The Northwest Dharma Association Annual Meeting took place at Prospect Congregational Church in Seattle on February 16. As usual, it was a wonderful gathering of sangha leaders, teachers, Dharma practitioners, and newcomers to the Dharma. The theme of the 2008 gathering was "Getting Involved."
Mike McNatt of Sangha by the Sea and NWDA board member Richard Miles of Open Gate Zendo presented the results of many months of collaboration, a draft edition of the "Guide to Forming an Alternative or Rural Sangha." This project arose out of a discussion group at last year’s annual meeting in Portland. Nearing completion, the "Guide" will soon be available to NWDA members.
This year's meeting provided networking opportunities for two interest groups of special importance to NWDA: Dharma teachers and prison Dharma specialists and volunteers. The teacher discussion group focused on developing an online "Teacher Space" on the NWDA website as well as other means for helping teachers connect with each other, students, and interested sanghas.
The prison group debated strategies for getting the Northwest Dharma News to prisoners now that it's an online publication. They also began planning a training session for prison volunteers to take place in late '08 or early '09.
Participants interested in other forms of social activism and outreach had the opportunity to meet and talk with NWDA member David Kim of the Seattle Tzu Chi Foundation. Seattle Tzu Chi, part of Tzu Chi's international Buddhist relief organization, has been involved in local flood relief as well as ongoing support for homeless tent cities and numerous other charitable activities.
The discussion group on "Getting Involved with the Northwest Dharma Association" ranged over a number of topics, including event planning, volunteer recruitment, and promoting the NWDA "image." Newcomers to NWDA and old hands from way back made lively contributions to the conversation.
Thanks go to chef Timothy O'Brien and his assistant, Mike Kraft, for "soup 'n salad" par excellence, as well to perennial volunteer Charlotte Boynton for her unobtrusive kitchen management. Many others helped as well. We thank them.
Thanks go also to the committed Northwest Dharma Association members who attended the meeting and who continue to support the NWDA mission by "getting involved." ⊕
Photos: Ven. Owen Adhisila