icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The Long-term costs of all but one room (and the bathrooms) of the temple being shut

This time last year the temple had been dramatically closed by the temple. We were forced to hold events and retreats on the front lawn.

In a tent.

In the snow.

Sweltering practices were held in 94-degree weather on the front porch, with useless fans plugged in through the windows. )

Now, thanks especially to DoMore24 ONE ROOM, the prayer room, is reopened. The temple's allowed 104 people. (We've a regular membership of around 200-300, and host events of 500+.)

What's survived?

The prayer vigil continues, of course. )

What hasn't?

The food bank is closed. )

For us? The biggest impact has been the lack of space for the community. We don't have a place where we can just sit and talk anymore, and no place for our myriad of project meetings (we've had rent outside venues or meet at people's house). You can see the results in between prayer shifts. People chat, hungry for each other's company. Other than online, or working on temple grounds, we don't get to see each other very much any more.

For the non-Buddhists? The biggest loss has been the closing of The Mani Jewel. For the cyclists and birders it was the only pit stop for fifteen miles along River Road, and there are races along this route.

For the larger Buddhist community? The closure of The Mani Jewel is a biggie, it was a destination store. But the hardest hit are the pilgrims. They've come, and they've had to be turned away.

The big plus of the renovation that went beyond restoring what we had? The repaired floor of the prayer room, of course. The new fire doors, sure. But for me, it's the BATHROOMS. No more lines at that one little bathroom off the hall, thank god.

Bathrooms or not, we need our temple back. The whole temple, not just one room, even if it is an important room. We have permits we need through the hard work of Costly Lawyers.

Now it's time to begin.

And DoMore24 is here again.

The results: $11k closer, plus we "won" the religious organization category.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I've decided to stop using "renovation" to describe my temple's circumstances.

That's like using the phrase "global warming" to describe gradual catastrophic climate change. "Renovations"? Why those are optional! And pleasant, you're delighted with the results as they improve the structure in small ways, perhaps even repairing a broken building. And you can renovate whenever, so long as the building's still standing.

The new term is "County Compliance."

How's that for an ass-kicking description of what the temple's up against?

The temple needs to raise money for "County Compliance."

Is it optional? Hell no.
Is it reasonable? It's the county government, what do you think?
Is it an improvement? Not necessarily, no.
Is there a time frame? Yup.
Is it expensive? You're damned right it is.

Wait till I tell you why the temple has to meet 2012 codes when most churches/temples/synagogues would have to meet lighter standards. (My dad's still laughing.)
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
We've got to do these renovations.

Oh, hi! You probably know my temple was shut down by the county for mandatory renovations.

Last spring, my temple hosted Yangthang Tulku, who gave Buddhist teachings and empowerments. The County Executive, in honor of Yangthang Tulku's accomplishments, named that day "Yangthang Tulku Day" henceforth, presented him with a plaque.

But we had to host the entire event in a tent on the lawn.

He's in his 90s. Even though we heated the tent, it was still, as Yangthang Tulku put it, "difficult."

There's no way the temple can do that again. Visiting teachers attract 300+ people. And our prayer room only legally holds 103.

That situation, Yangthang Rinpoche knew he'd have to be out on the lawn. In fact, he offered to come after we were shut down. He did it out of solidarity. He's one of several important Lamas who's spoken in the past of how important this temple is, the impact it has.

This is a great place and should stay open.

The Interfaith Council in this area says that the temple 'is the best-kept secret in Montgomery County.' )

Then the spiritual activities. The teachings. The 24-hour prayer vigil that's been running for over twenty-five years. The Buddhist lending library that Ani Samla runs.

And little things that people miss. The Mani Jewel gift store was a destination shop for Buddhists all over the area and popular with the visitors. The community room and solarium welcomed people.

And heck, I'm still trying to figure out a place for my Tibetan class. I used to hold it in the Dharma Room. Now I don't know where I can teach Tibetan.

