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

March 2019

The members of the PT have formed several working groups (WGs) and are proceeding to develop processes and proposals to help our community face the challenges of our current situation. All WGs have met, a few of them more than once. Many have around 10-15 members, while one has more than 50. Keep in mind that this means many PT members are serving on more than one working group. We meet mostly via Zoom, and members log in from time zones around the world.

The Process Team Steering Committee (SC)

The SC is the coordinating body of the Process Team (PT), with 11 members. We have met weekly as a group since the end of January, as well as in small topical break-out groups (communications, PT engagement, technology, and process design). Our work has included:

  • Exploring our role and establishing and developing systems and structures to support the PT as a whole
  • Steering a process of this scale (in terms of both the size of the PT and the tasks before us), which can be chaotic and messy; we have worked to iterate systems and structures as quickly as possible to help the PT get organized and moving forward
  • Creating the basic structure for the main PT WGs; these WGs have now been launched with at least one SC member providing a link back to the SC
  • Organizing an online meeting of the full PT
  • Continuing to support the PT and its WGs in their establishment and development

The Healing and Protection Working Group

We had our first meeting on March 11 (prior to the release of the report from An Olive Branch), with 12 members present. Through discussion, we identified several initiatives for beginning our work:

  • Developing Trauma-Informed Care education and training programs for office holders and leaders
  • Examining the Care and Conduct Policy as well as the Code of Ethics recommended by An Olive Branch
  • Hearing from the Community
  • Creating a European Healing and Protection discussion group

We will convene subgroups for these areas and have worked on a modified meeting schedule so as to prevent meeting fatigue. In that light, we are collecting self-care resources and guided meditations.

We will continue to explore the needs of the Shambhala community, and to this end, have opened an email that goes directly to the Healing and Protection WG so that Shambhalians may reach us to share experiences and shape our activities and understanding of how to create caring and protective communities. The email is: healingandprotection@gmail.com We look forward to hearing from you.

The Processes Working Group (PWG)

We had our first meeting on March 9, with 14 members present.

  • We are developing suggestions for engaging and working together – deep listening, dialogue, and co-generation of ideas and actions – that might serve as a model for all Process Team working groups and potentially the wider Shambhala community.
  • We are also responsible for overall process design: how to gather information from the sangha in ways that can be synthesized into specific recommendations for change.
  • We have identified some basic elements of and obstacles to authentic, inclusive engagement with each other and the sangha and prioritized next steps for establishing processes and methods for open listening and genuine engagement.

The Communications and Technology Working Group

We have been working on several projects since the beginning of our time together. These include:

  • Recommending a view and path for communications within the Process Team and its working groups
  • Facilitating dialogue and information sharing between the Steering Committee and the PT, and with the Interim Board and others in Shambhala
  • Responding to communications to the SC and the PT
  • Putting into place the technology infrastructure necessary to facilitate communication among ourselves and with the sangha
  • Designing, troubleshooting, and gathering content for our PT website shambhala-process-team.org and
  • Collecting and disseminating best practices for online communication.

Our aspiration is that the technological tools and communication practices we are assembling will be of collective benefit in our shared process of engagement.

The Culture Change Working Group

We had our first meeting on March 13, with 14 members present. The range of topics and interests that arose included:

  • Becoming familiar with our own cultural values and manifestations
  • Being inquisitive
  • Establishing a broader view
  • Not relying on assumptions, and
  • Being open to other’s experience.

We acknowledged that sangha members from various non-dominant cultures are not engaged in this WG and the larger PT. Additionally, we recognized variations in local, regional and geographical cultural needs. As next steps, we will contemplate and explore the many facets of cultural change.

The Governance Working Group

We had our first meeting on March 14, with 26 members attending. We have 57 members total. Among what we learned is that:

  • We are a large group which represents a wide range of perspectives
  • Our effective work will require dividing into subgroups to address different areas of interest, and
  • Establishing some common foundation of understanding the scope of the work and how to engage with each other and the sangha is also necessary.

Because of this:

  • Some of our members with more specifically-defined interests are proceeding with their inquiries, while others are focusing on establishing a foundational understanding
  • Some of this work is currently underway in the Processes Working Group, and that work will be shared soon with us, and
  • Another general meeting of our working group and widespread establishment of our subgroups will not be scheduled until the way forward becomes clearer.

The Community Building Working Groups

We have two working groups within the Community Building area: Centre & Group Support, and Offerings.

The Centre & Group Support working group had our first meeting on March 2 with 10 members present.

  • Our initial conversation was around a survey to Shambhala Centres and Groups to understand their local situation.
  • Our ongoing discussion is about the relationship of that initiative to other surveys that may be in the process of being created by the PT.
  • Two “conveners” also volunteered to help organize and administer our WG.

The Offerings working group had its first meeting on March 10 with 11 members present.

  • Our initial conversation was around identifying the primary questions and interested parties in a discussion of Shambhala’s practice offerings.
  • Two “conveners” also volunteered to help organize and administer our WG.