What lessons were learned from the evacuation and how is Shambhala Mountain Center building on those lessons?
Staff ingenuity is a huge asset for Shambhala Mountain Center: The staff of Shambhala Mountain Center responded quickly and enthusiastically to everything that was being asked of them in moving programs to Boulder, despite the fact that they were also being displaced from their homes. People maintained a sense of family, kindness and support towards each other throughout. To us, this speaks volumes about our ability to work quickly and creatively with any situation. We have a tremendously dedicated and hard working staff, and this fall and winter season Shambhala Mountain Center is looking at ways to improve training and professionalism as a way to further draw out the brilliance that is already present in those who come to work here.
Emergency operational plans are, and will increasingly become, very important. While our ability to evacuate the land completely within four hours was a huge success, it took us a bit longer than we would have liked to get fully situated once everyone was in town. Over the winter, we will be formalizing our evacuation procedures, including a business continuation plan. We have also applied for a FEMA grant to further protect Shambhala Mountain Center in the case of fires, and to integrate our fire safety processes with the surrounding fire services. An additional benefit of the FEMA grant will be the application of our fire mitigation work to neighboring organizations and communities.
What are we doing to put Shambhala Mountain Center on the path towards financial sustainability and growth?
Strategic Planning: The Senior Management Team has had an initial strategic planning session and will continue in this process during a two-day workshop in January. Clarifying the mission and core principles of Shambhala Mountain Center and our service orientation will help us to build a community and business that can manifest Shambhala vision and establish targets for meaningful growth.
Reorganization of the Governance Structure: Working with members of the Kalapa Council, we will be bringing Shambhala Mountain Center into alignment with the governance model used in our city centers. The new governance model will be implemented in February, and will be discussed in greater detail as we approach that time.
Reconsidering the business model: Almost all not-for-profit organizations depend on fund raising for meeting capital project needs. Shambhala Mountain Center also requires fund raising to support its operational needs. While we have always been dependent on cash flow, our goal now is to develop a sustainable level of program revenue growth to free us of cash flow dependency. The increasing emphasis in Shambhala on building connections with communities of affinity is providing the basis for a thoughtful increase in our program offerings. We have a number of senior Buddhist teachers coming to Shambhala Mountain Center in 2013, and are also creating programs that can bring together a range of perspectives and insights. In the new year, we will be presenting further details on such programs.
How are you cultivating the staff, and why is that important to the success of Shambhala Mountain Center?
Professional Development and Training: We have initiated a needs assessment process to look at the areas of professional development needed in an organization like Shambhala Mountain Center. Included in this assessment is a recognition of the challenges of being at an 8,000’ elevation and an hour away from the nearest town. We recognize the need to embed the training in a working culture that can accommodate staff turnover and seasonal variations, limited resources and environmental challenges on infrastructure.
Supporting Practice: The heart of the opportunity for staff at Shambhala Mountain Center is living a life of community and work within a context of a meditative practice. We have placed a great deal of emphasis on clarifying that being a member of the community involves a regular practice. At the same time, we are providing the resources and support to ensure that developing a relationship with practice is possible for everyone from brand new practitioners to more advanced sadhakas.
Learning and Living in Community: The community of Shambhala Mountain Center has many components. Together, the guests and teachers, flora and fauna, the staff and larger sangha “from down the mountain” contribute to what we are. Over the winter, there will be a number of initiatives launched to strengthen and inform these components. Shambhala Mountain Center will collaborate with the Front Range Shambhala Centers to host Shambhala Salons in order to ensure an open dialog. With the staff, we will be engaging in community development with the clear goal to welcome our guests into an environment steeped in and manifesting Shambhala culture. This is no small journey and will involve much experimentation and focus. As we engage in initiatives, we will present them on our website, facebook page and blog.
Extended Leadership: Along with the professional development, strategic planning and new governance structure, Shambhala Mountain Center is also developing a faculty who will teach programs for public and sangha audiences, and will take on specific projects that incorporate and support the professional development, practice and community goals mentioned above. This initiative is in the early stages and will also be presented and discussed further as we formally constitute the faculty.