The temple needs to reopen.

The temple generated a huge amount of funds right away, largely from the teacher, Jetsunma, selling her furniture and jewelry and gifts she's received, all at fire sale prices. The first phase is done and that money's almost gone.



I sat here last week going, "We need to have more teachers visit or we're not really a Buddhist temple." Yet we can't.

Please help. I don't know what to do. I'm donating what I can and studying to get into work that will pay more. I'm making Things To Sell.

If you can donate even a little ... I'm feeling like, oh, God, what can I do?

http://www.razoo.com/story/Kpc-Renovation
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
When you already have fundraising to do for your temple, do you fundraise for others? Yes.

My friend Kristin's running the temple Holiday Bazaar.

Temple donations have fallen off because, well, most of the temple's closed. What's accessible is outdoors: the Peace Park, the stupas, the walking trails, the bird sanctuary.

Now that it's cold, and there's nowhere for people to go indoors except the prayer room. We don't have as many visitors.

So when someone suggested adding fundraising for the Philippines disaster to our Holiday Bazaar, I thought, "No, no, we can't, it would be great but we have so much fundraising we have to do for ourselves...."

Oh.

I should know better.

Of course we're doing something for the Philippines.

The Holiday Bazaar is a European style outdoor market with hot foods and drinks, fun crafts and vendors, a silent auction, in an environments surrounded by peaceful forest. Set the Saturday and Sunday after Black Friday, it's the perfect break from Black Friday's chaos.

If you're a local crafts person or know a crafts vendor who might be interested, you can let me know here, or send them the application.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
You may recall that my Buddhist temple was shut down for mandatory renovations last March. We were allowed to open just the prayer room come September.

I was thrilled.

The temple's struggling. Because we now have just one room (and the grounds) to show people, donations have fallen off. It isn't the same experience anymore.

It doesn't help that our gift store, which was a destination shop for the Buddhist community throughout the region, has been completely shut down. I miss it, really, the tinkling music or recorded Buddhist chants as you came in through the front door of the temple, the warm, welcoming atmosphere, and bright Tibetan colors. I want to buy my incense from them and can't.

I miss the library and solarium. People used to be able to come in and browse, hang out and read a book while friends prayed. That's where the non-Buddhists, dragged here by family, used to go and pass a peaceful hour. The solarium had comfortable couches and tea available, with friendly members hanging out, kids stretching over the coffee table to snack on the abundant food offerings. We always had food everywhere. It was active and lively, rather loud on Sundays, with a crowd shuffling through to the Sunday lunch.

Now a sign reminds us that the library's cordoned off, the solarium off-limits.

The Dharma room you can only peer at through windows. It was a peaceful oasis with it's altars, large brass statues, and an exotic mandala, where teachings were held Sundays and Fridays. That's where I had my Tibetan class. The french doors are closed now, and the room looks abandoned.

What is there for people to see?

Of course donations have fallen off. It's sad and dispiriting to see us shut down.

The community room that hosted lunch and activities throughout the week -- the bagged lunches for the homeless we give for Manna Foods to distribute, the Food Bank -- is now sealed off and used for storage. And the prayer room, our only open room, is crowded with all the business of the temple: the prayer chart, the food offerings that used to be out for the kids, the cushions piled up. Simple things like folding chairs, we have no place to put them. Or we did, but those parts are shut down. So they're all over the place.

I don't know what to do. I'm going forward, finishing my career change so I can take up more of the slack. I'm making toys to sell for the Holiday Bazaar.

They won't bring in much, but heck, most of the donations we received were small, too. I keep running into people who've been here, who feel a strong connection even though they aren't members. People like that.

We need donors. Even small ones: http://give2max.razoo.com/story/Kpc-Renovation

Other things:

If you have handmade items you'd be willing for me to sell in the Holiday Bazaar alongside my stuffed toys, that would be great.

