Red Cedar Zen Community, 1021 N Forest, Bellingham Washington

May 2011 Minutes

Red Cedar Zen Board of Directors                         Meeting - May 11, 2011                       

Board Minutes            Meeting convened at 5:00 pm                                                                       

PRESENT: Jeff, Tim, Talus, Joan, Edie

VISITORS: Don, Marti

encouraging words

full value contract

We commit:

  • to maintaining physical, psychological, and emotional safety
  • to working together to foster both group and individual goals; giving the group what it needs and individuals what they need.
  • to speaking and listening fearlessly to one another and fully talking things through.

            review agenda and set time limits

Our Guest's Business

Don recommended that we make a five-year plan for funding our lease/location.

Marti suggested that the Board refer evaluation of tax status options to the Finance Committee.

Old Business

1. Sangha Survey.  The board discussed the Sangha Survey completed late in 2010, making the following observations: Results show that the sangha wants a good balance of focus on both deepening practice and reaching out to the community.  There was interest in doing service work in the community and in having joint programs with other sanghas (such as Seattle).  There was not so much interest in having more overnight retreats or in children's programs.  Overall, the survey feedback emphasized sustaining ourselves by taking good care of what we are already doing and not getting over-extended.

2. Building Lease.  Jeff and Tim reported that they have not yet met with Riaz to discuss the terms he is offering on the lease, but they will do so before the next board meeting (June 1).

Related to our lease and our ability to maintain it, an opportunity to purchase a building came to Tim's attention in April.  He and Don investigated the opportunity and concluded that it had some potential as well as some downsides. The board discussed the financial feasibility of purchasing a building should we not be able to negotiate a new lease in our current location that we can afford.  The question of how long BIMS will continue to rent from us has bearing on this, so Tim and Jeff will also ask BIMS what their plan is for continuing with us.  The board concluded that basically, at this point, without a partner or major renter such as BIMS, we do not have the money either to maintain our lease in our present location or to financially support a place of our own.  The board will continue to study our options and financial position with regard to our location-keeping in mind, that at our January sangha meeting, with the information available then, our members agreed that we should remain where we are.

3. Request for a utilities bill contribution by BIMS.  Talus asked BIMS to contribute 1/3 payment to our utilities bill, but he has not heard back whether they are willing to do this.           

New Business

1. Federal Tax Status. Talus and Tim explained Red Cedar's quite complex state and federal tax status to the Board: Red Cedar Zen Community while an independent non-profit corporation registered with the State of Washington receive our Federal 501c(3) tax exemption as part of a "group exemption" under the Bellingham Dharma Hall (its own non-profit corporation which at one point was to be renamed Bellingham Dharma Association).

BIMS also had their Federal tax exemption from this group exemption but BIMS recently filed for and received their own independent 501c(3) Federal tax exemption from IRS. The BIMS members involved in keeping the old Bellingham Dharma Hall organization alive are ready to stop being involved and have asked Red Cedar Zen what our plans are for our tax exemption.

We discussed various options for clarifying and simplifying it. Marti suggested that the Board refer evaluation of tax status options to the Finance Committee, which is the appropriate workgroup for this task . Talus was asked to convene the Finance Committee to investigate what it would take (in effort and expense) to make our standing less complicated and intertwined with the still extant legal (but no longer functioning) entity, the Bellingham Dharma Hall. Talus will bring the Finance committee's proposal to the June 1 board meeting.

2. Volunteer Organization Chart Revision.  The board discussed suggestions for updating and simplifying our organization chart and agreed on several changes that will align the chart with how things are actually working in our committees.  For instance, the two membership committees will be consolidated into one; most outreach activities, which have evolved to be entirely about programs, will be moved under Zendo and Programs; library will move from Tim's support to the vice president (who is already on the library committee). 

Regarding sub-tasks accomplished by workgroups, there are several tasks in the Membership workgroup that can be divided up among several people.  The board didn't have time to review these but will take them up at the next meeting.  Next steps for organization updating are: a. Tim will draw up a new chart reflecting the changes okayed by the board.  b. Edie and Joan will meet to review on the one hand, the workgroup tasks needing volunteers and on the other hand, volunteer interests that individual members have; they will come up with recommendations for the June meeting about who we might invite to do which tasks.

3. Arts Event Planning.  Although the board had discussed in the April meeting the possibility of making an arts event a fund raiser, we decided to start more modestly by creating an "in-house" event, inviting any of our members who would like to be performers or presenters to participate.  First steps are to create a small planning committee (Edie and Don, so far) and to set a date in the fall for the event. 

4. Fund Raising Strategy. The board did not have time to address this topic, but it will be on the June agenda.

Agenda for June 1 Meeting:

  • Reports on action items from May meeting (building lease, Finance Committee recommendations on tax status, organization chart, workgroup task/volunteer ideas, arts event)
  • Fund raising strategy
  • Re-authorization of priest's housing allowance

meeting reflection

on relationships, process, values and mission

of good value


upholding the contract

sangha on the horizon

NEXT MEETING:  Wednesday, June 1, 5:00 pm.

Meeting adjourned at 6:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted, Edie Norton, Secretary

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