2010 Year End Report



2010 has been a great year for clearing out the non-essential and polishing what is left. Our mission at Hearth can be summed up in three words; awakening at home. Piece by piece we are organizing ourselves with an eye to transparency, user friendliness and simplicity so that we may open out into the wider world with confidence. Hearth has made many steps in this direction during 2010. We have developed and launched a new website, further clarified the direction of our corporate structure, further diversified our endowment portfolio, developed 2 new series, started an online koan group and a book study group and have slowly begun letting people know we are here. Following are the details of our past year.



In 2010 Hearth created two new classes and two new groups. The two classes are Buddhism 1a and Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The two new groups are a koan group and a new Hearth book group.


Buddhism 1a

Many people come to Hearth out of curiosity and an interest to learn more about Buddhism telling us something to the effect of, “I don’t have a religion but feel drawn to Buddhism.” Sometimes the interest comes from a brush with Zen art or just the sense of peace they feel in the presence of Buddhist statues and literature. Part of what Hearth is called to do is help clarify rumors about the nature of Buddhism. Our new Buddhism 1a series was created in response to the many questions we have been receiving over the years about basic Buddhism. It is a sort of FAQ series that includes access to a teacher so that questions not covered in the lessons can be addressed as well. This series will be facilitated by Heather Thornton.


Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

The other Hearth series created in 2010 is one that we have had requests for from a number of students. The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path series is designed to share core Buddhist teachings using current and family friendly language. Remembering that the Buddha encouraged the monks to teach in the language of the people they were addressing, we have attempted to translate these core teachings using metaphors and language pertinent to today’s families.


Koan group

The third new offering is our online Koan group. This is not so much a class or series as it is an ongoing koan study group. It is guided by John Tarrant, Roshi and is available to anyone wishing to join. The group communicates over a private listserve designed for that purpose. Participants are not required to post and the group is open-ended. It has been truly remarkable how useful these koans have been for the moms in this group. Also, real support and a sense of community has been created. During the weeks that ">John Tarrant does not provide a koan we continue on with other koans. Here are some of the responses to koans from group members:


Response to “This very body is the Buddha”

“I feel relaxed after reading this poem. I noticed my shoulders sort of release when I read, "If this way moves you..." that whole stanza, and also the part about crimes being wiped away (is there any Mom who has not done something with/to her child in haste or exhaustion and regretted it. What I am feeling with this koan is a vibrant, never-ending vibration of LOVE for being here in this world right now, and with the people who are here with me.  It just feels so lucky.  Everything is so SO beautiful.  Even the stuff that I usually overlook.  It's beautiful...”

Response to “Not knowing is most intimate”: 

“One of the many things I loved about pregnancy and birth, was all the stuff that was unknown.  There are theories, studies research...... and yet, there are still so very many things that are really not known about why labor starts for instance.  I love when we don't know things.  Why must everything be dissected?  Where is the magic in that? In the need to know, so much is lost. I remember attending a birth where the baby was born and placed on the mamas belly. What I remember is that this baby was explored for its breathing, softness, wetness, sounds, movements, lips, eyes, nose, the pulsing of its umbilical cord.  No one thought to look or explore to know the type of genitalia this person had. I remember being so touched by that experience.  This person was alive. breathing, moving, warm, soft. They didn't have a gender assigned to them yet with all the baggage that comes with that. They weren't even a he or she.  Just a newborn baby, being, spirit. They were introduced to the world and its new family members as a spirit.  Not a blue or pink person that would need a certain type of name, clothing, toys, and stereotypes.”

These responses, and the numerous others like them, show how helpful koans are for moms and how the population Hearth serves takes to koans like ducks to water.

Hearth book group

The new Hearth book group started this winter. It is held over facebook and open to anyone wishing to join. The group focuses on books for one calendar month.  During this time members share comments and discussion on the Facebook page about different aspects of the book.  Discussion topics are based on group member’s interest. Any member is able to start discussion topics as well as comment on others’ posts.  It is a very relaxed discussion group but when appropriate the moderator, Juliet Pailes, posts questions and comments about the book to foster discussion. The group votes on which books will be read.

The other classes we offered in 2010 were:

Death & Illness: 1 class (facilitated by Barbara Coutoure)

Relationships: 1 class

Everyday Practices for Busy Parents: 1 class

Shrine Room: 2 classes

Hearth sanghas

Finally, Jacqueline and Heather Thornton began work on a manual for brick and mortar sanghas. After a number of requests by people for support in creating Hearth sanghas in their hometowns we began to look at what that might entail. As daughters of an attorney and a police officer, respectively, we are concerned with safety and how the sanghas will reflect on Hearth’s reputation. We are working on standards and support materials. The program will be launched once we have finished the manual and once Hearth is insured.



In 2010 we have done some major home renovation. Hearth is able to keep its expenses low because there is no brick and mortar site. This allowed us to use operating expenses to build a new website. Although the new website is still under construction (isn’t that the way with construction) we are now open for business. Our new web address is www.hearth-foundation.org  

Along with this new website comes a new newsletter format, a place to donate online and numerous other options. We continue to develop our website. We have also been gifted with a logo by one of our moms, Kendra Spencer, who is a graphic designer. The logo graces our website and will be used to create brochures, stationary and advertising materials.


After consultation with a non-profit attorney we have determined that Hearth is not yet qualified to become its own church and that being an Integrated Auxiliary is the best option for now. For the time being we are remaining an IA of Metta but looking into the possibility of becoming and IA of Pacific Zen Institute or another established church. Since Hearth is a Nevada corporation, as is Metta, whether we can join a California church or not is dependent upon what is allowed by the law.

We are at the final stages of dissolving the Radiant Hearth Foundation that was created as an alternative to the Nevada corporation in 2007.  It holds no assets and had not been set up for business.

In the 2010 board meeting this December board members Greg Kramer and Jacqueline Kramer voted to have Susan Pembroke join Hearth’s board of directors. There are now three board members.


Some of the objectives for 2011 are:

Find a blog space in order to reach out to the wider community

Increase our social networking capabilities

Find other ways to let people know Hearth is here, such as ads in parenting or Buddhist magazines

Consider options for moving Hearth’s integrated auxiliary status from Metta to PZI

Develop a series on Meditation

Develop a series on Home Enlightenment (using everyday tasks as a means to awakening)

Continue work on our Tending the Body Temple series that focuses on self-care

Develop our online resource list

Continue working on the Hearth Sangha manual

Set up a system to charge for Hearth classes