Also, if you know any vendors, or are a vendor (specially of craft items) -- we need more for the Holiday Bazaar. Here's the vendor application.

Anyone who helps will be sent a nice thank you card and is very much appreciated.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The temple submitted the plan to separate the prayer room from the temple proper. That would give us a Use & Occupancy permit for up to 49 people.

(The prayer room, back when the temple was owned by a gay couple and their adopted son, was originally a workout room and spa with hot tub, is in an attached building. So it's fairly easy to make it a separate building.)

The county approved. The plan included separate men's and women's bathrooms and all the things they liked. But they wanted additional paths from the parking lot direct to the prayer room.

All right, all right, no problem.

When Ani Dawa re-submitted the plans -- this time with additional paths! -- the county also requested an extra door out of the prayer room.

The lawyer said, "Of course. This means naturally that the building space will then fall into category Z instead of category L."

"Yes, indeed, category Z," they agreed.

"Therefore the Use & Occupancy will be for 103 people. Not 49."

"Of course," they said.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Most of our regular events, the classes, meditations, practices, are around 100 people. The big events like Yangthang Tulku's visit are another matter, but for our regularly scheduled classes this would make the space workable.

Eeeeeiiiiiiiiiii! *squeals like a happy girly thing*

Remind me to never tell another lawyer joke.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
There's no official word. I'm not going to get excited until we have the official word from United Way.

But.

Looking at the Leaderboard under Religion, for most donors and most donations--

-- *jaw drop*

It looks like my temple ... it looks like we won.

I'm not going to get excited yet.

OMG OMG, I THINK, I THINK WE WON

OH MY GOD, IT'S OFFICIAL.

Most Donors by Category ($4,000 each)

Human Services: SOME, Inc.
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeless Animal Rescue Team
Education: Literacy Council of Montgomery County, MD, Inc.
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc.
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: ProInspire
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

Most Dollars Raised by Category ($2,000 each)

Human Services: Bread for the City
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Inc.
Education: The SEED Public Charter School of Washington DC
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Joseph’s House
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: Latino Economic Development Corporation
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

We won both categories. Oh. That's $6,000 towards the renovations, plus the ... oh. Oh, wow. At 11pm it was only $2,600, but it's now $10,209.88. That's over $16,000 in one night.

Ohmigosh. Thank you, guys.


ETA: From Gonpo, one of the monks, "Thank you for helping us help others."
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
There's no official word. I'm not going to get excited until we have the official word from United Way.

But.

Looking at the Leaderboard under Religion, for most donors and most donations--

-- *jaw drop*

It looks like my temple ... it looks like we won.

I'm not going to get excited yet.

OMG OMG, I THINK, I THINK WE WON

OH MY GOD, IT'S OFFICIAL.

Most Donors by Category ($4,000 each)

Human Services: SOME, Inc.
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeless Animal Rescue Team
Education: Literacy Council of Montgomery County, MD, Inc.
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care, Inc.
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: ProInspire
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

Most Dollars Raised by Category ($2,000 each)

Human Services: Bread for the City
Animal Welfare and Environment: Homeward Trails Animal Rescue Inc.
Education: The SEED Public Charter School of Washington DC
Arts and Culture: Corcoran Gallery of Art
Health: Joseph’s House
Workforce Readiness: Latin American Youth Center
Financial Stability: Latino Economic Development Corporation
Religion: Kunzang Odsal Palyul Changchub Choling <-- the temple

We won both categories. Oh. That's $6,000 towards the renovations, plus the ... oh. Oh, wow. At 11pm it was only $2,600, but it's now $10,209.88. That's over $16,000 in one night.

Ohmigosh. Thank you, guys.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
We could actually win this.

In the next two and a half hours, whoever get the greatest number of donors wins $4,000 -- in our case, to go towards the mandatory renovations the county's required of the temple.

Just two and a half hours.

This is as bad as playing video games.



