the work.

We anticipate that the core elements of the charter (values, vision and mission) will be drafted by the end of May, and that we can then share those elements with the community.

The Governance Working Group: Models Sub-Group

Our group has 15 members, with many participants from North America, some from Europe and one from Australia. We have had two meetings to date, where we spent time speaking of our own aspirations for being in this sub-group and in the Governance WG in general, along with establishing a focus for our next steps. We decided on these four topical areas related to governance and began working:

    1. Ground
    2. Mission
    3. Developing a Plan of Action, and
    4. Creating a Gathering Place.

In May we will be reviewing ideas on “Ground” and establishing next steps, with “Mission” and “Plan of Action” based on that. A central theme throughout all of these discussions is to further understand our role and how best to fulfill it by:

    • Gathering feedback from the community on issues related to governance of the Shambhala organization
    • Researching organizations with a variety of forms and identifying potential “governance models” for Shambhala, and
    • Engaging in dialogue with the community on governance models which we have found in our research and discussions, which might be used for Shambhala going forward.

A key area for our future discussions is how we will be communicating and reaching out to the community for their perceptions and engagement in these topics. We are also starting to address the challenges of working with the other main areas of the PT, coordinating efforts among several sub-groups within Governance, deciding when to work as a whole group versus breaking down work tasks into sub-groups, and getting started as a group while simultaneously developing processes. We ask for your patience as we work with these complexities; we expect to work and communicate with the community in a timely and effective manner very soon.

The Governance Working Group: Finance and Legal Sub-Group

Our sub-group was formed and had its initial meetings in mid-April, and is now partnering with members of Shambhala Global Services and the Interim Board to identify helpful medium-term financial strategies.

The Community Building Working Group: Centre and Group Support Sub-Group

Our sub-group met in early April with Deputy Minister of Government Cynthia MacKay, to learn how we can complement her work on behalf of center and group leaders. We’re now working to create a regularly-scheduled communication that can both meaningfully support and also gather input from centers and groups. The next step on that project will be technical training for one of our members.

The Community Building Working Group: Offerings Sub-Group

Our subgroup is working on four topical projects, which we hope to use as groundwork to structure and inform a community-wide discussion on Shambhala’s practice offerings. The four topics are:

    1. Identifying key questions around practice offerings
    2. Shambhala practice history and catalogue
    3. “What we think we agree on,” and
    4. Identifying and cataloguing stakeholder groups