2020 sent a lot our way. For so many of us this year, leaning into our meditation practice and coming together in community—in all the creative, new ways a global pandemic has required—has been essential to our continued wellbeing. The EBMC community endures as a bright light in the darkness of these times, and we have built connections never dreamed of as we continue to create our Beloved Community.
As we look forward to another year, here is some of what we accomplished together in 2020:
An almost fivefold increase in attendance at events at EBMC!:
In March, we very quickly moved all of our offerings online, and we have been heartened that the number of people joining us has increased by more than 400% over the last year. In October 2020, for instance, we had over 1,000 registered participants at events, compared to 200 at the same time in 2019. We continue to prioritize the participation of BIPOC, so these numbers also include more people of color than ever. Another benefit to our new online Sangha is that people are joining us from all over—from L.A. to N.Y.C. and Canada to South Africa!
Innovative Programs that Support Socially-engaged Buddhism:
We continued to offer dozens of retreats and classes in 2020, which this year included a series of events designed to provide refuge, healing and community building in the wake of the state-sanctioned killings of Black people this summer. We offered Calling for Justice, by and for Black practitioners; Sacred Reciprocity, for BIPOC practitioners; and Cultivating Solidarity and Building Stamina for Transformative Action, for white practitioners to challenge systemic racism. We offered Race and Grace: Conversations on Liberation with Black Male Dharma Teachers, which centered the voices of Black male Dharma teachers and is the first event of its kind that we know of anywhere.
Our yearlong Practice in Transformative Action (PiTA) program for social justice activists (photo) continues to train activists to take mindfulness practices into their organizations; the new PiTA8 cohort this fall includes 61 activists, including those from across the U.S. and as far away as Germany, England and Brazil!
A Continued Commitment to Access and Education around Disability Justice:
This year we increased our commitment to access for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sangha members and offered ASL interpretation for 17 individual EBMC classes and our Rooted and Resilient Fundraiser with Spring Washam. We have implemented Closed Captioning across all practice groups, classes, and events, and we are committed to continuing to provide ASL interpretation for 1 to 3 classes each month.
A New Training Program for Teachers and Future Leaders:
We launched the Spiritual Teacher and Leadership Training (STL) Program this fall, which is a two-year training program for dedicated practitioners. STL is focused on centering the integration of radical inclusivity and social justice in Dharma training and leadership development, for which EBMC has become a model across the world.
A Sustainable Home for the Future for All of Our Community!
Our quest to find a warm, welcoming, sustainable home is underway! Our “Space Force” committee is working diligently to find a new space by fall of 2022 that will keep us both rooted in Oakland and growing our connections across the US and beyond. The three things we are currently focused on are: 1) looking for an accessible physical space that meets our needs, based on the priorities identified by the Sanga; 2) identifying and deepening relationships with philanthropic investors who may become inspired to support our vision for the future; and 3) creating ways for everyone in our EBMC community, near and far, to be part of this effort.
Stay tuned as we roll out our campaign in the coming year. We need you to be part of it—we won’t be able to do it without you!
At the same time that we are immensely proud of what we have accomplished this year with you, our Beloved Community, we continue to need your support to face the growing demand for what EBMC uniquely offers as a community that prioritizes radical inclusivity, commitment to social justice, and spaces of refuge and healing.