Ani Dawa (in front and to the far left), is in charge of construction. She's Swiss (the French side), a wonder of speed and efficiency, and she smiles under any amount of pressure. She also quotes the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy which she (correctly) feels is the greatest sci-fi novel of all time.

Most memorable moment: walking with her in the Peace Park at 10pm, she turned off the flashlight. "We can see better in the dark."

She was right.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Do you have twelve bucks?

It's all about sheer numbers of donors.

DoMore24 is 24 hours of fundraising (the clock runs till midnight tonight). The project with the most donors wins not just the donations, but an additional $4K towards, well, in our case--

-- the renovations that the county just approved yesterday. Phase one has begun!

And we're winning.

If the temple stays #1 by midnight tonight with the highest number of individual donors, it'll make a huge difference. I don't think I can sell $4,000 worth of toys. Not in a day anyway.

So do you have twelve bucks?**

You'd be supporting the 24-hour prayer vigil, daily prayer request practices (most monasteries expect a donation for each prayer request; we've always done them free), the Garuda Aviary wild bird rescue and sanctuary, nuns going out to run Buddhist meditation classes in prisons, the home of nuns like Ani Samla who cares for our feral cat colony (they've all be TNR'd), a 65-acre wildlife refuge, and a place the Montgomery County Interfaith committee called:

"...the best kept secret in Montgomery County." They said our place is amazing, yet no one knows we're here.*

Eeeeee!



* Actually, the birders know we're here. The Peace Park wildlife refuge is listed in the local birder's guide and is a regular stop for rare birds.

** We're winning!


ETA: There's also the food bank, animal rescue, my Tibetan classes--you get the idea. We do lots of Good Things.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
As I wrack my brains trying to come up with ways to raise money for our mandatory temple renovations, I've been writing fic. Is it worth making toys to sell on Etsy, or are the profit margins too low? Should I apply myself to writing

Little things. A scene here and there from Star Trek TOS.

[personal profile] enname is helping me fix the ending of a challenge fic that I tied off hastily in 2009. Star Drive will have the ending it deserves.

Mostly, what I have here are cookies. Like this one:


"Heck with being happy. Happiness, you can chase that will-o-the-wisp all over the place. I'll settle for just being content." Dr. McCoy took a sip of his drink, then gestured with his glass. "And then maybe I might be happy."

"Very astute," Spock said. "Surprisingly."

"Ah-ah-ah, not so fast," Jim chided from where he was slouched in the corner. "At the end there he still wants to be happy."

"Hey! There's a big difference between being happy by accident and chasing it."

"The doctor has a point." Spock turned to Jim.

"You? Agreeing with Bones? I think the world might end," Jim laughed.

"I'm certain it is only temporary."

"This again. I swear, I'm going to go drink with my men," Scotty complained.

"You know what they say about officers fraternizing with the crew," Jim pointed out, still smiling.

"Aye. But at least then I can have a normal conversation--about things ye can understand!"
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
If anyone's interested, I'm selling these earrings to fund raise for my temple. 14kt beaten gold, artisan made for Sundance catalog.* Have a look.

In case you're not aware, my temple was closed by the county March 1st for mandatory renovations. We're being held to very strict guidelines, it's very expensive, and that right of assembly that most people enjoy? Well, we don't have that. We're still having our meditation classes, but out on the lawn, in the heat.



http://www.ebay.com/itm/261223886163?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649



* Don't tell WG. He gave these to me for Christmas and would be very upset.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Okay, many of you know that our temple was closed for public assembly March 1st. The results are in about separating the prayer room from the main temple as well as other matters:

Update on the Temple Renovation

Good news: we can go ahead. Any building we do will have to be on the temple side of the street. )

Financial Report
Here is an income and expense report for the Temple Renovation Project. (Yay, transparency!)


