Shambhala’s Community Relations Committee—vehicles for community connectedness

When I took on the role as Chair of the Shambhala Community Relations Committee, I was committed to support the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche vision of creating an enlightened society. This vision offers possibilities for a radical paradigm shift – not a utopia, but a culture in which life’s challenges are met with kindness, generosity and courage. In order for this to manifest, we must be genuine to ourselves and others (all peoples). In order for us to be genuine, we must become aware of what keeps us separate. What better way to dissolve this level of separateness but to discuss what keeps us divided.

In this world, what keeps us separate from one another  are  false notions regarding race, gender, sexual orientation,  economics, political affiliations and more…We must begin to become authentically educated on cultures, races, and all that I previously mentioned and most importantly listen to each other.  What better way than to start with conversations that are authentic and matters that are important to all people in all communities. We call this Radical Conversation which allows for change in our view, therefore allowing change in the way we connect to the world.  As Rev Angel Kyodo William states, “Without inner change, there can be no outer change, without collective change, no change matters.” 

The Community Relations Committee is one of   the perfect vehicle for providing tools for change-community connectedness.  Our methodology is through social engagement and inclusive community building. We do this by having Radical Conversations –bringing in leaders in the communities who advocate on these community matters such as Black Lives Matter, Social Justice; Diversity and Inclusion, Economic Disparity.  We have formed groups such as the People of Color Sangha; and Becoming an Ally: A Contemplative Approach to Examining White Privilege and support the Shambhala’s Queer Dharma group.

We also educate through the Arts, bringing creativity to communicate change or connection to all people and all things. Most recently, we partnered with the USDAC to host a workshop on creating Social Justice through the Arts. We have hosted many other activities centered around the Arts and Cultures.

As I look at what is next, I see 2016-2017 has been focused on looking at what keeps us separated;2018-2019 will be focused on possible solutions for authentic community connections.

I look forward to seeing each of you at our events, and I promise you, that you will leave enriched and open to possibility. Thank you. 

Brenda Collins 
Chair-Community Relations Committee
Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta

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