2011 Year End Report

2011 has been a year of recommitment and polishing for Hearth. Most of the Hearth classes were written on the fly, as the classes were being held. This created a situation in which each lesson needed quite a bit of editing. All of the lessons were re-edited in 2011 with an eye towards a more expansive, friendly and non-dualistic perspective.  We continue to edit each lesson whenever a class is held.
The biggest project we embarked upon in 2011 was redoing our website. While doing this we hired one of our Hearth members to create a new logo for us. Our webmaster, Tom Childers, web designer, Nicole Silver, and the creator of Hearth’s logo, Kendra Spencer, kindly donated a sizeable portion of their fees in order to make this project more affordable. We are grateful to Tom, Nicole and Kendra for their generosity and for the beautiful new website they helped create.
Hearth classes and programs-2011
The online classes given in 2011 were:
Shrine Room Series………………………..……3
Introduction to Buddhism…………………….…2
The 4 Noble Truths for Parents………………….2
The 5 Precepts…………………………………...2
Everyday Spiritual Practices……………..……...4
All these classes were led by Jacqueline, except for the Introduction to Buddhism class, which was led by Heather Thornton. It was her first time doing facilitating a class for Hearth and she proved to be a warm, friendly presence in the classroom. We hope she will continue to lead this class for Hearth.
We also created a new series in 2011 entitled Meditation. This meditation series was created to fill a gap between the Shrine Room Series and the rest of the lay Buddhist practice series. In the meditation series there are lessons on- Why meditate, Obstacles to meditation, Setting up a sustainable practice, Supporting the body for meditation, The value of community support for meditation and an exploration of Different forms of meditation. Meditation is a vital topic to address since people come to Hearth from a variety of traditions, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist, and meditation means different things to different people. Supporting a home meditation practice is a large part of Hearth’s core commitment and this class is one way we do that.
In 2011 we held a continuous, lively koan group. We decided to gather the koan group at a listserve, rather than our usual classroom board. It worked out well. Receiving one another’s comments directly into an email inbox created a more lively conversation. This group offered the flexibility for members to connect with the group when they felt inclined to do so, as opposed to our classes where members are encouraged to respond to each week’s lesson. This worked out well for students who didn’t have the time for a full class commitment but still wanted the support and guidance of a group meditation practice.
Vision for 2012
Hearth was gifted with an easy beginning. After reading Buddha Mom women contacted us to learn more about mothering as a spiritual practice. Hearth grew out of this interest. Now that the book has been out for a number of years, although we are still contacted by readers interested in classes, this happens less often. It is clear that we need to do more outreach, to let people know we are here. This is one of the major tasks for 2012. Our infrastructure is fairly sound, now we need to put out our open for business sign. 2012 is going to be a year for reaching out and becoming visible.
2012 is also the year we need to start developing a sustainable income flow. Thus far we have lived off the dividend revenue from our endowment. But the endowment is not large enough to bring in the dividends necessary to continue to pay the director a modest salary of $2,000 a month and finance minimal operating expenses. In order to keep Hearth alive we need to increase our income, by increasing our dividends through a gift or grant and by developing a business plan. As much as we would love to continue offering Hearth classes at no cost this is no longer sustainable.
Hearth Business
A board meeting was held on December 26 via email. Present at the meeting were Gregory Kramer and Susan Pembroke. Board members were updated as to Hearth’s current activities and Heather Thornton was nominated to join the board. All three board members voted to invite Heather to join the board and she accepted the nomination. We agreed to convene another board meeting in late March after the year- end report is out.