This Sunday they're having the web-a-thon to bring in Friends of KPC. They're looking for small regular donors because this project is going to be ongoing for years. I have a $15 a month donation I give to the Amitabha Stupa mortgage as part of the Friends of the Amitabha Stupa in Sedona, AZ.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Contractors drive big trucks.

The extended cabins, super-long trailer beds, wheels big enough for armored personnel carriers. They're shiny, new, and well-cared for. These are proud trucks.

Four of them were parked side-by-side in the temple parking lot this am and I could hardly get past in my tiny Honda Civic.

Contractors mean bids, and bids mean stage one of the temple renovation has begun. I didn't even need to ask.

The job's a small one to start: building a firewall to separate the prayer room from the temple, and building two bathrooms. (Bigger contractors drive sedans and the guy who does the bids is never seen at the job site.)

Sure enough, behind the temple: a cluster of big guys in workman-like clothes, dressed for success. Funny they clustered together. Knew each other? Sizing up the competition? Intimidated by a Buddhist temple?

Ani Dawa, also in her work clothes, waved to me and warned: "These are the guys who're going to mess up your paint job!"

After a moment's thought, I raised my arms. "Yay!"



P.S. Kristin tells me that one of the contractors is Amazingly good-looking. I told her all contractors are attractive. It's how they walk (and I admit, I like men who are handy). But she said, "But this guy is dreamy."

This I gotta see. I have a prayer shift today. Maybe he'll be around. *cranes neck*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
So here I was unhappy about the county shutting down the temple to public events. Disgruntled that we had to have Yangthang Tulku's teachings IN A TENT (albeit a heated tent) when he's NINETY YEARS OLD.

Then, during the teaching, an important visitor was announced.

A representative from the county executive, Ike Leggett's office, was there.

He had an official announcement to make.

He had an official-looking paper or plaque or something (it was Official). It used "whereas" over and over.

In honor of Yangthang Tulku's 22 years in Chinese prison, whereas he stayed (despite having the means to escape...) in order to teach the other prisoners and whereas he even counted some of his guards among his students, and whereas he has continued to teach thereafter, Montgomery County, Maryland has made April 23rd "Yangthang Tulku Day." From here on out.

*flabbergasted*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Great news. Razoo's up to $11,000!

Let me back up here.

As many of you know, my temple was shut down for public assembly March 1st. We'd been working with the county for several years as we did the renovations to get the Use & Occupancy permit for the temple (the land's zoned residential). It was going slow and the temple lapsed on some requirements. Temples don't tend to be rich, and while people get excited about "Yay, let's build a stupa (or monastery)!" the response to "Yay, let's put in a sprinkler system!" is somewhat tepid.

Then the county lowered the boom.

If I'm looking for a silver lining, I could say that since we own the land free and clear, these renovations will stabilize the temple. They've been hanging over the place for some time.

It was scary at first--what they require is Major. I thought my plan to put in a solar system for a few thousand bucks was expensive. But the changes they want are so extensive, we're almost better off building a new temple in the Peace Park (it's under consideration).

The head of the temple, Jetsunma, is our biggest donor so far. She's selling her clothes, she's sold furniture, she's looking at selling an antique butterchurn, and she's having jewelry she's been given appraised. I wish I could buy these things and give them back to her, but I can't.

So instead I've offered my eBay account to sell some of her more unusual jewelry.

Such as a Thai amethyst and white gold nose ring.

Yes. Nose ring.

You guys like nose rings, right?

Cut for pretty (large) image. )

See eBay listing

Beautiful, richly colored purple amethyst from Thailand.

Nose ring custom-made and professionally appraised at a value of $425. Stone can be reset.

Offered for sale and once worn by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, the first American woman to be enthroned as a reincarnate Buddhist Lama. The proceeds from the estate sale go to save her temple in Maryland from closure: The story is here.


As for myself, well, possibly I could start making earrings to sell on Etsy? Or maybe knitted toys?

I'm open to suggestions.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Update on the state of the temple!

FAQ: Would it be more cost effective to just move?

Jetsunma: We have paid the land off. The Temple needs mandatory remodeling within a short amount of time. Stinks, our county won't give us a break.

(I'll add -- this is over 65 acres of land that's paid in full, including the wildlife refuge. And, it's a little hard to move 35' concrete stupas):



My dad: The building sounds decrepit.

Me: Actually, it's beautiful. We've just put in new windows and reframed the 17th century stained glass. As per the update link, most of the costs have to do with meeting the Use & Occupancy codes. So the costs and changes are things like determining the water table (it costs $115 to dig a hole? And the county might require a lot of holes for this test? Can't diggers just volunteer?).

The details:
Update on Temple Renovation )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Many of you may have been following the closure of our temple.

Those who haven't, bottom line, we'd been working with the county to bring our main temple building up to code but were behind on some aspects (not being wealthy).

March 1st, the county shut our doors until we do a million dollars worth of renovations--renovations that were underway. But now we can't host any Buddhist teachings or events or classes or do anything that Buddhist temples do until after we do all the repairs. At first we had to lock the doors. Later, they relented and we were allowed to have visitors come and go, but can have no public events.

Note the fun Catch-22: we're not allowed to host events, teachings, or classes until we raise the money to do the repairs. And yet events, teachings, and classes is how money comes into a Buddhist temple. If you're on my access list, you can read my rant about this.

We're hosting our planned events on tents on the lawn, no kidding, even in the snow.

Asia, one of our young temple members and cancer survivor, explains what it all means:



None of my friends, on my flist or at the temple, has a million dollars, no more than I do. But we're open to any help--contractors who might want to volunteer time, lawyers who can help us navigate Maryland's Byzantine codes.

We're petitioning the county to allow us to host events so that we can do the renovations. Community support from petitions (really, in this case it helps) can go a long way. So we have a petition here, as well as a paper petition at the temple. When the county tried to plow down Nick's Organic Farm and replace it with a soccerplex, it was the outpouring of support, both locally and nationally, that made them reconsider. (Your name and personal details will not be shown.)

The petition is here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/157/037/210/help-save-tibetan-buddhist-place-of-refuge/

And frankly, we've never had big donors. We've built everything here on a shoestring. So any amount at all is helpful: http://www.razoo.com/story/Renovate-Renew-Adapt-Evolve-Transmute

Lastly, would anyone be interested in bidding on Icarus fic? Like I said, I don't have a million dollars. If I can bring in donations with fic....
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
This is ridiculous.

Here we have a warm, lovely, and might I mention warm, temple. And because the requirements for the Use & Occupancy permit, we had to have our Phowa retreat in a tent.

On the lawn.

In the snow.

People were cheerful. Snow flurries swirled about us Sunday night as we walked to the stupa, singing mantras at the close of the day's practice. Plenty of hands to help put the cushions, thangkas (Buddha paintings on tapestries) inside after the last session.

We got 2-3 inches of snow by the next morning. The 10am session was miserable because the tent heater ran out of juice. By the afternoon it was tanked up again and we were ... reasonably warm? Well, Sunday my feet froze, but I'd learned to keep my feet off the grass (which retained moisture), to wear a big fleece scarf to protect the back of my neck, and to use my down jacket to block the open space in the folding chair where my lower back would get cold.

But I repeat: this is ridiculous. Not twenty feet away was the temple, where we were supposed to be holding the retreat. Heated. Protected from the elements. Carpeted floors. Beautifully decorated, with benches to put our prayer books on (in the tent mine was precariously perched on my knees).

The good news is we've started the crowd-sourcing campaign, yay!, and we're not waiting for alll the money before we begin. There's enough to begin the very first phases.

Here's Khenpo Norgey, who led the retreat-in-tent, talking about the renovations:



Crowd-sourcing: http://www.razoo.com/story/Renovate-Renew-Adapt-Evolve-Transmute

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